Vulnerable – a word that is often used when describing South African women. It basically means “susceptible to physical  or emotional injury” The statistics are shocking. Every four minutes a woman gets raped in South Africa. Every year an average of 2500 women are killed in South Africa.

 It is very obvious that women are vulnerable and susceptible to the scourge of violence that seems to penetrate our society from every angle.
Here, solutions and better legislation will only come into play if we stand together as a nation and fight this!

The same is not the case with your financial life. You do not have to be vulnerable to a bad financial life. You do not have to be vulnerable to a bad credit record.

Most importantly, being over-indebted and seemingly unable to cope with your finances  in no way means that you should just crawl into a dark corner somewhere and give up.

As women, we know that many of us simply don’t have the luxury of doing that! We have jobs to hold down, children to car-pool, school and extra mural meetings to attend, washing to do, food to cook and husbands to raise.

Our immense strength knows no bounds. Let’s use it to get out of a bad financial situation!

•    Don’t panic! Set aside some “alone” time and calmly and quietly start acknowledging your debt.
•    Write it down! Don’t keep things in your head. Put it on paper. Things often become a lot clearer when it literally stares you in the face
•    Take responsibility and stop saying  “ don’t know what to do”!
•    Instead of logging on to Facebook and LinkedIn – become pro active about finding solutions to your problems.
•    Visit the website of the National Credit Regulator, a Debt Counsellor , the National Debt Mediation Association and your creditors
•    Visit the Credit Bureau’s (websites.) You are entitled to one free credit profile a year.  Get your credit profile and  become aware of exactly what your situation is.
•    Draw up a budget
•    Be honest about income and expenses! You are fooling no – one but  yourself by not being accurate in your budget. Only once you put down a true reflection of how much you really are spending – do you stand a chance, of seeing the woods from the trees

Come on ladies! Get out there and find solutions. Talk about your options. Ask questions! Start somewhere!

I know from firsthand experience that one can literally feel like you are drowning in debt. I know that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when your telephone rings and you know it’s someone looking for payment. More importantly I know what it takes to put that smile on your face and make as if everything is all right with the world – while actually it’s all falling apart.

In many instances South African women don’t have a choice in becoming a victim or a survivor. Crime often makes that choice for us. With our debt we do have a choice in how we manage it! There are solutions and options available.

Stand up. Stand tall. Make the effort to find solutions. And move forward!

In the next article we are going to look at debt which has prescribed (that no longer needs to be paid – after three years of non payment by the debtor and three years of no legal action by the creditor) and the behaviour and rights of debt collectors.

National Credit Regulator (NCR ): – 0860 627 627
National Debt Mediation Association (NDMA ): – 0861 11 6362
Debt Counselling: –   086 111 6197
Transunion Credit

Author details: Moeshfieka Botha –