How Do You Know When You Know It Is Time?
How Do You Decide When To Get Help?
Debt is stressful and can cause you many problems. You may want to find a solution but how do you know when it is time to get help from a professional?
Dealing With Debt
These days, with credit being so readily available more people have credit than have jobs in SA. This means everyone you know is probably dealing with debt.
No doubt you have been through phases when it is manageable to pay your debt installments each month and then other times when it is hard to do so (perhaps due to added, unplanned costs that have come up that month).
So, if everyone has debt and you are able to make ends meet most of the time how do you know when it is time to get some help?
When Life Changes
If you have recently found out you are pregnant or have decided to get married (or divorced) then your financial situation is going to change. You may face a massive change in your income during maternity leave or when finding a new job that pays less than before.
These would be wise times to take a serious look at your finances. One option that you have is to consul with a Debt Counsellor to review your entire income vs expenses vs debt obligations situation. This is not the same as entering debt review. This is more a budget session with a professional who can offer sound advice on restructuring your expenses and make suggestions about how you can better manage your debt repayments given your new circumstances.
Small Signs You May Need Professional Help
If you have no idea of what your financial situation is and are not comfortable or not sure how to figure it out then you could ask someone you trust to assist you. If you feel shy to talk to a friend or family member than you can consult with a Debt Counsellor for a review of your situation. They can help you figure out if you are paying for things you don’t need to and if you are being charged anything you shouldn’t be by credit providers. They will be able to help you make up a realistic budget and debt repayment strategy.
If you are comfortable with working out your own budget and managing your finances but have found that recently you are unable to save towards important costs that you know are coming up then you may need some help. If you know you have to renew your car license but are just going to put it “on the card” or if you know that you need to service the car but are just going to put it on the credit card ,then these are signs that you are now completely trapped into credit use. The inability to save towards anything is a warning sign that you may need a little assistance re-looking at your total debt situation.
If you have cut off important payments towards your insurance even though you worry that you may need it then you are probably over committed and stretched too thin. You should consult with a financial expert and get advice.
If you have been delaying vital repairs on your vehicle such as replacing the brakes or bald tyres because you just don’t have the money then you should speak to a professional and get some advice on how you can better structure things (incl your debt repayments).
Giant Flashing Warning Lights
If you are using new credit to pay for existing credit then you are deep in a debt spiral.
If you are picking and choosing which of your credit providers you will pay this month or being approached by collections people demanding payments then this is a giant flashing warning light. You need assistance.
Many people allow this situation to go on for a long time in the hopes that things will improve but the reality is that with the way inflation is going and the way things just get more and more expensive it is unlikely that things will get better by themselves.
Being in this situation is very stressful and…totally unnecessary.
When credit providers send out warning letters (Section 129) that they are about to take legal action against you they have to include in these letters that you can get help from a Debt Counsellor. They do this because the law compels them to do so.
Consumers who are going through tough times are given the chance to call in a professional who can help them reduce their stress and restructure debt repayments to something manageable and realistic.
‘it is always better to get help sooner rather than later’
If you are experiencing any debt related stress then it is always better to get help sooner rather than later.
Even if your finances are in a mess and credit providers have already taken you to court over some of your debts then it is not too late to get help with the rest of your debt situation.
Speak to a Debt Counsellor
If you just want some causal advice or if you are deep in trouble and need help dealing with your credit providers you can reach out to a Debt Counsellor. There are thousands country wide.
‘always deal with a Debt Counsellor who is registered with the National Credit Regulator’
You should always deal with a Debt Counsellor who is registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR). The NCR has an online database of registered Debt Counsellors (on their website) and each Debt Counsellor has a registration certificate which they should show you when consulting with you.
It can also be helpful to deal with a local Debt Counsellor whose office you are able to visit in case you need instant attention. While some do prefer to do things more anonymously online (so that no one sees them getting help from a Debt Counsellor) it is still good either way to do a little googling and check out sites like Hello Peter or the Debt Review Awards to find out who you are dealing with.
‘you cannot ignore your debt situation and deal with it passively’
Due to the way interest on debt works you cannot ignore your debt situation and deal with it passively. You need to be active in reducing the amount of debt (and the associated stress) that you have. If you are trapped in a totally debt dependent lifestyle, unable to save or reduce your debts then it may be time to talk to a professional.