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Getting more plenty from #20plenty!

Arisha Saroop, Business Unit Manager at The MediaShop Durban

School fees, extravagant Christmas presents, the family getaway and home maintenance – all this coupled with the usual cellphone, bond and car repayment bills means that after the festive fun and cheer from December, the majority of South Africans are left counting their Rands and cents into the now coined (mind the pun) month of Januworry!

With many still reeling from the unnecessary splurges on Black Friday, we jumped straight into further irrational spending over the festive period – with an estimated R250 million pumped into the economy; leaving many in debt as reported in an article on News24.

The World Bank’s Global Findex Database showed that South Africans are among the top borrowers in the world – with consumer debt totalling nearly R1.7 trillion according to the latest Consumer Default Index. That’s nearly as much as our government’s debt of more than R2 trillion!

The negative effect of consumer debt has carved a gap in the market for Debt Counselling/ Relief as a genre. With marketers capitalizing on the month of “Januworry” to reinforce a positive affinity, competitions to have your unpaid bills settled is a convivial campaign to listen out for within the Debt counselling/Credit Bureaus genre. The advertising spend in this category has reflected an increase of 173% from R54m in 2016 to R148m in 2019; with a 15.5% increase from 2018 to 2019.

In a perfect world, everyone would be debt free but in order to attain a small portion of this aspiration we should start by reducing unnecessary expenses (say no to those “Up to 70% off Sales”) and adopt an attitude of saving.

As 2020 is still new; it’s a great time for a fresh beginning and to attain a positive monetary standing by espousing simple, user friendly resolutions to gain financial freedom from your debt.

Here are five easy steps to being more financial savvy:

  1. Long term goals – as timeworn as it may sound, it is worth it. Start the year with the end in mind. Set goals, prioritize them and save either daily, weekly or monthly. Your goal may be saving towards the vacation of your dreams or a new set of wheels. Whatever it is, work towards it from day one and budget, budget, budget!
  2. Cancel what’s not needed. In 2019 I personally saved R3708 by cancelling a rewards programme on my medical aid. Why? I made no effort to increase my standing within the tiers 10 years after joining, so all I was gaining from the rewards programme was the base peaks. I continued to ‘pay’ for the programme in my savings account – can you say easy money!
  3. Reduced Interest rate – with the recent drop in the interest rate, it’s important to not reduce your monthly repayments because you’ll reap the rewards of paying off your debts sooner than your mortgaged term. As an example, and based on a R1m mortgage over 20 years you could potentially save R165 per month. By maintaining your usual repayment, you could save R76k and knock off a whole year from your total repayment according to finance journalist Maya Fischer-French.
  4. Garage Sale – aside from the positive upliftment and reduction of spousal nag, decluttering your home space saves you money. You can either donate (positive upliftment), recycle (reduce your carbon footprint) or first prize – sell your preloved items either online or through the old school garage sale method. The trick here is to make sure the money earned is put straight into savings.
  5. Make informed choices – especially when you’re looking to purchase big ticket items like household appliances. Search for the best deals, research products online and check the consumer reviews or enquire about after sales service and warranties. These practices will all give you piece of mind that every cent you spend towards your purchase was based on a well informed decision. Do due diligence to your purchases!

After all is said and done, I do hope the tips above will succour to offer the best solutions and encourage those who are keen to save.

There is no better time to save than now – make your #20plenty Plenty.

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