Twice a month, at least. That’s the number of times, Keabetswe, 43, used to go to the nail salon with her girlfriends. It was their ritual, their time to hang out and glam up. After getting their manis and pedis, the girls would walk out looking and feeling fantastic. But Kea would walk out with a pit of worry in her stomach.

“I’d spend close to R1 000 per salon visit, knowing that this meant I wouldn’t have enough money for transport by month end.” This wasn’t the only activity the squad would get up to in a month though. “We’d go to movies, lunches, dinners, shopping sprees and weekend getaways. Doing activities together was our way of bonding,” Kea says, adding that she genuinely loved spending time with her girls, but was paying a big cost. And it just kept rising and rising. The turning point came when her landlord gave her notice to move out, and she realised she had to give any new potential landlord her 3-month bank statement. “I owed almost R70 000 on my credit card. I usually used it and the overdraft to get through the month. My finances were a mess!”

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Today, Kea has a better handle on her money, but still feels the pressure to keep up in her social circles. “I’ve learnt to say no when I can’t afford to go out, but I still want to see my friends so I do still overspend a bit. It’s hard to be the only one in the group who can’t keep up financially.” 

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