Times are tough and debt is rising in many households. Marthinus Fourie MD of bsmart offers some good advice on how to beat the debt bug in the coming year.

Historically, South Africans are not good at saving but credit active consumers can manage and be in control of their budgets. To assist in the management of their hard-earned cash, bsmart’s buying process ensures that a portion of the member’s daily purchases is paid back to them as a form of ‘savings’.
The festive season looms, and many consumers will be getting further into debt by over-spending on holiday luxuries. To ease the burden, bsmart members can use their cash-back bonuses and avoid starting the new year with additional financial pressure.


Here are Marthinus’s tips on staying debt free.


  1. Write down all your expenses at the end of each month, set a budget and see if there are any items you can do without or pay less for.
  2. Save 10% of your monthly take-home pay and put it into an interest-bearing savings account.
  3. Try and save any extra money you receive, such as the annual bonus, a raise, birthday presents etc.
  4. Look for companies that offer savings deals, such as bsmart. Anyone earning R10,000 or more per month with a sound financial history can join the Bsmart member organization. You are given a shopping limit for the month to use for your everyday shopping at most retailers, anywhere in the country. Each time you pay with the bsmart card or App you qualify for a discount from that retailer. Bsmart accumulates and consolidates all your discounts for you into a cash back bonus which is paid back to you to spend on anything you like.
  5. Cut back rather than cutting out because habits die hard. Rather have one less visit to the Mall, coffee shop, pub, hairdresser or nail-salon etc. per month.
  6. Being employed is paramount. During these times when companies are cutting back and retrenching, stay focused, enthusiastic and productive, even if the work doesn’t satisfy. After all, there’s nothing to stop you from looking for another job. Remember future employers are more likely to view your CV favourably if you are still working.
  7. Switch to cash or debit cards and only use your credit card if it’s absolutely necessary.
  8. Have a good look at your home and car insurance. There might be more competitive rates elsewhere.
  9. Get your family involved in a ‘saving project’. Set a goal and have a treat for the person who saves the most.
  10. Even though times are tough, consumers will overspend during the holidays. Why not total every expense associated with holiday spending (presents, travel, entertainment, petrol etc). Divide it by 10 and save that amount every month from January to October. This means that come November and December you can enjoy the holiday season without getting into debt.
  11. Be circumspect about those companies that offer payment terms. Try to pay cash upfront as interest on that figure can amount to more than double over the payment period.
  12. Before indulging in a purchase ask yourself ‘Do I really need it or do I just want it?’