Every week, we ask anonymous people to give us a window into their relationship with the Naira.
In this story, a lady talks about her struggles and it’s not just with money, it’s at the workplace.
Occupation: Customer Support
What’s the first time you made money?
It was in secondary school. Mumsy bought a lot of Chin-chin for us, and I got tired of eating them. So I repackaged it in smaller plastic bags and started selling it to my classmates. What was I using the money for? To buy Rice or Ewa Aganyin.
Next was when I was on I.T., earning ₦15k working HR. It wasn’t even the salary that was sweet, it was the weekend money our boss used to give us on Fridays. Like ₦2k when he’s broke.
I went back to school after I.T., and then lecturers went on strike. I was like, “what am I doing at home like this? I mean, I’m a badass cook”, so I just started cooking for people.
What was I using the money for? To buy airtime for my mummy. Buy data. Buy Shawarma. Enjoy my life. It was an almost effortless ₦15k in profit every month.
The strike was called off in 2014, but I was still cooking, but sparingly.
Did you have an allowance in all this time?
Well, since the time I brought a man home, my dad just stopped giving me money. My mum was still giving me when I asked, but my dad? No. When I asked, he’d be like, go and ask your man. Keep in mind, I started dating this guy in 2012. It’s not like he was giving me money steady, but anything I needed, he got me.
Also, he’d just randomly send ₦10k every now and then.
What’s the highest money he ever sent?
₦50k. I think it was the end of the year, and they gave him a 13th-month salary at the office, so he spread the love.
When did you finish school?
2015. Then I went to serve somewhere in the North Central. But I enjoyed sha, because I lived off Mammy Market in camp. Never ate from the kitchen. Buying everything buyable. I had money, from my mum, from man. My dad though, same old.
NYSC allowance was ₦19,800, plus another ₦20k allowance from bae. Although it wasn’t consistent, it came. My house rent and everything I got in the house, he bought for me. My mum too.
But my dad? Deadest. Shi-shi, I no see.
I finished serving in 2016.
I was jobless. And then, I decided to take the food business seriously. I took on a partner too, but we struggled and struggled. Orders weren’t consistent, logistics were tough.
Throughout that time, we didn’t exactly make money from it. We were throwing everything back into the business; buying equipment and all that. It gets exhausting though.
So, how were you sustaining yourself?
I got a customer care gig.
That job showed me that sometimes, people don’t want you to grow. They really just want to use you. I was in desperate for a job, so I took it.
My salary was ₦15k and there was barely ₦7k at the end of the job. This was in 2018.
I think I lived like a pauper in 2016 and 2017. Also, I was going through shit with the man at the time. I became an introvert because I was broke, although I was getting handouts from my mum.
My dad didn’t give me a feeding allowance, so food came from when my mum cooked.
Broke. Depressed. Heartbroken.
Sorry you had to go through that.
It was in late 2017 I started looking for jobs. I was looking around HR, customer care, and general admin stuff. I even applied for teaching jobs but my mind wasn’t really there.
When I think about it, I probably didn’t hate the customer care job per se, but my mum was always on my case about it. She made me feel bad about it–the money and all. So imagine I was dealing with angry customers, and having to deal with my mum’s pressure at home.
So I quit.
Lucky for me, I got another gig as soon as I quit. The job description looked like it was going to be creatively stimulating. It was some tiny media company. I was going to be working with designers and doing social media work. Initially, I didn’t feel cut out for it because I didn’t have any background, but at the interview, my boss made me relax, telling me he believed I had potential.
I was glad that I got another job, until I wasn’t.
Trashy boss. The first thing that was off; he copy-pasted my job description from Google. Every single letter and full stop.
And then it appeared that they didn’t really have a sense of what role I was supposed to play. No defined structure. No procedures. They were all over the place.
There was also the part where he started saying he wanted to marry me. I think he just wanted to sleep with me, to be honest. Let’s not forget how he kept hammering on how religious he was.
And then at the end of the first month, I didn’t get paid.
I was supposed to be paid ₦50k. End of the second month, no pay. No explanation. By the end of the second month, I asked for an explanation for why I hadn’t been paid. My Oga said it was insubordination.
I quit a few days into the 3rd month. I just sat at home, told them I couldn’t afford to come. It took some shaming him, but he eventually paid me ₦70k. I think his method was to control people by holding on to their money.
After then, I was back to square one, jobless, except this time, there was a lot of debt. This was July.
Look at it this way:
You have ₦5, and you’re expecting ₦20. So you spend your ₦5, still expecting ₦20. Then somehow, you borrow here and there, and next thing you know, your debt climbs to ₦30. Then you pay back when your ₦20 comes, but you’re still in debt. So the cycle repeats itself. Your debt keeps accumulating and you keep living to pay off debt. That was my life.
I feel you.
I tried to get back to my own food hustle, and it seemed to be doing not so bad. Profit was like ₦40k. But then we started to remove ₦1k from the profit, then put ₦39k back into the business. Repeat. Currently, the money has climbed to about ₦120k. The goal is to build a base to have more capacity.
I didn’t get another fulltime job until November – a customer care job. At least that’s where I started. It has gotten a lot more challenging now though. I feel underpaid, maybe I am. The good thing is that the salary is paid consistently; ₦50k. It’s a food delivery business and I have to do a bunch of things. I also have to take everyone’s orders. I have to call up old customers to ask why they haven’t ordered. I keep up with everything across Social Media from Twitter to Whatsapp. I also send updates to partners of the business.
That’s four roles; Social Media Management, Logistics Manager, Customer Support/Retention, and perhaps some Business Development.
Chai. I’ve suffered. And I was thinking I’m working from home and enjoying. Enjoyment kill you there! 20 calls a day – and that’s on a Sunday.
You work Mondays to Sundays?
No days off. Except on public holidays. I have to reply to every message. I have to call back every missed call. I have to apologise to customers when riders mess up an order.
What are you thinking right now?
The only thing I need to do is to start looking for better opportunities. Initially, if I knew I was going to do this much, I won’t have accepted the offer. When the job got overwhelming, I complained to my boss. He told me to find someone else, then they’d have to reduce my salary to pay the other person.
Maybe all of this is because it’s still a small business. But still.
Wait, are there remote jobs that can pay me as much?
What is ‘much’?
At least ₦150k. I’m not even asking for too much. The only reason I want a remote job is that I really want to grow this business too. I need it to grow. But who will pay me that much to work from home?
Between 2012 and now, what has changed about your perspective on money?
I don’t want to have to be dependent on someone before I can spend money. I don’t want to have to think, “If I don’t see this person, I can’t have money.” I want to be able to say, “I earned this thing, and I can do with it as I like.”
When I was collecting money from my mum, I kept getting the “What did you use it for” question.
There’s the comfort that comes from having your own money. So now that I’m working, I really just want to have money and be free to do as I like with it.
There’s just this thing–I don’t know the word–this thing that comes from having your own money.
Let’s do the breakdown of your monthly income.
I don’t care what the problem is, but once my salary enters, I just go out and buy food, just to eat and feel alright. Sharwarma or Ice-cream, I must buy something for myself. I never take it home, I just sit down there and eat it. Last salary, I went to Coldstone, bought the buy-one-get-one-free.
I finished the two in one sitting.
Do you have a sense of direction for where you’re headed?
I do now. I want to be a community manager. I have a background in hospitality already. I have some experience in HR, customer relations, Social Media Management. I’m reading materials online, but mostly free stuff.
But it’s hard juggling courses with my current job. I’m constantly replying customer messages and requests pretty much every hour I’m awake.
Looking at where you are, how much do you think you’d be earning in 5 years?
I don’t think my income should be less than ₦500k. Then if my business actually gets off the ground, ah. Can you imagine how much The Place makes in a week? In 5 years, I want to be doing The Place’s volume for one of their restaurants. Food business is super lucrative. Once you have great food and sometimes, great connects, you’ll blow.
Even those that cook trash, people still dey chop.
Back to now, how much do you think you should earn in salary?
Doing all those things? Just gimme ₦200k. At least.
What’s something you want but you can’t afford?
I want to buy my parents a house. Obviously unaffordable. I hate where they currently live, with passion.
When I pay all my debts, my primary goal is to save a quarter of my salary till I can afford to buy land or something somewhere, so they can finally feel a sense of ownership. Everything else I want but can’t afford doesn’t feel super important. Like a car. Or a really good laptop. Or a great phone. Or a camera for taking good photos.
What’s the last thing you bought that required serious planning?
A Bluetooth headset. It wasn’t even funny at all. I think I prepped for like 2 months to buy it, and it cost ₦6k. I took that long because I just had a lot of things to do with money. And even though it was important because of work, it still wasn’t high on my priority list.
Do you have a pension plan or health plan?
Nope. Ah. I hate falling sick. When I start having symptoms, I’m always in denial, because I can’t even spend any rubbish money on hospital bills. I go rugged am, so I don’t have to go to the hospital, because feeling sick means I have to spend money.
There was a time my ear was paining me seriously, and I had to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to go, but the pain was too much.
But when I collected a card at the hospital, they charged my ₦5k. My chest. Then tests, they said I should pay ₦25k.
I dunno how the ear stopped paining me o, but I didn’t do that test.
How would you rate your happiness levels?
Over 10? 10.7. I feel really am content. I don’t have much, but I’m content, especially when I think about where I used to be.
But I feel the full weight of all the responsibilities now. I’m no longer a child.
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