South Africans are running out of money before the end of the month – and battle to pay school fees

 ·19 Jul 2022

South Africans say high levels of financial stress is negatively impacting their health, and they are increasingly worried about not being able to pay all of their expenses at the end of the month.

New data from South Africa’s largest debt counsellor Debtbusters shows half of South Africans (52%) are stressed or anxious about running out of money before the end of the month.

The group’s data, which includes a survey of over 14,000 participants, shows a further 70% of respondents said they were experiencing some form of financial stress.

Of these 94% felt this was impacting their home life and 77% their work life. 76% believed it was affecting their health. Generally, women were more stressed about their finances, home and work life and health than men.

In particular, women were 30% more likely than men to be stressed about their health as a result of financial stress, and 20% more worried about paying their debt each month, compared to men.

Other key statistics show:

  • 40% of all respondents were spending over half their take-home pay to repay debt;
  • 36% are struggling to pay off debt each month;
  • 27% are concerned about inflation;
  • 23% worry about unexpected expenses;
  • 15% battle to pay school fees;
  • 12% worry about having enough to retire.

Reactions to dealing with financial stress ranged from cutting back on monthly expenditure to selling personal items, with most people (43%) opting to tighten their belts. A quarter of respondents looked to increase their income by finding a better job. Unsurprisingly younger people were more likely to seek higher-paying jobs.

However, one in six (14%) said they felt stuck and didn’t know what to do.

When asked why they hadn’t acted to alleviate financial stress 39% responded they ‘felt stuck’ and 23% said they needed more time to think.

Psychotherapist and transactional analyst Diane Salters says people seeking debt counselling are probably going to feel shame and fear, not be thinking clearly and ready for fight, flight or freeze.

“Those in freeze mode will likely feel stuck. Many responded this way in the survey. Those who are in flight mode will say they don’t need debt counselling when the overall numbers saying they are experiencing the effects of financial stress on their lives indicate they do.

“If they freeze, they will do nothing. Or they may be ready to flee or fight the debt collector, their partner or spouse or even their debt counsellor.”

Read: South Africa’s rand is undervalued for now

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter