“Instead of just lying awake at night worrying about how you’ll cope, or running up more debt at exorbitant interest rates, there are some positive steps you can take right away to help make ends meet,” said Rudi Botha, the chief executive of BetterBond.
The first of these, he said, was to “get real” about your financial situation. “Get your bank statements and find out exactly how much money you have available for January. Then make a list of your essential or fixed monthly payments (such as your bond or rent, car repayment and insurance premiums) and a separate list of variable expenses (such as your grocery, cellphone, utility and petrol costs).”
Second, pay the minimum amount required on all your fixed expenses and your credit card account. “You should definitely not put your home at risk, or your car if you need it to get to work. At the same time, you should review your medical aid and insurance policies and see if you can negotiate lower premiums on any of them, without losing essential benefits. This especially applies to car insurance, because the value of your vehicle decreases every year.”
Third, said Botha, you need to work on your expenses list and see where you can cut costs, because this was where the money would hopefully come from to cover extras like school clothes and equipment. “You might decide to buy only half your usual cellphone airtime this month. Many also cut out all alcohol, take-aways and restaurant meals in January.”