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The regulations define “discretionary income” as gross income less: – Statutory deductions, such as income tax and Unemployment Insurance Fund contributions; – Necessary expenses, which are defined in the regulations; and – All other payment obligations disclosed by the consumer, including what appears on the applicant’s credit records.The balance “is the amount available to fund the proposed credit instalment”.This article was first published in the third-quarter 2015 edition of Personal Finance magazine.Gone are the days when you could get away with claiming that you earned, say, R55 000 a month and spent R1 000 a month on food.Consumers in debt counselling pay for legal representation, over and above their debt counselling fees.The legal fee, which is about R3 000, is paid in your second month of debt counselling, from money that would otherwise be used to pay off your debt.The amended Act gives the National Consumer Tribunal (NCT) the power to deal with cases of reckless lending.

In terms of the amended Act, consumers are required to provide credit providers with detailed information about their income and expenses.

Until now, reckless lending has been “normal business practice for many credit providers”, Nicky Lala-Mohan, the Credit Ombud, says.

A reckless credit agreement results in a consumer becoming over-indebted and unable to repay his or her debts or fund his or her basic living expenses.

And gone are the days when a credit provider could get away with taking you at your word.

Exaggerating earnings and understating expenses is a common tactic of reckless borrowers and using a weak affordability assessment is a common ploy of reckless lenders.