Nairametrics| Lateef was taking his usual 20-minute walk on his way back from work. He usually rides with his colleague who drops him off the Iyana Isolo bus stop from where he embarks on his 20-minute trek home. He has come to look forward to this routine after initially dealing with the stigma that’s associated with someone who once had a car but now hitches a ride with a colleague.
Things weren’t always this way for Lateef. Just over a year ago, he had recently bought his wife a new car doubling his fleet in just three years after he bought his first car. He had just moved to a bigger apartment to accommodate a growing family of four. As he walked home, he caught a glimpse of a couple in a nearby car chuckling away at each other as they glided through the ever-present Isolo traffic. His mind flashed back to how things suddenly went under for him in such a short space of time.
The downturn in the Nigerian economy had badly affected the oil servicing firm where he worked, leading to a massive cut in operating expenses. First was a salary slash that immediately hit his earnings followed by a freeze in promotion. Soon after, his name popped up in the list of staff that had to be laid off, handing him with just his three-month’s salary as compensation package. Luckily, he soon got another job that though paid him less than half of what he used to earn, was enough to see him through these hard times.
Upon losing his job, Lateef understood that he had to take drastic action if his family was to remain intact. To deal with a personal recession requires that he is pragmatic and realistic with his options. The first thing he did was to take the next available job he was offered without considering the pay drop. By being employed or underemployed, he could kill two birds with a stone. Earn some money to get by and avoid the frustrations that is typically associated with being jobless. He knows all he needs is a stable mind in his own personal recession.
Next drastic thing he did was to stop using his car to work. Rather than drive a car that was now obviously, a burden, he felt he needed to make it earn some money for him. When he is at work, he gives his car to a driver who uses it to earn some money for him. Lateef joined a popular ride sharing company in Lagos that pools cars from different drivers, matching them with passengers who pay for the ride. He drives the car himself on Saturdays and Sunday evenings ensuring that he is earning some money 7 days a week.
Lateef’s condition is similar to what a lot of Nigerians are currently experiencing. The economic recession and depreciation of the exchange rate has brought wanton hardship to a lot of families like Lateef. Whilst the recession is technically being felt everywhere it affects some people more than others. As such to address it, drastic and pragmatic approaches are required. Rather than wallow in frustration, what some of us really need to do is to readjust for the moment.
Some people like Lateef who have spoken to us showed us how being pragmatic and realistic about your situation can sometimes help get out of tough financial situations. For example, Tinu, a former banker now stay at home mum, applied herself soon after losing her job. Rather than stay idle, she has started sweating some of the skills she learnt while at work. She registered on a website where people looking to outsource ad hoc jobs can find freelancers willing to accept them. Currently, she takes on jobs like writing business plans, financial modeling, building good power-point presentations, writing reports and feasibility studies and freelance articles. She never knew she had such a skill and is astonished by just how many opportunities exist out there. Incredibly, she gets paid in dollars and ironically looks forward to a further depreciation of the naira.
Another pragmatic approach worth exploring is taking on two jobs to get by. Ironically, working two or more jobs at a time is quite normal in far more developed countries of the world where per capital income is high. This is not so common in Nigeria but people who can cope with the stress and have time on their hands can take advantage of it. For example, someone who closes by 4pm daily can take up a second job that starts by 7pm and closes by 12pm provided their safety is well-considered. Two jobs, means you earn an additional income which can be used to augment the fallout of an economic recession. It also provides a sense of security should you at any time lose your regular job or get a pay cut.
The current economic realities in Nigeria requires that we all reassess our income streams against our expenses. It is perhaps the lack of this pragmatism that allows some of fall into the trap of quick money-making Ponzi schemes. In every bad economy, there is always a success story. It’s time for you take control of your personal recession.