Dont Let Debt Defeat You | Legacy BlueStar | Sanlam Financial Planners Bellville, Cape Town

Financial Planning

Don’t let debt defeat you

Debt can be a bit like your favourite chocolate. In small doses it can be beneficial, and, depending on how you use it, quite enjoyable. However, when overindulged, it has the potential to create lasting issues.
Once you’re overindebted, it’s easy to slip further into debt as you attempt to extract yourself. Unfortunately, this just creates a debt cycle, which is difficult to exit. However, it’s not impossible. We consider some of the most effective ways to regain control of your debt and step towards a solid financial future.

Factors that lead to overindebtedness

Overindebtedness typically occurs when your living expenses exceed your monthly salary. One of the leading causes for this, other than overspending, is ever-increasing inflation.
Inflation refers to the rising price of goods, such as groceries. The ongoing effects of the Covid pandemic, the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, have caused the price of everyday essentials, including fuel most notably, to continuously increase.
Although the cost of living is increasing, the same cannot be said for South African salaries. According to the DebtBusters Debt Index for Q4 2021 , in real terms, income has shrunk by 25% in the past five years. This has led to consumers accumulating debt simply to make it through the month.

Budgeting- the best first step

The best starting point for reducing debt is to create a budget, which, in short, is a record of your income and expenses.

Ayanda Ndimande, business development manager at Sanlam Credit Solutions, advises that when doing this you should keep the 50-20-30 rule in mind. This rule divides your spending habits into three critical categories, these being needs (50%), wants (20%), and savings (30%).

Needs consist of expenses that you absolutely must pay. These typically include, among others, your rent or home loan, insurance instalments, petrol or public transport fare, debt, groceries, electricity, and other utilities. Wants consist of luxuries, such as a night out on the town. Savings include money added, for example, to an emergency fund or an investment vehicle, such as a retirement annuity (RA).

“The 50-20-30 rule allows you to be financially responsible,” Ndimande says, “while still enjoying your money.”

However, she adds an important cautionary message. “It’s possible to think that you are sticking to your budget, but, because of inflation, you are actually moving backwards. It’s important to continually monitor your income and expenses and adjust your budget accordingly”.


Effective ways to settle debt

With your budget in hand, you can now turn your attention towards settling your debt. The two most popular methods for fast-tracking the process are the snowball and avalanche methods.

  • The snowball method involves prioritising your smallest debt item. Any funds remaining after you’ve made your minimum monthly repayments will be allocated towards this smallest debt. This method can be more expensive in that your interest might not appreciably reduce, but you will settle specific debts a lot more quickly.
  • The avalanche method involves prioritising your largest debt item, or the item with the highest interest rate. Once you’ve made the minimum monthly payment for all of your debts, any money scraped together via the budgeting process will be allocated towards your largest debt. This method will result in you paying less interest, however, it will take longer than the snowball method.

The method you choose will depend on your situation, and what you feel you will be able to stick to.

Ndimande says, “Credit doesn’t have to be taboo. It’s a reality that we all face. Debt can be managed through access to your credit report and financial education. All of this is included in the Sanlam Credit Solutions Dashboard.”


Three last tips:


Tip1: Sanlam confidence rule #3 says: “Don’t try to find the time to make your finances better. Make the time”.

If you’re having trouble understanding your credit profile and the impact of your debt, chat to a Credit Management Coach.


Tip 2: Sanlam confidence rule #52 says: “You’re only as successful as the team you have supporting you”.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your debt, register or login to your Sanlam Credit Solutions Dashboard, and request a “call me back” from a Credit Management Coach for free, expert guidance on credit and appropriate solutions to suit your financial needs.


Tip 3: Sanlam Confidence Rule #11 says: “Stay on top of your finances, otherwise they will get on top of you”.

Using the budget tab on your Sanlam Credit Solutions profile will allow you to quickly split and gauge money coming in and out. Including the interest in your repayments will help you to stay within your budget.

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