“I am a 32-year-old living in Lagos. Like everyone else who has a relationship with the Naira, I’ve noticed how the currency keeps losing its value and how this affects everyday Nigerians. On September 4, 2021, I decided to conduct an experiment. I withdrew ₦50,000 from my bank account, hoping it would last me until the end of the month. For 16 days after that, I tracked my spendings and this is an account of what I found out.”
Today is a Saturday, so I’m not at the office. I drive out to a filling station to fuel my car. Typically, a full tank costs me between ₦10,000 and ₦11,000. But I’m not spending up to that today — I still have some fuel in my car. I ask the attendant to top up the tank with ₦5,000 worth of fuel. This should last at least seven days. I live about 15 minutes from my office, so I don’t do a lot of commuting. Also, I buy an extra ₦4,000 fuel for my generator — our transformer blew two days ago and they haven’t fixed it.
On my way back home, I buy a can of Bullet for ₦650. Man, this thing used to cost ₦200 in 2019.
My hair is due for a fresh trim. I drive to the barbershop in the mall close to my house. When my barber is done, my bill is ₦2,000. Sometimes, I tip my barber ₦500 or ₦1,000 — not this month, please.
Before I leave, I pay ₦200 for mall parking. The first hour is free and every hour after that costs ₦200. I don’t usually spend more than two hours at a time at the mall.
Today is Sunday, and I plan to be at home all day. But at noon, I start having chest pains. I can’t ignore it because I have a history of Asthma, so I make a quick trip to the local pharmacy. My bill is ₦1,650.
I fixed the last of the light fixtures I bought from AliExpress for my living room yesterday, but they came with different types of bulbs. I think it will look better with the same type of bulbs, so I jump into my car and drive to the mall to buy the three LED bulbs the damage is ₦3,550.
I pay ₦200 again to park my car inside the mall.
It’s Monday, and I ask my assistant to get me lunch at our go-to restaurant. I get rice and chicken, which costs ₦1,700. However, I’m not happy. It feels like I got little value for money — it almost feels like I bought chicken with a sprinkle of rice. Anyway, I typically spend ₦2,000 for lunch, so I’m not above budget. I wish there were more restaurant options around my office though.
It’s day four of no electricity and there’s only so much my inverter can do. On my way home, I make a quick stop at the filling to buy ₦4,,000 fuel for the generator. It shouldn’t be long before they fix the transformer. Fingers crossed.
I’m dealing with an upset stomach this morning. It’s best not to take anything that will worsen it. I decide to drink coffee but there’s no milk in the office. I send my assistant out to get some milk and doughnuts. ₦1,500.
On my way home, I see the security guy at work jubilating and praising God. Curious, I ask him what it’s all about. He says he hadn’t eaten all day and someone in the next building gave him ₦200. I’m moved, and I give him ₦1,000.
I worked from home today. I didn’t spend a dime.
I obviously don’t learn, because why am I at this restaurant again? Today, I try their spaghetti and grilled chicken and pay ₦1600 for it.
The food is much better, so no regrets.
I’m home now, and my wife asks me to give her money for plantain. I can’t refuse, so I drop ₦1,000.
The office provides lunch on Fridays, but I’m in the mood for some snacks. I buy a bottle of soda and some egg rolls. ₦500.
Something interesting happens: I am chatting with some colleagues in the office and they make fun of the brand of soda I bought. One of them asks if I am going through a tough time and dashes me ₦1k. Nice lady.
While driving home, I stop at a shop and buy a bottle of dispenser water for ₦650. One typically lasts for a week, so we should be fine for a few days.
Total gained: ₦1,000
It’s Saturday, and I’m out shopping with my wife — our three-year-old daughter is resuming a new term at school on Monday. There’s a separate budget for this, so it’s not coming out of this money.
When we’re done, we buy doughnuts and cupcakes for my daughter. ₦2500.
We’re back home now. There are mosquitoes in the house and we spray the space with insecticide. My wife suggests we drive out for a bit since we have to wait outside for the insecticide to clear. While we’re out, she starts craving Sharwama. We buy two wraps with chicken, beef and a single sausage for ₦1,500 each. I used to buy this same thing for ₦600 in 2017.
My wife asks me for ₦1,500. I don’t even know what it’s for, but we move.
I’m not going out today. Outside is expensive.
It’s Monday, and I’m back at the office. It’s an energy drink type of morning and so I buy two cans — one for me, one for my colleague who dashed me money the previous week. ₦900
My wife packed sandwiches for me when I was leaving the house, so I’m not spending money on lunch today.
I’m not sure the fuel in my car will get me to the office. I make a stop at the gas station and buy ₦2,000 fuel.
That reminds me — they fixed our transformer five days ago.
Remote work ti wa online. I work from home on Wednesdays.
My wife says she wants jollof rice and fried fish. I drive to a restaurant in the area. The bill is ₦2,500.
Oh, my baby also wanted something. I make another stop at a fast-food restaurant and buy meat-pie. ₦800.
I have a new staff working bizdev on a project, and he needs a laptop. I find one that works online and make an order. The laptop costs ₦200,000, which I pay for it from a separate stash of money. The delivery fee is ₦2,500, and I pay for it with the cash I have left. I pay another ₦2,500 to ship it to the person.
My wife calls me to ask that I buy her jollof rice and fish when I’m returning to work. I make a stop at the restaurant and buy the food. ₦2,300 this time because I bought one fewer fish.
My wife has requested another plate of jollof rice and fish. ₦2300. We move.
It’s time to fuel my car again. Another ₦5000 gone.
Omo, the ₦50k has finished. Hello sapa, my old friend.
I’m driving to Ibadan with my brother. My childhood friend’s mother passed away, and today is her burial ceremony.
We’re in the Redeemed Camp area when my car engine suddenly goes off and the battery indicator lights start flashing. I’m at a loss of what to do, but I know it looks like a debit alert is coming. My brother is more hands-on with stuff like this, so he swings into action and opens the car bonnet. But it’s not anything he can fix. We need to find a mechanic!
We find one in the area, and after taking a look for a few minutes, he deduces the problem and gives us a verdict — I need to buy a new alternator. I ask him if I can fix the old alternator in the car, and he says no. This thing costs ₦21,000. Great! Just great!
This is going to take a while and I need something to calm my soul. I see someone selling drinks in traffic and I call them. I go for a can of Orijin. ₦400.
We get to Ibadan at 6 p.m. and goes straight to his house to pay our respects. The plan was to return to Lagos today, but that’s not possible anymore.
Okay, I’m done with this experiment. Sapa is around.
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