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Career tips

Strategies to Reduce Expenses and Save Money

In everyday language, consumption is nothing other than expenses. So, by reducing your expenses, you will be in a better position to save more.

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Beginners' Guide: How to compute capital gains tax in Nigeria

According to classical economics, personal disposable income is made up of savings and consumption. It says that Yd= S+C, (where Yd is disposable income, S is savings and C is consumption). It implies then that whatever is saved is your disposal income less your consumption. (S=Yd-C). This, therefore, means that in order to save more or increase S, you have to reduce your consumption, C.

In everyday language, consumption is nothing other than expenses. So, by reducing your expenses, you will be in a better position to save more.

Why Reduce Expenses?

To attend financial freedom or independence, there is a need to increase the gap between your income and your expenses. There are two ways to do that, by increasing your income or by reducing your expenditure. Experience has shown that it is much easier to reduce your expenditure than to increase your income because, more often than not, you do not have the luxury of increasing your income at will especially when the source of the income is your salary; the incremental rate of which is determined by your boss or company.

[READ ALSO: Real estate: Declining credit reflects underlying weakness (Opens in a new browser tab)]

Therefore, because you have more control over your expenditure than your income, it is much easier to reduce your expenditure in an attempt to increase the gap between income and expenditure.

Prioritize your Expenses

Every effort to reduce expenditures begins with analyzing your personal financial situation. It is not uncommon to see that you are overwhelmed by the number of expenses you have to make each month. By prioritizing your expenses, you will be able to see those that you really and necessarily need to incur and those that you can avoid, without having any effect on your physical or social wellbeing.

If possible, when you prioritize your expenses, assign priority ratings to them, like high priority, medium priority, and low priority. Once you do that, it becomes easy to identify those expenses you can live without and those that you cannot.

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What Should You Prioritize?

Taking a cue from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, your first consideration should always be the basics, like food, medical care, and accommodation (rent or mortgage payment). Next, consider household expenses like electricity bill and expenses relating to other necessities that you need for your day to day living. Following directly from your needs, prioritize other expenses like a car, (car loan, car insurance, car maintenance, and gas or petrol).

If you don’t need a car to go to work because of the availability of cheaper alternatives like train or bus, then give car-related expenses low priority. Walk your way down the line of needs and assign priority ratings to them as required.

[KEEP READING: Quick take: Noninterest income lifts FBN Holdings’ pre-tax profit marginally]

Look for Savings Opportunities

In the process of prioritizing your expenses, you may discover that there are areas that you have been spending a lot on more than necessary. That discovery should not make you sad because you are not alone. There is hardly anyone that does not have an area or two in his or her life where he or she is spending more than necessary, including yours truly. The best way to find those hidden savings opportunities is to review each expense you listed while prioritizing them and find out if you have been prudent with such expenses.

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Look for Cost-Saving Opportunities:

Having given priority ratings to your expenses, it is time to see which of them you can reduce or even eliminate. Here are a few ways to do that.

Mortgage: One of the major expenses relating to mortgage is mortgage interest. Interest rates are not always constant, they ebb and flow with economic events. The CBN from time to time reviews prime rates which drives other lending rates. If mortgage rates have fallen, try to refinance at a lower interest. If your mortgage is N15m, a 1% reduction in interest rate from refinancing, will save you N150,000 annually on interest expense.

Electricity Bill: There are one thousand and one ways of saving money on electricity in the home. Turn off the lights when not being used or when leaving the house. Unplug items that are not regularly in use like computers, printers, television sets etc. Use energy saving compact fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs. Use ceiling or standing or table fans in place of air conditioners, unless it becomes exceptionally hot. If available, use dimmers and sensors on lights to control energy use.

Telephone: The cost of data and telephone in Nigeria is astronomical. Review your last telephone bill to determine your usage. You may be paying for more minutes than you need. If you have not been using all your monthly allotment of minutes, it is time to downgrade. Compare packages between carriers and service providers and make a switch if you find something cheaper. But bear in mind any cancellation penalty that may apply. Use internet calling facilities if applicable.

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Groceries: Look for coupons and if the store has discounts or rewards, take advantage of those. Look for deals of the day or week. When you go grocery shopping, stick o you list. Before you leave the house for grocery shopping, take an inventory of what you have so as not to buy then when you already have them at home. My wife always makes that mistake. We have many times discovered that we had the laundry soap we just bought, but she will always say, it does not go bad, so we keep it. That is not a good cost saving mentality.

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Personal Care Cost Savings: From clothing to personal hygiene to hair care, you may be able to find ways of saving on expenses. Review your clothing expenses, if you are in the habit of purchasing new clothes every month, think of cutting back on that. Look for where they have sales and take advantage of the price reductions that come with them. Buy cloths in styles and colours that are less trendy and use accessories to create a new look for yourself. Get yourself a home manicure and pedicure and cut back on patronizing professional manicurists.

Take HomeMade Lunch to Work: The money we spend at lunchtime in the office adds up especially if you work in expensive cities. When a friend saw that a lunch of $6 per slice of pizza or $10 per lunch pack of Chinese food was digging a hole in his pocket, he resorted to going to work with homemade food of rice and assorted vegetables like sweet corn, diced carrots, green peas, lettuce,  asparagus and broccoli, He discovered that the cost of buying packs of vegetables that lasted him two weeks was the cost of two day lunch packs of Chinese food. Not only has he been eating healthy, but he has also saved money.

[READ THIS: This Is the Portion of Your Salary Exempted/Deductible from Tax]

All Said and Done: The above list is just a tip of the iceberg, you know what you spend money on, take a critical look at them and find out how you can save a penny here and there. As the Jews always say, “every penny counts”, and the Ibo man says that “get and throway no dey make man a millionaire” so make your penny count by saving it and not throwing it away through avoidable and unnecessary expenses.

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Uchenna Ndimele is the President of Quantitative Financial Analytics Ltd. MutualfundsAfrica.com and mutualfundsnigeria.com (both Quantitative Financial Analytics company website) is a leader in supplying mutual fund information, analysis, and commentary on African mutual funds. We provide reliable fund data; and ratings information that will add value to fund managers, the media, individual investors and investment clubs.

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    Career tips

    7 key ways women can effectively build a professional career while running a family

    Juggling between work and family life has been one challenge faced by many women.

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    7 key ways women can effectively build a professional career while running a family

    According to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources, women make up 44.94% of labour force in Nigeria as at 2019. It can be estimated that more than half of this number of working women are wives and mothers. This is quite impressive and shows an appreciable increase in the number of working women and working mothers to compared to what was seen two decades ago.  However. The rise in the number of working women and mothers also increased some of the problems working wives/mothers faced both at home and at work. In fact, some of these problems remain largely unattended to in the Nigerian society.

    In our world today, especially in the corporate world, where competitive nature is prevalent, a lot of women have risen career-wise and have carved a niche for themselves. Some of the career choices they made has put so many of them in a state of dilemma. i.e. juggling between their work as well as their family life, thereby making it difficult for them to strike a balance.

    READ: 10 side businesses to sustain your professional career

    In addition, many husbands, especially in Nigeria where patriarchy is strong do not support the idea of their wives working. A few who buy the idea, do so grudgingly, thereby, not offering their full support and cooperation to their wives.  This, however, has made a lot of relationships suffer.

    Contrary to the above, many men give their wives full consent to work, pursue their dreams and professions. In Nigeria, there is an indication that most working mothers/wives are working not just for self-fulfilment but also to supplement their husband’s income in the face of persistent inflation and to assist their spouse financially.

    A lot of people find it difficult balancing the strike i.e. their career and family, leading to some having to quit their jobs. Nevertheless, there are some women who, over the years were able to balance their professional careers with that of their family, and these women have become source of inspiration to so many women finding it difficult to strike the balance. And they are the likes of Oby Ezekwesili, Folorunso Alakija, Aisha Ahmed, Ibukun Awosika, Toyin Sanni, Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu and so many other women striving in their area of specialization.

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    According to Mrs. Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu (MD/CEO, NSIA Insurance Company Limited) in an exclusive interview with the Amazons Watch Magazine editorial team, she said that “balancing work with family life is quiet challenging to achieve but is very achievable. I think women more than men need to realize that it is essential to start early to focus on a desired career and we need to stay the course when marriage and children come. We do not have time to play around or to waste, and we must stay motivated and not burn out. Women, by starting early would already have set a pace, before family life comes in. Even when you don’t start early; women must realize that many times, we need to do more. We must stay the course”

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    According to Ibukun Awosika (Chairman Firstbank Nigeria) “In life, you decide on those things that are important to you, because as a woman I have all my visions and dreams and I want to achieve them. I want to also be a successful mother to my children and I want to be a successful wife to my husband; once I am able to balance it up, it will make a successful home. All we need is understanding. And we need a balanced home to have the right atmosphere. I also apply wisdom most of the time because the day my children matter most to me, I create time for them. The day it is my husband that matters, I create the time. The same goes for my work. If not, everything will crumble and that is why I need to measure the percentage of attention I give to them and that is why I can’t advise another woman on how to run her family because it is your circumstances that determine your kind of action; my home is different from any other home. I am happy to be married to the best man.”

    READ: Women and unemployment in Nigeria: How government and stakeholders can bridge the gap

    Here are the 7 ways to help make sure both your career and your family flourish:

    Having a supportive spouse is key to balance

    Having a supportive spouse is key to balancing your career and family because he will assist in the responsibilities of taking care of the family. Having a supportive spouse will enable you reach your career height. They go as far as being supportive of their pursuits to seek higher education thereby supporting them financially, morally, emotionally and otherwise.

    Though at times some when overwhelmed might grumble about a woman’s dedication to her job, however, as a woman the best way to resolve this concern is by being diplomatic. Nevertheless, when your spouse is being supportive, it is still imperative to give them top priority and also tend to their needs.

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    Planning and time management is crucial

    Good planning and time management are crucial to balancing career and family. A lot of people are faced with the challenges of taking care of their young children/ pursuing their careers. Some will plan it in a way that they will pursue postgraduate degrees or career advancement when their children are older.

    Also, when planning and managing time, figure out your family’s priorities. Have a calendar that includes dates when bills are due, a list of school and family events, extracurricular activities, birthdays, and more. It is always recommended to use a Google calendar, which can be easily shared and synced on smartphones. Set aside 15 minutes each Sunday to review and prepare for the upcoming week’s schedule. This helps eliminate surprises during the week. Also, have a time put in place to take care of yourself by going to a spa and exercising (like a yoga class). Remember to eat well and get enough rest. These are simple things a lot of working mothers/wives’ neglect.

    Be focus and work hard

    This is specifically true for women who want to compete for leadership positions and elevate higher in their careers. For you to get to that position you have to be focused and work so hard to avoid your gender being a hindrance to your success. There is often pressure from employers on women to convince them that their loyalties lie at work and not at home, since working mothers might not be able to afford to spend extra hours doing overtime or other work-related activities which can jeopardize their family. The best way to meet up with all the expectations is to be focused and work super hard. Multitasking will aid you to achieve your goals. Avoid time-wasting, casual internet browsing, gossiping, and long lunches. All these things cause distractions and make you less productive.

    Hire a good house help/nanny  

    When trying to balance a professional career with family, it is advisable to hire someone that will take care of your children. You may decide to employ a house help/nanny or even invite a family member, like your mother/mother-in-law to come around and take care of your kid(s).

    When hiring a help/nanny it is always imperative to do a background check of the person you are bringing inside your home so you wouldn’t end up creating a problem for yourself and for your family. Go for someone that has excellent experience and is adaptable to kids of various age range; caring for newborns and older children who need homework help.

    The house help could cover the necessary functions, such as cooking, laundry, cleaning, and taking care of the children while both parents are at work. It is imperative to show your house help love so they can reciprocate and take good care of your children when you are at work.

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    Find quality creche for you kids

    Using a Creche (for toddlers) is a good way of balancing your work and family for those that do not want to hire a nanny/house-help. There are some inexpensive schools you can enroll your kids, where they will receive proper care. Having them enroll in Creche will give you ample time to focus on your job and grow your career. You and your spouse can reshuffle on how you both can go for school runs. Choosing a Creche is not something you carelessly pick out and move on, the reason being that leaving your child in the care of others is a major act and needs your utmost attention. Before choosing a Creche it is important to take note of their services and leave room for evaluation to be sure they are in good hands.

    Go for online courses

    Getting an education is very important to a lot of women as it enables them to achieve higher leadership positions. Having a successful career has to do with furthering your education, whether through degrees or certifications.

    For this to be feasible, since you are trying to balance your career and that of your family, it is advisable to venture into online professional courses/online Master/PHD courses. Going into online courses will give you sufficient time to take care of your family and also aid in self-development which is a good ladder to enable you climb faster in your career.

    Create a family time

    Making time for your kids is crucial, both during the week and on the weekends, to nurture your family dynamic and allow everyone to bond. Always create family time, like having a family breakfast and family weekend. The family weekend covers going to the movies/amusement parks.  When you are having family time, avoid talking about work or checking your phone. Instead, focus on your kids’ interests by asking questions about their friends, classes, and hobbies. With older children, ask for their activity suggestions and try to meet their needs.

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    Get relevant economic and financial data on Nairalytics

    In conclusion, being a full-time working mother can lead to feelings of guilt and stress because of divided attention between work and family. The key is to be focus on a plan, get organized, and find the right balance between profession and parenthood.

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    Career tips

    Great tips for landing a job during this lockdown

    The coronavirus pandemic has had its impact on job opportunities, but here are some tips for landing jobs.

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    Some tips for landing a job during this lockdown

    The economic lockdown and movement restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on job opportunities. Some of them could be in the form of job losses, getting new jobs, or even changing the way we work.

    Given the unemployment numbers especially in these challenging times, it might be hard not to be apprehensive.

    According to a report from Bloomberg, Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for personal finance website Bankrate.com, said, “It’s important to remember that there is hiring happening. There’s always attrition and individuals leaving for other jobs.”

    Robin Ryan, a career counsellor, said that just a few unemployed people are job hunting at the moment. Most believe that there are no jobs, they can’t be hired, or that only lower-level jobs are available.

    Here are some tips for landing jobs during this lockdown.

    Beat the system: Make a list of your recent jobs and your top accomplishments at each of them. Those are the items that should be on your résumé. To get past automated applicant vetting systems, enter your work tasks—budgeting, project management, graphic design, team leadership, etc.—in the first bullet point under each job. Don’t include extraneous formatting, such as text boxes, tables, footers, or headers, because application software can’t recognize it.

    (READ MORE:Skills Africa needs for sustainable development)

    Assess your prospects: You have to find out if the opportunities in your industry are shrinking. According to Hamrick, “many people fail to see that their skills might apply to a variety of settings.” Consider some of the sectors that have stayed open in the lockdown—finance, real estate, food and other consumer goods, technology, and retail, plus suppliers and distributors for each. If that exercise doesn’t yield much, think about how your skills might help companies sharpen their online business. “There’s a need for people to help facilitate digital transformation,” Hamrick says.

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    Some tips for landing a job during this lockdown

    Hit up recruiters (Recruiting agency firms): Let them help you with your resume and offer suggestions about things you might do to stand out.

    Use your resources: Companies are filling positions needed to support virtual workers as part of their pandemic strategies. Many company websites might not yet reflect these changes, so try popular online job search websites, type in a company and your city, and you’ll get a better sense of what kind of hiring is going on.

    Network: That friend-of-a-friend who previously ignored you. He’s home now and might be up for a quick Zoom coffee date. Connect with everyone you know in your field. (LinkedIn is good for this.). Those connections build on each other. You can ask mutual acquaintances to introduce you to people who can help and once that happens, you can fix a virtual coffee date. If that goes well, ask for an introduction to a hiring manager or supervisor. You’ve got nothing to lose.

     

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