Updated 11 July 2014

Cash concerns can stress you out

It's time for cash-strapped South Africans to become more financially disciplined, helping them to avoid dangerous stress levels.

Thirteen million South Africans are showing evidence of financial insecurity, according to a recent survey. A further five million are unable to meet their debt repayments.

These are some of the findings of the 11th annual FinScope SA consumer survey.

According to a further poll (Associated Press-AOL Health), when people are dealing with mountains of debt, they're much more likely to report health problems such as severe depression and even heart attacks.

Many users raise the issue of money, stress and anxiety on Health24’s Expert forums, as can be seen in this post from a user who calls her financial situation "depressing". Read the whole post here.

“It is not abnormal for people to feel ill and experience physical symptoms, as the consequences of debt stretch beyond money and start affecting one's mental and emotional well-being” says debt expert Moeshfieka Botha from Credit Matters Debt Counselling.

Symptoms of depression

The most commonly reported symptoms of depression are listed here. Take this test to assess if you are headed towards depression.

To avoid depression and its associated symptoms, Botha cautions against exceeding Christmas budgets, as “South Africans tend to spend more impulsively during this time of year".

“Exceeding your Christmas budget could lead to high levels of emotional and financial stress in January,” she says.

She added that thinking rationally and limiting extravagant buying are crucial to ensuring financial and mental wellness.

Gaining peace of mind

Botha gives the following advice to indebted consumers to reduce anxiety related to bad debt:

1. Know where you stand 

For people to gain peace of mind with regard to their financial situation, it is important that they become proactive and contact the credit bureau to find out what their outstanding debt is.

2. Put a plan in place

Once people know what they owe, they can draw up a realistic budget to manage their debt.

3. Stay committed

It often happens that people don’t stick to their budget plan, and soon find themselves back on the emotional and financial roller coaster. It is important to follow through with your plan.

“Discipline is vital to minimising debt and reducing stress levels related to your finances,” Botha says.

(Picture: Stressed woman from Shutterstock)



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