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 businesswoman who registered for a loan without reading the terms and conditions. She talks about the lifestyle changes she has made to accommodate her debts and how it has taken a toll on her mental health.
Could you tell me your money mistake?
Last year, the taxi driver I sent to pick up my goods — handbags — from Utako ran away with them. These were bags I had purchased at a great price because of a promo. I was ready to sell them for a good profit.
I was deeply unhappy because I spent all my savings on that order. To worsen everything, I had a newborn. The theft happened in November and my delivery was in late September, so I needed money badly.
I’m sorry. What did you do?
That was when my friend told me about apps I could borrow money from to start my business. I downloaded two loan apps and started borrowing money. My mistake here is that in my desperation to get the money, I didn’t read the terms and conditions.
If I had, I would have seen that the deadline for paying back the loan was seven days. Anything after that attracts more interest.
Wow! How much did you borrow?
It wasn’t a lot of money, I started with ₦13,000 and ₦20,000, but as time went on, I defaulted on my payment. This caused the interest to increase. I had to start borrowing from multiple apps to pay off loans from other apps.
The loan wasn’t even sufficient as capital for the business I wanted to start, so I ended up using the money to feed and repay other debts.
How did you handle the pressure from the apps?
The pressure to pay back was hot! Before the seven days are up, they’ll call you and threaten you. They said they’ll call all my contacts and blacklist my BVN, so I was afraid. If you noticed, the first time you called, I didn’t pick up because I wasn’t sure if it was the loan app people calling again.
My debt grew from ₦50,000 to ₦100,000 to ₦150,000 and now, it’s about ₦250,000. This is the biggest debt of my life.
Did you tell anyone about the loans?
I was so ashamed that I couldn’t tell anyone, not even my husband. It was draining me. Not sure if it was pride or shame, but I couldn’t open up. Any small money I had, I used to pay off loans. Money for my baby’s food, I’d add to it to pay off loans.
Even the cash gifts from my child’s dedication went into paying debts. I took up odd jobs like sweeping, cleaning, hawking, all so I could pay off little by little. By the time I started asking for help, the money given to me wasn’t enough. Seven days would come by and the interest would increase.
Ah! How much have you paid since you started paying off the loans?
From 2021 November till date, I have paid about ₦400,000. I still have ₦250,000 to complete.
How do you intend to pay off the rest?
I don’t know. I have no inheritance or properties to sell. I’m not a celebrity, so where will I see ₦250,000? If not for my baby, I don’t know what I would have done. I sometimes wonder what I’m living for. I am in constant fear of what will happen if I can’t hold these apps off.
What are some of these fears?
I am a businesswoman. If they go around telling my contacts that I am a debtor on the run, nobody will do business with me, and things will get worse for me and my family. Also, because of my current debt records, other apps with longer grace periods can’t lend me money to buy time.
What’s your biggest lesson from this?
First, it’s good to share your problems with someone. If I had spoken up earlier, the situation would have been managed better. Secondly, no matter how much you need money, it’s better to borrow from friends or individuals than these apps.
Those apps are ruthless and ready to tarnish your image. Also, If I survive this, I will never borrow money from them again. I will strongly warn anyone who wants to use those apps to stay away. It’s not worth it.