Debt review really works

One man's story of how our debt counselling service saved him from losing everything.

Ettiene thought he had it all. But it almost cost him his home. “If it wasn’t for Octogen, I’d be on the street,” he says. After five years of receiving debt counselling from us, he’s well on his way to financial freedom. He shares his story here.

“Everyone loves you when you’ve got money”

In 2016, Pretoria born-and-bred Ettiene was elbows deep in debt. He had unpaid personal loans and credit cards at three different banks and he had maxed-out store accounts at two popular retailers. Not only was he not keeping up with the minimum repayments, he was reversing the debits and even once switched banks.

“I didn’t take them seriously”

Although he was receiving numerous threatening phone calls from his creditors, the rugby-playing former boxer wasn’t scared. “I just didn’t take them seriously … until I received letters from the High Court and lawyers saying I had ten days to pay R40 000 or they would auction off my house.”

“What can a man in debt do”

With a daughter in Grade 11 and daily expenses to cover, Ettiene didn’t have the money. “What man is going to just find R40 000? I didn’t know what to do, but I had to push through” he says, “I went to Old Mutual to see if they could help me and they directed me to Octogen. I called Debt Counsellor Tina Bennet and said ‘I’m going to lose my house’.”

Tina assured a stressed-out, but full-time employed Ettiene that she could help him. She got all the details of his credit providers and outstanding debts, then she renegotiated on his behalf. She drew up a payment plan and got it approved by the courts. Ettiene was officially under debt review and protected from the creditors coming for his house. Tina even managed to exclude his house (still mortgaged) from the agreement and extend the home loan term from 20 to 25 years so the minimum monthly repayments were more affordable. Salvation was in sight for Ettiene, but all he had to do was come up with that first payment of R7 321 (and stick to the structured payment plan Tina had got the court to approve for him).

“There were people outside my house, putting up foreclosure signs”

He chased them away and rode his motorbike to a friend’s business. Ettiene knocked on the door and didn’t stop until his friend, a true businessman, instructed him to leave his motorbike and agreed to give him R10 000 to cover his first structured repayment. Ettiene was grateful and went immediately to pay the money. He topped up his phone too and called Tina to tell her. “She said, ‘It’s reflecting! Now go and relax and Octogen will deal with everything’,” recalls Ettiene.

“I was a nervous wreck, but Octogen really came to my rescue”

Five years later, Ettiene is still with Octogen, but he has paid off all except one of his bad debts. He should be debt-free by the end of next year, when he will request that Octogen applies for a clearance certificate from the court and his name will no longer be flagged as “under debt review” on credit bureaus.

“No more credit, I’m doing things cash now”

Being subject to a court-ordered agreement hasn’t stopped Ettiene or his family from living their lives. His daughter matriculated with a university exemption and honours colours for sport. When she got a job as a receptionist, he bought her a car for cash. Ettiene was promoted to Specialist Fitter Artisan in this time, and he and his life partner live in the same house in Pretoria that he almost lost before he became an Octogen client.

“You don’t have to worry”

“I’ve received very good service from Octogen,” says Ettiene. “They deduct one monthly premium and you don’t have to worry. Whenever I get calls from creditors, I just give them Octogen’s number and tell them to call my debt counsellor. They hear Octogen and immediately leave me alone.”

Financial freedom

More about debt counselling and financial freedom

Get more information about how our Debt Counselling service could save you from a stressful financial position and get you on the road to financial freedom. If you’re unsure of your financial position, take our free, no-obligation financial health quiz and find out.