I owe so much money, I don’t know what to do. I am afraid to go to work; I know they are waiting for me. It’s Payday tomorrow, but what’s the point, I still won’t have any money. What am I going to tell my family when there is no food? How will I get out of this? I feel like I am drowning…
The first question we need to address in this situation is, “Should I hide from my Creditors?” Creditors are people that you owe money to. If you owe someone money, they want to know where you are, what you are doing, and when they will get paid back. Which often results in them contacting us, sometimes frequently, which puts pressure on us – and sometimes makes us feel very afraid.
How should we handle our creditors?
Let’s pretend you’ve borrowed some money from your mother – she’s lent you P1,000. But instead of thanking her and loving her for her generous loan, instead you disappear, and stop speaking to her. If you do that, what kind of emotion is your Mother going to experience?
Is she going to love you, trust you and lend you more money? Of course not. She’s going to be angry with you, exasperated that you have cut her off, stressed that you are hiding from her, annoyed that you are pretending you don’t owe her that money. If you ignore her it’s going to make her upset. The same thing is true with banks, micro lenders, creditors, loan companies and so on - if we ignore them, they get upset - though we obviously care far more about mother!
Communicate with your creditors
If you communicate with your Creditors, even if it’s with bad news, they will know where you are, and they know what your intention is. That will make them feel more comfortable and at ease with you. If you ignore them, they are going to harass you, send you daily SMSes and phone or visit your workplace.
What about a crisis?
If you reach a time in your life when something has happened and you can’t manage to make a debt re-payment that you need to make, don’t stay quiet and hide from the creditor. It might be scary, but you need to make a phone call, book an appointment and go and see them, sit with them and explain your situation. Explain your situation; ask them to give you a break; negotiate a reduced payment, or an opportunity to catch up at a later stage.
Tell the truth to your creditors
Never lie to them – they’ll know you’re lying, and it will put you in a bad position with them. By talking to them honestly, they know that you
Lenders understand that people get into difficulties, and by communicating with them they know that you understand the problem - which means they will be good to you. Remember, lenders make their money by charging you interest, so they are not going to be too upset with you, because at the end of the day they are going to make more money from you if it takes you longer to pay off the debt. But you must keep talking to them – if you stop talking, they start worrying that they will have to take you to court to get their money back.
Too many debts?
So, if you have a situation where you find yourself with too many debts, and the situation is becoming hopeless, you need to communicate with your Employer and with all of your Creditors.
In asking them for their help, you never know, they may even surprise you and come up with a solution for you in an understanding manner.
Failing that, you need to find someone who can help you with debt counselling. That way you can prioritise your debts and put a structured plan in place so that your creditors are reassured that they’ll get their money back eventually.
The Laws of Botswana are also on your side in the long term – it dictates that a Lender cannot charge you total interest that is more than the amount that you originally borrowed. However, throughout the process, it is very important to keep talking.
If you run away and hide, your Creditors will have to chase you – and then they are going to angry with you. The angrier they get the nastier they get, and the harder your life is going to become. There’s no need for that kind of stress in your life: All you have to do is just keep talking - to anyone you owe money to.
*Modisa Maphanyane is a sales manager with Kalahari Training Institute (Pty) Ltd also known as Kalahari Training Institute. KTI is the premier provider of vocational training in Botswana, working with employers around Botswana to upskill all Batswana in the workplace for personal growth and productivity. KTI offers over 50 BQA accredited courses in all fields of business and industry
Names in this article have been changed to protect the innocent