Your physical, financial and emotional health matters!
I have been in the debt industry for many years. Through writing about it for a range of publications, surviving the financial distress brought on by my own divorce – to being in charge of a project set up by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Credit Ombudsman which saw to the accessibility of financial information to ordinary South African consumers – I know debt, and how it affects people. One thing that I have always stood firm on, is that money is not only maths. A bad financial situation brings with it as much (if not) more emotional issues than financial ones.
Sadly, never has this been more apparent than since we went into lockdown in late March 2020. Not only do we have to deal with never-before-seen financial tsunami’s brought on by the lockdown – we also have to deal with it whilst being with our partners in the same (sometimes small) space 24/7!
Over the years, I have given many financial workshops across all sectors of society – and from the poorest to the wealthiest of SA consumers – something that remains the same across the board, is the guilt and shame attached to a bad financial situation.
People will talk about their children on drugs and their husbands having affairs before they will tell you that their car has been repossessed or that they are behind with their bond. It is because of this guilt and shame that many bear the burden of debt alone, and find themselves sinking deeper into despair and depression.
Sadly, our communities are quick to pass blame and judgement when something bad happens to someone. Sentiments like “they deserve it” and “ it was bound to happen” often do the rounds. Don’t listen to these people. Their opinions don’t pay the bills – and chances are they are deeper in the doldrums than you are!
There are many things which are outside of your control that can lead to a bad financial situation. Divorce, retrenchment, short-time, unexpected medical expenses and so many other lock-down related issues can be the cause of a loss of or interruption in income. It is vitally important to acknowledge that these things are beyond your control. However, this does not discount the fact that many people find themselves over-indebted because of their love for name-brands, spending irresponsibly and wanting to keep up with the Jones’s.
Here are some tips to avoid falling into overwhelming debt despair.
Don’t carry the burden alone
When you’re struggling with your debt, the last thing you want to do is advertise it to the world. Your journey can therefore be an incredibly lonely one.
Your family and friends who truly care for you, will be there to support you during difficult times , as many of them might be facing the same issues – especially since March, when the lockdown started.
If you feel uncomfortable speaking to your immediate family and friends, then consider speaking to someone from your church, mosque or organisation which you consider to be a support platform. If they are unable to help you, they may still be able to point you in the right direction for relief and/ or counselling.
Financial distress leads to relationship conflict
How many of us have found ourselves arguing with our partners over money? How many of these arguments have ended up taking place in front of our children?
Sadly, I have come across marriages and families that have been broken apart because of money issues. Since we live in a society wherein we were not taught to talk about money, our focus often comes when it is too late.
Stress, and particularly financial stress is known to be one of the biggest contributors to certain health conditions like anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia and hypertension. More importantly it can lead to a compromised immune system, which is not a good thing as we head into the peak of Covid-19.
Just like you would go to see a physician to deal with the physical symptoms, it is important to go and see someone about the emotional symptoms of your financial distress as well.
There is light at the end of the tunnel – find it
When you have bills piling up, debt collectors hounding you and no idea of what to do or where to go, your space can seem very bleak. To avoid becoming further overwhelmed, make a point of finding options and solutions for your financial distress. Your physical, financial and emotional health matters.
If you are unemployed and don’t have medical aid, DISCHEM along with the Solidarity Fund and other partners is offering free Covid19 tests.
You have to apply for the test via one of these avenues:
- Call the Doctors on Call helpline on 087 055 0234 (weekdays from 08:00 to 17:00).
- Contact Momentum’s Hello Doctor service on *120*394#.
If you are overwhelmed by your debt, use our contact form or live-chat and get advice from our expert NDA advisors.
Emotional and relationship health:
For family, marital and covid-19 related counselling contact FAMSA.
Observatory office (Head Office)
Moeshfieka Botha is Head of Research and Consumer Education at National Debt Advisors. For more information visit http://www.nationaldebtadvisors.co.za/