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In the words of our late Father of the Nation, Nelson Mandela, ‘The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear’. The freedom of a huge number of South Africans remains severely compromised – by debt. One of the most frightening things about unmanaged debt is how quickly it can spiral out of control.

According to the latest TransUnion Consumer Credit Index, in the first quarter of 2017 almost 897 000 people were three months in arrears on their accounts. This could negatively affect their ability to secure additional credit when they need it. Having unmanageable and unfettered debt is like being shackled in a financial prison.

Unfortunately, maintaining one’s financial freedom is not always easy, particularly in today’s tough economy where there is rising costs. However, allowing the debt to overwhelm you is no solution

If your debt is proving to be a shackle around your neck, do not:
•    Ignore letters of demand from angry creditors. They won’t go away.
•    Juggle your finances so that you only pay the outstanding amount on the most pressing accounts.
•    Borrow more money to pay existing debt.
•    Max out one credit card to pay another.
•    Fool yourself into thinking the situation will straighten itself out on its own.

Instead you should:
•    Check your credit report. You can get your TransUnion report by looking at our credit report products tab above or calling 0861 482 482.
•    List all your active loans, credit and other account information from your credit report. Review the report carefully to ensure its accuracy.
•    List all your monthly expenses and total monthly income. Don’t leave anything out and do not underestimate. Take into account that the cost of petrol, transport, interest – and general household expenses – are likely to increase further over the next few months. Calculate your monthly budget.
•    Consider paying off first:
      -    any debts with high interest rates;
      -    accounts above 35 percent of their credit limit;
      -    debts that are close to be being paid off; or
      -    those with high annual fees.
•    Create a payment calendar with the due dates of each debt and the payment amounts – and stick to it.

What are the next steps?

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This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. You should always seek the advice of a legal or financial professional before making legal or financial decisions.

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