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.
This week, we follow a 25-year old lady who’s living a good life – great money, holidays, comfort. But she has a better idea – freedom from her dad’s misogyny.
When do you think you first understood the importance of money?
I got my first taste of freedom during university. My parents are the kind of people who say, “This is your budget, anything outside this means you’re on your own.”
That’s when I started wondering how people manage when they don’t have money. People started to tell me things I didn’t notice about myself:
“Your parents are still giving you this amount? Oh wow, you’re some rich kid.”
Before then, I never really saw myself as a rich kid. I thought the rich kids were the ones we saw in newspapers and things like that.
What specific things do you remember?
I picked my accommodation for convenience and comfort. Most of my peers on the other hand, were about cutting costs. I also wanted to be close to school, and the closer you got to school, the more expensive things were.
I wasn’t really thinking about all that, and my friends noticed. Also, there was this specific thing that set me apart from most people – it was the funniest thing – heating.
Ah, the Abroad. Tell me about it.
A lot of my friends never turned on their heaters, because bills. But whenever they came to my place, it was toasty warm. Also, rent was always paid for a year. A lot of people had to pay month by month, but my parents paid for a full year.
What other specific things do you remember? Did you worry about food, budget, etc?
To be honest, I didn’t have to worry about those things on a day to day basis. It was just the sort of thing where, by the end of the month, after buying all of the expensive groceries, you had to manage for the remaining ten days.
I never worried-worried. It was just the sort of thing where I had overspent my allowance.
What was your monthly allowance like?
My parents gave me £1000 a month, and an extra £100 to pay for internet.
When was the first time you felt ‘I worked for it and I got it!’ with money?
I did an internship before I got into school. Some context: because of the way we were raised in my family, our hustling spirit was kind of crippled. We grew up to be very co-dependent on our father. He’s a very – you know one of these patriarchal, everything-must-go-through-me men?
Growing up, we were never allowed to do things like internships or work outside of school. As far as he was concerned, he was working for us. Even my mum wasn’t working, until recently. She had a business but it wasn’t so tangible, so she could easily be home for dinner.
I get that.
So if we said, “Okay dad, my friends are going to New York, they’re going to get internships and get paid and things like that,” he didn’t understand.
He’ll be like, “Why are you working?” That kind of thing. When I got that internship, I had to beg to work. I was afraid I wasn’t going to get into a good university, because these days, they aren’t just looking at grades. They are looking at extracurriculars and I had nothing outside what I was supposed to do in school!
At first, he suggested that I come work for him. I said nope!
After my internship, I got paid, and I was like oooooh, this is my money. No one is going to tell me what to spend it on! It was small, but it was mine.
This got ruined quickly, because the moment I entered university, I tried to get a job. He said, “If you do, I’m not going to pay anything for you. I sent you there to go to study. That’s it!”
Funny thing is, we’re all girls. If we were boys, I bet the narrative would have been different. I have heard his conversations with male cousins my age and the conversations are completely different. At first, I thought maybe it’s because we are his children, but as I got older I realised he is actually a full-blown misogynist.
Growing up in such a setting – I’m not going to lie – completely destroyed our hustling spirits. Because anything we want –
That didn’t help any of us.
The funniest thing is that we’re very educated women. All of us have first degrees and it’s either we are getting second degrees or already have second degrees.
2019 is the first year I’m pursuing something for myself. I mean, it hasn’t properly started, but there’s the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing something on my own, for myself.
Your rules, your consequences.
Brooo, I’m like yooooo, so this is what freedom is all about. Some of the people in my circle went through this phase with their parents when they were 18-19. We, at our age, are still fighting our parents for our own independence – I’m 25.
Tell me about this.
If I tell my dad that I want to pay for something myself, he sees it as completely disrespectful.
“How dare you, when I’m there.”
You’re not protecting your kids, you’re stifling their growth. All the conversations we have at home revolve around money.
So money is a tool?
It is the tool control, because he knows that we’re all so dependent. I’m not trying to paint him as a bad dad – he’s also a great dad, and he provides for us.
A Nigerian dad.
Yeah I just feel like maybe if we were boys or if we were raised in a different setting, he would be a bit different.
I wonder, is it that there are certain men who feel like they have to take care of everyone till they die?
Back to your trail, when did you finish uni?
2015. Then I came home for NYSC and started in November. I was posted to one state and fell sick as soon as I got into camp. A lot of the people in camp didn’t like me because I wasn’t used to that kind of environment. But that’s kind of standard; Nigerians are quite angry. I didn’t really take it to heart.
I redeployed closer to home – daddy intervened. My Place of Assignment was one really really big private company. One of my bosses met me and the first thing he asked was, “Who’s your father, because that’s how you got here.”
That year was my most determined. I wasn’t really a school person like that – I kind of zoned out in my final year. It was even by God’s grace I graduated. But when I got to this company, I wanted to prove that I was just more than daddy’s girl.
Work hours were 9-6, but I was in the office from about 8:30 am until 7:30 pm – they didn’t ask me to. They were even paying me ₦45,000 a month. But I worked like a full staff. I was doing finances, the admin work. I was doing all the vouchers because they had a lot of expenses. They have partners all over the world, so I was handling all our expatriates coming in, booking hotels, doing all the running around. I was doing research for the MD and sending emails for my supervisor. I was working! And the fact that I was just earning ₦45,000 didn’t faze me because I was not working for the money.
I was just trying to ask myself, “Am I capable?”
I’d applied to go for my Masters abroad after my service year, and my boss told me, “Oh we are sad you’re going, we actually wanted to retain you”
That was my victory.
My supervisor thought I did an amazing job. She used to be glued to her desk, but when I joined, she started going out. She even told me to give her a website where she could watch series.
So basically you were earning ₦45k + ₦19,800. Was that enough to sustain your lifestyle?
Since we were young, we’ve been getting this thing called the Director’s Salary – we’re on the board of our dad’s company. I think I was getting paid about ₦200k per month since I was a teenager. I didn’t have access to the account until I crossed 18 – my mum was the signatory. But when I finally had access, it was about ₦5 million in there.
So as a corper, ₦200k + ₦45k + ₦19,800. Which corpers were you rolling with?
Hahaha. I served with some of my family friends; we’ve known each other all our lives. One of them was even a proper rich kid. A lot of people who were in my CDS were actually people who had gone to school abroad.
Anyway, I travelled back for my Masters at the end, and it reverted back to the old program. “We’ll give you your rent money, just stay in school and focus. That’s it!” But we had a deal that after I finished, I could look for a job in the States.
Okay, how did that go?
Trump. I spent 6 months looking. And I couldn’t stay any longer because my visa was about to expire.
I was applying for jobs abroad because I knew that if I lived abroad, I would be able to take care of myself. I knew that if I came back, my only option was –
– Daddy’s schedule.
Anyway, I came back home, in 2018. I got a job with one government-ish establishment, but that just went bad. My supervisor hated me because she felt like my dad had a hand in me getting the job. She just didn’t give me any work to do. I talked to her, I talked to her boss, nothing. I was there for three months doing nothing. I was wasting away.
How much were they paying?
Plus your director’s salary.
Yes. So I left and came to work for my dad’s company. Coming back, I felt like I could use my business school education to make the place a bit more structured. But I’ve always felt it’d be difficult to work for my parents because I felt like I’d just be there for decoration.
I just think that all of our relationships with our parents are strained because of this ‘money’ thing. Anyway, I asked myself, “What are the things that I actually want to do?”
I’ve always been interested in Agric.
I want to get into this myself – I literally just registered a company. Triumph number one! I started seeking out people with more experience to help, it took some back and forth, and some people even tried to dupe me.
But I always acted like I was stupid because I feel like the best way to find out about something is to act like you don’t know anything. Be the girl who just came back from Abroad and knows nothing.
Hahaha. What do you want to grow?
Rice. For a start.
Between all of these, I lent some money to my mum from my savings, so she could start a proper-proper business. Because this is the first true one, I was so happy to go all “take my money!” Also, it’s a hospitality business. It was easy to lend her money because my Director’s Salary climbed.
It got increased to ₦1.2 million. Joining the company as a director, they had to pay me more than the managers. Also, when my mum started her business, she put me and my sisters as directors. So we are now earning salaries from there as well. That’s another ₦400k.
That’s a lit ₦1.6 million.
1.5+ is what I tend to get actually. So I started saving more aggressively. See? Growth might be slow, but it’s going to happen.
So, it’s your first time saving out of necessity.
Yes. I never had to. So when I spoke to the Agric guys, they told me how much I needed to invest in the business.
At the scale I want to get started with, ₦20 million. Funny thing is, my dad found out about it somehow.
Some of the people I was trying to work with involved my dad. He was now like wait,
“So you registered a company, you didn’t tell me.”
“You didn’t even add me as one of your directors!”
“You didn’t put me anywhere!”
How did you respond?
I told him how much I had to save from my salary to get to the target. He had no idea I’d been saving previously of course – I’m currently at ₦12 million. Weird thing is, I’d always felt the need to save, even while I was in school.
How do you save?
I split my savings into naira and dollars. I can’t save everything in naira only to end up hearing that naira has lost value again. I’m planning to have reached my savings target by March next year. Best time to plant rice is between March and August.
Every month I put myself on a strict budget, but there’s a problem that I have. I’ve always been a shopaholic. And I inherited that from my parents. My father has like 100 shoes per house. And he has houses in three countries. He just loves shopping. So all of us took after him, especially me.
But this year, I was like why am I waiting? I don’t have kids, I’m not married. This is the time I can be a little bold and build something for myself.
I know people that are way younger than me – some earning less – and they are hustling now. So what is my own excuse?
It’s like I’m in a better environment where I’m actually even getting good money each month and I can actually put away a large amount to do something for myself.
I had to give myself that pep talk.
What’s your savings target every month?
Then another 150k goes to God. So at the end of the day, I have about 300k to spend.
Where does the 300k go?
The 300 goes to keeping up appearances – not with people. It’s very funny, my father is a kind of person that if he sees that there’s nothing going on with money like you’re not using his money for anything, he gets very suspicious.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“You’re not going out, you’re not doing anything.”
“I don’t understand, what’s the meaning of this?”
I’ve never seen a man who’s just so determined to make sure that we’re all – I dunno. So even if I’m not spending money, it’s a problem. So I just buy myself like a cute dress from somewhere, once in a while, and go out with my friends to like lunches and dinner.
Right now, I wish I could literally watch you and your dad see Lion Heart.
Hahaha. We actually saw that movie together.
How did it go?
Hahaha. Oops. It feels like you’ve built your entire financial goals around breaking free.
Yes. I plan my savings in two blocks, one for moving out, and one for starting my business. Before I even started saving for rent, I needed to know where I was going to move to. So my savings goal for rent is 2 million. I’ll just chill and move out by the end of 2020, or beginning of 2021. Can’t be unrealistic and start moving out immediately.
By January 2020, I should have saved up for my business.
Are you getting any help from a Financial Advisor?
Hahaha. I went behind my dad and got one of his financial advisors. This one is the person who handles the most important books, loans, banks. He has contacts in Agric too.
I went to him like, epp me sir.
Also, he’s one of my secret supporters of moving out of this shadow.
Random, but what does broke mean to you?
Hmmn. That’s an interesting question. I think it’s when I switch from luxury to necessity. In our household, we always joke that we’re broke. But we’re not actually broke. The last time we actually felt like that in our household was 2017. That was when my parents were going through a rough patch financially. Which a lot of people were also going through.
But it just meant I didn’t get extra money when I ran out. I still got my allowances.
So like till now our broke is not really… Someone told me, “Your broke is my rich.”
I was like I don’t know what you’re trying to say but okay, no problem.
How many of your friends does this your pursuit of your business confuse?
I’ll say it goes half way. I have friends that are so proud of me. And there are some who are like, but why?
I’m not trying to sound like a brat; I don’t have to work. But I want to. So I’m not going to let anyone undermine that. It’s never too late to start.
I stan. I solemnly stan
My dad and my uncles treat their daughters the same. I don’t know whether it is genetic. All of them are full-blown misogynists.
None of their daughters have the hustling spirit, but the boys are encouraged to hustle.
I’ve been telling my younger one to start saving and planning. Because one day, my dad will wake up and see all of us have disappeared. Then we’ll be calling him like, “Yo pops –
– How far now? How you see life?”
“Yeahhh I’m in my office. I’m in my own house. So what you gon say now boo?”
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your financial happiness?
I’m getting enough financial support that I need to be able to have goals and chase them. No matter what I’ve said, I’ve never said I’m ungrateful for everything that my parents have given me – the money, the privilege. I’m just saying I just wish there was a bit of room for independence for all of us.
People are like, “Oh you’re so lucky, your dad buys you this and that.” So I don’t complain to people so that I don’t look like a rambling ingrate.
That remaining two is just the control that is attached to that financial happiness and just drains the life out of you sometimes. My older sister is paying for her life abroad, there are some times that he still gives her money.
“Let me buy your ticket to come back to Nigeria.”
“It’s summer let me just give you something to hold.”
The kind of relationship I don’t mind having. When you know you’re living your own life, you’re doing your own things, but once in a while, he’s still there.
Okay. So what’s something that you think I could have asked that I didn’t ask?
Hmm, that’s a good one. Maybe another scenario would have been good.
I’ll probably be living on my own with a small car. Working for maybe a bank, or maybe working for one of the Big Four, slumming it out, you know. I’d be a worker. A proper worker. But this is the reality I’m in, so I gotta hustle my own hustle.
I hope the business works out.
It’s on the way. It is on its way.
I need to head out for my meeting now.
Thank you for taking the time.
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