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Surviving and Thriving Financially as a Nigerian Student

Survival! Survival! This is what more than 90% of the world’s population strive each day to achieve. We all want to survive first and foremost before we can begin to think of thriving in the environment we have found ourselves in.

In the university environment, especially here in Nigeria, it dawns on many of us – especially all the ‘nwa mummy’s’ – that we have become men and women. While some students have their parents send them more than enough allowance for feeding and taking care of miscellaneous expenses especially those from very well-to-do families, others if ever sent money still have tom find other means by which they can complement and survive.

Food for us as students is most times the priority that demands us of our money. Other times, it’s our tuition fees, registration fees, course materials, text-books, accommodation costs, transportation expenses and other miscellaneous expenses.

For many of us, cash at hand is never enough because our parents will often stay at home and wonder “what is this boy doing with money in school sef? Is it not to read, eat and sleep? Let’s just sent him this 3,000 naira in case”. In three days if not less, on many occasions, we soon discover that the money has been exhausted, funny enough, with little to nothing spent on food.

Then there are few of us that find it very difficult to call our parents and ask them for money. This is the period we begin to play independent and all grown-up. How can I survive and not just that, thrive – get to a point where it’s very easy to have my needs met – as a student while in school? Is that the question you’re asking? If so, then, read on.

Surviving in school, especially in our Nigerian federal – public – universities isn’t child’s play. I guess if you’re in the first category of “restaurant-eating, car-driving, monthly cloth-changing, money-flaunting” well-to-do guys that I mentioned earlier, you may not understand the statement I just made.

Nonetheless, if you know what it’s like to be broke in school, what it’s like to ‘smoke’ garri for weeks when left without option, what it’s like to go on a compulsory ‘fast’  or ‘hunger strike’, what it’s like to dodge those you owe money because you simply do not have any hope of paying them back as soon as they had expected and all of those other experiences associated with lack of money, then this is for you.

Two main skills that enable you survive and thrive financially as a student:

There are two main skills you need to develop if you must be financially stabilized while in school. These include:

– Management skills (enable you survive in any environment you find yourself).

– Entrepreneurial skills (enable you thrive in any environment you find yourself).

One of the skills helps you survive while the other makes you thrive financially in school. One note-worthy reason why a lot of us find things difficult in school is that the concept of student loans is not in any wise well-embraced in Nigeria.

Outside Nigeria, in places like the United States and the United Kingdom, students have access to all forms of student loans. While this has the disadvantage of getting a lot of them into serious debt, before they even start life after college especially those that lack good financial planning skills, they can easily borrow money at very little interest rates and pay up later, in most cases, when they must have left school and started working at a job.

There is also access to student bursaries and numerous scholarships given by the schools and state or federal governments. In Nigeria – God help us – if at all you are able to lay your hands on these few available bursaries and scholarships, you will almost sweat blood from the application, to the aptitude test to the interview and often times you will find yourself getting discouraged by the tiring processes.

The funds, in many cases, can be so meager, you wander whether it’s really worth the stress. I’m speaking from experience since I have been able to access some of these scholarships. Let us briefly look at these two skills – how and why you should develop them to survive and thrive financially in school:

1. Management Skills:

You might not be an accountant but you really need to know how to keep books and records, balance accounts and prepare a financial budget if you must survive in school. The importance of having a budget cannot be over-stressed because it helps you know how much is coming in, how you spend it most of the time and how you can better manage and maximize it to meet your most important financial needs in school.

Improving your management skills also entails improving on your ability to save money. If you begin to save at least 10% of every amount of money that you receive either as allowance or as a gift, you will become better prepared to handle unforeseen contingencies when more money than you would have expected or budgeted for will be demanded of you.

Some students don’t feel as if they really need to worry about money, “I mean, Mum and Dad are there”. This can set them up on shaky ground as they quietly get accustomed to having money without a great deal of responsibility.

Once you graduate, the whole picture changes and money (even borrowed) definitely does not come as easy and beyond that, things get even more complicated with house rent and expenses, taxes, transportation expenses, pensions and who knows, maybe even a family and kids.

“Money really should be valued for what it is, not what it can turn into” – savethestudent.org. It’s really amazing how a piece of paper with the portrait of a Nigerian head of state or a swipe of card can so quickly turn into a bottle of mineral and a snack such as an egg-roll or a meat-pie.

The relationship between students and money is indeed unique. There are hardly times when you are loaned money which you don’t have to repay. If you are fond of borrowing, you will be at the beck and call of others for a long time in your life.

You can develop your management skills by simply starting today to keep stock of all your expenses. “Living on a budget” is a lifestyle almost every student must face sooner or later. Budgeting should come first as you separate your weekly, monthly or quarterly allowance and income from whatever source into neat weekly chunks as soon as the money graces your bank account. It should not come out of necessity during a state of crisis after blowing more than 80% of a monthly allowance in less than two weeks.

2. Entrepreneurial Skills:

Business! Indeed, difficult to start and sustain but highly rewarding in the long run especially when pursued with perseverance and the required know-how. if you want to thrive and not just survive in the university, you sure need to start something no matter how small.

Find a problem you can solve for others or a need you can satisfy legitimately and build a small-scale business you can easily manage without suffering your academics upon that premise. For the record, there are numerous problems you can solve in the school environment. Because many students do not work for most of the money they spend in school, students are quick to spend when you can solve a problem for them or satisfy a need they have.

Do you need some ideas? Then this article should be of help to you: “10 businesses you can start as a student while in school”. Click the link to check it out. Starting a business be it in line with hair-dressing (for the girls), term-paper/thesis/project typing, printing and photocopying, selling of academic course materials, teaching students (tutorials), painting portraits (for the fine art students), graphic-designing of banners and posters for events happening within the school, online-based businesses like blogging, affiliate marketing, advertising, and free-lancing will do a lot for you.

The benefits of starting a business as a student are manifold. Not only will you make extra cash for yourself, you will also sharpen your entrepreneurial, sales and marketing skills as well as begin to experience the feeling of independence as an adult able to take care of him/herself while in school. Besides, you never can tell, such a business may grow to become a major source of income to you in the future.

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