My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.
For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 32-year-old businesswoman who was forced to use her children’s school fees to pay off loans. She talks about why she started using loan apps and how that decision is still affecting her life today.
Could you tell me your money mistake?
Last year, I needed some money to start up a business. My husband was facing some financial challenges, and I wanted to support our family in any way I could. I asked my friends and family for financial support, but none of them could help me. I was feeling very hopeless about my situation. Then, one day, while I was online, I saw an ad for a loan app.
What did you do?
I downloaded the app and borrowed money. The first loan I took was ₦13,000. It came with a two-week deadline. In my heart, I was determined to pay off the loan no matter what.
Did you pay off the loan?
Unfortunately, no. The business environment was tough. Things didn’t go as I had planned. I make body cream, hair cream and vaseline, but the sales didn’t bring in profit. I still had goods on ground by the time the deadline elapsed.
That was when I started getting calls. I have been insulted and threatened. They kept telling me they have my details and will reach out to my contacts about my debts. The whole situation is so embarrassing. In a bid to find a solution, I started taking loans from other apps to pay off my debts.
Oh no. How much debt did you get into?
Last year in December, it was over ₦50,000.
Were you able to get help?
I was able to call home and get assistance from a few people, but the problem is, I still needed to support my family. My husband wasn’t making enough. So in the new year, I went back to those apps.
Before then, they kept advertising and calling me. They said I am eligible and they have loans available for me. That was how I took out another loan. My life has been miserable since then.
I’m truly sorry about that.
Things got so bad that when my husband sent me money, about ₦48,000, for the children’s school fees, I used it to pay off a ₦45,000 debt. I was desperate and the loans were five days due. Customer care kept calling so I had to.
How did your children manage at school?
When the proprietress called me multiple times for the fees, I had to take a fresh loan to pay. I couldn’t risk word getting back to my husband. How do I tell him that the funds he gave me to send our children to school have been used to settle debts? I just couldn’t face him.
The whole debt business has been going on for a while now. My debts are growing with each deadline I miss. I have two due very soon.
How much do you owe these loan apps now?
My combined debt is about ₦66,510 from three loan apps. I have tried to talk to some people to help me, but nothing is forthcoming. Even my uncle has been ignoring my chats. The friend I told feels sorry for me, but she can’t assist.
In all of this, I am alone. I can’t even tell my husband because he is sorting so many bills and if he knew I was owing this much, I don’t know what would happen to him or us. All the profit I make from my business goes into servicing these loans.
How is this problem affecting your life currently?
I am depressed. The people I used to mingle with, I can’t anymore. Going out requires spending money and I can’t afford to do that. I have BP issues. Sometimes, I find myself taking out my anger on my children. I am not at peace.
What’s your biggest lesson from this?
If you don’t have money and you need some, it is better to beg than to borrow. Initially, I didn’t want to be mocked for begging and that led me down this path of debt. It’s a shameful place to be and I wish I had it in me to open up about my challenges before it got this bad.