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How Are Low-Income Earners Surviving Nigeria?

Anyone watching Nigeria’s inflation rate, which rose to almost 20% in July, might wonder how low-income earners are dealing with the situation. To find out, we spoke to some of the people most affected by the harsh economy. Their responses are provided below.  

“I’m dependent on my wife” — Mide

I earn ₦30k monthly, a salary that cannot take care of me, let alone cover my entire family’s expenses. So, I have to depend on my wife, a petty trader. She makes at least ₦100k monthly. Whenever our combined money isn’t sufficient to cover our monthly expenses, I borrow from our family and friends, who I think are tired of me. 

“I live with my parents and rely on them for my upkeep” — Izu

I’m a primary school teacher earning ₦50k monthly. Each day, I wake up with an overwhelming feeling of frustration because I can’t help but think of myself as a failure. My parents did their best to send me to school, yet I still live with them and rely on them for my upkeep. My meagre income only covers transportation and data. But I’m hopeful my income will increase soon as I’m currently learning software development. 

“I borrow money from loan apps” — Doyin

I’m a tailor in a low-income area. As a result, my income often doesn’t exceed ₦60k. Festive seasons are the only exception. For instance, I made ₦80k during the last Sallah celebration. 

But this income isn’t enough to take care of my three children as I’m a widow without support from my late husband’s family. I often have to resort to borrowing money from loan apps. This has ruined my finances as I’m constantly settling debt, but, unfortunately, I have no choice. 

“I have a supportive fiancé” — Susan 

Despite attending an expensive university like Babcock, I couldn’t find a good job for a year. This forced me to settle for a commission-based job as a bank agent. On average, I make between ₦60k – ₦90k monthly. The bulk of this ridiculous salary goes to my transportation because I shuffle between the mainland (where I live) and the island (where my office is located). I also have to buy new clothes as my job requires me to meet people constantly. I’m grateful for my caring fiancé, who constantly supports me. We live together at the moment, so I don’t have to worry about paying rent. 

“I’ve become a chronic debtor” — Eric

Life is hard when you earn ₦40k monthly, but it’s way harder when you’re making that amount of money as the first-born male child. Sadly, that is my normal. I earn ₦40k monthly as an intern in a Big 4 firm. 
Over 80% of that salary goes to taking care of my siblings as my parents are retired civil servants with no source of income other than their pension. The burden of black tax has forced me to become a chronic debtor. I want to stop owing people but I don’t know how I’ll survive if I don’t borrow.

Here are a few tips to help you survive a period of inflation:

  1. Rethink spending habits. Figuring out what expenses you can do without will help free up some of your income, which you could either keep or use on a need rather than a want. Piggyvest provides you with options.
  2. Invest. Where possible, explore investment options using Investify. Attractive returns will help cushion your income’s loss of value. 
  3. Learn a new skill. You can improve your chances of surviving a harsh economic period if you learn a high-reward skill. It might take some time and a sizable part of your income but it will always be worth the effort.


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