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Planning for 2014

Often the beginning of the year is the time when most of us plan ahead. We consider where we went wrong the previous year and where we can improve this year.

Interestingly enough in some research done recently one study showed that less and less people are adding financial goals to the things they want to achieve this year. In fact the study shows that the amount of people planning for financial improvement has dropped by half since 2009.

 Great Recession

With times getting tougher and the effects of the protracted  “Great Recession” (as it is now being called) being a reality here in South Africa that consumers are having to face daily, surely it would be wise to make some financial goals for 2014 and to look at some ways to cut costs and use funds better.

 Make a Plan

Debtfree looks at some ways you can improve your financial situation in 2014.

Step One

The very first step with any plan is to know where you stand at the moment. If you go visit a Debt Counsellor for the first time they will ask you for all sorts of information about your current situation and how you got where you are. Each year your Debt Counsellor will ask you to do the same thing in the annual review of your situation. So step one is to figure out how much you are earning (taking home) as a household each month.


Look at all income from all sources. If you earn different amounts each month then use last years income figures and take an average of 6 months earnings.


Write it down, your groceries, haircuts, makeup, petrol, electricity everything you can think of including snacks during the day. Figure out what it costs you to live each month. it is normally best to do this exercise as a family as there are some costs that you will not know about or will forget about. Don’t hide expenses from your spouse or it will create bigger problems in the long run.

Don’t Forget

There are some expenses that only come around once a year. It might be a service on your vehicle, a TV licence or a car licence. What you should do is write these figures down add them all up and then divide by 12 to figure out what you should be saving each month toward your expenses.

Work out what you still owe

List your debts. Put in the balance the rate and the monthly repayment amounts. If you don’t know the rate call the creditor or visit them and ask.

Consumers under Debt Review can use their monthly statement from the PDA to see roughly what the debt amount should be. Creditors should be sending you a monthly statement but many do not do so. This is illegal and you should complain in writing if they are not doing this. You can complain to the banking ombud and the NCR.

Credit Report

Once a year you can get a free credit report from a credit bureau. At the moment there are 13 different credit bureaus in South Africa. You can also approach a Debt Counsellor for a Credit Report which will be reasonably priced (Cost depends on the type of report).

Part Two tomorrow

*Consult the Debtfree Service Directory for more information on how to contact the Credit Bureaus.