The #NairaLife Of A 21-Year-Old Jack Of All Trades

August 3, 2020

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.

The Nairalife was pulled off in partnership with FCMB. Get started with a Personal Business Account for as low as ₦5,000 here!

When did life first show you the importance of money? 

I think I’m on that journey. I try to resist the urge to believe money is more than what it is: an exchange for value, but the world keeps showing me that all that one na okoto meow meow skrrr

Money is literally what makes the world go round. So I think (I learned the importance) in university when I had to beg a flatmate I hated for money.

Hahaha. What did you need money for?

Food. Dinner. Bread and fried eggs. It tasted like humility. I thanked God for his existence in my life that night. 

There was also that time in 2017 when I sold shirts I’d just gotten the day before. I was broke, but I used all my last money like (₦7k) to buy t-shirts. My eyes cleared the next day. I needed money, so I went around the hostel selling the shirts. I made ₦5k back. I’m a sucker for thrift clothing. If there’s a support group for something like that, I would go.

So, what’s the first thing you ever did to earn? 

I used to wash my parents’ car for ₦500 back in the day. I was about 11. It was fun. Outside family stuff, the first time was inputting the results of a questionnaire digitally into an excel sheet. I was 12, it was 2011. It paid ₦15k. 

Excel at 12? Were you also paying rent?  

It’s funny because I don’t know how to use sheets for anything more than data inputting till now. I hate the concept of sheets. If I need to do some other action, I google it and then forget later. 

What else did you do, between then and now?

Mostly freelance writing. I haven’t made a lot of money TBH. I’ll write advert scripts here and there, charge ₦25k-₦30k. Write greeting card captions. 

Then there was social media management for about two different pages. I hated it. Maybe the longest I was at one was for three months. They didn’t pay well. One paid ₦25k a month for one post everyday.

Another gig paid the same ₦30k for about 10 posts a day. Now that I think about it, it was slavery. It was a friend who got the job. He was engaged with so much, he couldn’t handle that one, so he gave me. They were paying him ₦90k. I knew we were splitting the money but I didn’t know it was that bad. 


Then there were content creator jobs at advertising firms. I’m very interested and proficient in marketing strategy and advertising, and ideation and the creative writing part. Not “creating influencer tweets and handling social media” aspects. So I didn’t stay too long at any of the two places where I worked because that’s what they were making me do and I take job satisfaction very seriously. Besides, they both paid ₦40k.


Also, I do bulk printing on every type of material. Shirts, umbrellas, cups, bags, pens. everything. Alongside making my own custom merch. I started that in 2019, registered my business, and it’s not gone too bad. I have a merch story from that that you’d probably love to hear as well.

Intere –

Oh, and I have also photographed. ₦25k in 2016. Model shoots for some Instagram clothes vendor. I decided I didn’t want to take pictures primarily for money anymore. I could do my street and life photography and frame and sell some mad pictures. But not active shoots. It was stressful. I used one of those apps that mass edits pictures and sent them back to the person. I am not proud of it.

When did writing first pay you money?

Sometime in 2017 when someone who knew I could write subcontracted a script to me and gave me ₦15k. 

You know, I think the proudest money I probably made was ₦5k for playing for a company who needed footballers to play in their inter-organization games. I posed as an intern. We won the competition. I didn’t score but I was like “I earned from football, how many people can say that?”

Hahaha. Tell me about your first structured job. 

Internship. 2018. Content at an agency. I loved it, I think I did good work, and I loved the people I worked with. It paid ₦25k at my first stint from November 2018 – February 2019. The second stint was September 2019 – November 2019. ₦40k. This was around the time I graduated from University.

Ah, interesting. What came next? 

Internship. March and April 2020. A content gig at an agency. I didn’t love it. So I quit after two months. It paid ₦40k. I also felt very underpaid. 

I compared it with my 2019 job where I was coming in only once a week and doing much less because I was a student. And they paid the same thing. Also, the salary negotiations were based on having not done NYSC, and that was why they had to pay me so little. I accepted the job because of the person that linked me to it, but the working environment was toxic so that was a dealbreaker. I can’t be sad and poor.

Hahaha. Dude, you’re killing me. What did you do next? 

Freelance writing for a company. ₦140k salary. Highest salary ever. But not the most money made ever.

What’s the highest? 

Maybe almost ₦400k from printing branded items for a company. February 2020. 

Wait, tell me all the things you can do. 

I can write anything. I find ways to solve problems I’m interested in. 

And I have good eyes for quality. I learnt some code as well but I never code. I tried to go into fish farming this year and started with 50 fish. They all died. The water was contaminated. 

Ouch. Okay, How much do you currently earn? 

₦150k plus ₦140k. 9 – 5 content creation job and freelance writing for another company. 

What do your monthly expenses look like?

Hm, it’s hard. Data is ₦10k. My savings depend on how much I make that month, but  I save ₦100k each from both salaries. Miscellaneous is like ₦20k… or ₦15k. I never budget or track my spendings. I spend on food and stuff, but some of the other money just stays in my account.

So, what happens to all the remaining money?

I have no idea. I’m on a course to change. Right now, I have about ₦400k altogether. 


Is it really? 

You don’t think it is?

I didn’t really start thinking about money until a recent conversation I had. I was talking with a friend about my spending and saving habits and I was complaining about how I never really save. She asked what the most money I ever had stacked up was. I lied. I said ₦100k to cover my shame when it really was about ₦50k at the highest. Her reaction shook me: she was like “₦100k??? God that’s bad o, get your money up and save better. You should also invest.” 

I was so sad. That was when I started trying to have money and “hoping” for money. It’s not like I hustled for any of the money I have now.  The jobs I got after that time were from referrals, and that’s how I’m able to save this much in a few months. I’m looking to start investing soon, but I have no knowledge about finances. I’ll have to start learning about all of that soon.

What’s something you want right now but can’t afford?

Going into the streets, picking up hawker kids and sending them to school. 1 out of every 5 out-of-school children in the world is Nigerian. Nah. Seeing children hawk breaks me so bad. I just want them to have the same opportunity I did. It’s not like I’m great or anything. Everyone just needs basic education. 

I’m curious about what you think you’ll be doing in five years.

I honestly have no clue and I try not to think about it. I have been talking to God a lot and at the beginning of this year. He told me to just chill out and take things step by step through Him, that He’s got me. But in 5 years, I just hope I’ve travelled a lot and written some stuff that the whole world marvels at. Some ads, a movie, something. Married. With a kid. Maybe.

How would you rate your current happiness levels? 1-10?

I’ve always been a happy person for some reason. I’d say 8. Many times I just open plenty of doors in my head. Something always comes.

You didn’t hear of how I got in almost a million naira in debt last year though. 


So I got a big printing gig. Big client, plenty of things to print. I would have made about ₦500k-₦600k from the deal if I knew what I was doing. I had a business partner. He was in the printing business long before me. So the business model was he was the production head and I was everything else. We got the deal, presented a sample, it was approved. Because I was the administrative head, I only briefly saw the sample, I knew what it looked like, but I didn’t ask for my own copy. The printer scammed my business partner. The guy presented a high-quality sample and printed nonsense. 

I never bothered to go and inspect because my business partner was inspecting. I would call him every day and he would say everything was going smoothly. He wasn’t inspecting though: he was also calling that his guy to ask if everything was going good and that one told him yes. When it was time to deliver and I saw the stuff, I almost fainted. I knew nobody was going to collect that nonsense. The guy convinced my partner it was the same thing as the sample and we couldn’t do anything but deliver because it was the delivery date.

They rejected the stuff. I was going to die. They brought out their sample and put them side by side with the new stuff we just brought and it was like comparing light to the darkness. Luckily after plenty begging, they asked us to re-print just a fraction of the original number of stuff we printed and since we had not paid the guy for the printing, we just used the money. Part of our profits went to reprint. The worst period of my life.

Interesting. What about your merch? 

I love t-shirts. I ingrain myself in series and movies and music I love. A type of ingraining is getting merch like t-shirts and caps about them. Also witty quotes and stuff. I tried to get a few of those made by merch makers in uni and they all messed up, bringing nonsense quality and poor execution. 

That’s what made me start making my shirts myself. 

After a few of those, I realised I could create great stuff by putting my wit and my eye for fashion and (not so great) sensitivity for ‘trends’ into life, and start making my own merch that was both fashionable and unique. That’s what I’m doing. 

What are the numbers like? 

Bad. I have only one release from my personal merch, and it has only one purchase.  But I shared another design and people are pre-ordering. 

For custom orders, I still get a fair amount of orders, which I turn down if it’s not a bulk order. 

How do you manage your business funds?

I haven’t done business since that February deal, so I carelessly ate into that money for some time. Going forward, I want to be more intentional with what I do with it though. Put it back in the business, etc. I feel like I’m just actually starting my financial journey.

You should op –

Also, another thing I want but can’t afford is a Mac. Please God, hear me. That’s it.

The next Naira Life drops on Monday next week at 9 am. This is what you get when you subscribe to Zikoko’s Money Newsletter:

  • You get it before everybody else, plus all the things that didn’t make the cut.
  • You also get a #NairaLife throwback, where we check in with someone from the past, and see how they’re doing now.

Find all the past Naira Life stories here.

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