Students in Nigerian universities have stories to tell, but hardly anyone to tell them to. For our new weekly series, Aluta and Chill, we are putting the spotlight on these students and their various campus experiences.
One thing every student learns to navigate in the university — some more than the others — is finances. It becomes interesting when you think about the fact that for many students, the university is their first attempt at adulting. So, I spoke to some students at Olabisi Onabanjo University and asked them to talk about a time they were really broke in school and how they dealt with the situation.
Sometime in my first year, I borrowed a friend ₦20,000 and was really looking forward to getting the money back. I had run out of cash on the day she was supposed to return the money. I had some money in my backup bank account but I couldn’t access it — I was saving up to start a business. Besides, I didn’t have an ATM card associated with the account.
I needed to go to school to write a test and I went with the ₦100 I had and my ATM card, hoping that she would send the money before I was done with the test. That didn’t happen. I finished the test and realised that the money wasn’t in my account.
I called her repeatedly and she claimed that she had sent it, chalking it down to network issues. This couldn’t have happened on the worst day because my period started when I was in class. All I wanted to do was go home.
Four hours later, I was still in school waiting for the alert. I called a friend to help, but unfortunately, he was going to use the ₦100 he had to take a bus home. Not knowing what else to do, I helplessly sat down somewhere willing my bank to alert me that the money was now in my account. Eventually, I called another friend who wasn’t a student at the school and he came to pick me up.
Before I got home, I received the credit alert.
I felt some resentment towards my friend. She was a good friend and what happened wasn’t her fault, but I couldn’t help it.
My relationship with money is better these days. I have a savings plan with Piggyvest and an investment plan with Cowrywise. I started my business earlier this year and pumped everything I’d saved into it. I’m hoping that it takes off soon. My parents give me an allowance every week and I also get some money from my boyfriend. I used to buy things impulsively, but since I started this business, I put a lot of thought into everything that goes out of my purse.
I was broke for an entire semester in 200 level. I travelled to school with some foodstuff, my transport fare and an extra ₦1000. The hostels inside the school were expensive, so I went for a cheaper option, even though it was quite a distance from the school. The downside was that I had to figure out a way to make sure the ₦1000 I had left was enough to get me to school for two weeks.
I actually thought that I was going to die. I ate once daily — in the morning or at night. And that happened for the better part of the semester. Whatever money I got was spent on getting myself to school.
I wasn’t comfortable with asking my hostel mates for anything, so I dealt with it alone. There was a day I had only ₦50 and I was starving. I used ₦20 naira to buy garri and divided it into two parts. I soaked half in water and drank it in the evening. When morning came, I did the same thing in the morning, but this time I used ₦10 to buy sugar.
To be honest, I don’t know how I survived the semester, but I did. It made me realise how resilient I am. I’m smarter about how I spend money these days — I make sure I’m accountable for every penny I spend.
I was in my second year when I hit a super rough patch. I didn’t get anything from my parents at the beginning of the month and I needed to figure out a means of survival until the next month. My timetable was hectic and I had classes every day of the week too, so I spent most of what I had on transport. My friends helped, but there was only so much they could do. I was basically taking it one day at a time.
I was thinking about how to wing the situation when I remembered that I knew someone who was an estate developer in Abuja. An idea popped into my head — I thought that I could offer him some value and create a jingle for his business. I hadn’t done anything like it prior to that time, but I called him and pitched the idea to him. He was down with it. I told him I would need about ₦20,000 to make it happen and he agreed to it.
Sometime later, he sent ₦30,000 to me. I couldn’t believe it. That money couldn’t have come at a better time. I did the job and had enough left to survive the month. Also, the fact that I actually earned the money made me feel so good.
I live by grace these days. Money comes in and goes out, but I know I’ll always be fine. When I have enough, I intend to save and start some investments. You can only invest when you’re liquid enough to do it.
There was a time I spent money I was supposed to spend for a week in a few days — I think I splurged on data. After that, I was on my own.
I was cooking with my flatmates. I didn’t have any money on me, so when they suggested buying fish, I came clean and told them that I would eat my food like that. They were probably surprised, but they bought the fish and each of them gave me a piece from their share. The benevolence really touched me.
I wasn’t going to let it happen again, though. I called my parents the next day and jokingly told them what happened.
The experience showed me how important it is to have people around though. I can’t imagine how helpless I would have been if I didn’t have my flatmates. Also, I realised how much good a backup plan can do when it comes to managing finances in school. However, I’m at home now and I’m critically broke. No thanks to miss Rona.
Sometime last year, I made some bad investments. My cousin called me, introduced Loom to me, and convinced me to join the scheme. He didn’t tell me the full details and I didn’t do any research. I checked my finances and saw that I didn’t have enough. The reasonable thing was to let it go, but I borrowed money and put everything into it.
I called my cousin to ask for the next steps. He told me that there was none — all I had to do was wait. Boy, what a wait it was. Nothing happened in the first week, the second week or the third week.
I was so broke that I trekked home from school and drank garri almost every day. Another person I knew introduced something similar to me, promising a faster return on investment. I was desperate and wanted to recoup everything I’d lost. Somehow, I found ₦1000 and threw it into this one too. Then another wait started. After a month passed and I didn’t get anything, I knew it was time to let it go.
Unfortunately, I was now very broke and in debt. The only silver lining in this experience was that I had a surge of ideas during this period. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or if it happened because I was desperate. I had learned my lesson and was done with looking for quick money. I’m a brand identity designer and took my hustle more seriously. Luckily, I got some gigs that fetched me some money I lived on until the next allowance came from home.
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