If you’ve been reading this every Monday, you know the drill at this point. If you haven’t, now you know that Zikoko talks to anonymous people every week about their relationship with the Naira.
Sometimes, it will be boujee, other times, it will be struggle-ish. But all the time–it’ll be revealing.
When do you first feel like you truly understood money?
It was actually recently. Someone hired me to do a job and he hasn’t paid me. This guy has money oh, but somehow it clocked for me that money is money, but value is subjective. Like, money and value are not always equal. Most importantly, there’s the part where I realised that for your account to increase, someone’s account balance has to reduce.
That’s an interesting start.
Even if I remember the first time I made money, I’m sure it wasn’t hard. I always used to be like, “if you deliver value, the money will come.” It’s not that straightforward anymore.
I had opportunities when I was in school, but I enjoyed doing those things so much that I did them for free.
Then NYSC started, and I was getting broke too easily. That’s when I told my friend, “yo, I can do anything. Just holler if you need anybody to do anything.”
Just around that time, a bunch of guys were building a business, and they needed someone to do motion graphics. My guy hooked me up with them.
They were like, “can you do it?” and I’m like, “sure why not?”
Bruh, I’d never done that shit before. I had no experience in design or Motion Graphics. We had that conversation on a Monday, and I sent it in on a Friday.
They loved it so much that they invited me over, and gave me the full gist. Someone had actually hired them to do a job, and they had outsourced that part of it.
So now, all three of us went to meet this person, as partners, and he paid us 60k. It really was a big deal. Bruh, we actually took a photo with the cheque.
It’s also how I learned design, someone needed something done, so i just winged it and learned till I delivered.
How did that business go?
We had a good run, but there were too many forces pulling me away, so I succumbed, and I had to leave.
Yes. We weren’t in a major city where all the action was happening. Plus, other forces like family and friends were pulling me back home. I vaguely remember, but we didn’t make a lot of money with that business in the short time we worked together–maybe 400k? But we had a good time while we were at it.
So you mostly survived on NYSC salary?
See, the best way I can explain my financial life is this; I don’t have money o. But I always have money.
Also, this might sound weird, but there was this beggar who had a baby. When I think about it now, if I had only 200 naira, I always made sure to give her 100 naira. As long as I see her. I was probably giving her out of selfishness, to be honest. Because weird thing, but every time I gave her money, someone always calls me to dash me money or pay me for something. I swear.
But anyway, where were we?
What happened after NYSC?
I stayed behind about six months, then I left and returned to Lagos. I got a job almost immediately. This was at the end of 2015. I started at 80k – net was 73k. I joined in November and I didn’t have a lot of needs, so it was a lot of money at the time. But next month? That was the real hit.
What happened in December?
One of the friends I’d already made in the company told me something, “Guy, go and borrow money you know you can’t afford to pay back.” And I’m like, what’s the guy saying? And he was like, “you go soon find out.”
The next week, I got an “end of the year” bonus–500k. After working for only two months. Bruh. I remember sitting inside keke, in the middle of two people, looking at them left and right, and saying in my head, DO YOU PEOPLE KNOW HOW MUCH I HAVE? ARE YOU JOKING?
Of course, I was super chill outwardly, but I was ecstatic. I saved it though, because I didn’t have any need for it.
It was also a time that my work required a lot from me that didn’t make side interests easy, so I shut them out.
I was collecting my 73k, but now that I remember, it’s like most of it was going to Amazon. I liked to buy fancy stuff for my girlfriend at the time, like scented body wash and stuff like that. I’d just buy and ship.
Smack in the middle of the year, I got another bonus and gbas; 650k.
Is there a structure to these bonuses?
We thought there was, turns out there wasn’t. I was saving most of it anyway, so I was good. It was a quiet year, doing my work and minding my business, but by the end of the year, another bonus gbos; 1.2 million. I wasn’t expecting it. Them no dey expect that kain thing. This was in December 2016.
This was also the time I thought it’d be great to do something with all that money. So I convinced my mum to buy a car from someone–cost about 1 million. Then I bought it off her and had to pay in instalments. The goal was to use it for Uber. Do you know what’s mad? That car actually cost me 1.4 million, instead of 1 million. That extra money came from getting the car to the best condition possible.
I think this was when my downturn with money started.
I think I made only 180k from Uber. It was on and off the road–terrible investment. So by December 2017, I sold the car to someone that I sometimes feel guilty about selling to, even though he was aware of the car’s condition.
That was also the time I decided to move out of my parents’ house.
The place I got was 650k. But you the Landlord wanted me to pay 2 years, so it actually cost me 1.4 million. And that was the first time in a very long time I felt like, “oh shit, I’m burning through all my cash.”
Still, I went for Umrah that December. I just felt like I needed it. This one cost 800k.
How did you fund your December?
Oh, I got another bonus – 2 million – so it made all of it easy.
Also – I wish I tracked this but – I spent close to 600k to get my house to living conditions. I bought my TV for 360k – it was a Black Friday sale – then I spent the rest on painting for the house, bed, fittings and other stuff.
Sha, at the end of that period, it felt like I was back to zero. At the turn of 2018, the office decided to increase my net salary from 70-something-k to 90-something-k, which is ridiculous, but okay.
It really does feel like your real salary comes twice a year.
The reality of this started setting in at the beginning of 2018. I’m like, how can I be collecting 90k a month? It’s been three years, and that was when I started to think properly about my growth within the company.
I mean, there were occasional bonuses that still came here and there. They’d come like twice a year and bring another 200k. The problem with all of it was that you couldn’t plan around it.
Wait, what company was this?
It’s a services company running a very lucrative business by Nigerian standards. The company has cash, there just doesn’t seem to be a proper structure. Can’t tell you the name 🙂
Anyway, I got 650k again, middle of the year. At this point, it was boring. There was already a shortfall for me that when the 650 came, the money felt like “are you joking” money.
To be honest, I want to quit, but I haven’t garnered enough courage to quit. I just need a financial justification to do so, like when my side hustle can sustain me without my 9-5 salary. I feel generally disenchanted with the whole 9-5 system at this point.
Did I mention that I bought a car? That made me completely wrecked. Only reason I could even survive paying for that car was paying instalmentally.
–End of the year bonus, 2018.
2.5 million. I pushed like 1 million into a project. Another 1 million went to the balance of my car. The remaining 500 went into tiny holes, like debts. Sha, the money on top of the 2 million completely disappeared.
A lifetime project – marriage. I mean, I know 1 million isn’t going to be enough, but it’s a start. You blink and 6 months will pass and next thing you know, I don’t have any money for my wedding.
What are the numbers looking like?
Argh. In total now, I’ve put in about 2.25 million. My parents have put in like 5 million. I’m sure my bride and her family have in well over 5 million.
So let’s say it has already crossed 10 million.
Wow. I’m shocked hearing that out loud. Like, it doesn’t feel like it, but then the numbers don’t lie. We’re actually planning for 500 guests, but realistically, 600.
What’s your financial future looking like inside marriage?
I’m screwed. While my job gives me a bad salary, it’s not exactly bad money. Also, there’s the part where my fiancée is doing fantastically well.
So even though I need to pull my own weight, I’m not under as much pressure as you’d expect.
So side hustles will go a long way, because my job actually gives me time.
We have big goals, so I’m going to have to step up. I don’t have it entirely figured out right now, but I’m in good company.
Let’s talk about your monthly income
I’m winging this money shit every month. My only luck is that I’m not that much a heavy spender, so I only spend when I need to. Also, I have a reflexive saving habit. Money comes and I just save, and it’s not accessible short term.
Also, I invested in something once; Sukuk. I can’t even remember how much I put in it, I just gave my babe to sort it out.
For health emergencies, I have my office HMO. They also sort out pension too by the way. Imagine how much pension you’ll be getting from a 100k gross salary.
How much money do you honestly feel like you should be earning every month?
800k to 1 million. And this is an educated figure. My skillsets across my side projects say I should be earning that much.
Something you want but can’t afford?
Nothing. I have everything I want. There’s a part of me that will say material stuff, but right now I think I’m fine. I think I’m just extremely lucky for everything I have, for the people in my life. For my fiancée.
These material things are mostly random shit, like a GoPro, or a drone.
Grad school would have been on my list, but I like where I’m headed. But if I had to go back to school, it’d be to study Sustainable Energy Futures. I’m enthusiastic about energy solutions for our part of the world.
When was the last you felt genuinely broke?
Yesterday. I almost cried. I was looking at my account balance and the list of things I have to do. And when I thought of the fact that at the end of the month, I’ll get 92k, it started driving me nuts. Funny thing is, I feel this way every month.
There’s something about my growth at work that depresses me. The closest people around me make me feel like I should be doing more.
And it’s not like they’re saying it or anything, I look at them and I just know I should be doing more. I’m not poor, but I could be doing way better.
Most of them are doing between 500k and 1 million a month. My existence is not threatened, financially. But I’m not happy with my financial performance, so far.
I feel you.
In the middle of this madness, my friends and I started a company in 2017.
I think we’re up to something, and I can see money or other success in my future. I care very much about building digital products–systems, apps, etc. It’s super interesting and lucrative. It’s still a tough sell at large, but we’ve been lucky a few times.
The most I’ve made from a gig – argh I don’t keep track of these things – I think it’s 200k and that’s minus the company revenue. This was a personal gig. To be honest, it was only for a few hours of work.
Despite everything, it always feels like I don’t have money. But I just always have money and I never lack.
Someone always tells me the best things that have happened to me were the ones I didn’t really plan for. I’m honestly grateful and optimistic about the future.
Random, but what is your Nigerian dream?
Building something that blows. Blowing in Nigeria is selling something to the government, then relocating your family Abroad.
Then join them later after you’ve hustled well here. And then live happily ever after; The Abroad Nigerian Dream.
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