Puleng Morake (30) was raised by her aunt and in 2012, as a token of appreciation, Puleng took out a loan of R85 000 to extend her aunt’s house. The young mom of one thought she would finish her loan in no time, but that was not to be. “I struggled to repay the loan and even had to move out of the townhouse I was renting in Centurion at the time, and moved to Soweto,” she explains. Over time, she was able to pay a portion of the loan.

TAKING CONTROL OF HER LIFE

In 2016 the bookkeeper felt she was ready to buy her own home but was told that she needed to pay off the loan first. She decided to focus solemnly on her debt and achieve her dream. “There were times I felt like I was working for nothing because all my money would go towards the debt. I was that girl who had a job but was always broke. It was so painful sometimes I couldn’t even sleep thinking about all this debt,” she recalls.

It seems her determination to live debt-free has finally paid off. Last month Puleng paid her last instalment towards the loan. “I felt so relieved and couldn’t believe it. I’ve learnt to never buy anything on credit, if it’s not a house or a car. These are the lessons I will teach my daughter. Lay-by is also a good option for things like clothes,” she says.

TAKING CREDIT TO QUALIFY

After paying off her loan, Puleng approached banks to get a bond. “I was told by all four major banks to get a credit card to maintain for six months so they can study my spending and repayment patterns. I was sceptical about taking out credit after my experience. This is my first month using a credit card, I can’t wait for the end of the year so I can finally get into the property-buying process,” an excited Puleng shares.

TIPS ABOUT DEBT

- Speak to your bank about monthly repayments

- Do not take out debt for no reason

- Make sure you are able to make monthly repayments

- Never take out loans for clothes and going out with friends.