S Africans urged to spend wisely over Christmas

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pretoria - The National Credit Regulator (NCR) has urged the public to be money wise over the festive season.

With a few weeks to go until the bonus payouts for the year, the regulator said most consumers are already drawing up shopping lists in anticipation of the December break.

"December is no different from any other time of the year. Remember, you do not have more money to spend other than your monthly salary. Your bonus (if you get one) should be used to pay off debts and other expenditures," Manager: Credit Information & Research at the National Credit Regulator Louisa Hetisani said.

Overspending during the festive season is easy because of the year-end celebrations and excitement, said the NCR, but if consumers want to begin the New Year in a financially sound position, they should be aware how they spend money over the period.

According to NCR statistics, consumers owe R1.36 trillion in mortgages, vehicle finance, credit cards, store cards, personal loans, short term loans, pension and insurance backed loans. Statistics also reveal that there are 19.60 million credit active consumers.

Credit active consumers are consumers obligated to pay credit providers and/or service providers, etc. These obligations result in transactional entries on the consumer's credit record at the credit bureaus.

Out of the total 19.60 million credit active consumers, 53% are in good standing and 47% have impaired records.

"Do not be a statistics this festive season and add to the 47%, spend your money wisely and save for the New Year," advised Hetisani.

The NCR had several tips for consumers. The regulator appealed to consumers to:

- Do a budget for the festive season and include all debt, rent, electricity, water, insurance, transport, gifts, entertainment, etc;
- Be proactive and double-up on your regular payments such as mortgage or rent, lights and water. That way you will be able to afford costs such as school fees and uniform which must be paid for at the start of the New Year;
- Prioritise home loan and rent;
- Shop around for cheaper options;
- Avoid unnecessary credit and the 'buy now pay after three months' adverts;
- If you do borrow money, make sure you borrow only for what is strictly necessary, and ensure that you can afford the repayments;
- Make it a family project to make presents for friends and relatives. Bake biscuits, draw a picture, write a poem or sew a cushion cover. These all cost much less than buying something in the shops and will mean more;
- 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;

The public is further encouraged to get a free copy of the credit bureau record from any of the 11 registered credit bureaus. Contact the National Credit Regulator for further information on 0860 627 627.

"The festive season can be an expensive time for everyone. The key is not to go overboard on your purchases," said Hetisani. - SAnews.gov.za