It’s Women’s Month, and here are some statistics and tips for those wanting to ensure their ‘financial self-care’, with the emphasis on being fair and good to themselves when it comes to anything finance-related.
Women juggle many responsibilities and ‘financial self-care’ is not always easy or possible. DebtSafe’s June 2019 financial reality survey provides a statistical glimpse into the challenges that many in their mid-20s to mid-40s are currently experiencing:
- 56% indicate that their expenses exceed their income;
- 28% say they spend 20-40% of their take-home pay on their dependents, while another 28% spend 40-60%;
- 60% say financial stress influences their overall stress levels;
- 41% indicate that financial stress impacts their sleep patterns;
- 24% say the biggest financial worry they experience is that their income does not keep up with inflation;
- 64% say they have debt due to the tough economic times they find themselves in; and
- 48% say they are not up to date with their debt payments, mostly related to store credit and/or loans.
The fact that nearly one in every two women surveyed is not up to date with their debt repayments is startling.
The stress and additional expense associated with unpaid debt can have a dramatic effect on a person’s physical, emotional and financial health.
While certain circumstances may be unavoidable, this extreme proportion indicates that there is a need for greater financial self-care among women in South Africa.
Here are four ways that can be achieved.
1. A minimalist lifestyle
A big house, nice furniture, the best tech gadgets, an expensive car and luxurious holidays might sound desirable, but one should be cautious about using credit to acquire such things. Credit isn’t ‘free’ money. Such expenditure will end up costing considerably more than the initial purchase price, putting unnecessary strain on one’s finances.
2. Beauty in perspective
Self-care is important, and the best place to start is within. By respecting her money and deciding how best to use it a woman builds inner strength that leads to greater confidence. These qualities will endure long beyond the latest beauty fad – and the money that didn’t get swallowed up by trends or marketing gimmicks can go towards sensible purchases and treatments when one is more financially robust. Wherever possible, that money should be earning interest in the meantime.
3. ‘Budgeting’ means designing your life intentionally
The word ‘budget’ may sound complicated and feel intimidating. But it can be kept simple: net income minus expenditure and investments = the amount left for the month. This is not a ‘what is left over to spend’ amount. It should be kept for future emergency or investment use. Money saved is money that is earning interest, and thus creating wealth.
Here is a simple yet practical example:
4. What to do if the burden is too much to bear …
Anyone who finds themself burdened with debt and in need of relief has various options.
Financial planners, the National Credit Regulator, bankers, coaches and debt counsellors are there to assist.
There is no need to feel intimidated. One of the first things a debt counsellor, for example, will do is see how your debt can be consolidated. This means paying one single amount each month at a rate that has been negotiated on your behalf rather than paying off numerous debts and perhaps falling behind on some of them.
It is a good idea to do a little research to make sure you get the best help for your particular debt problems in a sustainable and regulated manner – in other words, in a safe way.
South African women are champions at taking care of all sorts of things. Taking steps to manage their money well will make them stronger, happier and even more capable of achieving great things.
Carla Oberholzer is a debt advisor at DebtSafe.