You are Here > Home > Podcasts > Listen: How I paid off R85 000 in just six months

Listen: How I paid off R85 000 in just six months

by | Dec 6, 2023

How this year’s Money Makeover Challenge winner is well on his way to being debt free.

In this podcast Maya speaks to Johan, the winner of the 2023 Absa/City Press Money Makeover Challenge, and his Absa financial adviser, Takalani Badugela.

Johan explains how he reduced his debt by over R85 000, built up an emergency fund of R42 000, and increased his retirement contributions – all in just six months. Johan is an inspirational story of what is possible when you commit to a goal.

He discusses how small day-to-day choices over time had created a significant debt burden, and talks about his decision to enter debt review.

Like almost all South Africans, soon-to-be retiree Johan was behind on his retirement funding. He will be turning 65 in seven years’ time, which does not leave a lot of time to get his finances in order.

When Johan applied for the Money Makeover Challenge, a large percentage of his salary went to debt repayments. Like many South Africans, Johan was caught in a debt spiral. The more debt he took on, the less money was available to meet living expenses, and so he continued to take on more debt to pay the bills.

Even with spending cuts, he would struggle to continue to meet his debt obligations. He could not achieve his goal of being debt free by retirement unless he took the drastic step of debt review.

Although going into debt review in the public eye was a tough decision for Johan, he decided that sharing his journey publicly would give people the courage to face their own financial challenges and not be ashamed to admit when they needed help.

This is a principle Johan has followed ever since becoming visually impaired as a teenager. He has dedicated his life to helping others with the aim to inspire and make a positive change in the life of every person that crosses his path.

“I don’t view myself as a person with a disability, I am merely differently-abled,” he says.

Working with debt counsellor David O’Brien of Meerkat, Johan managed to negotiate lower interest rates, which reduced his monthly debt obligations by 45%. His debts will be fully paid within 61 months and he will be debt free by June 2028 before he retires.

Together with his Absa adviser Takalani Badugela, Johan and his wife Mignon created a household budget and found an additional R4 000 a month through cutting expenses. This included cutting back on takeaways and online shopping, but also reviewing fixed expenses like insurance.

The couple worked on reducing Mignon’s debt, and her credit card will be fully paid off next month.

Takalani conducted a thorough retirement analysis and made recommendations to Johan to boost his retirement outcome.

Johan grabbed his opportunity from the start, fully committed himself to the process, and achieved every goal that was set out for him.


  1. Good day i thinking about this ammotisation concept to try and finish the bond repayment faster. Instead of paying R10k at the end of the month why don’t the banks allow me to split the installment eg on the date of 15th (R5k) & 30th (R5k) every month its still sums up to the agreement , although i get breather and interest is kept low resulting in faster repayment🤷🏽

    • This would only work if you are in advance. For example, you made payment of R10 000 on 30 March and the next payment of R10 000 is due on 30 April. You elect to pay R5000 on 15 April and then R5000 on 30 April. In theory that would save you a bit of interest – but really very small. The challenge is that the banks’ systems struggle to cater for this. They can accept an additional extra payment -eg: you pay R5000 on 15 April and then the normal R10 000 on 30 April. But they don’t have a system to split minimum installments – so you would need to ask them about it.

      • I asked FNB home loans and they do allow for split payments. Not sure who you bank with but worth asking

  2. Hi,

    This has inspired me to look at this option as well again.
    I have cancelled many agencies time and time again after their assessments.

    • It can be a great solution but make sure you are working with an ethical DC – they must solve within five years through obtaining lower interest rates. Some of them simply push the loan repayments out to seven years which just makes it more expensive


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

Previous Articles