BY Shamseddin Giwa
The average Nigerian man earns below N100,000 monthly. Take a minute to digest that. What’s more closer to the reality is the statement, “the average Nigerian man earns below N50,000 monthly” but let’s work with N100,000 to see how that still works out.
I came across the payslip of the principal of an LGEA primary school a few years back and it read N109,000. My heart sank. I mean, that is the principal!. The same school had vice principals, heads of departments, senior teachers, junior teachers, entry level graduate staff and non- academic ones including messengers and cleaners. If the principal earns N109,000, what will a cleaner earn? This is the thought I had until I heard people talking about how that cannot be a principal of an LGEA or lower private schools who apparently earn lower. I thought N109,000 was as bad as it got; I thought wrong.
In federal ministries you might need to have been promoted about three to four times to earn N100,000. In states, it is worse. The private sector is a lean shot at better conditions but given the scanty number of positions available, you might as well write that route off too.
So, the obvious question is this, how do you run your family on low income given these people also have families to take care of?
The first thing to do is to plan your finances before you do form the family, but if you are already married and just waking up to the true powers of your income, then all is still not lost.
Let’s clear one thing first, you need your partner on this. Her support, either limited to emotional or extended to financial, is extremely important (imagine trying to run a home around an unreasonable wife with N100,000 a month – it will not work and you’d end up with fights and frustrations).
An understanding partner is just a start; beyond that, you need two things – a plan on how to allocate your household resources using a priority list, and a list of affordable alternatives to help drive your cost down.
A typical list would contain accommodation, feeding, school fees (where applicable), transportation and utility bills. Anything else is luxury that a home can survive without.
If your household income is not able to cater for the above, then you will have to cut quality and quantity. How far you can cut needs to be something your partner can agree on, or else you get additional pressure added to what you already have (you can’t, in the name of trying to save money, have your family move into a spare room of a friend’s home for example) and garri might be cheaper (I was going to type ‘cheap’ but then realised it actually is not) but you cannot have garri three times a day because it is cheaper than rice and beans.
Younger couples take a while to get it but exclusive breastfeeding can save you several months of baby food while expensive brands have cheaper alternatives that won’t hurt your baby.
You can have your boys barb their hair at a N2000 per haircut salon or you can look for the N500 ones to save cost. Alternatively, you can learn how to use the clipper and save N12,000 per annum on each boy barbing twice a month (at N500) or N48,000 per boy barbing twice a month (at N2000). Imagine how much you save if you have three boys!
Finally, you need to embrace your reality and leave petty mindsets behind. If you earn N80,000 for example, your life can be so much better with the additional income from a wife if you learn to build with her. Redefine the parameters of your home too. You cannot be eating three chunky pieces of meat per meal and wonder why you are spending all you have on feeding alone).
When it comes to money, it’s all about maximum utility, people may call you cheap but then you have a family to raise, be true to yourself.