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Life Hacks With Toby: 8 ‘Common-Sense’ Keys to Surviving a Dwindling Economy



dreamstime_xl_35006044I met Samuel (not real name) for the first time a few days ago. He came to buy my industrial freezer for his ice-block business, and before long we got talking.

Honestly, I was surprised to hear he was a lecturer in the state university. I mean, he didn’t look it. On top of that, he said he was equally a priest, a poultry farmer, has his own laboratory, and still conducts private classes for medical students.

I shook him in admiration. According to him, he has not gotten his salary as a lecturer since November, but his family is doing fine.

His story is very different from Oga Charles’. Oga Charles lives in my compound. He is the vice-principal of one of the biggest secondary schools around, but has not been finding life easy this year.

And when the issue of our rent came up last month, he just couldn’t bear it anymore. I totally understand and feel for him, because just like Samuel, he too has not been paid his salary for two months.

To make matters worse, he has three teenage boys who can easily eat the food meant for 10 people.

According to him, paying their second term school fees was nothing short of a miracle. I still remember his last words when we talked about that. He said, “If secondary school dey like this, wetin I go do when they enter university?”

Let’s face it, a lot has been happening in our economic sector for some time now. And it got worse with the falling of the crude oil price, and the planned VAT increase. I am not an economic expert shaa, but I still have common sense. Through my common sense, I have been able to come up with 8 keys to help us thrive.

They are:

Accept the Reality
There is no point getting mad at the mallam selling Onions on your street. He is not responsible for the price hike. Shouting at your landlord will not make him reduce the house rent either. And getting angry will not make your children’s school fees come down.

Inflation has become real, face it. Best option: accept the reality and start looking for ways to cope.

Get a Job and Don’t Lose it
The best counsel I got when I was still job hunting was to get productively busy. I was advised to sell zobo and bons if I have to. That way, no matter how bad things get, I will be sure of where my next meal will come from.

If you have a job already, then you are in luck. In that case, make sure you don’t lose it.

The grass may look greener on the other side, but before you resign, make sure that what you are seeing is not synthetic carpet-grass.

Now is not the time to get offended and resign o, abeg. If person provoke you, provoke am back but please keep your job.

Add Something Else to Your Job
Congratulations on your good job. But biko don’t relax. As much as you can, add something to it.

I have an aunt for instance who is a nurse. She is doing very well, but she still opened a private drug dispensary unit/provision store. One thing I noticed was that though the outlet looked small, the proceeds from it was enough to feed the family.

Cut Down on Your Expenses
The simple rule here is to ask yourself if you have a more affordable alternative, or if you can do without that expense for a little while longer. If you can, then you should.

No, you don’t have to start living like a monk. Just make sure you save something tangible regularly, because you will definitely find it handy one day.

Build a Business Around Where You Spend Most of Your Money
We all have places where we spend most of our money on. And no matter how much I talk about cutting down expenses, we will still spend money there. My advice is to start selling what you buy most.

For instance, if all your savings goes into buying shoes and handbags, then start selling shoes and handbags.

If you are a gadget freak, no wahala. Just open your own gadget shop and employ someone to man it for you.

That way, you can still indulge yourself once in a while and not get broke.

Start an Internet-based Business
No, I am not talking about all those fake adverts where they promise that you will make $200, 000 every day in two weeks. Na yahoo-yahoo be that.

There are a lot of genuine Internet-based businesses like blogging and internet marketing that you can explore. Better still, start by getting a website for your business. And when you do, learn the basics of web design so yours can stand out and succeed.

Apart from that you can equally become a freelance writer like me (insert dancing azonto smiley).

Keep Your Dependents Productively Busy
If you have a lot of cousins, nephews, nieces, and friends coming over to your place, keep them productively busy. Same applies to your kids too. Holiday is not the time to ping one’s life away, or watch all the seasonal movies ever produced.

Get them involved in your business. And if they can’t help you make money, at least they should help reduce your expenses.

My dad used to give me some of his academic work to type for him when he was doing his doctorate degree. It kept me busy, helped me learn to type faster, and equally saved him money.

Similarly, give them your car to wash, and let them do your laundry. You should not be spending that money when there are idle people living with you.

Start Subsistence Agriculture
Lastly, start farming. Make good use of that empty piece of land beside your house or office. The worst part of an economic crisis is when there is no food to eat. You can avoid that if you start farming. You can even start a mini poultry, a little fish farm or a vegetable garden.

Just make sure that you don’t buy everything you eat. It helps you save money. And it is equally a way to ensure that your meals are fresh, nutritious, healthier, and less synthetic.

What key did I forget? By the way how is the economy in your own area, and how are you thriving? Please share your own secrets.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Toby Nwazor is a free lance writer and motivational speaker who believes that life is meant to be lived and not just existed in. He is equally an entrepreneur with a lot of hands-on experience in business start-ups, marketing, and customer service. He passionately writes every Monday and Wednesday on about helping entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs build successful start-ups


  1. A Loco Viva Voce

    February 5, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Beautiful advice! And I totally agree with you. For this kind of economy, having one job doesn’t cut it. Except you want to feed from hand to mouth for the rest of your life. It’s always best to get involved with a few other self made opportunities. And I love the part where you said “get your dependants busy” so they’re not waiting for you to send money at the end of the month but equally trying to get money on their own. Great article!

    Read today’s Feature Friday story

    • Toby Nwazor

      February 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks A Loco Viva Voce. Interesting name by the way. What does it mean?

  2. olajumoke

    February 5, 2016 at 9:55 am

    This is one article that speaks to me completely. Thanks for the solid advice…Get a job and make sure you dont lose it!

    • Toby Nwazor

      February 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      You are welcome Olajumoke, and thanks for reading

  3. D

    February 5, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Lots of great practical advice here. Thanks.

  4. Chinma Eke

    February 5, 2016 at 10:16 am

    cc: My family! They don’t ever think like this!


    February 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    inspiring…. i like!


    February 5, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    i v realise one need both formal and side gigs to live good !

  7. adelegirl

    February 5, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Great practical tips. However, when you have a demanding 9-5 job, juggling another small or medium enterprise is no joke. One will likely suffer for the other.

    • marves

      February 5, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      Adelegirl I totally agree with you. There is no denying that some 9 to 5 jobs are demanding and compared to the pay, it increases the demand levels. However I believe there are abundance of part time gigs that are less demanding, truly side gigs in the sense that it bolsters your income and does not get in the way of the main gigs at all. Want to know them?

    • Toby Nwazor

      February 5, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      I understand your point. But it depends on what kind of side gig you have. And who said you must do it yourself? Your role might just be supervisory, while you employ staff to do the main work

  8. ifeanyi

    February 5, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    The Last Advice though…

    “…Start Subsistence Agriculture
    Lastly, start farming. Make good use of that empty piece of land beside your house or office. ”

    Bros…E never reach like that? Naija Hard no mean say we go travel go Mali

    • Toby Nwazor

      February 5, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      Lol at ur comment. of all places, na Mali you wan go?

  9. viv

    February 5, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    abeg, about the job thing, if they are always delaying salary , with no explanation and untop that the HR woman dey try provoke you make you slap am small.what should you do seriously. I was paid half salary in December and this is February. She is a tyrant and has just decided she wants to frustrate me into resigning.

  10. The real D

    February 5, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    I read the keep your job part and was like Amen!!! I certain somebody I know in her mid-30s who is still living at home and daddy and mummy go around begging people for their rent, decided to quit her job because “she was tired of putting her dreams on hold”. Well 2 years later she is back looking for a job. I don’t get how people make decisions like that. It is one thing to get laid off or not have a job and hustling. If you have a job, start your dream small using your 9-5 to finance your “dream” side business. When side business as gotten to a point that it is comfortably paying your bills then feel free to walk. Times are hard men.

    • Toby Nwazor

      February 6, 2016 at 3:38 am

      Very wise, The real D. Very wise. I couldn’t have said it better

  11. technicallynigerian

    February 5, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    dis na correct article! even though I live in the US, this same principle applies – I am a public health professional working full-time, but I also work on the side as a makeup artist, hair stylist and I cook nigerian food for small events. People laugh sometimes making comments that I am hustler but omo that hustling helped in grad school to pay the bills and it still helps now too.

    • Toby Nwazor

      February 6, 2016 at 3:42 am

      True talk technicallynigerian. No time for dulling

  12. Vacsammz

    February 6, 2016 at 2:20 am

    Couldn’t have said it any better! This is one real article. Solid, hands on advice. Thanks boss!
    TechnicallyNigerian – Hustle na the way forward by brother

    • Toby Nwazor

      February 6, 2016 at 3:41 am

      Mini-me. You are really trying o. Even to the point that your comment looks like what I wrote. Jisie ike. One of these days, I will read what you wrote and wonder when I wrote ‘this’. Lol. Wise hustling shaa, or like I call it #smartshustling.

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