Feb is National Debt Awareness Month
Think about or talking about debt is not something we often like to do. One debt counselling company wants us to change that.
Well known debt counselling practice, DebtBusters are encouraging consumers to find out exactly how much debt they have and how much that debt is costing them every month.
They are also advocating that consumers who are overwhelmed by debt get help sooner rather than later since things are not going to get easier.
Benay Sager, Head of DebtBusters says consumers need to “face up to debt” rather than ignore it or try hide from it.
DebtBusters like to put their cards on the table and share their recent stats about consumers who have come to them looking for help.
Those asking them for help (slightly more men than women) span all age groups, shockingly even younger consumers such as those born after 2000.
Normally, those who ask for help with there debt only have around 6 different active credit accounts.
For higher income groups their debt split is normally 25% on their car payments, 25% on their bond payments and 50% of their debt is made up by unsecured debts (credit cards, loans, overdrafts).
DebtBusters say that 96% of their clients approach them once they have already taken on a personal loan. 20% of clients come to them with payday loans (very short term loans).
Compared to 5 years ago, the value of new clients’ debts are more than 30% higher than past clients.
So, their new clients have less accounts but their combined debts are significantly higher than past clients.
‘troubled consumers are asking for more and more money from their credit providers just to get by’
This reflects how troubled consumers are asking for more and more money from their credit providers just to get by. They are not running out and grabbing credit from lots and lots of different credit providers but rather they seem to be experiencing more debt stress due to the rising cost of living.
Debt Obligations Vs Income
One figure that consumers should look at is how much they should be paying (what their credit providers want them to pay) verse their income.
At present, most South Africans need about +- 68% of their pay just to pay their expected debt installments.
For the majority of people that is simply not possible since they have to pay rent, electricity, phone bills and other monthly costs.
Instead, people short pay or skip payments or use further credit to pay their existing credit. This makes their overall debt grow.
Interest is the silent killer and people do not realise just how much of their payments are disappearing into the pit of interest and profit charged by credit providers.
Amazing Interest Rate Reductions in Debt Review
DebtBusters shared that, on average recently, their new clients come to them with:
Bonds at 10.8%
Cars at 14.4%
Unsecured credit at 23.6%
All pretty standard for many consumers.
When DebtBusters assist consumers through debt review they have recently been able help consumers to receive reductions in these rates (through cooperation and concessions by credit providers) down to:
These are massive reductions. Especially, with credit cards and loans.
As a result, over the lifespan of a consumer’s debt review (which is often 5 years) consumers are fortunate enough to save thousands and thousands in interest payments and to focus on paying off the debts rather than just make endless interest payments.
If you are experiencing more and more strain, living on credit and using credit to pay off credit then you should talk to someone about your situation.
Rather than wait too long, consumers should look at ways they can get rid of their debt (rather than taking on more debt). Debt review is clearly an amazing solution for those who qualify.
So, why not check your figures during Debt Awareness Month and see if you need to make changes to your debt situation?