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.
What you should know about the guy in this story: He’s a 23-year-old Youth Corps member working at a decent place of primary assignment in Lagos.
When was the first time you made money?
I was in SS1, and a day student too, so I used to sell noodles. This is how it worked; boarding students were getting served horrible food, so selling a better alternative to them meant an instant hit.
I’d wake up early – like 5am – prepare the noodles based on orders I’d received. Then take everything to school. I was fulfilling a real need, so it wasn’t hard to charge them ₦500 per plate.
In SS2, PTDF – that Petroleum Technology Development Fund thing – they donated computers to my school, about 100 of them. Bu you know what was crazy? The school wasn’t allowing us use them, something about us not being tech-savvy or so we don’t spoil them. They literally just locked them up like they were furniture.
So imagine that one day, we’re all just chilling in the hostel, me and my friends, and someone just said, “what if we took these parts of the computers from the lab, you know, the ones easy to replace. And then we sold them?”
And that’s how we started, we managed to get the key from the prefect in charge of where the computers were kept, then we’d sneak in, take a couple of things, a hard drive here, a mouse there, etc. Then we’d sell them at the side of town where everyone went for the computer parts and Tokunbo phones. There were about four of us, but any time we sold anything we used to get over ₦30k, then we’d split it.
In typical fashion, the others boys found out in the hostel, and it became an absolute mess. They were moving entire computer monitors and stuff.
That is absolutely crazy.
You know what was even crazier? The school had external visitors, and in typical fashion, they wanted to “show off the computers to being used to prepare for our digital future.” A madness. Then they just opened the lab, and bam, missing computers here and there.
We never got found out.
What would have happened if they caught you guys?
Expulsion, most likely. There was always the fear of getting caught, but the money kinda balanced out that fear. That time, I’d just jump the school fence and go deposit it in my Kiddies Bank Account – I already had a bank account then.
How old were you?
16 – a proper Juvenile Delinquent.
Anyway, it was a mostly dry patch after that. I tried out buying and selling stuff, like clothes. That’s when I realised that this version of buying and selling, where I didn’t create the product, sucked.
I started writing, and learning graphics, and getting paid to do them, but the gigs were far too few and far in between for it to be called a real gig.
Then my allowance from home got sparser and sparser – my folks were having money struggles – and I had to do something about it. So I had this friend who was cashing out like mad selling weed – Loud specifically.
I invested ₦35k that should get you a quarter ounce, and you know how much I got back in 2 weeks? ₦50k – that’s a 43% return on investment. I threw more money in, and that’s how I survived my final year in school, mostly feeding off dividends.
You were trafficking drugs?
Basically. I mean, I dunno what the constitution says about that, but I know if you get caught, you’re going to pay.
I wasn’t directly in contact with any clientele, because I really was just an investor, but the market was mostly working class people and anyone who could pay. Students couldn’t afford to pay ₦5k for a bag.
When I was leaving school, I exited at ₦200k. But in total, I think I made up to half a million in like 11 months. The money never came in chunks, except for when I exited.
Then post-school, I reconnected with a previously distant relative, who kind of stepped up, and the random cash boosts were helpful. But it wasn’t consistent, and you don’t want to depend on that kind of money.
What was your solution?
Finding multiple streams of income. I even tried to secure posting to some company that was willing to pay ₦80k, but it didn’t work out.
Currently, money just comes from NYSC and my place of primary assignment. I’m trying to figure shit out while trying not to get screwed over with the law or something.
How much do you get in a month currently?
I get up to 55k now every month – enough for a few Uber trips, transport and food.
What’s the most interesting NYSC season has taught you about money?
Everybody lies about money. Parents lie about money. Friends lie about money. NYSC people lie about money – a corper told me he was getting ₦100k. It’s not impossible to earn that, but I found out that it was a lie. Like, he had no reason to lie, yet he did. Guys at work will never tell you how much they earn. Also, everyone seems to be living beyond their means.
Looking at your skillset, how much do you feel like you should be earning right now?
I feel like I should be earning between 100 and ₦150k. But getting good money right now, that would be about ₦3 million a year. Still, this number will not help me pay rent where I’d like to live. I won’t be able to consistently handle family emergencies when they come up, because they will come up.
What’s your unpopular opinion about money?
Money is amoral. I understand the importance of money – don’t get me wrong – but people try to moralise money. Like, this is how you should earn etc, and I don’t get it. As long as I’m not hurting anybody, I don’t see a problem with the method.
It’s why I never dabbled into Internet fraud – I was surrounded by it in school – but you literally had to take money from someone who wasn’t willing to give you by manipulation. That’s fraud.
Also, I now realise that money really is the biggest motivator. If you pay people, they just tend to act right.
How much do you imagine you’ll be earning in like 5 years?
I was on Complex.com the other day and they pay about $2,500 monthly to their writers. So if I’m earning that, using today’s estimates, I’ll say I’ve done pretty well with the piece-of-shit degree that means nothing to me.
Forget the 5-year question, where do you imagine you’ll be financially in 30 years.
30 years might be too much for me, my imagination tends to run wild. But 10 years, I feel like I would have figured out a lot of it, not all of it. Wherever I’m at, I’m just going to try to be content. Because it’s not about how much you earn, but how happy you are with it – or some shit like that.
If you can’t think about 30 years now, then you clearly haven’t thought about a pension.
Nope. I’ve never really seen myself as someone that would need a pension. I just feel like if in 30 years, I can’t afford the life I need, maybe I didn’t do life right.
What’s something you really want right now but can’t afford?
A very long list of tech that keeps getting longer. Mainly a good Mac, a Sony mirrorless camera, GoPros, etc.
What’s the last you paid for that required serious planning?
A website. Setting it up cost me roughly ₦50k.
What about the most annoying miscellaneous you’ve had to pay for?
Apple Music. Paying for music. Like, I miss 2006. You download music now and everybody thinks you’re archaic. But that’s just the way things are now.
Do you have an emergency plan for when you fall sick and –
– I’m fucked. That’s probably why I never fall sick. Life is very much in limbo right now. But I’m working on plans to prepare an emergency fund. Maybe in a small buying and selling-ish business.
Do you feel like NYSC is a financial hindrance for you or…?
Not really. I needed time off. I was burned out after University. Even if there was no NYSC, I might have had a gap year or something. I just needed a break from chasing and all of that.
Sometimes, I wish I didn’t even get a job, but then I can’t complain. I have job experience – valuable business development experience.
NYSC is ending in less than a year, what’s the money thing looking like?
I’ve not even really planned everything to the letter, to be honest. But the best case scenario is that I get retained at my current place of primary assignment. That might give me up to 150k for a starting salary. Do that for a year or two, then I go back to school to get another degree.
The goal is to attempt to grow my income enough to cater for two people at the minimum. Not because I intend to become the sole provider or anything, but as a personal target. I just want to be able to help out. I’ll consider it a successful three years if I can go to school and juggle work.
Worst case scenario, none of this happens, and I end up looking for a job. Or find a small gig, while doing stuff I truly give a shit about on my own time.
Despite all of this, how would you rate your happiness levels?
I’ve never really been the happiest person. But I’m alive sha, I don’t worry a lot.
I’m trying to enjoy the impermanence of my situation, and not think too much about it.
Check back every Monday at 9 am (WAT) for a peek into the Naira Life of everyday people.
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