According to Stats SA, there were 15,226 civil judgements for debt amounting to R312,7 million recorded in September 2019. The largest contributor to these cases was for money lent, amounting to R91,9million or 29,4% of the total debt cases for the month. If you want to avoid being part of these statistics, then you will need to plan and budget very carefully to survive the seemingly endless month ahead. 

“Following a month of holidays and lavish spending, January is often a tough month for most people. Especially if you received your December pay cheque earlier than usual, your January pay cheque can seem just too far off to hold out for. However, building onto bad debt is not a way out, but rather a way into deeper levels of financial despair,” warns Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett.

As tempting as it is to use the ‘get out of jail free’ card by reaching for your credit card to purchase the items you simply have no money left to afford, Goslett suggests that you get creative and go without certain things until your next pay cheque.

“While there are certain fixed expenses you cannot avoid paying, such as your home loan instalments and insurance premiums, there are other household expenses you could put on hold for the month. For example, you could pause your DSTV or Netflix subscriptions. You could also pause any hired household services you might have, for example cleaning or garden services,” Goslett suggests.

“Your entertainment budget should unfortunately be the first expense that meets the chopping block. Instead of viewing this as a negative light, try and view it as an opportunity to plan for the year ahead. Make the most of the time you have at home by setting up monthly budgets and cleaning out the garage and messy cupboards. You might just find some items that you could sell online, giving you some extra cash to help you get through the long month ahead,” says Goslett.

However, all of these are meant to be short-term fixes to help you get through one month. If your financial situation leaves you to make these kinds of sacrifices on an ongoing basis, then you might need to consider more permanent solutions. “Arrange a meeting with a trusted real estate professional and find out whether downsizing might be a better option for you. A lower monthly rental payment or home loan instalment can provide major relief for those who are struggling to make ends meet on a regular basis,” Goslett concludes.