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My Money Mistake: I Gambled Away My School Fees

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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 21-year-old typist who lost his entire school fees to betting. He tells us about the circumstances that led to the loss, how he plans to pay his tuition, and what he learnt from that experience.

Could you tell me about your money mistake?

After the completion of my National Diploma in 2021, I got a job as a typist for a publishing company; it was to help me save enough money to pursue my HND. The pay was about ₦25,000 per month, but since I was living with my mum, my expenses were really low. I was able to save a lot of money.

How much did you save per month?

I didn’t have a fixed amount that I saved per month, but it typically ranged between ₦‎5k to ₦‎10k. In some months, as high as ₦15k.

Towards the end of last year, I had saved up to ₦200k and the admission process had opened up again. I applied and got in. However, ₦‎200k wasn’t going to be enough to sort all my bills for the admission process. Apart from school fees, I would need to pay for accommodation, course fees, and other expenses. 

That was when I remembered that a friend had introduced me to sport betting. I decided to try it, and it worked out. 

Oh? Tell me about that.

I had a lot of wins. I would typically bet between ₦100 to ₦2,000 — depending on how much I was able to cut from my transport for that day or the week — and I would often win. There was a time I won ₦3,000 with a ₦100 wager. I was super excited about it, but I kept thinking about how I would’ve won ₦30k if I had staked ₦1k in that game. 

There were losses too, at the beginning, but I was winning more than I was losing, so the wins covered for the losses and continued to give me the thrill to go ahead.

Then I started dipping into my savings to bet with larger amounts in hopes that I could get more money, and the losses started to increase.

Are there any losses you remember?

The biggest one, I think, is when I lost ₦‎30k. The game was at 1.5 odds, so I would’ve gotten ₦‎45k if I won. But it didn’t stop me. I kept increasing my wager, hoping for a big win, but instead, I kept losing more and more. Before I knew it, I had lost all my money. 

The whole 200k?

At one point, I was even taking loans. I convinced myself that all I needed to recover the money was to bet ₦‎10k at 10 odds twice. It kept me moving for a while

After some time, it just occurred to me that I was digging a hole for myself with the loans. By then, the damage had already been done. 

How much debt were you in?

Apart from the ₦‎200k I lost, I had a debt of ₦‎50k. 

Where did you get the loans from?

From friends and family. I tried borrowing the money from loan apps, but my credit rating wasn’t good enough. In retrospect, I feel really lucky about it, because it frustrated me. I downloaded more than 5 loan apps, but I still didn’t get it. So I had to go to my friends. 

Have you been able to repay the loans?

Based on my current salary, I can’t afford to pay my debt in one swoop. I’ve given up on school for the year because I hadn’t even paid the acceptance fee before I wasted all the money, and there’s still a long list of payments I need to make after that. 

I have been able to negotiate an extension of the deadline with some of my friends who loaned me smaller sums like ₦2k and ₦5k. I spoke to some of them and explained my situation to renegotiate the time frame for my payment. 

But there’s this guy who loaned me ₦15k, and he didn’t agree to have the time frame extended. I can’t blame him; I just don’t have the money to pay him. I’ve stopped picking his calls; I don’t know what to tell him.

But is there a plan to repay him?

The plan is to continue with my normal lifestyle and pay the people I owe as I earn. Hopefully, by this time next year, I would also have saved up enough money to return to school.

I’m so sorry about this. You seemed excited about returning to school.

Yeah, I’m really keen on school. I finished my ND with a second class upper, and I had the second highest CGPA in my department. So when this happened, it was sad, but I had to accept my fate.

Still, sometimes when I’m alone, I tell myself how stupid I was to have lost all that money to betting.

What about your mum?

She doesn’t really follow my academic journey like that, so, at some point, I’ll just tell her the admission didn’t fall through.

What did you learn from that experience?

The first thing is to avoid betting. That’s the lesson I’m taking from this experience. There’s no winning with betting. It almost feels like witchcraft. There was a game I played once with 2.5x odds, and my ticket was ruined at the 20 minute mark. It’s not useful.

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