Some Practical Steps You Can Take To Survive Hard Economic Times
Prices for food and gas creep up. Wages and work hours start being reduced… It goes on. Are we on the brink of the collapse of the Naira? How to survive tough economic times in the days ahead. Nigerian faces several conditions today simply because they cannot afford both food for their families and the costs of living in the modern world.
Nevertheless, what if you could make your money go further by cutting down on modern day living expenses?
For those of you with money, concerns about that money’s worth in the days ahead are well founded. By now its common knowledge that Nigeria’s titanic-size debt, as well as several other factors such as corruption and waste, put the Naira in dangerous territory. It is time to consider other ways you can take to survive the economic downturn.
1. Start Living Frugally
The first step to getting control of your money is to look at the things you purchase each week, making a list of each and every item (food, beverages, etc.), and then crossing out everything that you could actually survive without.
If you look at your bank statement for the previous month, you may see a handful of purchases for N300 – N1000 at your local gas station and convenience stores. For some of you this may easily add up to N10000 – N150000 or more per month.
“Convenience” is the drain on your wallet in this case. Stop buying food and convenience beverages on the go. Just stop.
2. Can You Bring Home More Corn?
It’s important to say early on in this article that while dwindling finances can motivate us to change a lifetime of poor spending habits, we should also consider additional ways that can start bringing in more money, residually. Did you know that a YouTube video could earn you N1,000 or more a month, with enough views? Do-It-Yourself videos are a popular draw nowadays. Your first Do-It-Yourself video may lack some luster, but in time, you may finally get the formula right for creating a video that draws views and passes on compelling instruction.
Alternatively, did you know that there are a lot more opportunities to work from home, some that can apparently generate a significant income in time? Opportunities like the carbon credit business are promising. In essence, you can build a business helping companies in the modern world “go green”, earning these companies tax breaks, etc. Therefore, essentially you are a paid consultant. You can turn your backyard into a garden, grow plenty, and start selling, that is smart.
Helping people receive cash advances when they are low on money and between paychecks is another way to generate income.
For those of you who spend a lot of time on social media, here is an opportunity to build a business. Fact is in a down economy there are a lot of people in need of a payday loan. A pay day loan can be a good thing for a person without a support network in a financial crunch; use it once, maybe twice, and hopefully by then you’ll have control of your spending; a pay day loan becomes a dangerous financial plague if a person becomes dependent on it. Your first effort though should be to avoid taking on new debt. No loans. No credit lines.
So a “cash advance” is a last resort option; use it only in a time of real emergency; for example, you are about to lose your home or apartment or sole vehicle.
3. Stop Going Out
Recapping what has been said up above; you need to start thinking frugally, and should consider new ways to bring in more income.
You also need to be willing to make a few sacrifices.
For some of you, this is like the world coming to an end. But really, there is life outside of the social scene, the weekend bars and nightclubs or restaurant outings that drain wallets of $10000 – $20000 every weekend. Some of you may be spending more on “Parties and Aso Ebi” So how do you redirect this energy that drives you every week to head to the tailor and jewelry shop with your friends. Mind you, no one has ever died for not wearing “Aso Ebi”. Choosing a new hobby is a great way to redirect this energy. Fitness, for example, and the many reasons is to be fit. Many people who pursue fitness in fact willingly choose to forsake the bars and drinking for the sake of trimming body fat and getting their health in order. A dedicated Saturday and Sunday workout routine can help you break the chains that pull you toward the bars and / or parties where so much of your income may be going currently.
Or there is also this: Life in the great outdoors. Do you really have to shop at high-end sporting goods stores or grocery stores? If you look hard enough, and talk to people experienced in any recreational pursuits outdoors, you can find ways to keep costs down, way down.
Like to make the occasional trip to see a new movie in theaters? Skip on the soda and treats and you have just saved yourself quite a bit of money.
4. The Groceries You Buy
Your local grocery store down the street may have higher prices than a bigger store. Big box stores in the business of selling groceries nowadays are saving families’ money. You may have to drive a few miles of your area, if one is not handy, so buy enough groceries to last 2 – 3 weeks and it should be well worth the trip. Invest in an additional freezer, and buy certain foods in bulk that you can freeze. Better, still Grow Your Own Food.
5. The Foods You Eat
We have had it ingrained into our heads that a healthy adult needs 2400 calories a day approximately. I’ve learned a lot about health over the years and laugh when I hear this number (earlier in life sports pursuits, injuries that came from sports, and even a couple places I worked in my early 20s fueled nutritional studies, including studies of people alive and in optimal health in other parts of the world). You know what? There is a good chance that you can live off 1000 – 1200 calories a day and be in the best health of your life. That is half of the calories that are pitched by some people as being necessary to a healthy life. I think all 2400 calories a day are going to guarantee is a life-long concern about carrying around extra pounds.
Think about what is being said here. You can save a lot of money on a typical grocery bill by cutting calories and ridding your daily diet of junk foods. If you have a sugar tooth at the least discipline yourself to go Monday – Friday without the treats, leaving them as a small reward (keyword is small) on the weekends. Most Nigerians who embrace this for the first time are going to start saving money — money that adds up week after week.
You will also lose weight and keep it off, especially with a moderate exercise program.
6. Sell the SUV
Every day I see people in my area jumping in their vehicles and heading off to work — 20 to 30 miles away I am sure for many of them.
Regarding transportation, this is a tougher area to save money on initially. Most of us need to work and that means we have career needs.
But, the fact is, with some brainstorming and goal setting (and prayers to God for new doors to open in your life), you may find work right in your own community, without having to make that daily commute in traffic that drives up what you pay each month in fuel.
The self-employed who work from home (and there are a lot nowadays) have already experienced the cost-saving benefits of not having a daily commute to work.
Position your life and where you live to remove that commute, or lessen it, as much as possible.
Also, if you have to commute and there is just no way around it, get rid of the gas-guzzler. Get a vehicle that gets great gas mileage. Your crowd, social elite and the motor company wants you to think though that you need a nice SUV to feel good about yourself, but the fact is YOU DO NOT — get that out of your head. Buy something a few years old that get great gas mileage and PAY CASH for it.
Stop buying vehicles — or anything for that matter — on credit. As much as possible, stop taking on debt.
Now, you may not be able to fix this area of your life immediately but if you start taking steps, some of you can probably get there within a month. When you do, you will see the savings these changes bring into your life. As long as you keep yourself in a humble area of paying cash for less than new vehicles that get great mileage, you will be far ahead of the pack that is spending large amounts of money annually on transportation.
7. Negotiate With Your Creditors
During tough financial times, be up front with your creditors and even the taxman, letting them know about how little you have to work with, and how bleak things are at home presently. Be honest and sincere, and patient, with whatever customer service representatives you have on the phone. Request a lower monthly payment.
8. Shaky Currency – Invest in Gold or Charity
I’m someone on the outside looking in, and just proposing as a possibility what several financial advisers have suggested over the years, and even more so in recent years. If you are concerned about a possible collapse of the Naira, gold may be a way to protect your savings. Of course who knows just what is going to happen in the days to come to our current economy, and even to gold markets.
On the other hand, I personally believe in giving to charity, charities that actually have a heart and great track record of caring for the poor (so do your homework before you start giving to a charity).
Regarding investing and saving up wealth, the Bible warns about God’s wrath on people who store up riches for themselves “without being rich toward God”. Tip: Be rich toward God. Give to the poor and needy in your neighborhood or community. In return, God can bless your wealth and career — though not all of his blessings are financial.
Sometimes for God to truly bless us he needs to strip the idols from our lives first — for many of us a big idol in our life that prevents us from really knowing God is the pursuit of money. So manage your money. Do not be driven by it.
9. Buy Nigerian Made or Locally Made Clothes
Do you want to save money? Do you need to save money? Stop shopping at the expensive malls and other stores for your wears. Invest in anything Nigerian. Invest in Locally Made Clothes and jewelry. Our Ankara, Guinea Brocade, and Beads are now hot cake in the western world. Nobody cares now about Gucci and Versace or any brand named goods. Do yourself a favor; invest in the Nigerian economy and save your money while doing just that.
10. Stop Spending Money
This is the obvious step to take. Often though we simply cannot stop spending money. There is always something else that pops up. Especially with families. But look what happens when you simply run out of money. You stop spending. Purchases you felt compelled to make suddenly get delayed or put off or forgotten completely. And the world still goes around. You wake up to see another day. The world has not come to an end simply because you are broke that day and have no money to spend.
STOP — do not reach for the phone and call the first person that comes to mind (which might be your parents or a friend) to borrow money. Get creative and figure out ways to live your life without that money that you have become so driven by all your life. Learn to adapt to life without money to spend.
Learning how to live frugally today can help you be better prepared mentally for living during a time of severe economic hardship, and that might be in the months or years just ahead. Figure that out now so you will be better ready to survive when it happens.