Be credit smart

RCS 10 top tips to help you manage your financial challenges

For some, tough economic times has meant retrenchment and facing a hard-to-crack job market. Others have been forced to take pay cuts as businesses battle to stay open. The result is a devastating loss of monthly income for both.

For everyone concerned, it is a difficult and worrying time because while your income may have changed, monthly responsibilities and expenditures haven’t. And as the months pass, it becomes increasingly difficult to meet your obligations. This can cause huge financial and emotional stress.

When things seem to be getting tough, RCS encourages our customers to:

At RCS, we believe in working towards a solution.  No matter how bad things seem, there is often a way out of the problem. Finding it means facing your situation head on and openly. And doing what you can to cut costs.



  1. Know your Financial Position
    Take a look at all your bank accounts. Know what is in them now and what will come into them each month from your salary, grants or support payments. Discover what your bank charges are and subtract those. What you are left with, is the amount of money you have to work with. Knowing exactly what this is, is the best way to figure out what you can spend.
  2. Create a Budget
    Write down everything you spend money on.  Start with the big costs – your bond or rent, car or loan repayments.  Then add family expenses: food, school, clothes, medical aid, petrol, transport etc.  Now add in the incidentals – entertainment, travel, gifts, clothes, partying. Don’t leave out anything – you want the full story.
  3. See the Whole Picture
    Go through your budget and take out everything that is not absolutely necessary. This will allow you to strip your spend right back to the essentials. And give you the figure you must have each month to keep you on the financial level. Anything you have left, you can use to bring down your debt.  Whatever is left after that – save, save save.
  4. Live within your Means
    Don’t spend what you don’t have.  Credit costs money – you pay interest on whatever you buy. So keep it for the special treats, for the absolute must-haves and the rainy-day difficulties.  For everything else, use cash.
  5. Keep Yourself Covered
    Never cancel your short-term insurance. If anything was to happen to your car or if you were burgled or your home was damaged, you would be faced with much higher costs than if you had kept up your insurance payments.
  6. Keep it Real
    Remember, you are not alone. You are not the only person to have ever been retrenched, lost your job or have your salary cut. Millions of people in South Africa are facing the same challenge. The most important thing you can do now is to let your creditor know and let them advise you. You then have options – either use some of your retrenchment package to settle your debts or make an arrangement with your creditor to reduce your repayments until you find a new job.  A creditor will always work with you to make repayment possible but they have to know your situation. If you do decide to pay in full, that’s absolutely fine. You have the right to pay off your debts earlier. But remember – there is a difference between the settlement amount and the outstanding or owing amount.  Ask what the settlement amount is. This is what you will need to pay.
  7. Save a Little each Month
    It all adds up over time.  See what you have left over and instead of spending it, open a savings account.  Shop around for a good interest rate option and put your balance there. Create a standing order each month that goes directly into your savings account before you start spending. Even R50 spent on coffee each week adds up to R2600 at the end of the year. A nice bonus to have over the Festive Season!
  8. Know your Credit Status
    You have the right to one free credit report annually from a registered credit bureau.  Get it, know what you are able to do credit-wise and plan accordingly. Remember that a negative credit profile can affect your ability to secure certain jobs, especially those related to finance or those where you have to work with money. So work to keep a clean record at all times.
  9. Ask for Help
    You have a legal right to receive assistance when you are over-indebted. Contact your credit provider to discuss your situation and negotiate an affordable repayment plan. If you are unable to reach an agreement with them, you may contact a registered debt counsellor to assist you. Please note that when you are under debt counselling, you will not be able to get further credit until you have settled all your debts.
  10. Keep it Simple
    Avoid getting into more debt by downgrading your lifestyle. Entertain at home, ask friends and family to bring a dish when they come to visit, stay in and watch a movie on TV, share transport, take lunch to work and repair that broken appliance instead of buying a new one. Being credit smart  is a necessary skill and one that will benefit you in the long run. RCS believes that it is our responsibility to empower consumers with information that will enable them to make educated financial decisions. We are here to work with you because RCS knows that “an informed customer is a protected customer”. 

© 2019 - RCS Group. RCS is a registered Credit and Financial Services Provider. NCRCP 38. FSP 44481