Connect with us

Personal Finance

The Truth About Debt Counselling

Learn to manage your debt.

Eamonn Ryan

Published

on

Financial management speedometer

Thanks to the recent economic upheaval, people are more familiar with debt than they would like to be. Unfortunately, they are also applying for debt counselling for all the wrong reasons – thinking they can avoid their debts when they really need to confront them with lifestyle changes.

Debt counselling is not a ‘hiding place’

The debt counselling system is becoming bogged down by the weight of a huge number of applications, currently more than 7 000 a month, many of which are from people who should not be applying for debt counselling in the first place. According to Stats SA, the number of people who applied for debt counselling rocketed from 36 246 in November 2008 to 132 291 by November 2009.

Who should use debt counselling?

Of the flood of applications, a percentage is from people desperate for ways to escape repaying their debts and therefore opting to hide behind debt counselling. According to Stats SA, applicants are typically people who on average earn about R10 000 a month, have ten different credit accounts across various credit providers and are being threatened with imminent legal action.

That applies to a lot of us in the current economic climate, but sensible people do not seek debt counselling – it has unpleasant consequences, especially for the businessman and entrepreneur. Everything that can be done through debt counselling (except the temporary protection from creditors) can also be achieved in direct negotiation with those creditors.

This may involve repaying debts over a longer period of time, or such similar solutions aimed at stretching your cash flow, but typically means implementing the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve solvency. Gabriel Davel, CEO of the National Credit Regulator, says that this deluge of unnecessary claims is creating a bottleneck in the system and inhibiting the timeous debt counselling of genuine applicants.

“Debt counselling is meant to assist over-indebted consumers who can no longer afford to pay their monthly financial commitments, not for consumers who choose not to repay their debts.

“When certain applicants fail to fulfill their agreements with credit providers, it bogs down the system but more importantly may result in those consumers losing their assets through repossession.”

Righting the misconceptions about debt counselling

Where the misunderstanding has arisen is the protection applicants enjoy from creditors once they apply for debt counselling. Many consumers mistakenly believe this protection is permanent. Davel points out that it is only for 60 days – time for applicants to renegotiate all their credit facilities – after which the applicant is again exposed to the possibility of legal action and repossession. “When under debt counselling, you are required to pay the monthly installments agreed with your debt counselor. If you fail to make these payments, you forfeit the protection afforded you by the National Credit Act, and the credit provider has the right to take legal action against you, even when under debt counselling,” says Davel.

“It must be made very clear to consumers: even if people apply for debt counselling, they still have to repay their debts or they will certainly lose their cars or even their houses, depending entirely on their debt repayment record.”

When should you consider debt counselling?

Davel explains that debt counselling should be the very last resort for consumers as it comes with some medium-term drawbacks, such as being credit blacklisted for five years, thereby damaging one’s ability to apply for further credit or even to apply for certain jobs.

He advises consumers: “Start by letting your creditors know you are experiencing difficulty. You may be able to achieve the same results without debt counselling and its negative implications.”

Furthermore, Davel outlines what you need to know about debt counselling:

  • If you are married in community of property, your spouse will also come under review
  • Your name will be flagged at the credit bureau so you cannot incur additional debt
  • There are significant costs, both of an upfront and regular monthly nature, made to the debt counsellor
  • Once the agreement is in place you have to meticulously stick to the terms of repayment or the credit provider has the right to terminate the agreement and proceed to legal action to repossess assets.

Before becoming a financial writer and freelance journalist in 1997, Eamonn Ryan was a legal adviser, company secretary and alternate director at listed company Cashbuild Limited from 1988 to 1997. Since becoming a financial writer, he has focused on the business and financial sectors, as well as personal finance, writing for Finweek, The Star Business Report, Sunday Times Business Times, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, Entrepreneur, Corporate Research Foundation (which brings out a series of books each year ranking SA’s best employers and best managers), as well as a host of once-off and annual publications such as ‘Enterprising Women’ and ‘Portfolio of Black Business’. He also writes media releases, inhouse magazines and sustainability or annual financial reports for various South African corporates and financial services groups, including the Ernst & Young annual M&A book.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. jaydeenwest

    Mar 15, 2012 at 22:16

    This article is clearly from the perspective of a business man, as the tables have turned and now the credit providers are suffering the consequences of allowing consumers undue credit. Every person under debt review is the consequence of the credit providers reckless behaviour whereby they failed to do correct financial checks on the consumers before allowing them credit.I agree that many of the points mentioned above are valid but much of what has been said is merely just advise from someone who has never had to take credit upon credit in order to survive. It is not a secret that more than half our population live off diminutive amounts of money. The only way that these people can put food on the table is to open food accounts, subsequently they then realize that they need to take out a credit card in order to repay the food accounts which amounts to a vicious cycle of credit to repay credit. So many take out clothing accounts so that they can afford to buy their children school uniforms as it is more feasible, for example, to spend R200 a month on the repayments of the clothing account than spending say R1000 on school uniforms at once. It is so easy to give advise on how people should manage their finances but it is unrealistic when applied in so many South African’s lives.

    I believe that there are a few Debt Cousellors out there who are misinforming the public about the benefits of debt review, but we are bound to have a few rotten apples in every tree. Never the less this rehabilitation process is something positive for so many South African’s who are drowning in financial struggle. I think its by time that the consumers become protected against so many powerful credit providers who have been dangling the carrot in front of the face of the consumers for years.The credit providers are the ones who have failed to educate the consumers, trying to lure them in with false advertising, credit cards in the post and gimmicks.

    Many are not interested in the consequences of debt counselling. This may be a difficult statement to digest for some members of the high society, but the ability to lay your head down at the end of the day and know that you have enough money to look after your family, and not have to worry about losing your assets is more important than the fact of being blacklisted etc.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Personal Finance

6 Ways To Develop A Millionaire Mindset

Chasing money has remarkably little to do with getting rich.

Published

on

Prev1 of 7

wealthy-lifestyle

If you truly want to have a million dollars, you must first be and think like a millionaire. By doing so, you will attract the necessary resources to you.

So, you want to become a millionaire entrepreneur? You’re not alone. Many dream of leaving their job and becoming their own boss, enjoying the various millionaire lifestyles we watch on TV. But there’s a difference between those who dream of becoming millionaires and those who do. And it begins and ends with mindset. If you don’t develop that mindset, you will continue to spin your wheels, working just as hard, but never going anywhere.

Developing a millionaire mindset requires you to stretch your thinking. Start by developing the following six attributes.

Prev1 of 7

Continue Reading

Personal Finance

4 Ways To Become A Millionaire Even When You Start With Little

It costs nothing to take advantage of the limitless opportunities online.

Timothy Sykes

Published

on

102-4-ways-to-become-a-millionaire-even-when-you-start-with-little

The hardest part of becoming successful is getting started to begin with. But despite the challenges ahead of you, there’s a way to become a millionaire when starting with little. I’m going to show you four reasons why you can become a millionaire with just a small investment.

1. First focus on learning, not big gain

Education is your greatest weapon. Focus on learning in the beginning. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on making huge gains in the beginning. Learn everything you can because this is how you build the foundations for long-term gains.

Related: 21 Choices Millionaires Make That You Aren’t Making But Should Be

They say that if a millionaire goes bankrupt they’ll nearly always be able to get it back. And that’s because they might have lost their money, but they have the knowledge of how to get back to where they need to be.

2. You can learn loads about any topic online

online-learning

I’m grateful for the internet. It’s the single biggest library in the world. You’re reading this article right now and you’re acquiring knowledge you wouldn’t have been able to acquire 40 years ago.

Use the internet to its fullest extent, whether that’s through reading books, browsing articles or watching video tutorials. Set some time aside every day to learn something online. It could be a video series or a favorite blog.

When you get into the habit of learning regularly you’ll find that you advance much faster.

3. Focus on the niche you love

These days you can learn about anything and target the niche you’re passionate about.

This is what I was able to do with penny stocks. I found a gap in the market and provided knowledge to people who wouldn’t have otherwise being able to access this sort of information.

You can do that with absolutely any niche. When you find a niche you’re passionate about and you use the reach of the Internet you start to make huge gains.

4. Prove your expertise by creating free content

Your reputation as an authority is the new business card. There’s a reason I created a penny stock guide and made it free for all. You may have already seen ads for it on social media. The way to succeed with little is to create a reputation through your content.

Related: How To Become A Millionaire, Explained In 1 Minute

It’s the gateway to success because through free content you start to build relationships with others who value your work. And from there everyone gets richer.

You can do lots with a little

The days when you needed a huge investment to become successful are long gone. These days you can do so much with just a little. Find what you love, advance your knowledge in that area, and create a product that fulfills a need. Finally, work on building up relationships through portraying yourself as an authority on your subject.

Combine everything together and you can accomplish anything.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.


Related: 13 Habits Of Self-Made Millionaires You Could Adopt Today

Continue Reading

Personal Finance

10 Tips To Become A Millionaire This Year

Becoming a millionaire requires changing your mindset and implementing some changes.

Murray Newlands

Published

on

millionaire-habits
Prev1 of 11

Becoming a millionaire may seem out of your reach, but it’s possible with the right attitude and guidance. The fact of the matter is your income can only grow as quickly as you do, so you need to change your mindset to achieve your goal of becoming a millionaire.

Once you have a millionaire mind, you can’t lose it, no matter what financial or business mistakes you make along the way. To get yourself there, you’re going to need some structure. To help you, I’ve outlined the top ten tips you should follow to become a millionaire this year.

Prev1 of 11

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending