When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the decision to enforce a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days, many South Africans were quite shocked, but empathetically, pleased. We understood that drastic measures like these could save our lives.
In addition to our main focus to stay healthy and safe, many questions around finances began to arise, as we have quite a diverse structure of employment. South Africans were concerned about how they would earn an income, pay their debts and take care of daily expenses, while understanding the imperativeness of the lockdown. The lockdown would affect many South African’s livelihoods.
The silver lining is that due to COVID-19 being not only a nation-wide pandemic, but a worldwide pandemic, credit and service providers are sympathetic towards consumers and have put measures in place to deal with the possibility that many consumers may not be able to meet their monthly debt obligations. Should one’s income be affected, it would be prudent to contact the respective credit/service provider(s) to request a payment arrangement. The Credit Ombud urges consumers to make use of this opportunity and, to most importantly, ensure that any arrangements or changes are in writing. In these instances, it is beneficial to be pro-active rather than re-active.
Amidst all the frustration, not limited to only finances, it has been such a joy to browse through social media and see how South Africans are finding creative ways to keep busy during this lockdown and sharing ideas on how not to ‘die of boredom’. The Credit Ombud would also like to share some ideas which we know many of us may not deem very fun or entertaining but would be very beneficial. We would suggest that consumers add to their ‘to-do’ list of activities, ‘get your finances under LOCKDOWN.
The lockdown is meant to save lives, to ensure that this virus doesn’t spread as rapidly as it has around the world, affecting lives and the economies of many countries. By getting your finances ‘under lockdown’, you too are attempting to save your finances, ensuring that you can account for every penny and not spending as carelessly as many of us would have, in the past. Make use of this time to reevaluate your finances and see it as a chance for restoration. Being under lockdown may have resulted in you not spending money on going out, or eating out as you normally would, which also adds to you saving on transport and petrol costs. You now have the time to go through your bank statement and peruse your expenditure and you’d be surprised at how minor changes in your spending habits could change your life. To those consumers who will still get their normal monthly income – this exercise may even reveal that you can afford to increase your monthly instalments to pay off your debts quicker.
At times the only thing that stands between you and getting that beautiful home you’ve always dreamed of, is simply lack of awareness and discipline. If you are not aware of actual cost of your expenditure, you will not be in a position to assess what further savings you can make.