How to survive tough economic times in Nigeria

The Nigerian economy has not fully recovered after the effect of the previous recession that ended in 2018. The economy is in a bad shape today despite what the government economic advisers would have you to believe.  The number of Nigerians that have embraced abject poverty is about 91 million, according to the World Poverty Clock, created by Vienna based World Data Lab. About 3 million again joined the extreme poverty group between November 2018 and February 2019. By this token,it shows that we have not seen it all, the worst is yet to come.

As a Nigerian, how do you survive in this bad economy fraught with uncertainties on every facet – price instability, crime rate and insecurity, unemployment issues, lack of economic infrastructure, etc? Survival in this turbulent economy can be a herculean task for the vast majority of the citizenry. But you must survive, you cannot give up hope, do you? In this write up you will be advised on the basic rules to apply to keep alive in the hope that one-day things are going to be better if ever that day will come.

How to survive tough economic times in Nigeria

Follow these steps to survive tough economic times in Nigeria.

1. Prepare a budget and be guided by it.

No matter how much you earn as your income, you should have a budget on how you spend your money. Your budget naturally will include recurrence expenses that keep body and soul together such as food, shelter, clothing and others that are equally important such as health care, children’s education, etc. Adhere strictly to your budget, unless there is an emergency in the area of health matters, fire razing your apartment or similar disaster when you are expected to spend above your budget.

2. Never rely on a single source of income.

Since you don’t consider your income enough for you and your family, it is inevitable for you to consider doing other things to supplement your earnings. For example, if you are a Taylor, sell tailoring materials, clothes, engage apprentices, train them after signing agreement on the number of years they will have to serve you before they are disengaged from your service. If you are a carpenter, do likewise. If you are a teacher, sell books and organise private lessons. If you are a civil servant, find out what is lacking around your office, is it snacks, clothes, mobile phones or any other innovative products you can sell to the civil servants and make some extra income.

3. Imbibe the saving culture.

No matter your income, you must buy the idea of saving something whenever you earn an income. Don’t give the flimsy excuse that your expenses far outweigh your income and therefore there is nothing to save. Savings is an essential quality of a human being because of the rainy day which is sure to come but the day and hour are uncertain. Consider health issues at odd hours, your friends disappear into the thin air and are unreachable, where do you go from there, time being of the essence and any little delay can be disastrous. To emphasize on the saving habit, it is going to be welcomed if you save even an unplanned passive income, it will go a long way to boost your savings. You can use a reliable platform like PiggyVest to save.

4. Make prudent spending.

Spend only on things that are necessary and not on frivolities. It is no use spending money on something you see your friends use irrespective of the fact that such things do not enhance your life. The guideline in prudent spending is as follows:-

  • For drugs: find out the pharmacy that sells original drugs and patronize it. Find out from the Pharmacist which drug can solve your immediate problem at the least price.
  • Foodstuffs: find out which local market is the cheapest. Make contacts to find out if there are special days to buy things cheap in the market. Differentiate perishable and non-perishable foodstuff and buy the non-perishables more when the price is lower.
  • Groceries: shop for cheaper food items than the expensive ones. For example, in buying breakfast cereals such as Cornflakes, Rice- crisps, Golden-morn, Quaker-oats, etc, all have similar basic raw-material, i.e., maize. So look for the cheapest and buy it. Same goes for chocolate drinks, the basic ingredient is cocoa, so consider that too when the grocery owner is discriminating on prices. Moreover, if you have children, to regulate the quantity of say, chocolate drink or milk they take, buy the 10 in one sachet and allow them to take one each at an appropriate time
  • Clothes: if you have slipped into the extreme poverty level, second-hand materials will be more appropriate because it is more durable whether shoes or clothes, at the same time it is cheaper. Find time to visit Aswani market, near Oshodi, on Oshodi – Apapa express road, on Tuesdays, you will not be disappointed.

5. Never you hope or depend on the government at all levels

It will be futile and a waste of time to depend on the government for any kind of assistance or employment. One of the reasons you should not do that is that the government don’t have in its budget to assist its citizens and even if by chance they make any provision in that regard, some officials will hijack the initiative for their people alone.

6. Don’t fall into debt

It is a bad attitude to be in debt all the time. your financial situation may warrant occasional slipping into debt, but when you do, make plans to clear your debt. Such situations include illness, lack of food in the house, accommodation, etc. Even children education should not be sufficient reason for you to go borrowing. The children should remain at home or help you do your job to raise money for their education. The reason for this advice is that you will be more prompted to find a solution to your financial problem when you see the children at home than if they are in school. If they are in school, it is likely you begin to plan who else you will borrow from for the next term school fees.

7. Invest your resources, don’t spend everything.

To increase your wealth, don’t spend everything you earn. There are many ways you can invest your surplus funds.  Since banks do not pay interests on deposits today unless, on special deposits, banks are not recommended. The reason is that you may not have access to your funds once you choose the fixed/special deposit option. However, you can buy and sell small items depending on your profession. For example, if you are an electrician, buy and sell electrical materials, if you are a mechanic, buy and sell spare parts that vehicle owners buy at regular intervals. Never you save with an individual for interest, because you will lose both capital and the so-called interest. Don’t invest your money in sweepstakes/raffles, it is one of the reasons why so many people have slipped into abject poverty.

8. Don’t be a good Samaritan all the time.

Yes, we are our brother’s keeper but not all the time since some people have become professional beggars, you must apply judgement when giving. Apart from close relatives, you must apply the wisdom of the bankers when prospective customers request for advances. Sometimes don’t lend to people what you cannot bear if they fail to pay back. Above all, don’t give where it is not possible to give since you cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. For instance, if you use your children school fees (assuming they are holidays) to lend to a friend who wants to pay for accommodation, from the outset it is obvious you are not going to get your money back before your children return to school. Instead, find a token and give him free and he will seek help from other of his friends instead of putting your children education at risk. Always show empathy where you cannot assist.


Surviving in the present Nigerian economy may not be easy even when it is obvious that Nigeria is very rich, though Nigerians are poor. It is one of the reasons why some Nigerians embark on desperate journeys. Migration is not the answer because your destination country’s culture, availability of jobs, housing, immigration policies, social life may be unfavourable. For instance, liken migration to relocating to Abuja from your current place of abode, without knowing anybody in Abuja. To be safe, you must first of all lodge in a hotel for many days. The question is if you have the amount of money to lodge in a hotel, why can’t you invest it in profitable business. So stay in Nigeria and struggle like others, if you are not making headway in your chosen career, make a career change.

Be sure to check business ideas in Nigeria that you can start.

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Chris Okafor

Chris Okafor

Chief Chris Okafor is a marketing consultant and CEO of C. J. Marketing Academy, providing training services to the industry and educational services to the profession.
He produces study materials for the students studying for the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) examinations.
He also provides tutorial services for students writing the NIMN examinations

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