It’s a Monday morning and most of us are hitting the roads again with numerous burdens in our fragile hearts. The existential challenges relating to managing our debts, school fees, paying rents, feeding families, sustaining small businesses, and how to increase household income, has bequeath aches to the carapace of our minds. And I have only been thinking of the best ways of helping our people to grapple with these vicissitudes.
These are some of my thoughts today:
- Dealing With Debts: Don’t Try To Dodge, Face It…
- The first step is making sure you don’t avoid it. For many people who are owing, the first impulse when repayment isn’t achieved on time, is to start avoiding their borrower. It ruins relationships. For those owing several online loan apps, that’s what they have resorted to. You are constrained to change your telephone numbers and other vital details that long lost helpers could still reach you, just because you are avoiding your debts. The borrowers are also now employing various methods of reputation damage as a means of forcing your repayment. All these make it less expensive to stay aware and in touch than avoiding your debts.
- Make a list of the debts that you owe, and the minimum payments that are required monthly. Look at the amount of income you have coming in, the expenses that you have, and get a clear picture of exactly where you stand. Until you know exactly how big a debt burden you have, and how far short you fall in terms of your means of paying off your debt, you won’t be able to make the decisions necessary to begin grappling with your debt.
- Talk to the person, company or loan app you are owing about repayment options. Send them an email, invite them or go over or call their customer care. While it’s not the ideal deal for most borrowers, in some cases, it may be better for them to come to an undesirable repayment arrangement with you rather than have you not pay the debt at all. But you just have to make that call and negotiate. You may or may not be able to work out an arrangement with them, whether it’s to negotiate a lower interest rate, a repayment schedule that fits your budget or some kind of debt settlement which lets you pay less than the balance you owe, have it in mind that borrowers may be more flexible than you expect.
- If it chokes farther than that, you can consolidate your debts by getting a loan that can enable you to pay off your existing debts, leaving you with only one monthly repayment to deal with. But if you must take this option, ensure that the new loan is at a lower interest rate than the interest on the debt you are paying off. Your monthly repayment on the loan must be lower than what you were required to make on all your debt in total. If it’s not, it’s not worth it.
- School Fees:
It’s a big challenge. But plan to change the children’s school to a more affordable school. Don’t be pressured by peers or ego. Bend to reality. It is better for the kids to remain in an affordable school than stay at home because you couldn’t pay for an expensive school. I changed my daughter’s school last term.
If it’s becoming suffocating. Change location bros. Or reduce the size of the apartment until things improve. It is better to have a small roof over your head than be kicked out of a big roof you couldn’t pay for. If it’s your property, you may consider letting parts of it.
- Family Feeding: No short cuts here. Just try and gather some money and have a village plug that buys in bulk and waybill to you. Before that one finishes, gather another money. That’s what I do. MIke Nkonjok Udam is my plug in the village.
- Sustaining Small Businesses:
On power, fuel is expensive, so convert your generator to Compressed Natural Gas CNG. Try and get a prepaid meter. Solar is expensive but if you can afford it, buy it. It’s cheaper in the long run. Let NEPA be standby. For taxes, don’t pay through agents. Don’t wait for the government to come. You will pay more. Promptly visit the nearest LGA office yourself and get the official amounts required and pay. Usually, it will save you up to forty percent of what you have been paying.
- Increasing Household Income:
You may not like what I will say here. But please avoid or cut down on Church, burials, aso-ebi and wedding expenses. Please cut them down and spend that money at home. If your church is putting you under financial pressure, change to another one. If your friends are doing same, avoid them for now.
Society condemns it. I have never played betting before very honestly. But I just wanted to let you know that it is not a crime in Nigeria. It is not illegal. It is recognized by the government and it is a legitimate means of earning for people who are keen on it. But many people have been bruised by their losses here.
As Christmas is approaching, buy the little you can afford on time before prices spike. Don’t put yourself under pressure. It’s not your birthday. It is Jesus’ birthday. Cut your coat where your cloth reach.
These adjustments are not permanent conditions. They are merely stop-gap expediencies to enable us cope with prevailing conditions until things get better.
Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, a Cross Riverian, and writes from Lagos.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.