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Its time to get back on track this Black Friday

24 November 2021 Alicia Moses, Snr Consumer Education Specialist of the FSCA

Black Friday which falls on the 26th of November this year, is a popular day of massive sales on a variety of products and services, a ‘sale day’ that originated in the United States and is the biggest shopping event of the year.

It has become a major shopping opportunity in the events calendar of South Africans over the past few years. Statistics released by Finder.com , indicate that the most popular categories of products purchased are; clothing, shoes, groceries, electronics and home appliances, in that order.

We know that it is a challenge to deter shoppers from following the “frenzy” of bargain shopping, however the financially responsible stance has always been to rather plan and Shop with a Purpose, where you budget in advance and pay for items in cash. Try to Shed light on your budget on black Friday with your nearest and dearest so that you do not land up in debt for the sake of instant gratification.

This year the message is a little different. For almost two years, the COVID-19 pandemic, has brought with it, financial hardship and economic uncertainty. Within this trying time, the July riots further contributed to loss and despair. South Africa is experiencing its own kind of darkness – and I am not only speaking about load shedding.

How about getting your finances back on track this Black Friday by looking at ways to reduce costs, pay-off your debt, make more money and save.

Here are a few tips to get started:

1. Get a clear picture of all your debts and defaults. A credit report can tell you who you owe, how much you owe and also give you information on any defaults or judgments against you for low, slow or no payment. One way to get back on track is to call your creditors and negotiate a minimum installment or payment break, if you are struggling to honour your monthly payments. This includes your home loan and vehicle finance.

2. Where do I get a credit report? You can get one report per credit bureau, per year for FREE. For a list of credit bureaus visit www.cba.co.za. If there is incorrect information on your credit report, you can also contest this directly with your creditor. If the enquiry has not been resolved you can take it to the Credit Ombudsman, National Credit Regulator (NCR) or the Credit Bureau Association (CBA) – they can assist you for free to clean up defaults on your credit report.

3. Draw up a budget of all your sources of income and expenses. Keep track of expenses by using a budgeting app, keeping receipts in a box and printing out your bank statements. Deduct your expenses from your income and prioritise needs before wants and luxuries.

4. If you really need to buy anything, shop around for the best price, negotiate and make use of loyalty programmes like points cards which are available at certain supermarkets and retailers.

5. Don’t cancel your policies, rather call your financial advisor or insurer and ask them what your options are. Usually you can opt for a reduced premium with reduced benefits or a payment holiday where your benefits are paused but not lost.

6. Think of ways to make additional money. Are you good at gardening, carpentry, sewing, baking or plumbing? Start a side-hustle and use your skills and earn an additional income. Perhaps you can buy bulk goods, repackage, and resell them at a profit. This extra income can be your spending money, savings, or investments.

7. If you have been retrenched, and contributed to the UIF, you can apply at the Unemployment Insurance Fund office for your unemployment benefit whilst you look for a new job.

8. Ask your retailers, for example furniture stores, if you have credit life insurance on your account. If you do and you have been retrenched, have become disabled or passed on - the credit life cover will kick in and either pay off the debt or make payments on your behalf for a specific period of time. Note: if your account has been in default the credit life insurance will no longer be in force.

9. There are various grants offered by the state that can also assist such as the child minders grant, old age grant and the special COVID-19 social relief of distress grant. Contact your local South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office to enquire further.

10. Beware of scams and quick rich schemes. Financial desperation can lead to desperate measures and bad decisions. If something seems too good to be true, it generally is. If you have been told that you will double your investment within a short space of time, this is generally a sign that this is a scam or quick rick scheme.

11. Share skills. If your neighbour is good at cutting hair and you are good at gardening -perhaps you can trade skills, products and services.

12. Sell excess goods. Look around the house and see if there are some items not in use. Sell these items. There are various online and social media platforms , i.e. Facebook groups, gum tree that allow you to sell or trade your unused goods.

13. Try and pay off your accounts with the highest interest rate, fast as you can. You can end up paying twice the amount for something in the long run due to interest charges.

14. Move into a more affordable home or drive a more affordable car.

15. Get the kids involved. Encourage their entrepreneurial spirit. Can they sell baked goods and snacks at school or university? Perhaps they can offer tutoring services to younger learners.

16. Start saving for unplanned and planned expenses. If your fridge suddenly needs repairs, you can use your emergency fund to pay for it. If you want to buy items in bulk, save up during the year and plan your shopping around key events like Black Friday.

17. Plan/save for future costs. Like, school uniform, stationary and planning for retirement etc. Can you purchase second hand uniform, or extend the life of the current uniform? Perhaps you can join other dads and mums and buy stationary in bulk to reduce costs.

18. Draw up a Will, so that the right persons will benefit from your estate in the event of your death. A financial advisor, your bank or a lawyer can assist you in drafting your will.

These are just a few tips that can help you get back on track with your financial situation and plan better for unforeseen circumstances.

As we approach Black Friday and the temptation to shop entices you, think about the financial consequences of those decisions. Those items may bring temporary happiness or instant gratification, but in the long run they will only bring you stress and frustration. If you use credit to shop, you may end up paying double the costs due to high interest charges over the long run.

If you have planned and saved towards purchasing something special, then you have shopped with purpose. If you have made budgeting a family affair, then you have shed light on your budget which should lessen the pressure on you as the breadwinner.

Lastly, when shopping online, be sure to practice online safety. Use safe networks when doing online payments and never give your PIN number or banking details to anyone.

Quick Polls

QUESTION

The second draft amendments to Regulation 28 will allow retirement funds to allocate up to 45% of their assets to SA infrastructure, with a further 10% for rest of Africa; but the equity & offshore caps remain unchanged. What are your thoughts on the proposal?

ANSWER

Infrastructure? You mean cash returns with higher risk!?!
Infrastructure cap is way too high
Offshore limit still needs to be raised
Who cares… Reg 28 does not apply to discretionary savings
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