Women & Money is a monthly PiggyVest series that explores the relationship between real Nigerian women and money. The series aims to demystify finances by seeking insights from real women from varying works of life.
For the first episode of Women & Money, we spoke with Tijesu Adeyemi, a 30-year-old software consultant who lives and works in Lagos. She talks about financial freedom and investing for a rainy day, and shares some essential career advice for women.
What was your financial background growing up?
I’d say we were average. While we were not rich per se, I don’t remember us lacking anything. So yeah, average describes it.
Did your family’s financial status affect the way you interacted with money?
Not at all. Everything I needed was provided for. I honestly didn’t have to think about money until I was in the university and had to take care of my bills from my allowance.
How and when did your career as a software consultant begin?
Right out of uni. But I can also say it started as far back as secondary school. When I was still in secondary school, I wanted to be an aeronautic engineer and I applied to some schools, but my parents refused to let me go.
My parents wanted me to go to a university close to them, and their choice was the University of Ilorin. I grew up in Ilorin and even attended the University of Ilorin secondary school.
But I was rebellious. I just wanted to leave the house. That’s what led me to apply to the University of Minna and another university I can’t recall that was far from home. But they were adamant about not letting me go that far.
I wasn’t happy about it. My jamb result was really good, and I could not just stay at home for a whole year. So I told them that if they wouldn’t let me go to one of the schools I had chosen, they had to find another school for me to attend that year.
Phew. How did that go?
I ended up going to Ajayi Crowther University. It’s a private school in Oyo State, and was the closest to Ilorin that they could find. Then when it came to choosing a course, there were no engineering options at the time. Computer science seemed like the closest option.
So my dad spoke to a friend of his who advised me to go ahead to study computer science since I was good at math and it was a great course in all. That pretty much influenced my course of study.
Right after school, my first job was as a software consultant. And after a couple of years, I decided to remain on that path.
How long has that been?
Eight good years.
Incredible! As a woman in tech, have you experienced any gender-specific challenges?
Of course, we’re Nigerians. There’s almost no way to avoid gender bias when it comes to your career. People always say that tech is a man’s game, but not for me. I’ve never let myself be restricted by my gender.
I have always seen myself as being on par with my male colleagues. To me, there’s no difference between what men can achieve and what I can achieve as a woman. There’s no part of the job I’m afraid to do.
The job can require me to stay late or overnight at a client’s office, or travel, and people will try to convince me that I can’t or shouldn’t do all of that because I’m a woman. But it has never made sense to me. I can do anything I set out to.
That’s the energy! You have been earning a salary for eight years. What does financial freedom mean to you?
Not having to think about money! I want to be able to buy things without checking the prices or having to suffer for a week or month because I made a purchase.
Can relate! Is attaining financial freedom a priority of yours?
Yes. At the moment financial freedom is a priority for me. There are a lot of headaches in Nigeria, and I don’t want money to be one of those headaches. I don’t want money to be a thing that influences my major life decisions negatively.
I want to be able to travel or live somewhere else, if I choose, without having to think too much about the cost. So day by day, I work hard to secure the bag.
So how are you working towards financial freedom?
My head is always thinking of ways to make more money. In the next couple of years, I’d love to get married and start having kids, and this means I might not be able to work as much as I do now. I also don’t think that when I do get married, a man will automatically take responsibility for my life and future. I always think of how it would be if it was just me, and what that life would be like if I stop working.
As a result, I have tried a million and one things. A myriad of investments: an agro-investment platform that was popular in Nigeria. I’ve tried crypto. I have multiple streams of income; about four jobs at the moment.
Can you break down your investment journey?
Okay. I’ve had about 4 or 5 agro investments and I suffered some losses from that. I believe I received my returns from just 2 of them. I’ve done some ‘informal’ investments with friends and family that yielded nothing. I made up my mind not to invest in family or friends again for now. I didn’t want to keep checking on my money on a daily basis.
I also used to invest in the money market, but inflation was battling with my naira and I decided to move all my money into foreign investments. So at the moment, most of my investments are in crypto or foreign currency.
With these diverse income and investment streams, would you say you’re close to financial freedom?
No! Not at all.
Any long-term investments that you think could help you achieve that?
I have landed properties that I may be looking to develop in a couple of years. I also have three- to five-year investments that should yield something small in that time. And then there are the 15 to 20 year-long investments that I have long forgotten. I have even deleted those apps so that I’m not tempted to tamper with them.
We stan a financially savvy queen! You spoke about slowing down when you’re ready to start a family. What’s your financial plan to achieve that?
I should be able to have at least one year’s income. By this I mean, income that will allow me to live comfortably for at least a year.
Can you give me a number?
$50k – $70k. Inflation can change things at any point, so I’ll speak based on the present.
Ah ahn. Rich Babe!
[Laughs] I don’t even think I can completely stop working for a year. I’m a workaholic so I’d probably still be working on my terms. Not because I need the money, but because I don’t want to be bored.
What’s your favourite thing you’ve spent money on?
I’m not really a big spender, but I’m a spontaneous spender. I have a car, phone, laptop, and home that all serve me well. Plus, I’m not excited by expensive things. Maybe travel, but that’s about it.
Apart from investing with family and friends gone bad. Have you made any other money mistakes?
Honestly, I can narrow all my money mistakes down to bad investments. And I’ve had a whole lot of them.
What’s one financial advice you would give your younger self if you had the chance?
Don’t do too much lau lau. Spending money anyhow. Years back when I started my career, I had no financial responsibilities so I used to spend without thinking. I would just tell myself, “I’m a young girl, I don’t have problems.” Maybe if I had started saving and investing early enough, I would be much closer to financial freedom than I am now.
That’s a solid takeaway.
Any career or financial nuggets of wisdom you’d like to share with women?
I’ll start by saying this. As a woman, you should not let anything stand in the way of your career or financial goals. Especially in our culture where people like to say that a woman should be a helper or stuff like that.
Personally, I like to always be financially independent, whether before or after marriage. I don’t want to depend on anybody to take care of my every need. And that’s what I’d like to leave behind to women out there. You can definitely achieve your financial or career goals, regardless of your gender. I’ve seen it happen, it’s doable. Regardless of your gender, just put in the work.