Every week, Zikoko seeks to understand how people move the Naira in and out of their lives. Some stories will be struggle-ish, others will be bougie. All the time, it’ll be revealing.

Let’s start with what money was like growing up

I have faint memories of my parents taking me and my three siblings to fast-food restaurants and amusement parks on Sundays. But my first vivid memory of money was in 2004 when I was nine. I’d just gotten into a boarding secondary school, and my monthly allowance was ₦300/month. This was significant because the family fell into tough times around that time.

Do you know what led to this?

My dad supplied petrol and kerosene until he lost some deals that affected his business. His next move was to relocate to the UK for work. When he left, the family’s money was channelled into settling him down in the UK.  

My mum had a tailoring business, but she didn’t make enough to take care of four kids without support. So we had to make a few lifestyle adjustments. First, we moved out of our mini-flat to live with an uncle, and then we moved into a room in a face-me-face-you house. We were in survival mode. 

I was in the hostel, so the biggest manifestation of our financial situation was that I couldn’t get more than ₦300 as my monthly allowance, especially when the other kids in my school got between ₦800 – ₦1k/month. 

That said, my allowance grew over the years into ₦1k by the time I graduated from secondary school in 2010.

Let me guess, things had improved at home

Yes. Our financial situation got better when my dad settled in the UK, found a steady income and could send money back home.

In 2011, my mum and my youngest brother also moved to the UK to be with my dad, leaving me and my sister to live with an uncle. 

I got into a university in the southwest the following year. 

Did you do anything for money before uni?

I didn’t. My parents feared that I’d be distracted in school if I “tasted” money, so I lived on the ₦5k-₦10k they sent me monthly.

My allowance increased to ₦25k when I got into uni. And no, I didn’t do anything for money in uni either. The first time I thought about making money was in 2017. 

Interesting. How did it happen?

While waiting for NYSC, I had a lot of free time, and I spent it looking up random things online. I stumbled on a Nairaland thread on how to make money online, which led me down a rabbit hole until I found an offer to transcribe an hour of audio for ₦2k. I applied for the gig and got it. 

It took me four hours to transcribe the audio file, and I did everything on my phone because I didn’t have a laptop. The money wasn’t bad to me at that point though. 

Literally earning your daily ₦2k

See, that was it. I was gingered to take it because I feared that my parents would cut me off my allowance once NYSC started in 2018.

Thankfully, the transcription gig kept coming during my service year, and my allowance didn’t stop. I was balling.

Define “balling”

My parents sent me ₦25k/month, and the federal government paid ₦19800. Also, my PPA was a school, and I got paid ₦3k. Lastly, the transcription jobs brought about in ₦15k/month. Everything came to ₦62800.


I saved up ₦45k two months after I started NYSC and bought a laptop. After getting the laptop, I set my sights on another income source.


Freelance writing. I had some writing experience — I started a football blog in uni, but it didn’t catch on. This time, I was convinced that I could make money from it. 

With my new conviction, I returned to Nairaland to look for writing jobs. Then I wrote some random articles as samples, and I got my first gig to write about VPNs. My writing wasn’t great, but the pay wasn’t either. 

How much?

₦1 per word. But it was better than transcribing — it took me four hours to transcribe an hour of audio while I could write a 1000-word article in two hours. For the rest of my service year, I was averaging ₦30k from writing gigs.

Now your combined income was ₦77800

I wasn’t intentional about saving though. Whatever was left in my account was my monthly savings, and I always ended up dipping into it for random things. Three months before service ended, I eventually started a savings plan with a few friends — the plan was to save ₦30k/month, and I had ₦90k in savings when I finished NYSC. 

Read next: She Had to Beg for Money. She Never Wants to Do That Again

Sweet. What came after?

My parents wanted me to find a full-time job. I, on the other hand, wanted to focus on freelance content writing. 


I feared a 9-5 would distract me from sticking to a niche and ultimately ditching my low-paying content writing gigs for higher-paying ones. 

But I couldn’t explain this to my parents in a way they understood. 

 I tried to find a job and applied to a few roles, but none of them worked out. I took that as a sign to direct all my attention to freelance writing. 

What did your parents think about this?

They thought I was wasting my time, and we had a series of disagreements. But it helped that they weren’t in Nigeria, so there was only so much they could do. Thankfully, they were still sending me ₦25k every month. 

Back to your gigs, what niche did you want to focus on?

Crypto. During my service year in 2018, I got a steady job writing crypto news for a website every day. I didn’t know anything about crypto, but I was interested in it for two reasons: crypto was a new technology, and it was about making money.

But save for the crypto website I wrote for, I didn’t find any other crypto gig. I was still averaging ₦30k/month, but the bulk of the money came from other niches. It took me two years before I found another crypto job. 

What happened in those two years?

Family support is so underrated. The ₦25k/month from my parents gave me time to figure things out. We fought all the time because of my “unemployment”, but it didn’t stop the money from coming in. I guess I continued to pursue making money from writing and crypto because disobeying my parents didn’t have any financial consequences.

Must be nice

Also, since I couldn’t get the crypto big break I was looking for, I focused on the niches I could get. I always had two-three gigs I was working on at every point. Between 2018 and 2020, I was making ₦50k – ₦80k from these gigs.

I finally found a path to working in crypto in 2020.

I’m listening

I randomly found out that my neighbour at the time was part of the Nigerian crypto community and was about to start a crypto media company. He convinced me to join his team and create content for his website. The only thing was that he wasn’t going to pay me.

Why not?

The company wasn’t making money yet. But he promised me stock options. I took the offer because I was making money elsewhere. Nine months into the job, I realised it wouldn’t work out. The stock options thing was a joke — I didn’t see any paperwork the whole time I worked there. 

I took it as a red flag and left. The good thing about the job was that I learned more about crypto during my time there. In January 2021, I finally got the crypto gig I’d been looking for. 

How did it happen?

Twitter. The process wasn’t elaborate — I just searched for “crypto writer needed”. I applied to as many as I could until one worked out — it was a PR company, and the job was to write press releases for their clients’ crypto projects.

2021 was the height of the last bull run, so there was a lot of activity in the crypto space. They offered to pay $50 for every 500-word press release I wrote. 

I was commissioned to write 30 press releases in my first month and made $1500. I also made my first million in Naira. 

How did this sudden jump in income feel?

It was the first time it hit me that I could be a millionaire, and I still can’t explain the relief I felt. For the first time since I left university, I knew that I made the right decision to pursue a freelance career in the crypto industry.

Fast forward to June 2021, I got another $300/month gig with a crypto news website. The press release gig also brought in between $1200 and $1500/month. My average income in naira was ₦1.2m. 

How were you moving money during this time?

From June 2021 to December 2021, I was living on ₦200k and saving ₦1m/month. I also divided the ₦1m into two halves and left ₦500k in naira savings and another ₦500k in crypto investment. 

To minimise my risk, I split my crypto investment into a 60:40 ratio. The 60% went into USDT — a stablecoin and 40% of my crypto investment was in volatile currencies like Bitcoin. 

In December 2021, I dipped into my savings and made two big purchases — I bought a car, which cost ₦3.7m. I also moved into a new apartment, and the rent is ₦650k/year. At the end of the year, I was left with ₦500k in my savings. 

But I came into 2022 with renewed ginger to do more work in the crypto space. 

So how did 2022 go?

I started the year with a new job — a part-time role in the media department of a crypto company, and my salary was $700/month. At the same time, the income from the freelance gigs from both the PR company and the news website was $1200. 

With this steady cash flow, I thought it might be wise to diversify my investments and have an option to fall back on if I lost any of my jobs.

What did you decide on?

I set up a photography and video production studio. But I had no idea how much it was going to cost. Between January and June 2022, I spent $10k on audio and video equipment. I just woke up one morning and realised that I had no savings. Everything I could have saved was tied up in the studio. 

Were you making money from it, though?

Nope. It suddenly hit me that I should have taken a savings-first approach. A phone call with my mum reinforced this belief, and we made a plan to retrace my steps and build my savings back up. We decided on a target of $10k by December 2022.

Did you hit the target?

No, but I was close. By the end of the year, I had saved up $8k.

How? Please break it down

I was now working full-time at the media company, and my salary was $1k. My freelance gigs brought in an extra $2500 from three different sources: two PR companies and a news website. So I optimised for saving at least $1k/month for the rest of 2022. 

Thank God I had that conversation with my mum and built a savings chest. I lost my job in November. Then one of the PR companies I worked for also ended the contract in December. These were consequences of the crypto bear market that started last year.

Omo. What’s 2023 looking like?

I currently work with a PR company and a crypto news website, and I make $1200 – $1500 from both sources. My studio has also started making some money — about ₦200k/month — but it goes into keeping the lights on and the operations going. 

Has anything changed in the way you manage money?

More than ever, I take a savings-first approach now. I still have the $8k from last year. But I also started a new savings plan two months ago. Now, I’m saving $500/month. It’s a non-negotiable. 

What about investments?

I have about $1500 in crypto projects. My strategy is to look for projects with good use cases and strong communities. These days, I also lean towards VC-backed projects. My thinking is that those are usually in for the long haul. 

That said, I’m not the biggest fan of crypto’s speculative aspect. I feel the best way to make money in crypto is to get a job in crypto. So while I hold some coins and try my best to avoid trading, I watch out for job opportunities in the crypto market. It’s the perfect blend of stability and risk.

Love it. What do your monthly expenses currently look like?

My gift budget is high because everyone thinks I have money, and it’s sometimes hard to say no. I know I can live without the money. Also, the debt is a bank loan I took last year. I had some emergency purchases I needed to make for my house and didn’t want to take out of my savings. So I took a loan of ₦275k from the bank. 

How much do you think you should be making now?

With my trajectory last year, I thought I’d be making at least $5k/month this year. But the hard-hitting jobs have been harder to find because of the bear market. I’m in this for the long haul though. 

Now, I’m looking for another job in a crypto company — maybe a marketing officer role — plus one or two freelance writing gigs. These should get me to $5k/month. 

Is there anything you want but can’t afford?

Real estate investment. I’ve wanted to own a block of flats, but I don’t have enough liquid cash to pursue that. It’s a means to unlock a new stream of income. Sadly, I can’t afford it yet. 

How has your experience shaped your perspective on money?

I think it’s easier to make money when you have the processes and structure. People say it’s easier to make money after you hit your first million, and I think they might be right. Before I made my first million, I didn’t know how to do it. But when I hacked it, I only had to replicate the process that worked and improved it.  

Where would you put your financial happiness on a scale of 0 – 10?

4. The number should be higher, but I’m not near where I believe I can be. I think three tools lead you to financial independence: savings, real estate investments and stocks. At the moment, I only have some savings, and I worry about this all the time. 

That’s very interesting 

I’m trying to build my savings — my primary safety net — to at least $30k as soon as possible. That amount in Nigeria gives you options, and I’d like to know what it feels like to have multiple options. 

If you’re interested in talking about your Naira Life story, this is a good place to start.

Yes, I want to do a Naira Life

Find all the past Naira Life stories here.



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.