Inside the Debtor’s Mind
The counsellors at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) say that more and more South Africans are suffering from the adverse side effects of debt, which can lead to the development of severe depression, along with many other medical conditions, said to be brought about by the overwhelming pressure of being in debt.
When asked what it means to them, many South Africans define debt as a lifestyle tool, a lifeline or a necessary evil – revealing disturbing trends in how debt is viewed and used. A lot of individuals aren’t aware of the insidious side effects of debt that permeate every facet of one’s life. Debt is not purely a matter of financial health, but rather a multifaceted affliction that disrupts one’s emotional, mental and physical health as well.
Thus, if your finances reflect your state of mind, only a positive shift in thinking will enable you to take the first step towards reaching a point of financial stability. The feeling that debt induces can be compared to that of being enslaved because, when you depend on borrowed money for basic survival, you are bound to feel as though you are no longer in control of your own life.
The Debt Condition
Included in the extensive list comprising the devasting side effects of debt are severe depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and behaviour, strained relationships at home and work, prolonged denial, anger, low self-esteem and defining one’s self-worth by debt. Moreover, being indebted has been proven to cause lowered immunity, which can in turn produce any number of serious physical ailments.
One of the biggest problems we as South Africans face when it comes to debt is, in fact, not the debt itself, but rather that individuals are reactive and not proactive about their situation. They avoid debt review out of fear or ignorance, unaware of the numerous debt review benefits.
Furthermore, they aren’t familiar with their rights as consumers under the National Credit Act, so when credit providers take advantage of them, they don’t have a debt counsellor to help them take the necessary legal recourse to have their debt restructured or written off.
A Universal Affliction
Another of the countless debilitating side effects of debt that requires immediate attention is that of our national savings average, which currently stands at a shocking 0%. It would seem that many South Africans are still in denial of the fact that emergencies are an inevitable part of life, which should see us making savings accounts a top priority. However, as of yet, we have only proven ourselves to be the very opposite of a nation of savers, as we continue to instantly spend what we earn, and then some.
As a rule, an indebted individual should have at least three months’ worth of debt repayments and living expenses saved up before they spend money on unnecessary luxury items, so they are able to combat the destructive side effects of debt when and as they come. People believe that taking out another loan will help their situation because they feel incapable of changing their relationship with money, but this is not actually true.
Considering the many success stories that have arisen from debt counselling over the years, it would seem that becoming debt free is fully attainable to anyone who has the good sense to capitalise on the many debt review benefits. In view of this, it certainly adds up that individuals who seek out debt counselling, and take a step forwards along the path to becoming debt free, often find relief from the side effects of debt through this proactive behaviour.