This is how many South Africans could survive a R10,000 financial emergency right now

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the family earnings of about three-quarters of ordinary South Africans, a new survey by personal finance website JustMoney shows.

The survey, which featured responses from nearly 2,000 South Africans, was conducted over the course of April 2020 and primarily focused on surviving financial emergencies.

Just under half of the respondents (43%) said they earned under R10,000 each month, while just under 10% fell within the top bracket of earning over R40,000 each month.

The vast majority of respondents (79%) said that they were only able to afford an emergency payment of less than R5,000. Fewer than 10% could afford an emergency payment of up to R10,000.

Some of the other key findings of the study show:

  • 73% revealed that their family earnings had been “significantly or very significantly” affected by the coronavirus lockdown;
  • 36% of respondents stated that they would nonetheless not consider a payment holiday on their debt;
  • 77% of participants were worried about their financial situation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Just under 20% admitted to being somewhat concerned, and fewer than 6% said it did not concern them;
  • More than half of the participants (53%) said they create a personal budget every month. However, nearly 20% admitted to never having drawn up nor relied on a monthly budget.

When looking at savings, the survey found that nearly 70% of people wouldn’t last a month on the limited funds they have tucked away.


“Despite participants being predominantly employees who earn less than R10,000 each month, it is encouraging to note how many are making an effort to stay on top of their finances despite the extremely challenging times,” said JustMoney business head, Mannie Cristaudo.

“More than half set out a monthly budget, and over 80% monitor their monthly debit orders. It is also reassuring that less than 30% are considering taking a payment holiday.”

The National Treasury recently stated that as many as 7 million South Africans could become unemployed if large chunks of the economy remained closed for the remainder of the year.

It said that around 3 million jobs are at risk even if the pandemic is contained quickly, while a slow recovery could see 5 million job losses. A worst-case scenario would push the unemployment rate to over 50%, from its current rate of just under 30%.

Dondo Mogajane, the National Treasury’s director-general, warned last week that the country’s unemployment rate could reach as high as 40%.

Speaking in an interview, he said that the economy could contract between 7% and 12% as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.

He said that unemployment could reach between 30% and 40% – “if things go the way they are”. He said that the tourism industry is on its knees, with travel agencies closing down.

Read: 4 million jobs at risk as Ramaphosa further eases lockdown

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This is how many South Africans could survive a R10,000 financial emergency right now