Lauretta, 27, Event Planner

2023 was a bad year. 

My struggles started when the prices of transportation options went up. I have a cab guy I use to make runs, and I pay him between ₦15k and ₦30k per trip. In July, this cost jumped up to at least ₦50k.

Then, the jobs stopped coming. Between August and November, I made zero income. It was very jarring because, in the previous years, I made up to ₦500k to ₦600k in profit if I had three to four jobs a month.

I understood the situation, though.  My clients have wedding budgets of ₦5m – ₦10m. When things became more expensive, funnelling what they’d pay an event planner into something else made sense. Unfortunately, that wasn’t good news for me — no clients mean no pay. 

Thank God I had my parents and some savings. They saved my life

Akinola, Photographer, 29

I’ve gone from making about ₦300k in an average month to almost nothing in some months. I’ve made zero in the past two months.

I didn’t become mediocre at my job; my clients have more things to worry about. I’ve gotten multiple enquiries in the past 1-2 weeks, but they have yet to get past that. They all said the same thing: “Sorry, I’m looking for something cheaper.”

My prices are okay; they’ve worked until now. But every essential thing is now so expensive that people must prioritise. They would rather spend money on things related to their survival. While food is on this list, photography services are not. 

I have been forced to cut back on things and watch helplessly as my standard of living has gone down. It was a minor deal to buy takeout every day. Now, I can barely afford to cook food, which is considered the cheaper option. I hope that paints a picture. 

I don’t know a lot about policy and governance, but I know enough to know that their decisions directly affect my quality of life. Unless a miracle happens, I worry it will be suboptimal for the next few years.

Shola, 30, fashion designer + other gigs

God knows I work hard. I’m a fashion designer, translator and researcher, but I’m not swimming in disposable income. With the rising cost of living, my ₦300k monthly average feels like nothing. It’s almost like it’s ₦3k when reviewing the bills I have to settle. I’ll be broke three days later if I receive a bulk sum today.

I realised this was a long match a few months ago. My wife took ₦20k to the market and came back with food that barely filled a bag. We spent ₦30k extra on food that month. 

We recently found out my wife was pregnant with our second child, and we went into a shocked silence. We were like, “are we really bringing a child into this mess?”

Who would have thought we’d get to a point when a married couple would be scared of having another child? I’ve always been bad at mathematics, but I’ve become a master calculator at this point. A few things have had to change: I could conveniently dash several people, but now, everyone should mind their business. 

Ah, let me talk about my business. My fashion design setup consistently brings the most money, but my income there has taken a hit. I used to do embroidery design for ₦3500 and a monogram for ₦5k — they are now ₦10k and ₦15k, respectively. Many customers swear that my charges are now excessive, and some have even stopped coming to me.

Ten years ago, the least I charged for a piece was ₦3k, approximately $10. Now, I can’t do anything below ₦5k. Guess what, that’s about $4. I can’t tell if my business has grown or not. 

Yet the price of machines and other equipment keeps skyrocketing. Before I can save up for a piece of equipment, the cost will have gone up again. It feels like I’m constantly catching up. 

The plan is simple: keep my head above water and survive. It’s my savings that’s keeping me afloat. 

Susan, 34, Travel Agent

When you’re an adult with two kids, any increase in the price of things feels like a threat to your life. Sadly, I wake up to new threats every week now. 

My kids are growing so fast and need new things. One day, we woke up, and my eldest daughter’s school shoes did not fit. She had to manage it for school that morning, and I went to the market. What did I find? The price of school sandals had gone up. 

There’s also their cravings. My younger daughter loves marshmallows, and we try to indulge her as often as possible. But Marshmallows used to be ₦2k and is now over ₦4000. How do you manage this when they have more critical needs?

Anyway, my savings have taken a severe hit. Before now, I could save from my salary. But now, I’m like, “Let me make sure my family eats first.” I need to earn more, but I’m curious how much I’ll need to earn to feel a sense of balance no matter what Nigeria does. 

Nathaniel, Digital Marketer, 28 

I was out to shop for some food supplies last week, and I couldn’t get over how prices have jumped significantly from the previous time I shopped two months ago. I planned around a ₦50k budget, ended up spending ₦60k, and it didn’t feel like I got the most value for money. You now spend so much to get little. 

Food is not even my most significant monthly expense; transportation is, and it was the first thing that jumped up. One minute, I spent between ₦1900 and ₦2100 on a trip to work. The next minute, the prices rose to ₦3200. It comes up to a significant sum at the end of the month. Thankfully, my income has increased to cushion some of these effects.

I’ve had to be more calculative and intentional with my finances, but I’d like it to move the needle more. For the most part, this means finding [cheaper] alternatives. At the same time, however, I don’t want to compromise so much that it affects my living standards. More than ever, it’s all about finding the sweet spot.

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