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My Money Mistake: A $1000 Debt Ended My Longtime Friendship

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 36–year–old writer who lent $1000 to his friend for a business that never took off. He tells us how the debt affected his living conditions and their friendship.

Could you tell me your money mistake?

This incident happened over a decade ago, in 2010. I lent a friend $1000 for a business. He was buying cheap designer clothes in America and bringing them back to Nigeria to sell at a profit. When it was time to get back the money, all I heard were stories and excuses. 

This eventually led to me ending the friendship.

How close were you and this friend? 

This was someone that I went to secondary school with, so we had been friends for some years at that point. We got closer when we were both in a foreign country; being each other’s familiar face in a foreign land made our friendship grow stronger.

What were his excuses regarding the money?

When I gave him the money, he gave me a payback date. Days later, he called to tell me that the person he gave the money to robbed him with a gun. I felt sorry for him, so we made another arrangement for him to pay back.

What then happened?

After a while, I began to call him but he never picked up. I really needed the money. I was a student with a writing gig for my university newspaper, so I was barely getting paid. It affected me for a while, as the money was for my upkeep. 

I couldn’t ask my parents because I didn’t want them to know I had been stupid with money. I was living off the newspaper’s meagre pay and would sometimes starve. It was a character development experience for me.

Must have been hard. Did you ever hear from him again?

Yes, I did. One day he called me on Skype from Nigeria, acting all friendly and charismatic. [Laughs]. The way he went on, I realised I wasn’t getting my money back. 

What is your relationship with this person now?

After school, I came back to Nigeria in 2015. He reached out to me and said he wanted to pay me back. I thought: cool, redeem yourself. He started paying ₦10,000 monthly but didn’t complete the payment.  

How much did you get back?

I can’t remember the total sum he paid back, but what was left was more than what he paid. 

So what did you do? 

I called him out because I was done being patient and accommodating. His response was that I was stuck in the past. I thanked him for the friendship and ended things right there and then.

What’s your biggest lesson from this?

Never lend money that you mind losing. 

Check back every Friday by 10 AM for a new My Money Mistake episode. Read the past episodes here. If you would like to share your story for the series, fill this form.

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