It’s the second week of January, people are back at work, crafting saving plans and life goes on. Nigerians have just survived their most expensive Christmas ever.
In a nation where more than half of its 200 million citizens survive on less than $2 a day, every price increase sends ripples through households already strained by existing economic challenges. In June, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu announced the removal of fuel subsidies, triggering a chain reaction that has had profound effects on the daily lives of Nigerians.
Every December, Lagos becomes a city that celebrates non-stop. Residents are joined by members of the Nigerian diaspora for what is known as “Detty December”. So as the festive season approached, though the air was filled with anticipation and excitement for the end of a long year, Nigerians were shadowed by the aftermath of the significant announcement made earlier in the year.
The National Bureau of Statistics revealed alarming figures, with a headline inflation rate of 28.2% in November 2023, marking the 11th consecutive month of increase and the highest level since July 2005.
For many people, getting around was already daunting; but with the increase, daily commutes were impacted. This also had a cascading effect on the prices of goods and services across board and a substantial devaluation of the naira. The composite consumer price index of the NBS indicates a surge in the average cost of buying food and drinks, a staggering 92.73% increase over the past three years.
Detty December? In This Economy?
The costs of essential items for the festive season, including food, drinks, clothing, and transportation, pushed families to cap their expenses last month. The NBS reported a notable increase in intra-city and inter-city transport fares. Statistics from the nation’s agency indicate a surge of 45% or more in average transport fares.
This meant that many Nigerians were unable to afford travel to meet with extended family for Christmas. In 2019, transportation company God is Good Motors, set prices ranging from ₦5,500 to ₦12,800 for inter-state road travel. Fast forward to 2023, and the fares have surged to ₦21,000 to ₦38,000 for identical destinations — representing an average increase of 222 percent over the four years.
Online, young Nigerians complained about rising cab prices, even from ride-hailing platforms like InDrive—whose business model primarily offers affordable, negotiable rides.
Saving Through the New Month
Sadly, the amount of money it takes to keep our lives together may continue to go up as we get older, in the face of global and regional economic uncertainty— even if you’ve successfully maintained a lifestyle built around saving, enjoying the occasional indulgence, and acquiring as few possessions as possible.
Navigating the new month requires us to manage expenses, prioritize savings, and achieve financial stability. Here are some practical tips to not only survive but thrive in the coming weeks:
1. Assess and Summarize Expenses:
Take a close look at your Christmas spending. Make a list of all the expenses and categorize them. This will give you a clear picture of where your money went.
2. Create a Realistic Budget:
Based on your assessment, create a budget for the new month. Allocate your income to cover necessary expenses like bills, groceries, and transportation while leaving room for savings and debt repayment.
3. Prioritize Essential Expenses:
Identify essential expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, and transportation. Ensure these are covered first before allocating funds to non-essential items.
4. Cut Unnecessary Expenses:
Temporarily cut back on discretionary spending, such as dining out, entertainment, or impulse purchases. Redirect this money towards replenishing your savings or paying off any Christmas-related debt.
5. Set Realistic Savings Plan:
Establish achievable financial goals for the month. This could include saving a specific amount, paying off a certain debt, or building an emergency fund. Break these goals into smaller, manageable tasks.
Though the country’s financial situation may appear challenging, it presents an opportunity for resilience and proactive financial management in the face of uncertainties.