JOHANNESBURG — It’s usually said “there will be calm before the storm” with the “calm” being the festive season where we overspend and the “storm” being the aftermath in January.
It has become a normal practice that South Africans reel in debts in January after balling, turning up and sending gifts during the December holidays.
This need not be the norm according to the economic consultant company Econometrix.
According to chief economist Azar Jemmine the fun people have during the holidays should not result in stress and unmanageable debts in January.
Jemmine believes that debt mostly accumulates when people spend more than what they can actually afford. He gave a few pointers on how to save money and get out of debts:
Limit excessive cellphone usage
Cellphones have become an integral part of our lives and without even realising it, this is where people spend most of their money.
Data and airtime prices are up to the roof and according to Jemmine, we are over communicating.
“People need to reduce the usage of cellphones and iPhones. We spend a lot of time talking to each other over the phones.
“What did people do before cellphones arrived? They surely did not spend this much talking to each other. This is a wasteful expenditure,” Jemmine said.
Spend less on fuel
“Januworry” is one of those months where people leave their cars at home and use public transport or carpool.
Jemmine explains that the petrol price drops since August amount to at least R3,60, which means motorists are now able to save at least R15 per R1 000 spent on fuel.
“They can then have more money to pay off their debts. It may not be much but it will definitely make a difference,” he said.
Repay your debts over a long period
Although a lot of people want to finish paying off their debts as quickly as possible, it would not make sense to sleep on an empty stomach after paying.
According to Jemmine, people should speak to ‘debt intermediaries’ to negotiate paying off their debts over a longer period as this will help take the money pressure of their shoulders.
“These are special people in a position to help out people who are in debt and they should have an effective solution,” he said.
Sit your family down and compile a budget
“Look at what you expect to earn and what you absolutely have to spend on. These are things like rent, water and electricity as well as how much you think you can spend on food.
“What is leftover will give you an idea on how much to spend on things that are discretionary. Give you an idea on what you can spend on things like talking to friends,” explained Jemmine.