Consumers are advised to tighten their belts as 2023 is not about to get any easier financially. This is according to Senior Researcher at the Bureau of Market Research at Unisa, Jacolize Meiring. She says the rising cost of living and the intense load shedding have made things more difficult for consumers.
The Momentum Unisa Household Financial Wellness Index surveys a nationally representative sample of 2 000 households about their experiences.
While the survey covering the 2021 to 2022 year, found an improvement in financial wellness following difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Meiring says the reality consumers’ face is more dire, with households battling higher inflation and interest rates.
The high food and fuel prices as well as higher interest rates are squeezing already hard-pressed consumers.
Load shedding is also adding to the troubles as it reduces productivity and job creation.
Meiring says consumers should prepare for another difficult year in 2023.
“The reality of consumers has not changed so much in the past year and even in some instances has become even more dire straits, given the structural constraints that we are facing in the economy. As you just mentioned, we have high inflation with high food prices, high fuel prices, etc. We are seeing load shedding, the impact of load shedding to productivity and to job creation and a lot of our consumers actually not being able to put food on the table, so that is the reality of consumers today,” says Meiring.
Meiring says consumers need to diversify income streams to be able to survive the difficult times.
“In the report, we have elaborates on five money moves. Basically, first of all, look at decluttering your financial expenses. So, that comes in to everybody is trying to tighten their belts, look at what they are spending on, etc. That’s our first thing. Everybody says get a budget, etc., but we say let’s go beyond that; try to make savings a habit. Even if it’s so small, if you start small, in the end you have the wonderful thing of compound interest, then gain momentum by adding some additional income sources. Those side hustles, selling something as an additional source of income, but also looking at your passive income. So, have your money work for you. Remember, pay off your debt, do not fall in to that debt trap,” Meiring adds.
Meiring says sound financial advice can assist consumers on the journey to financial success and wellness.
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