The idea behind the study was to answer the question: how costly is financial distress and what is an appropriate model in quantifying these costs for JSE listed entities? The objective was to find a sample of companies that were purely financially distressed on the bases of interest coverage and then to follow those through the resolution of the distress, to see what happened to them and to quantify how costly those factors were. The analysis was conducted through a robust regression exercise and a time series investigation. Quality control was done through outlier investigations and Benford law distribution to determine human influence on the financial statements. It was found that the average costs of financial distress for JSE listed companies is approximately 16.7% market value per annum. The South African appropriate model for JSE listed companies resulted in the cost of financial distress being inversely related to the change in investment policy, holding of liquid assets, size of an entity and Tobin’s Q ratio, but directly related to the economic effect, probability of financial distress and change in employment policy.