Category Credit
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South Africans reining in the spending horses this festive season

13 December 2010 Kudough

National survey finds:

- 78.74 percent of South Africans not going away on holiday this year
- Only 2.5 percent blowing their year-end bonus on festive merriment
- 97.35 percent will spend modestly on festive gifts

SOUTH AFRICANS are taking their financial problems seriously. Very seriously indeed. A Kudough survey has found that most of us are giving ourselves the festive gifts of a lighter debt burden and more money in the bank this year.

More than half of all South Africans who will be getting a year-end bonus this month will use it to reduce personal debt. And nearly 80 percent of South Africans have decided to save money by staying home over the festive break instead of going away on holiday.

The online survey was conducted nationwide and polled the personal opinions and financial decisions of 443 people. It was undertaken last month by online consumer credit rating service provider, Kudough.

Out of the 443 people surveyed, more than three quarters (76.98 percent) expected to receive a year-end bonus in their pay packets this month. 53.72 percent of the total number of respondents said they had decided to use their bonus to settle as much personal debt as possible. Close to nine percent of respondents (8.8 percent) would use their bonus for new year expenses (such as school fees), whilst 7.57 percent intended to invest their bonus. Only 2.5 percent of respondents were going to spend their bonuses on festive season merriment.

More than three quarters of people polled (78.74 percent) intended to spend the holidays quietly at home and fewer than 20 percent of respondents (19.6 percent) would go away for a few days to a domestic travel destination. A scant 1.66 percent planned to jet off on holiday to an overseas destination.

Chris van Rensburg, Kudough ceo, says survey findings are in line with a trend the company has seen recently: a growing desire to minimise debt and start implementing sound personal financial discipline. “Having debt is not bad,” he says. “In fact, debt can be a good thing. The trick is being appropriately indebted. A well-serviced mortgage bond on property, for example, as well as a small number of carefully managed consumer accounts gives one an excellent Kudough status and an extremely favourable profile with financial institutions for access to money for investment and for security.

“More and more people are starting to realise this. And more people are taking an active and keen interest in their Kudough ratings and are seeking ways to either reduce their debt burden or maintain their good Kudough status by diligently managing their money.”

Only 3.56 percent of survey respondents, he says, planned to go on extravagant festive shopping sprees. The spending of the majority of respondents would be either modest (32.23 percent would buy pricey gifts for their children only); lowly (30.9 percent would buy inexpensive token gifts or would give friends and family home-made gifts); or nonexistent (34.22 percent would buy no gifts at all, saying good festive wishes were all they could afford).

The findings, says Van Rensburg, are reflective of the personal debt crisis that many people find themselves in. South Africa has a total credit active population of 18.2 million people. More than 11 million of those people are overwhelmed by debt according to October 2010 statistics in the SA Credit Bureau Monitor from the National Credit Regulator. The credit records of 212 000 of those 11 million people went bad in the second quarter of 2010.

Kudough is an online resource for consumers to monitor and improve their credit standing. Van Rensburg has better insight than most into the complicated heart of South Africa’s personal credit and debt dilemma. And hundreds of new clients each month are evidence that South Africans everywhere are finally taking debt seriously and are working at understanding how they got themselves into trouble in the first place.

“We are not surprised by the survey findings,” he says. “We have seen a quieter and more sober trend in consumer spending in South Africa. People are confronting their debt and are doing their best to understand it, and manage it. Those who have not got themselves into a financial quagmire are working hard to stay financially healthy. It’s going to be hard work for many millions of South Africans to recover from the heady credit spending of a few years ago. But people are determined. And that’s a good thing.”

Kudough was launched earlier this year and every indication so far is that it’s a service that South African consumers have felt a need for. Since its launch in August , Kudough has helped thousands of people make sense of their credit rating and implement better personal money management.

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