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How women can reduce their financial stress

South African women are more worried about their finances than men. We find out more about how they’re doing financially, and we consider five tips to help them achieve financial freedom.

08 August 2022Isabelle Coetzee 4 min read
Women in the mountains
Photo by Karl Magnuson on Unsplash

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In 1956, more than 20,000 South African women marched to the Union Buildings. They were protesting new legislation which would further restrict the movement of black women in urban areas.

A lot has changed since then, and women are no longer legally discriminated against. However, they still experience a different lived reality than men. In this article, we specifically look at the financial challenges they face, and we consider how they can combat this with financial freedom.

In a recent survey, DebtSafe found that 64% of their female participants are unemployed and, among those who have debt, 58% of them are behind on their payments. As a result of this, as well as other factors, participants indicated that their financial stress is due to “tough economic times”.

DebtBusters, who recently surveyed over 14,000 South Africans, determined that 70% of respondents – both men and women – are experiencing some kind of financial stress. However, they found that women are 20% more worried about paying off their debt than men.

Feeling uneasy about your debt? You can get help by applying for a consolidation loan. This will combine your debt into a single payment and reduce your overall monthly instalments.

If you can relate to the women in the surveys, then financial freedom may be the solution you’re looking for. This is when your money is managed incredibly well and, as a result, you don’t spend your days fretting about how you’re going to pay your bills.

We have considered the main areas where women are struggling in South Africa, and we have come up with the following tips that you can follow to work towards your own financial freedom:

1. Remember why your credit score matters

Regardless of where you are in your financial journey, your credit score will always be an asset that can assist you when you need it. For example, if you’re faced with a medical emergency, your credit score can help you secure a loan to cover your medical bills.

However, you won’t be able to access these funds without a good enough credit score. That’s why it’s important to regularly check in on your credit score and to take action to further improve it.

Through ClearScore, you can access your credit score and report – for free, forever. On top of this, you can take any of our free coaching plans on how to grow your credit score.

2. Don’t be intimidated by budgeting

By setting up a monthly budget, you will be able to keep money in your account until the end of the month. The challenge is to stick to your budget – regardless of any temptations that come your way – and, if you manage to do this, you will feel more in control of your finances.

If you haven’t set up a budget before, it may feel intimidating at first. However, just think about it as writing down everything you earn versus everything you spend, and then deciding whether you’re happy with it or not. You can find out more by reading our easy guide to budgeting.

3. Take action against unmanageable debt

Debt can eat into your monthly budget and make it difficult to have anything left over for other necessities. At times, it may even seem more practical to ignore your debt obligations so that you can pay your rent. However, this will only lead to further debt and a bad credit score.

If you’re unable to pay an instalment, immediately call your lender and explain your predicament to them. They can be very understanding, and they may even be able to extend your repayment period so that your monthly instalment can be reduced. This will then allow you to meet your other financial obligations, as well as prevent you from getting stuck in a debt trap.

If your lenders can’t reduce your debt further, you still have two more options available: Debt counselling and debt consolidation. You can find both of these options on ClearScore.

4. Find ways to counter rising prices

You may be concerned about the rising costs of food and general living expenses. With the current economic climate, there’s a lot of financial uncertainty. To help counter this, you may have been looking for ways to increase your income.

However, it can take time to secure new streams of income to help boost your budget. While you’re in the process of doing this, you can go through your budget and ask yourself whether there are any costs you can reduce – or even remove altogether.

For example, you can find out whether more affordable, no-name brand items are decent alternatives to your current grocery list items. This could save you a couple of rands here and there, which altogether adds up and can ease the burden of rising prices.

5. Prepare for unexpected expenses

It can be worrisome to have an empty bank account before the end of the month. Even if you’ve stocked up on food and paid all your bills, you may still encounter unexpected expenses. This is why it’s important to have an emergency fund.

If you’re living from month to month, then it may be difficult to start saving for this. However, don’t let the little bit that you’re able to set aside discourage you from doing it. An emergency fund isn’t built overnight, and it will always fluctuate as you add more funds to it and then use it where necessary.

Once it reaches three months’ worth of living expenses, then you can turn your attention to your savings and investment funds.

It’s possible to take control of your finances – even during difficult financial times. By being proactive, you will be able to slowly take charge of your financial future and push yourself away from debt and towards financial freedom.

ClearScore is here to help you along this journey by offering free coaching plans, lifetime access to your credit score and report, and helpful articles that will guide you towards your money goals.

Isabelle Coetzee Image

Written by Isabelle Coetzee

Freelance Copywriter

Isabelle is a freelance finance writer and journalist in Cape Town. She helps make managing your personal finances calm, clear and easy to understand.