South African consumers are facing a tremendous upheaval of rising costs and economic instability. Being swamped under the weight of debt and account repayments many of us are struggling to move forward financially. For this to change we have to take back control of our personal finances. Sadly though a growing majority of people are ignorant about how to effectively manage their financial lives. This is according to Wonga SA who have interviewed more than 16000 South Africans over the last year – revealing that only about 43% of them actually knew what a credit report was.
Before you can begin to rid yourself of debt you need to compile a working list of everything you owe money on. Sure you may think you have a rough idea about the accounts you are paying but you still need to see an accurate picture of all your debts put together. Draw up a spreadsheet and be sure to include as much detail as possible.
You can have columns for the total amount owing and the agreed monthly installment as you are currently paying. Now you can add another column per creditor where you can plan how much you can realistically add on to your repayments to rid yourself of the debt even faster. Most folks who have been paying on the same accounts for years are not even aware of the interest rates they are paying. Check these up on your account statements and keep an eye on them – you’ll be surprised how these change (increase) every now and then.
After analysing your debts in this way you can start to make a concerted effort towards becoming debt free backed by a sound understanding of your debt situation. Though you may find it challenging in the beginning, as long as you focus on where you want to get financially, sticking to your plan will become easier when you take active steps and continue to do so.
The best thing you can do with accounts which are dragging you under each month is to pay above the agreed repayment amount. In many cases putting more on top of the installment means you can likely score on reduced interest rates. Paying any account earlier than expected by the company or retailer affords you the opportunity of a better credit record and welcome rebates on what you would usually have to pay.
For a plan like this to work, you have to make it a part of your monthly budget plan. This is where you get to control your finances even more. Decide on fixed amounts per monthly account and expense and add these into your budget. Doing it this way also guarantees you will not over commit yourself thereby keeping your plan to eradicate debt realistic. You do not want to find yourself completely out of pocket simply because you are too aggressive when taking down your debts.
At the same time, you should realise that for your debts to completely disappear you will have to rethink your entire approach to money and how you use it. This no doubt demands a degree of discipline and taking responsibility for the situation. Try to control your spending by avoiding luxuries for a while and you’ll be surprised how much money can be put towards your debt repayment plan. And bear in mind this is never going to be an indefinite sacrifice. You can spoil yourself from time to time, especially when you are finally debt free. This is surely a goal worth striving for.
The best part about eliminating debt is that you will gain powerful insight into your own personal management of money. These are valuable life and money skills which will keep you on your toes so you don’t fall into the debt trap all over again.