With 2020 being one of the toughest years South Africans have ever faced, many people are taking strain when it comes to their finances. This can affect their mental health.
While some of us do not see mental health conditions coming, others acknowledge them but do not get treatment. This could affect their ability to function properly at work and home, says the Credit Ombud, which has received calls from people who threatened to take their own lives because of their debt.
People do not like talking about their finances. We are private by nature and want to portray an image of success. Sadly, this makes depression and the cycle of debt even worse.
Consumers must acknowledge their debt, as ignoring it is a recipe for disaster. Debt does not disappear and it will attract interest.
Tips to handle debt
- Pay your accounts on time every month.
- Pay the full instalment owed each month.
- If you are unable to make a payment, talk to the credit provider to make arrangements.
- Never buy on credit without knowing if you can afford the repayments.
- Try to keep credit repayments to a small percentage of your income.
- Stay informed of your personal credit information.
- Prepare a monthly budget to identify income and expenses. Stick to the plan. Remember to include savings and a year-end treat.
- Pay and close some accounts if you can.
- Pay the smallest accounts first.
- Do not avoid calls or SMSes from credit providers, speak to them and make arrangements. Always make sure they have your correct contact details. If they cannot find you, they will get a tracer to track you. This will cost you more money.
- Do not ignore a letter of demand for payment or a summons to appear in court. If a judgment is made against you, the credit provider has 30 years to collect the debt.
- If your situation remains desperate, seek help from a debt counsellor who is registered with the National Credit Regulator.
If you think you have a mental health condition, visit your nearest clinic and talk to a medical professional.
Contact the Credit Ombud for free assistance relating to credit agreements with non-bank credit providers. Call 0861 66 28 37, visit www.creditombud.org.za, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send an SMS to 44786.