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“Money worries that keep me up at night”

Few consumers are free from financial stress. Three South Africans open up about the economic challenges that give them sleepless nights.

21 May 2024 · Fiona Zerbst

“Money worries that keep me up at night”

Financial pressure is a common cause of anxiety, but many of us keep our money worries under wraps.

Three South Africans share their personal stories, outlining the cash flow constraints that cause them stress.

Tip: A savings calculator can help you save for a rainy day. Even a little, saved over time, can go a long way.

“My husband had to downsize his business”

For Angel Peters, a 50-year-old lecturer, the economic downturn has brought painful consequences. “My husband runs his own construction business, but he has struggled during the past two years,” she explains.

“The global recession, high fuel and material costs, and inflation have all hit hard.”

In 2023, the couple decided to give the business six months to survive. While things have improved slightly, Angel still gets worried.

“We have one child at university in another city, and our second child will study away from home next year, which means our expenses will grow,” she says.

“I worry about my husband’s mental health and how to help him through this difficult period. I’m not sure how we’ll manage going forward, but we just have to take things one day at a time.”

“My girlfriend was retrenched”

Sizwe Khumalo’s girlfriend was retrenched in December, two weeks before Christmas, which came as a shock to the couple.

“We just weren’t prepared,” says the 30-year-old gym instructor. “Last July, we signed a lease on a larger, more expensive flat. Now, with only my income to depend on, this expense, coupled with my car repayments, has become a stressor for me.”

Sizwe says he spends long hours at the gym, either training clients or working out himself, as it’s the best way to cope with the stress.

“In some ways, this has been good because my constant presence at the gym has led to my signing up two new long-term clients. It’s given me a small sense of security,” he notes.

“In the meantime, my girlfriend is desperately job-hunting. She is a talented graphic artist and I hope she’ll find a job soon.”

“I’m a single mum paying my children’s study fees”

Content strategist and English coach Mihir Govender, 52, is a single parent with two children at university, one of whom lives away from home.

“The only thing that keeps me awake at night is that I must meet their fees – around R30,000 – every month,” she says.

“Cold sweats, panic attacks, and insomnia are my best friends at night – but none of these will pay the bills, so I’ve taken small steps to alleviate the stress.”

Mihir notes that she is making a concerted effort to stick to her monthly budget. Before every purchase, she interrogates her “needs” and “wants”.

“I don’t buy anything on credit, and I make full use of my loyalty cards – it’s amazing how much I can save if I shop with intent,” she says.

Mihir has also had candid discussions with her children about the future. “I’m determined to support them through their university years, but they’ve also committed to what we call an ‘independence deadline’ when they’ll be working and supporting themselves,” she adds.

“Knowing there’s an end in sight makes my nights a lot less stressful!”

Tip: Are repayments causing you anxiety? Find out about debt consolidation.

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