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.
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What’s your oldest memory of money?
My mum is a businesswoman, so I was exposed to the concept of buying and selling at a young age. When I was eight years old, I started buying mint candy and selling them to my classmates in school. My school didn’t have a sweet shop, so I sold at a higher price. I always had about ₦200–₦300 at the end of every week.
I lived on the allowance I got from my parents through the years until I finished university. I got into university in 2008 and lived at home for the most part — my parent’s house was close to the school. Then I got ₦1k every day. But for the few times I lived on campus, my allowance came in weekly — ₦10k.
I don’t imagine you ever went broke in uni then.
You would think so. My weekly allowance rarely lasted the week. But I could always go home if I needed more. I did a couple of things that brought in extra money.
What did you do?
At first, it was a writing gig I got in my second year. I did it for a couple of months. The pay was ₦10k or ₦15k. I got another one in 2012, which paid ₦20k and lasted for three months. Also, I was selling stuff intermittently. I started with some jewellery I got from my mum. Then I sold clothes and hair. All of this brought between ₦5k and ₦15k every two weeks.
I went to law school in 2013. Again, I had to live on my mother’s grace and got a weekly allowance of ₦10k for the entire year I spent in law school. I didn’t go for service immediately after because I was posted to a state in the north, and I didn’t show up to camp. While waiting for the next batch, I got a job at a law firm and was earning ₦80k per month. I eventually went for service in 2015 and that came with ₦19,800 from the federal government.
What did your finances look like during this period?
I was just spending money, to be honest. A lot of it went to food and clothes. It’s hard to find clothes my size in the country, and I started placing orders for clothes in the UK. I had nothing saved up at the end of my service year, which is interesting because I also sold stuff online during the course of the year. I blew everything. The only thing going for me was that I always had at least ₦100k in liquid cash.
Moving on, my service year ended in 2016 and the law firm increased my salary to ₦127k. I got a promotion later that year and my salary was bumped up to ₦167k. That’s what I earned until I quit the firm in 2017.
Why did you leave?
I wanted to do something different from corporate law and I got an offer from a company in financial services to work in their legal department. My salary when I resumed work at the company was ₦220k. Shortly after I joined, the company gave everyone a raise, and I moved to ₦250k. About a year later, I got a promotion and this came with a raise — ₦330k.
Lit. Lit. Lit.
That reminds me, right before I got promoted at work, I moved out and rented my own place. It was a self-contained room and I got it for ₦400k. It wasn’t a great apartment but it worked for me because it was about five minutes away from my office.
In February 2019 I thought it was time to buy a new car. My old car was old and had started making my life hell. I could be on the road and the silencer would fall off or the ignition would turn off. My new car cost me ₦2.6m, but I paid only ₦1.5m. Someone paid the rest.
What a flex.
Haha. I also became tired of the company and my salary in 2019. I wanted something more challenging so I started looking for a new job. My rent expired a month before I switched jobs. I didn’t want to stay at the apartment anymore because it wasn’t up to taste and the security wasn’t great. I moved to a new apartment and started paying ₦900k in rent.
It may not sound like it but I’m very big on savings and investments. From the moment I got my first job, I started doing Ajo with a couple of my friends. We started with ₦15k a month and we increased it as our salaries grew. We were doing ₦50k a month at the time we stopped in 2019.
Also, I’m very big on crowdfunded agriculture investments. I saw a few on the internet in 2017 and put money in them. I knew that I wasn’t great with liquid cash and that I was prone to spending money on stuff that wouldn’t be very useful in the long term. It made sense to put the money in something I wouldn’t have access to all the time. Some portion of my salary went into these investment opportunities every month. When the time came to move apartments and buy a new car, my investments in these companies were about to mature. I just pulled my money from everywhere and kept it aside until I raised the money I needed.
I started a new job in September 2019, and my starting salary was ₦445k. Two months into the job, my salary dropped to ₦415k.
They said something about reviewing their tax system. I guess I started paying more in taxes.
Nothing much happened for a few months after the pay cut. Not until I took a loan from GTBank and put the money in agriculture investments.
I did my math. The ROI I was going to get was more than the interest rate I would pay on the loan. I mean, it was a big risk but I decided to go with it. My salary account is with GTBank, and I was eligible for their QuickCredit loan service. I requested ₦700k and the money hit my account in seconds. That was it.
How did it work out?
It worked out well. Repaying the loan monthly was a bit of a strain on my baby girl lifestyle but it also wasn’t difficult because I could afford it. I only had to cut down on some of the frivolous things I was spending money on. My bets paid off and I made about 25%-30% on my investments. What did I do next? I went on holiday to Dubai in the first quarter of 2020. This cost me ₦400k-₦450k but I can’t lie, I had a great time. I returned just in time because Corona had hit and the country was about to go on lockdown.
During lockdown and the subsequent months, I worked from home, which meant that I wasn’t spending a lot on fuel and transport. However, I started spending a lot more money on food. Then August 2020 came, and I had to move apartments again.
Long story. It came as a bit of a shock because I had no intention of moving. After house hunting for a few weeks, I found an apartment I liked. The only problem was that it was out of my budget.
How much was the apartment?
₦1.5m. But I needed to pay an extra ₦220k for the tenancy agreement and agent commission.
What did you do next?
I took another loan from GTBank.
The thing is, I could afford the apartment on my salary in the long term. The issue was I didn’t have a lot of physical cash at that moment. I requested ₦1m from the bank, and I got it, added the money to what I already had and paid for the apartment. By the time I was moving in, I had spent about ₦2m and had only ₦50k in my account.
And you also had a loan to pay back.
Yes. ₦92k monthly. Again, it wasn’t much of an inconvenience. Save for the stress on my disposable income, all I had to do was cut down on some of my spendings. In real-life terms, however, my salary could take care of it.
Nothing major happened for the remainder of 2020. In January 2021, I got another promotion and started earning ₦570k. For some reason, it increased to ₦600k last month. I don’t know what happened there, and I have no intention of asking them.
Lmao. So what does ₦600k do for you now?
I’ll finish paying the loan this month, thank God. I don’t think debt is a bad thing, but I’ve had a debt on my shoulder for about two years now. I need a break.
Also, there are always additional expenses. The most recurring one is the extra ₦40k I spend on grocery shopping. The others are far and in-between — ₦50k I spend on my birthday cake every year or ₦100k I send to my mum when it’s time for Sallah.
Man. How do you approach savings and investments now?
Most of my investments are still in agribusiness. They present higher risks from the other things I would consider but they give better returns. Luckily, I’ve never had a bad investment. I have about ₦1m in investments now. I started putting ₦400k in my savings last month, but it’s for a particular goal. My savings chest has about ₦800k but I won’t exactly call what I have in it my emergency cash. Thankfully, I have safety nets for emergency situations.
It’s my boyfriend and my mum, to be honest. My mum is always there to help. I may not want to ask her for anything, but I know I have her. Since I started saving ₦400k every month, my boyfriend has been picking up a couple of bills, and that’s lightened my financial load.
Ah, I see. So how much do you think you should be earning now?
I feel like I’m slightly underpaid for my role. I should be earning at least ₦800k. But ₦1m per month is a fair deal.
What do you need to do to unlock your next level of income?
Leave Nigeria with a quickness. See, money is not a big deal for me. I’m not trying to hammer. I just want to be able to take care of my basic needs and check a few things off my wants. I may not be able to live that life in Nigeria irrespective of what I earn.
I feel you. What part of your finances do you think you could be better at?
I need to be more deliberate about my expenses. I have a budget, it might be time to stick to it. Cutting down on these things will mean that I have more money freed up for my savings. I know what to do, the problem is actually doing it. I think I just believe that the money will always be there.
How have your experiences shaped your perspective about money?
Money has always been a tool of independence, and that hasn’t changed. I’ve always wanted to make money and spend how I want to fulfil my needs. I’ve grown to understand and appreciate the importance of savings and investments. I may not leave the investment for long enough to compound before I use it for something though. What’s more important is that I’m not living above my means. I believe that I live slightly below my means, and if I could just bring it further down, I can do a lot more with money than what I’m doing now.
Interesting. What’s something you want now but can’t afford?
I can’t say there’s anything. It helps that I don’t have a lot of wants. A second passport would be great, but I don’t have $100,000 waiting in my account.
LMAO. What was the last thing you spent money on that required proper planning?
I bought a bone-straight wig last month and it cost ₦250k. I paid a deposit of ₦130k and haven’t balanced the payment. I plan on doing so this month. It definitely took a lot of thinking and planning before I placed the order.
How would you rate your financial happiness on a scale of 1-10?
8. I can afford most of the things I want except that passport. The only thing is I may not be able to afford everything as readily as I would like to, but that’s not a problem. It’s also great to know my mum and my boyfriend are in my corner, especially if I need help with anything. I’m good.
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