Surviving Nigeria: Tips & Hacks

Today, I will be sharing 10 tips to help you in surviving Nigeria; the difficult economic conditions and cost of living crisis. These tips will work for anyone living in a country where things are super hard, and you are just trying to make ends meet.

If you’re living in a country where the economy is great, but you are not doing so well and your finances are struggling or you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck and trying to survive, this is also for you.

However, I will be focusing more on people living in Nigeria; these tips will help you stay on top of your game and help you thrive.

So let’s delve right into it: 

1. SWITCH OFF YOUR DATA WHEN YOU’RE NOT USING IT. 

Nigerians buy data in bundles for easy accessibility to the internet and social media. It’s advisable to switch off your data when you’re in transit, at work, driving or travelling to reduce data usage. There is no reason for your data to be switched on all the time because if it is, your phone will constantly download stuff, keep abreast of information on the various apps you have and update your apps without your knowledge; all of which will consume the precious data you have. 

One thing I have observed in Nigeria is that data is expensive and yet so vital to day to day life. You need data to access the internet, social media, search and apply for jobs, access streaming services like Netflix and so on. So, if you are not careful, you can quickly find yourself spending and spending and wondering where all your money is going. 

So whenever you are not using the internet, it’s best to switch off your mobile network.

2. SAVER BUNDLES & FREE MODE

You should also aim to buy saver bundles or data deals. You can achieve this by keeping abreast of data bundles and hot deals your network provider may be offering at various times. If there are saver plans you can buy, buy them. 

Also, to further reduce your data costs, you can try using free-mode on Facebook. Free-mode allows you to access Facebook without using your data. It works on some network providers (not all), so research which network provider offers this. The only downturn here is that you may be unable to view pictures and videos on Facebook, but you will be able to read text.

3. BUY PANTRY/NON-PERISHABLE FOODS IN BULK.

Pantry food items like beans, yam, garri, crayfish, oil and dry spices can be stored in the kitchen pantry/cupboards until they need to be consumed hence their name. Unlike foods like milk, meat and fish, they do not require refrigeration and only need to be stored in a cool, dry place. 

When you buy pantry foods in bulk, they make it easier to feed yourself and your family when funds have become low towards the end of the month; you will not have to spend more money trying to feed yourself or your family.  

For instance, if you have rice, oil, bouillon cube (maggi) and crayfish at home, concoction Jollof is always a great food option. Beans and yam pottage is also a good combo, while your Garri can always serve its multifunctional purpose of either soaking it or using it to make Eba. 

There are so many options open to you when you have these pantry foods at home. In Nigeria, they are also called non-perishable foods.

4. PLANT VEGETABLES. 

If you have space in your yard where you can plant things, make sure you plant vegetables. Growing vegetables in your garden make it easier for you to cook cheap, fresh sauces and soups. Vegetables are an essential part of a balanced diet and an important part of the Nigerian diet. So if you have vegetables readily available in your garden, you can eat healthily for less. 

5. REDUCE ASOEBI BUYING.

Even though Covid is raging, we Nigerians don’t joke with our parties and one thing I love about our culture is wearing uniforms which we call Aso-Ebi. 

However, Aso Ebi has become a burden over the past few years. It has gradually become a lucrative buying and selling business with people selling aso ebi at exorbitant prices. 

Well, you don’t have to buy aso-Ebi for every wedding you are invited to! 

If your bank balance does not endorse buying N50k aso Ebi, then DON’T DO IT. If you know the colour of the day, look into your wardrobe and pick out that colour and wear it along with them. To a large extent, you will blend in with other guests, and people are less likely to notice that you’re not wearing the exact aso ebi other guests are wearing; and even if they do notice, you are simply cutting your coat according to your size. 

So it’s okay for you to show up at events without wearing the aso ebi that was sold. 

Another suggestion I always have is that if your friend is getting married, you can ask them if they want you to buy aso ebi or they prefer a monetary gift. You will be surprised that a lot of brides or grooms will prefer monetary or practical gifts.

6. STOP MANDATING ASOEBI FOR YOUR PARTIES.

 Still, on the aso Ebi matter, do unto others what you will want them to do unto you. So if you’re not going to be buying aso ebi, you shouldn’t mandate other people to buy yours and if possible; avoid doing uniforms at all. You can always use colour codes. People are less likely to be offended when you don’t buy their aso ebi because you didn’t mandate them to buy yours in the first place.

7. ATTEND PARTIES WITH WISDOM.

Parties are great and fun. Nigerians love parties a lot, and if you’re a Yoruba person or live in Lagos and any of the southwest towns, parties are a normal, frequent part of life especially the large parties called Owambe.

However, there is one fact that nobody talks about when it comes to parties; and its that parties eat into your finances! 

It is worse when the party is out of town.  

This is why I would like to suggest that you attend parties with wisdom. You don’t have to attend every party or Owambe you are invited to. Sometimes, it is best to send a gift to the celebrants instead of attending the party. The exception to this is if the celebrant is a close family member or someone important to you. 

Imagine that you spend N50k on an outfit and transport/fuel, just to go and eat jollof rice? That is not wisdom.  Parties are not always worth the expense.

8. GET A POWER BANK

We all know how erratic power is in Nigeria. Before you say, Jack Robinson, power has gone off and you are having to wait many hours (depending on how nice PHCN is in your area is) for power to be restored.

Getting a power bank means whenever power is down, you don’t have to spend money on fuelling your generator just to charge your phone. 

A power bank allows you to make phone calls, make the payments you need to and even do your business anytime and anywhere without totally depending on the power supply. 

It doesn’t just save you the cost of fuelling your generator but it also saves you the time you will waste waiting for power to be restored.

Imagine the things you could have done while your phone was dead; all the recruiters’ phone calls that you could miss if you are a job hunter. How about the business opportunities you could miss because your phone was dead.

Power banks are lifesavers that will help you rise above the power situation in Nigeria.

9. TEACH YOUR KIDS TO AVOID WASTE.

For those who have children, it is time to teach them how to be frugal. This doesn’t mean you’re teaching them poverty but rather you are teaching them to be good resource managers. 

Teach your children to be careful of wastage, to finish food that is served to them, to use the last bit of their toothpaste and body cream before discarding the bottles/tubes.

This way, toothpaste lasts longer because no one is squeezing it wastefully, soaps last longer because the kids know better than to leave them in the sink to dissolve away after using it. 

The way to make sure the whole family is joining you to make things last is to teach the kids how to make things last. I make it a project to teach my daughters how to squeeze out the last bit of their toothpaste or how to use the last drop of their body creams before throwing away the containers.

I also teach them how to turn things into multipurpose products instead of throwing them in the trash.

10. DIVERSIFY YOUR INCOME.

This applies to everyone whether you stay in Nigeria or the UK or the U.S but it is especially applicable in Nigeria because a lot of employers in Nigeria are unreliable when it comes to paying salaries – they owe employees with impunity, it’s actually sad. 

The Nigerian government also does not offer support for those who lose their jobs and employers frequently retrench employees with or without notice. 

This is why you have to diversify your income by starting a side hustle. Sell something, learn a skill and sell the skill, retail something online. The world is your oyster, you can earn income from so many online platforms like Fiverr, Upwork etc.

Platforms like flutterwave have partnered with foreign platforms like Stripe and made it easy for you to get paid, so your income from Fiverr and Upwork is not at risk. You have no excuse not to diversify your income. You have access to the internet and can sell things on Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter

Get started now.

I hope you have found these 10 tips useful, I hope you continue to thrive and rise above the harsh conditions in Nigeria. Financial freedom is possible and I am here to support you to achieve it.

Take care and stay Bulletproof!

Ronke O.

Published by ronkeodewumi

I am a Chartered Accountant (ACMA, CGMA) and seasoned Management Consultant with about 16 years of experience driving the delivery of strategic solutions to complex problems of global firms. Through my blog, youtube channel, social media, tailored courses and downloadable material, I share information, resources and tips to help you manage your money better, grow your business, progress in your career, thrive in difficult times and create a life that is safe from failure, while being the best version of yourself. You will also find here links to my youtube videos where I share more nuggets to help you achieve and live your dream life. I am based in London, United Kingdom and always happy to connect with you via email (ronkeodewumi@gmail.com), social media or my contact page here.

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