South Africans feel high levels of financial stress are negatively impacting their health, but despite this, most try to deal with the problem themselves rather than seek professional help
A new “Money-stress Tracker” surveyed over 14,000 participants. It is one of the largest surveys ever done in South Africa to determine how money-related stress impacts other aspects of life.
Seventy percent of respondents said they were experiencing financial stress. Of these, 94% felt this was impacting their home life and 77% their work life. Seventy-six percent 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.
Over half of the participants (52%) indicated they felt stressed or anxious about running out of money before the end of the month. Other major financial stresses were:
- Struggling to pay off debt each month – 36%
- Concerned about inflation – 27%
- Worry about unexpected expenses – 23%
- The battle to pay school fees – 15%
- Worry about having enough to retire – 12%
Perhaps unsurprisingly, financial stress was most acute amongst the younger respondents and those with less income. However, 40% of all respondents were spending over half their take-home pay to repay debt.
One in six people believed that they had less debt than their peers, while five in six believed they had the same or more debt. Under 25s generally believed that others had more debt than they did.
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. Twenty-six% 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 to fight, flight or freeze.
“Once the decision is made (to proceed with debt counselling), most people feel an immense sense of relief. The fact that once in debt counselling, they aren’t constantly having to answer phone calls about outstanding payments also helps alleviate a lot of the stress.”
For more information about managing debt, visit: www.debtbusters.co.za/debt-solutions/