We have been through a tough 2 years emotionally and financially after the global epidemic that had us all scared and behind closed doors. In the months that followed South Africa was hit with flooding, riots and an ever increasing electricity crisis, throw in the war that started in 2021 and you will find a large number of working class people struggling to make it through each month.
In 2022 alone we had 8 petrol price increases, 3 interest rate hikes, a huge rise on food prices and our annual 10% price increase on our monthly expenses. I read a study toward the end of 2022 that said that 71% of income earning adults in South Africa are relying on credit and store cards to make it through the month. They are using debt to buy basic items like food and toiletries. With the increase in the interest rate if you are a typical South African working-class family, you have a house that is bonded, a car or cars that you took out a loan for, a credit card or two, some store cards and daily expenses. Just your debt alone would have gone up a few thousand Rand each month. So how do you survive on a fixed income when the cost of living keeps rising? Most people instead of cutting back or making changes go for the easier solution like buying on credit.
When I see how retailers and banks advertise debt is makes me sick to my stomach. Look at any advert trying to sell you a store card. There are young people smiling, happy, having the time of their life. Debt will not make you happy, it will make you poor and leave you feeling stressed out and in a high state of anxiety. The retailer sells you a fantasy of freedom when in fact they are condemning you to a life of debt. When you can’t pay them back, they are relentless in trying to get their money back.
What really grates on my last nerve is the freebie they offer you. So, if you successfully sign up for a store card, they will reward you with R 1,000 worth of free vouchers or spend R 1,000 and get R 300 off or some kind of hook to entice you to sign up. This marketing campaign costs this company millions to produce as these big retailers only have the best advertising agencies working on their brands. I worked in advertising and know how big these retailers marketing budgets are.
So, they spend millions trying to convince the youth to get into debt. How is that logical. Surely there is a better way for them to spend millions of Rands enticing the youth?
It’s now January the longest month of the year. Yes you are all going to feel it as you limp along to pay day from over spending. All the Happy New Year emailers are starting to flood into my inbox and how do they start? Guess…….. Get a loan to get you through Januworry…what? That is the worst advice. Why do influential finance platforms who are meant to be educating consumers encourage us to get into more debt?
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