Indeed, it’s squarely the case of surviving any way you can. And to say that times are hard here in Nigeria is to overlabour the obvious. From the hike in fuel pump price, the all-time high naira-dollar exchange rate, to the crazy cost of food items, Nigerians are dying for better times.
While we await better times, we can do the following to stay afloat, lest we sink beneath the waves of the turbulent Nigerian economy:
1. Realize that every Naira counts; accord money some respect!
What is N1,000,000 if not N1 x 1,000,000; N5 x 250,000; N10 x 100,000; N20 x 50,000; N50 x 20,000; N100 x 10,000; N200 x 5,000; N500 x 2,000; N1,000 x 1,000. The point here is that every Naira counts, and contributes to the big financial picture. One thing I love about those who’ve made money is their respect for money – not love of money. And so, handle that N10 with respect by insisting that the bus driver hands it over to you; I mean your ‘change’.
2. Beware of bank charges
You can be sure that both the central bank and commercial banks are struggling to survive the hard times too. And so they come up with this and that policy to get their hands deep into your pocket – Kobo by Kobo, Naira by Naira. You must resist them as much as you can. Watch those bank transfer charges, watch those SMS alerts, watch those ATM charges… Adopt strategies to beat the banks to their own game – on your account. It’s game time! Play to win. For instance, let the person asking you to make a transfer shoulder the bank transfer charges; N105 counts, remember. And try as much as you can to stick to your bank’s ATM.
3. Let drycleaners alone; do it yourself.
When you do the math, you’ll realize that drycleaning costs you a fortune every month. It’s really so much. Inasmuch as I’m not asking you to launder your suit and other special fabrics all by yourself, I’m saying you should be able to wash and iron a good part of your wardrobe and cut yourself that cost. Fact. Now, many people make recourse to the time argument, as to why doing their laundry by themselves is a challenge. But I know a certain bank manager who does it 4am to 5am – the drycleaner does his specials. It’s called financial intelligence.
4. Use public transport
Unfortunately, many have come to think that doing a public commute to and fro work is one of the symptoms of broke. This is laughable. It’s called cutting cost. I can understand that the Nigerian transport system is not as efficient and reliable as those of London and New York, but we can make do with it from time to time to cut cost. When I rode BRT in Lagos, I realized that one could really save time and money doing a public commute. Why not try…
5. “Cheaper by the dozen”
That’s the name of a movie actually – full of lessons on cost effectiveness. For me, the difference between buying 1 box of Irish Spring and 3 boxes together is N100, and N100 counts! Why not buy in dozens and save cost on the long-run. Buy next to everything you frequently use in dozens, and particularly from low-cost grocery stores. The secret behind Shoprite’s prices is that they buy directly from producers; they cut out middlemen. Leverage on that arrangement.
6. Trek! Trek!! Trek!!!
If your workplace is a walkable distance from home why not walk; if 80% of the congregation trek to church why not mingle. Must you drive? Of course, trekking saves both money and gets us exercising. Trek! Trek!! Trek!!! It’s called adaptation not symptom of broke. To visit a friend down the street, trek. To go shopping in a nearby market, trek.
7. Buy yourself a bicycle
This one is for those who can risk cycling. The fine thing about the bicycle is that it needs next to no form of fuel. Simply inflate the tires, jump atop it and peddle your way on. It cuts cost and not only burns but churns down calories.
8. Run the generator only 3 hours a day
In Nigeria, there is a sort of unofficial competition between neighbours with regards the running of generators; which is louder, and which will run longer. Funnily enough, that was in the old dispensation. In the new dispensation, where fuel has joined the league of articles of ostentation, 3 hours is just fine. In 3 hours, one can charge all chargeables, iron clothes, see a movie, cool a drink, etc. That is even PHCN fails. On a hot night, instead of running it all-night, why not simply take your bath, throw open the windows (while minding security and mosquitoes) and enjoy a noiseless sleeping atmosphere.
…watch out for Part II