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Online Shopping & Keeping Up With The Joneses Hurt This Student

When Karin* received her acceptance letter to a prestigious university she was ecstatic. She moved into student accommodation and took a student loan that covered here studies and expenses.

She had already saved a lot of money in preparation of going to school by waitressing and thought that everyone at school would be living on a tight budget.

She was soon surprised that her flatmates and school friends always had new clothes and the latest gadgets. She felt social pressure to keep up with the Joneses.  She began buying a few nice outfits online. Her friends were impressed and told her how good she looked. Soon she was posting pics on social media in her new outfits. She says she felt pressured to keep presenting a glamorous social media presence.

She began shopping while cooking, watching TV or even while travelling on the bus. It was so easy and fun. It made her feel excited and important.

‘It was so easy and fun. It made her feel excited and important’

Welcome to the World of Credit

She soon found out that with her student maintenance payment coming in regularly she was able to open an overdraft on her bank account. She was also surprised but pleased that she was able to get a small credit card for a similar balance so now she had two extra amounts she could spend.

‘she felt rich’

She says she felt rich. She began to spend larger and larger amounts. Some days she would go out shopping and spend R400 at local shops. Her mood began to depend on what packages were being delivered or what was in her shopping packets. All was going great..or so she thought.

When Hard Times Hit

Then one day her landlord made contact with her to complain that her previous and current rent payment had both bounced. She was now two months in arrears on her rent. She was shocked. She checked her banking and realised she was in a lot of trouble. She had been paying the minimum required each month for the overdraft and credit card but things had escalated out of control without her paying enough attention to the overall balances. She suddenly was confronted with the reality that she had maxed out her credit cards. Her overdraft was all used up with no more room and all her hard earned past savings had all disappeared.

Within a just few weeks, she was forced to move out of her accommodation and ask her friends for a temporary place to sleep on the couch. She began to migrate from place to place. She was regularly missing lectures and then failed several key exams. The stress of all the debt, the collections calls and her living circumstances made it almost impossible to concentrate or study.

‘By the time she decided to get help she had racked up around R100 000 in debt’

By the time she decided to get help she had racked up around R100 000 in debt.

She then had no choice but to leave school and get a job to try earn more money to pay all her debts. Her parents were unable to pay for all her debt as they had obligations of her own and said she will have to follow through on settling as much of the debt as she can on her own.

Turning Things Around For the Better

Karin then made several good decisions. To help keep costs down she moved in with her aunt and got professional counselling for her debt and also for her shopping addiction. With the help of a debt repayment plan that was realistic and manageable, she is able to progressively pay off her debts and still afford her basic needs. Karin is now paying off her debts slowly but surely and looks forward to the day she will be debt free. She says that she wishes more could be done to stop other young people from getting into so much debt so easily.






*names & images have been changed to protect her identity.