Earning more money is probably at the top of your mind all the time. Don’t worry, it’s on mine too. In this article, four Nigerians share with us how their big pay increases came, and how it affected their lives.
1. Peniel, 22
I don’t think I earn much yet, but I like the way I got my salary increase. I started doing my IT as an illustrator at an animation studio in November 2019 when I was in my second year of uni. Apart from the ₦15k they paid me in December as a “bonus”, I didn’t earn anything for the four months of my IT. When my IT finished in February, I decided to keep going to the office because I liked the working environment. I still did some work for them, but I spent most of my time learning new stuff and doing one-off contracts and commissions.
By June 2020, after the lockdown laws had been eased, they decided to start paying me because they found out I spent almost ₦40k monthly on transportation — I’m a sweet babe, I can’t be jumping buses in Lagos so I always Ubered. The money was coming from my ₦30k monthly pocket money and savings over the years and it was finishing fast, so they started paying me ₦20k every month as transport allowance.
In July, I got a DM from someone in the UK who said they wanted me to illustrate four books for them. It paid ₦72k per book. After that contract, they decided to hire me fully, so by March this year, I started earning ₦165k. It’s not a lot, but as a student who works remotely, and was earning only ₦20k before, it’s something. I don’t have a big spending culture so I have almost ₦1 million in savings. I can now pay for my ₦250k hostel fees by myself, fly to another part of Nigeria to see my boyfriend and I never ask my parents for money anymore. It also helps that I still get commissions, so I have multiple streams of income. I think I should be earning more sha, but I’m excited about my prospects.
2. Ehimen, 27
As at December 2020, my basic salary was ₦200k. I say “basic salary” because I still did some side gigs that paid ₦80k – ₦100k monthly. After a few reviews at work, my salary rose to ₦400k in the middle of this year, but that’s not even where the real money is coming from. Sometime earlier in the year, I tried out for an international job, and they paid me $500 just for trying. That’s where my head shifted. I started looking for more dollar jobs, and by the time I found one, they offered to put me on a retainer for $1,600 a month. I rejected the offer because I wanted to stay loyal to my employer, but because they were keen on hiring me, they negotiated for me to do less work that wouldn’t affect my 9-5, and still receive $800 – $1,000 monthly. I accepted that one.
So every month now, I get ₦400k, about $1000, and I still do my side gigs that pay about ₦100k. That’s over ₦1 million. But here’s the thing: I incurred a debt of ₦3.5 million last year and was only able to pay back ₦700k before I got the dollar job and the raise. Once I did, I was able to pay back the rest of the loan in 3 months. Now, I have savings, and I feel very secure. I still live with my parents, so I survive on only ₦50k monthly. Before this year, I didn’t have a taste for so many fancy things, but now I see myself checking for car prices and calling my friends to take them out to fancy restaurants. Money changes the way you see life.
3. Dare, 30+
My first major salary jump was from ₦150k to about ₦350k. It was a long time coming so I knew I deserved it. I didn’t make any plans before the raise. I just took it as it came. It helped me because I had a lot of responsibilities. My rule with the naira however is to never save it because of how fickle it can be. I prefer to invest in myself by building skills instead and that’s what I’ve always done.
4. Erioluwa, 23
In one year, I went from earning ₦30k to earning ₦150k and then to ₦200k, and then ₦350k, and every time, the money seems to finish faster than it did previously. I have a terrible saving culture and I have zero investments, zero cryptocurrencies and just about $400 in savings. I blame my parents for not giving me financial literacy education growing up because at every point, I don’t understand money. I don’t understand money. I don’t know if the ₦350k I earn is a lot or if it’s too small. I don’t know how much normal people earn and how to compare it to my own earnings and optimise for growth. It’s why I read a lot of Zikoko’s Naira Life and look at the comments people are making because that’s the only frame of reference I have to understand what money means to people and what it should mean to me. I don’t have responsibilities and my parents don’t know how much I earn so I don’t lose so much money to black tax. What keeps me going is the fact that I’m brilliant at what I do, and I’ll always have people ready to pay me more.