Fola is a 27-year-old writer who took a small loan from a loan app and ended up racking up 20 times the debt in the struggle to get out of it.
This is her story as told to Tobe Okoh.
As a freelance writer, I had a little in my savings — nothing over the top, just enough to go by. But I needed a steady income, so I decided to get myself a job at a writing company. I had underestimated the toll that transportation and feeding would take on my tiny savings, and in a week, I was already out of money. I couldn’t ask my parents because they weren’t happy with me leaving law to become a writer, so I was on my own.
I knew I would get a salary at the end of the month, so I decided to try one of these loan apps I see everywhere. Let’s call it “Something Something Credit.” I took out a ₦15,000 loan. Nothing too serious, right?
Well, I was wrong.
This was where I screwed up. I did not notice that I had to pay back this loan in two weeks. Of course, I accepted the terms and conditions without reading them. It wasn’t until I started receiving prompts as the day of repayment approached that I understood what I had gotten myself into.
It got worse from there. Way worse. The amount I was supposed to pay back was almost double what I had borrowed, and my salary was nowhere in sight. Then, unfortunately for me, I saw an option to borrow to repay. I did, but the new interest rate was even higher than the last. I had now fallen into the vicious cycle of borrowing to repay the last, because, at this point, my less-than-₦100k salary could not even make a dent in this debt.
I was owing ₦300,000. It was like I blinked and found myself there. I still can’t state one thing I spent the money on, and I was still earning peanuts with repayment dates always looming over me.
Before then, my mom had already started receiving some of their automated messages, and I had convinced her they were scammers. But afraid that my other contacts would start getting the same messages or even worse ones, I had to come clean to my mother. I had no one else to turn to. I was relieved to finally let someone in.
You can always count on your mother to come through for you. She loaned me the entire ₦300,000, and I was finally free of that debt. Even though I was still owing her, I had room to breathe. I left that job and got another one that paid me much better, and I’ve been able to pay most of it off now.
My biggest lesson from this: Avoid loan apps if you can. But if you must use them, read the terms and conditions; a lot of their interest rates are not realistic at all. The second lesson I learned is to never take a loan to repay another. It’s just a slippery slope and you don’t want to go sliding down that path.