The Guy Living Life As He Knows, ₦1.3 Million A Month

February 18, 2019

Every week, Zikoko asks anonymous people to give us a window into their relationship with the Naira. Some will be struggle-ish, others will be boujee–but all the time, it’ll be revealing.

This #Nairalife story was pulled off in collaboration with In this story, a guy who manages to balance la vida loca with altruism. 

Age: 26

Occupation: Designer

Relationship Status: Single

Net Income: 1.3 million


Remember your first gig?

It was in Uni, at the end of my first year–wait, that’s not how it starts.

I was in my first year in Uni and lucky to have my laptop. I was playing around with graphic design with no plans to make money off it. But then a friend recommended me to design posters and award plaques for a school party, and it kinda took off from there. Funny story, the whole thing was supposed to be 21k, and because I wanted to show that I was a big boy, I paid for it from my meagre savings. They never paid back.


Silver lining though, that was how my reputation began as a graphic designer in school. I did that for four years earning a little more every year. I got bored after four years, and it was also getting too difficult to make more money, so I decided to learn something else. I took up website design in 2012 and started making fancy websites for myself. 

That’s awesome.

Someonelet’s call him M–liked it, and offered to take me under his wing. He’d get the jobs and I’d do them for 35k per gig. Two website gigs instead of seven graphic design gigs to make the same amount of money sounded like a great deal. I was weirdly also impressed that he lived out of his car—a Golf 2. I’m not sure why I thought that was a good thing, because soon enough he got inconsistent with payments. He would pay partly for old work to get me to take on some new work. 

What happened next?

I got tired of contracting and wasn’t improving professionally, so I decided to work in a company. I tweeted about this and got an offer to work at this new eCommerce company for ₦70k.

To be honest, I was already earning that, but I took it because I thought this was a way to grow professionally.

That didn’t happen. But a few months later, someone else reached out to me and we negotiated a better deal–135k precisely–and an environment where I really really grew. By the time I left uni, I was earning a 200k salary, minus contractual work every now and then.

That’s quite the start.

Yeah, this was pretty cool because during NYSC I used to ball at mami.
After NYSC I tried to leave the country, but it didn’t work out. This turned out to be a good thing because it meant I was available to take on another job, the one I still have now.
My new post-NYSC job started out as a temporary gig, so I got paid a $1,000 ‘stipend’ and the company covered rent and feeding.

By May, I signed a proper contract that was the equivalent of $3,000. It’s in naira now though.

Okay, let’s look into your current monthly damage.

First of all, I don’t really track things less than ₦5k. Also, my net income now is about ₦1.3 million. I just started tracking and planning in 2018 when I realised I was earning much and still going broke. Now, I know I need ₦800k a month to maintain my lifestyle, and I plan my expenses around that.

That’s a lot of green.

Let’s talk about saving

I spend most of my money and save in trickles. Tiny bits of money go out of my account weekly just to build the habit. Sometimes, however, I do a big save—for a specific project or trip or for a big investment. But keeping a chunk of my money monthly as savings? Fuck that shit. 

I don’t believe anyone climbs up socioeconomic classes by saving. Nah. You get some job that’s two times your current income, or you start a business that makes some money, or you get some deal, that’s how you move. Not trickle savings, that’s not going to save you mehn–pun intended.

I’m currently saving for the guilty pleasure of knowing I’m stashing money somewhere. Like, just looking at that money and knowing you have millions somewhere. But I don’t believe that money I’m saving will change my life the way my parents sold it to me.
I’d like to say this though; I’m not giving anyone advice on how to run their life.  If I go broke, it’s my problem.

I’m looking at your breakdown, and there’s a ₦500k that I can’t place

800k of my salary is recurrent expenses. Basically my life. For the rest of the money, it entirely depends. Some months are tough for a lot of people I know, so I end up giving it all out. Some months, I save or invest it. Other times I might spend it on a big purchase or on travel. Sometimes, I leave it open for just some extra flenjo, like in December. It can take on many uses.

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

My entire Amazon wishlist. It’s not that I can’t afford them, but if I impulsively bought them all, as is my default nature, I’ll keep running out of money. So now I keep a wishlist, and when I go back to it, I realise how ridiculous the things I want to buy are, like why am I buying a dustbin or kettle on Amazon?

How much do you imagine you’ll be earning in 5 years?

There’s absolutely no way to know that now. It’s too far out, and I try to manage my expectations on a rolling basis.
To be fair, I don’t expect to earn less, but I hope that whatever I earn is enough for me. The way I see it, if I can’t earn enough to maintain my lifestyle then I need to adjust the lifestyle to match reality.

₦21k to ₦1.3 million – what has that done to your perspective?

Firstly, I’m convinced this life is largely just turnioniown. There’s a lot to attribute to simple fucking chance. 
Of course, I know about hard work and all that, I put in mad hours myself. But I recognize the things I didn’t plan—like having a laptop in my first year in a federal school simply because I’d needed it for A-levels, or the Twitter job offers out of the blue.
I’ve had quite the luck in that my skills have aligned with opportunity, and I inherited impressive work ethics from my parents.
I also don’t have dependents, so I get to spend most of my money on myself. Nothing really bad has also happened to me so far.  
A lot of people work hard as well but don’t get the opportunity, others have so much responsibility. There’s always that.

True that.

Secondly, I’ve also been utterly baffled by class differences and how people worship you when you’re perceived as rich. I make an extra effort to make people feel respected, but it’s super weird. The first hierarchy you learn as a child is age—adults are higher on the ladder of life. So, to grow up and have to watch so many adults call me sir and pay me the respect I haven’t earned is awkward.
Finally, there’s the realisation that I’m now in a different socioeconomic class. One day, I took stock of the people I spend time with these days and realized a lot of them have wealthy parents. Like heh, am I first generation upper middle class or what?

When do you think you’ll retire?

I haven’t thought about it, ever. I like work for now, maybe I’ll start thinking about it when I no longer like work, or maybe when I’m rich. I’m not rich yet. 

What will you consider as rich?

I’m rich when I don’t need to put in more work to earn more. Rich means having money that works for you. I need to get to a place where there’s something fetching me the 800k I need to run my life monthly without me putting in more hours.
I recognise that this is the next step, but genuinely, I’m taking my time. I’ve only just been able to live with a certain level of comfort, I’m not about to worry myself about the next one.
I didn’t have a grand plan to get to where I am now, I just rode the wave of opportunity and pushed myself to outperform. Why change a winning formation? I might not even make it to whatever the next level is. Who knows?

Check back every Monday at 9 am for peeks into the Naira Life of everyday people.

If you’d love to share your Naira Life with us, tell us here. You’ll be anon, of course 🙂


NB: All the conversations in this series are based off real conversations with actual people. The dialogue is edited for clarity and ensuring that the identity of the subject is kept as discreet as possible. 

Fu'ad Lawal

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