South Africans urged to prioritise well-being as financial stress sets in

South Africans are increasingly concerned about financial stress, which has an impact on their physical and mental well-being.

Recent data from Debt Busters’ 2023 Money-Stress Tracker demonstrates the widespread influence of financial concerns, especially for women, who report feeling stressed out about money matters in 80% of cases.

Financial stress can result in a variety of health problems, according to Dr Marion Borcherds, senior manager and head of well-being at AfroCentric, a Sanlam subsidiary. She emphasises the significance of managing the relationship between finances and general well-being.

According to data from AfroCentric’s financial well-being programme, a noteworthy 70% of participants find it difficult to make ends meet on their present salaries each month. Remarkably, only 8% have consulted an adviser, highlighting the dearth of competent advice available. Additionally, 65% of participants struggle with debt that is temporary.

Car ownership has been found to be a substantial source of financial stress, especially considering the rising living expenses.

Ernest North of Naked Insurance notes that the cost of having a car is further increased by the fact that South African consumers are struggling with inflation in necessities such as food, petrol and electricity.

North urged customers to carefully weigh their options when buying a car, considering things such as fuel economy, insurance costs, and maintenance costs.

He emphasised the importance of careful budgeting, particularly in light of the fact that salaries are not rising in line with inflation.

To prevent financial strain, North advised budgeting for expected increases in costs such as fuel and insurance premiums. “It’s wise to be cautious while budgeting because most people’s earnings aren’t keeping up with inflation,” North stated. “Having a safety net in your budget against growing expenses can be more beneficial than spending on the newest models.”

Financial concerns are frequently associated with anxiety, sadness, and relationship problems; this creates a vicious cycle that makes health and financial problems worse.


The following advice is provided by Borcherds for preserving both financial and physical well-being.

  • Establish a budget: Creating a budget enables you to pinpoint areas where you can trim expenses and take control of your financial situation.
  • Enhance financial literacy: Accessing tools, information, and resources is essential for supporting mental well-being through a better understanding of financial matters.
  • Prioritise physical health: Regular exercise, a balanced diet and sufficient sleep are crucial for boosting energy levels, maintaining good health and avoiding additional burdens from medical expenses.
  • Build an emergency fund: Having savings set aside for unexpected expenses like major car repairs or medical emergencies can alleviate stress and prevent the need to take on debt.
  • Reduce debt: Addressing and paying off debt is key to reducing stress and anxiety associated with financial obligations, thereby positively impacting both physical and mental health.
  • Seek financial coaching: Despite the taboo nature of money conversations, seeking guidance from a financial coach can provide valuable support in navigating financial challenges and improving overall well-being.
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