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National Credit Regulator: Consumers urged to curb spending spree during festive season PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 December 2015

With the festive season already upon us, most consumers will be getting bonuses and some will be spending like there is no tomorrow. The National Credit Regulator (NCR) warns consumers to spend wisely and think about January as it is just around the corner.

For many, the festive season is a time for giving and for people to spoil themselves for working hard throughout the year. “However, it is important to note that spoiling oneself may come at a prize”, says Mpho Ramapala, Education & Communication Manager at the NCR. We need to budget and plan way in advance before we can actually spoil ourselves during the festive season. “If you want to go on holiday, you should start planning for the holiday and saving for it earlier in the year, not during the last month”, says Ramapala.

For those consumers who will be getting bonuses, plan accordingly, budget and save for January expenses. Most people will be paid around mid-December and again at the end of January, you need to ensure that your salary / bonus paid in December will last you up until your next pay cheque in January. “These bonuses should rather be used to pay debts”, she adds.

Should consumers find that they are battling to pay their debts, Ramapala advises such consumers to contact their credit providers to negotiate lower repayments or contact a debt counsellor for assistance. Debt counselling is meant for over-indebted consumers and it is not free of charge.

Below Ramapala shares tips of spending wisely during and after the festive season:

· If you want to begin the New Year in a financially sound position, be aware of how you spend your money during this period and save for the New Year;
· Keep track of your spending by either jotting down or keeping the receipts of all your spending;
· Request a pre-agreement statement and quotation when applying for credit. This will enable you to shop around and do a comparison on the cost of credit;
· Read and understand your pre-agreement statement and quotation – if they offer you credit life insurance, seek clarity on what it actually covers;
· Seek loans with NCR-registered credit providers. You can identify such credit providers by a window decal (an orange sticker with the NCR logo) and a registration certificate that will also state the NCR credit provider registration number;
· Do not leave your identity documents, bank cards / pins and SASSA cards with credit providers when applying for credit. This is a criminal offence. Report cases where your bank / SASSA cards and identity documents were taken by credit providers to your local police station;
· Be wary of “buy now, pay after three months deals” and then incurring additional credit during those three months;
· Do a budget for the festive season and include all debt, rent, electricity, water, insurance, transport, gifts, entertainment etc;
· When going shopping, have a shopping list to avoid buying unnecessary items;
· Be proactive and double-up on your regular payments such as mortgage or rent, lights and water (arrange with your credit providers). That way you will be able to afford costs such as school fees and uniform which will hit you at the start of the New Year;
· Prioritise your home loan and rent;
· If you borrow money, make sure you borrow only for what is strictly necessary, and ensure that you can afford the repayments;
· If you’re not sure of exactly how much you want to spend on each person’s present, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and overspend. Limit yourself to an amount for each person to help keep track of your spending;
· Items such as school stationery, uniforms or other useful items are a better investment. Choose presents that last long after Christmas;
· Instead of buying expensive presents, set up a savings fund and put away an amount for your loved ones each Christmas. Over time this will grow into a much bigger pot of money that can be used to fund school fees or pay off a car;
· Entertain at home. Ask guests to bring something for the meal so you share the costs of your festive entertainment;
· Each year, set up a separate fund for birthday and Christmas presents as well as holidays. Keeping this money separate will enable you to save for special occasions, while at the same time fund your day-to-day living expenses without going into debt;
· Use your bonus to reduce your debt burden by paying off existing loans;
· Don’t forget to get a copy of your credit report from any credit bureau. This will assist you to know your financial standing. Should you require an additional copy of your credit report within the same year, there will be a fee that credit bureaus will charge.
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