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Tunji Andrews: The Privilege of Having Savings

Yes, Kunle needs to save but the preceding fact is that he must grow his income to have the privilege to.

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I may come off as a little irritated in this article and I do ask you to bear with me. I’m not sure why the social media algorithms bring tips, quotes and videos of ‘personal finance’ experts my way but it’s almost exhausting watching many preach ideals as a standard.

My favorite is the “No matter how little you earn, you must save” line. To which I’m always tempted to type “Do you live in Nigeria?” in the comment section. As a financial literacy advocate, I appreciate the slippery slope I’m currently on – since I’m standing on the table I’m shaking. But in speaking to hundreds of Nigerians from across several spheres of life, I’ve come to realize the folly in painting everybody with the same brush when it concerns savings and even investments.

I often admire the courage of the hundreds of people who DM me seeking to learn how to invest, the many who have the magic N100,000 (It’s almost always N100,000) saved up and want to invest it. You can literally see that this money they’ve put aside was practically drawn from their blood and more importantly, it becomes crystal clear that in between the said investment and maturity, nothing can afford to go wrong in their lives, or else…

I have no data to back this up but I can bet that 80% of Nigerians live paycheck to paycheck. Many are starting side hustles just to make ends meet. So, even if one wanted to save money due to economic constraints and low wages, for many, it’s not an option. To be honest, even those with a robust savings account (by the virtue of living in Nigeria) sometimes find themselves living paycheck to paycheck, and before we get on our “they should have” soapbox, we also have to recognize that the ability to save money is a privilege.

Meet Kunle, a young graduate fresh off his NYSC and now employed by an ad agency in Lekki. He is grateful for this job that pays N70,000/month (For non-Nigerians, this is twice the national minimum wage). Kunle has no family in Lagos and as such, had to get a studio apartment (fancy phrase for self-contain) somewhere in Agege. The rent is N350,000/p.a and with the contribution his mum in Ekiti had been saving, added to the proceeds of his late dad’s plot of land, he is able to pay and move in.

Every month, he spends about N16,000 on transportation (at an average of N800/day), puts aside N29,166, to meet his next annual rent and feeds on about N500/day (N15,000). All these add up to N60,166.

Kunle doesn’t bother himself with the frivolous things of this world like Netflix, DSTV or data, nor does he have need for a big phone but between paying for power bills, buying water (to drink and use in his house) and paying for street security and airtime for his calculator phone, the N9,844 left just floats into the sunset, never to return. I think it is safe to also agree that at this point, Kunle cannot afford to fall ill or have any emergencies.

I have chosen to paint this most modest picture to show that while financial excesses can hurt Kunle’s finances, the real issue is that he is poor and needs to earn more (like most of us do). Also, he is unlikely to remain this way forever, he will have relationships or entanglements and may need to get an ‘I beta pass my neighbor’ to meet up with the work he now has to take home to meet deadlines – which will require petrol and servicing of the generator. All of these without even considering putting any furniture in his bachelor pad. Biko, where will he save from?

Eventually, as he starts to earn more, the Nigeria he lives in makes it so that he must pay for almost everything cash down, with very little credit available to him. Kunle is (or was) many Nigerians at some point (in fact, to many, Kunle is privileged) but like Kunle, many of us need to earn more, at least to a point where our incomes exceed our monthly needs. Yes, Kunle needs to save but the preceding fact is that he must grow his income to have the privilege to.

Tunji Andrews is the founder of AWABAH. He is a financial literacy advocate, Macro-Economics thought leader and a renowned media personality. He is also an award winning media personality with various radio shows across the country including Nigeria info, Smooth FM, Classic FM to name a few.

8 Comments

  1. Ifedolapo

    August 11, 2020 at 9:54 am

    This is so true, I believe it’s God that’s been helping most people to survive in this Lagos. The question is what to do ?

  2. Bashir

    August 11, 2020 at 11:11 am

    I fully agree with you Tunji. Even in situations where poeple earn more than enough for standard living you see most indebted with heavy bank loans. Yo save is a privilege. I am happy to be so privileged

  3. Ada

    August 11, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t know what I was expecting but e be me like say the article never end. I think I was waiting to hear what Kunle can do to earn more, what someone earning more should save and what to invest in. I am in no way prescribing how the author should write. Just stating that I felt he had more to say that he left unsaid.

    8
    • Ese

      August 11, 2020 at 3:30 pm

      Very apt Tunji.. Even with more income, the struggle to save and invest is sometimes threatened with the funny lie we allow our minds tell us and moreso, the reality of the kind of country we find ourselves..

      Seriously, you will just be on your own o, something will just come, money will do escort job..e be things be sha.

      God just help us..

    • Jackson Daniel Chimdiebube

      August 12, 2020 at 5:13 am

      Exactly, i expected solution.

      1
    • jennifer anyanti

      August 14, 2020 at 8:41 am

      Excellent article, and many things not included, like religious contributions, money to parents, and tax!

  4. Ayo Ogunjimi

    August 11, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    This is a true picture of the Nigerian reality. We tend to forget that saving as a discipline is economy sensitive. I mean personal economy here. People read the submission of a white man, who wrote specifically from the economic reality of his land, and generalize that all of us should do same. As Nigerians, we need to start finding our unique voices and stop just echoing other climes’ thoughts. Thumbs up @TunjiAndrews

    1
  5. Jackson Daniel Chimdiebube

    August 12, 2020 at 5:15 am

    Exactly, i expected solution.

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