25 April 2012

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Getting into bad debt is not the worst thing that could happen

Financial struggles teach us a lot about ourselves and managing our finances

When you find yourself over indebted you may find yourself wondering if you’ll ever be able to turn your financial situation around and live a debt free, stress free life. Of course, not getting into debt in the first place would have been the smart thing to do, but sometimes unexpected situations cause us to be consumed by debt or we simply don’t have the skills to stick to our budget and over spend. Getting into debt should be hard, according to Roshawn Watson, a writer who advises people on getting out of debt, investing and building wealth. He says that the struggles will teach you how to spend your money in the future, how to plan more carefully and where to cut back.

He points out that some of the richest business people today have experienced great financial difficulties in the past, but it taught them how to be better at what they do. Having failed financially does not mean that you are a failure: it means that you will have to work harder at finding ways to earn an income, using your creativity, living wisely and making smart investment decisions in the future. You shouldn’t forget the sacrifices you made when you were in debt and how hard it was to be free of it again, because this will keep you from going down that path again and seeing the warning signs early on.

One of the ways in which South Africans can save themselves from the debt trap is to apply for debt review. The simple reason being that if you cannot keep up with your repayments, you are probably over indebted and the last thing you should do is take out another loan to pay all of the others. If you couldn’t cover your living expenses and loan repayments this month, how will you learn to cut back enough to add ANOTHER loan’s repayment to your expenses by the next month? Debt review is especially valuable for people who have a bad credit record, don’t have assets to use as collateral to consolidate their loans and feel that they have gotten themselves in way over their heads with the amount of repayments they have to make every month.

Debt review forces you to take responsibility for you income because the debt counsellor works out a budget for your monthly expenses and you have to stick to it. Failing to do so will mean that you simply won’t have any money. Those under debt review cannot take out any more loans and if you try and skip on repaying your creditors they have the right to cancel the review and take you to court. However, debt review also takes a lot of stress off the person’s shoulders. The debt counsellor arranges restructured payments with their client’s creditors and handles the legal aspects thereof. The consumer has the right to work through the debt counsellor and creditors will be notified to only contact the counsellor during the review process.

Even though debt review means that people will have to make some lifestyle adjustments and give up their creature comforts and make other sacrifices, most consumers welcome it. It’s currently the most effective way for creditors to be repaid and for consumers to be protected from their creditors while getting the financial advice they need. Once you have completed debt review, you will receive a certificate and this will allow you to qualify for credit again. However, after going through the lengthy and often painful process of paying back all their debt, smart people work to make sure that they stay far away from being over indebted again and strive to use their credit wisely.

Indeed, credit can open a lot of doors for us: think of home loans, car loans, student loans and credit cards in an emergency. Without these, our lives would be much harder. However, they come with the major responsibility of paying them back. Don’t allow credit to take away your freedom, but use it to better your life; for instance the independence of owning a car or the opportunity to pay off your own place.

Image licensed to Itani stock photos

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