Are you struggling to live up to the perceived Lagos
lifestyle? Is your paycheck regularly failing to take you to your next payday?
Do you fear that you are not saving enough money for eventualities of life? If
any of these is true for you, then you need to cut your expenses and make your
money go further. That is a great statement on paper, but how do you put this
into practice in a city as unbelievably expensive as Lagos? How do you keep
money in your pocket in an environment seemingly designed to suck it out of
there in increasing amounts and at greater speeds? Well, here’s a short crash
course in cheating Lagos before it cheats you. 


First things first- where you lay your head. As a general rule of thumb, any
accommodation whose annual cost is more than 2 months of your income in out of
your range. If you’re pulling in N80,000/month and sharing an N800,000 flat
with 3 people “to save money”, well here’s a newsflash dear – you ain’t saving nothing.You are actually living above
your means – N40,000 above your means, to be exact. You need to accept the
reality of your financial situation and find a place that is in line with it.
That N150,000 self con in Yaba might be 15 minutes from the main road and the
neighbourhood might be grimy, but guess what? That is what you can afford at
the moment, and you will not be here forever. It is better to live at or just
below your means, and save money to achieve other things, than use all your
money to just about maintain yourself exactly where you are – sprinting hard
just to stand in one spot.


same principle applies to your transport expenses. If you have a car, it should
be in line with your income. You might be able to get a N1m car loan from work
which will get you a used Honda Pilot with gearbox and suspension issues, but
it would make a lot more sense for you to get a sturdy, unspectacular Toyota
Camry that will never break down for N600,000. The Camry’s parts are cheap and
readily available and servicing it will cost you about N9,000 at the most. The
Honda Pilot will get you a few admiring looks on a good day, and then one day
the drive shaft will break and the Honda Place will land you with a bill for
N180,000. Yeah. If you don’t have a car, try to look into alternatives to
regular public transport, which is very expensive in Lagos. Maybe you can look
into a carpooling scheme with friends and colleagues, or travel in groups so
you can split the Uber bill. Above all, keep unnecessary movement to a minimum.
The less time you spend outside the house, the less time there is for something
to go wrong and cost money to fix.


So you
don’t dine at N11,000 per plate restaurants and you even cook most of the time.
You’re feeling very virtuous huh? Well, stop and calculate how much you spend on
Iya Bukky’sjollof rice at the office everyday. Add that to the occasional
weekend YOLO jaunt to Chicken Republic or Coldstone. Add that to the N300 here,
N500 there that goes for those little snacks and bites every so often. Add it
all together, and see where the majority of your food budget is actually going. One of the big lies sold
to all middle class residents of Lagos is that fast food is cheap and filling.
No sir, it is not. Fast food in Lagos is actually ruinously expensive and
measured to do just enough to stimulate your food craving without actually
satisfying it, so you end up buying more. A little jaunt to Dominos can very
quickly and easily turn into a N10,000 splurge if you do not maintain tight

Gadgets and stuff: 

Feel free to get this phone and that laptop and the other game console if you
want to. Just do one thing – wait a little and then buy it second hand. That
phone that cost N160,000 in 2016 costs less than N50,000 now when you buy it
used because not only has it depreciated, but the newer model has come out.
This newer model does exactly what
the older model did, but wouldn’t you know, it has a glass bottom that serves
no useful purpose, or it has a new earphone design, or its camera has packed in
a few more megapixels to its picture quality, which you cannot actually detect
with your eye. This is the deep, dark secret of all consumer gadgets and their
marketing – it’s all a scam. The real technological breakthroughs that obligate
you to migrate from one device to another do not happen in 12-month cycles. The
global shift from Java-based mobile phones to Android/iOs based phones took the
best part of a decade and a half. The iPhone that was released in 2012, now
worth N35,000 is practically the same as the “new” iPhone being sold for
N400,000. Don’t buy into the hype monster! Buy devices that work for the
purposes that you need them, and do so at the most pocket friendly prices
possible because in a few months, that HP laptop you paid N145,000 for will
have a “UK-used”, i.e. perfectly functioning version
available for just N45,000. Don’t be a mug.

Entertainment &

This is where most people’s financial planning falls short in
the party city that is Lagos. Now you don’t have to seclude yourself in your
house because you want to save money – being frugal and being antisocial are
not the same thing. You just need to understand that having fun does not
necessarily mean spending a load of money. A N1,500 movie ticket that comes
with free popcorn and a drink can render more satisfaction than an evening at a
nightclub where you empty your bank account and unsuccessfully try to get
lucky. A N3,000 game DVD for your Xbox can potentially make you happier than a
pub crawl across 12 bars that costs you N9,000. It’s all about identifying what
you enjoy and finding a balance, instead of letting the perceived norms of
Lagos life control your spending habits.

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