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Brilliant tips on how to save money during hard times

With the terrible inflation, prices keep rising, yet incomes seem stuck in place. It's tough, but there are ways to stretch your naira further and make the most of it. 

image of a woman counting some dollar currencies

Have you ever felt like your money just disappears before the month ends? You're not alone, especially in Nigeria, where the economic struggle is all too real. The Nigerian economy has faced significant challenges recently, with inflation rates reaching over 18% in March 2024 and unemployment rates soaring to over 33%, and the naira falling.

In this article, we will offer practical tips to help you save money, even when times are hard. We would go deep into some smart strategies to help you get through these challenging days with a little more ease and less stress. 

With our help, that beautiful dream washing machine or bed you've always wanted to buy can come closer to becoming a reality. So get comfortable!

Insights on Saving Money

Saving money means tucking away a percentage of your earnings instead of spending it all at once. This saved money is set aside for a rainy day or those big-ticket dreams you've been eyeing—a new phone, a vacation, or even that dream car.

Easy Steps on How to Save Money

Saving money is a step in the right direction for achieving financial freedom. Here are some easy peasy steps on how to save money:

1. Track Your Spending

First thing, let's get a handle on where your money is going. Grab a notebook, whip out your phone, or download a budgeting app—pick whatever seems most convenient for you. 

Then, jot down every kobo you spend, from that puff-puff on the street corner to those impromptu movie nights with friends. Jot it all down!

It might seem a bit tedious at first, but trust us; this step will give you an idea of how much you spend and guide you on your next step.

2. Set Goals

Now that you know where your money goes, it's time to set some goals. Think about what you're saving for—maybe your child's school fees, a trip to Obudu Cattle Ranch, or finally buying that shiny new gadget you've been eyeing for the longest.

Having a clear target in mind will keep you motivated when temptation strikes. Here are some practical steps to help you set your goals just right:

  •  Be Specific

Instead of just saying, "I want to save money," specify the amount and purpose. For example, "I want to save ₦50,000 for school fees by September."

  • Set Realistic Goals 

Ensure your goals are achievable within your current financial situation. If ₦50,000 seems too much right now, maybe start with ₦20,000.

  • Break It Down

Divide your goal into smaller, manageable chunks. If you need ₦50,000 in five months, aim to save ₦10,000 each month.

  • Create a Timeline

Set a deadline for each goal. It will give you a sense of urgency and help you stay on track.

  • Stay Flexible

Life happens, and sometimes you might need to adjust your goals. That's okay. Just revisit your plan and make the necessary adjustments.

  • Reward Yourself

Celebrate small victories along the way. If you reach a milestone, treat yourself to something small but satisfying. It'll keep you motivated.

3. Create a Budget (And Stick to It)

Budgeting doesn't have to be gloomy! You can put on your favourite playlist to kick-start things and put you in a good mood while creating the budget.

Once your mood is up, start budgeting by listing all your monthly expenses, from rent and groceries to Netflix subscriptions. Then, allocate a specific amount of money to each category and stick to it as much as possible. 

Temptations will surely come, "we are humans after all,"  but try to think of your goals and know it is all for a good course.

Bonus tip: Leave a little wiggle room for unexpected expenses—you never know when that flat tire might strike!

4. Fully Embrace the Power of Bargaining

Ah, the art of haggling—the Nigerian way! You could be shopping for pepper at the market or paying your transport fare; don't be afraid to flex those bargaining muscles. Price it down as much as possible.

You might think, "Oh, it's just an extra ₦100, no big deal." Not true. When all the ₦50 and ₦200 savings add up, they can make a significant difference. So stand your ground and aim for the best deal possible.

5. Cut Back on Non-Essentials

For this step, slip out that jotted note you created in step one and take a hard look at your spending habits. Find those little luxuries that seem you can’t resist—whether it's suya nights on Fridays or hitting the club every weekend.

To save, you'll need to rein in these luxuries a bit. This doesn't mean saying goodbye to everything you love. Simply find a delicate balance between indulging in the things that bring you joy and being mindful of your finances.

Take suya night, for example. If it's your holy grail, and you can't imagine giving it up, that's fine. Get creative. Instead of spending ₦10,000 every Friday, why not dial it back a bit? You could treat yourself to suya for ₦5,000 every two weeks instead. 

You'll still enjoy that delicious suya flavour without burning a hole in your wallet. It's all about making little tweaks that add up to big savings in the long run.

6. Cook at Home

Forget daily dining out—let's get cooking! Whipping up a meal at home is healthier and cheaper. Plus, there's something incredibly satisfying about sitting down to a homemade feast, knowing you cooked it yourself.

Now, you can also go the extra mile by choosing to cook meals that are pretty budget-friendly but still maintain 100% deliciousness. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Beans and Yam (Or Potato)

This combo is not just filling, but also super affordable. A paint bucket of beans costs around ₦9,659, and if you live alone, it can last almost the entire month. Beans are a great source of protein, saving you from spending too much on meat. 

Pair your beans with boiled yam or potato (depending on which you love and which is more affordable in your area), and you've got a hearty meal that's super easy on the wallet.

  • Efo Riro (Vegetable Soup)

Efo Riro is packed with nutritious greens and bursting with flavour—it's a big winner! Make a big pot of the soup, and pair it with pounded yam, eba, or rice. It's an excellent way to get your veggies in while keeping costs low. Plus, you can make it with or without meat, depending on your budget.

  • Jollof Rice

Who can resist the temptation of jollof rice? It's easy to make and perfect for batch cooking. Cook a large pot with rice, tomatoes, onions, and spices, and there you go, you've got a delicious meal ready. Enjoy it with some grilled chicken or fried plantains. It's the ultimate comfort food that doesn't break the bank.

  • Moi Moi or Okpa

Let’s dig in a bit into local delicacies. Moi moi and okpa are affordable yet delicious meals that can last you days and weeks in your freezer. All you need to prepare delicious okpa is grounded bambara nuts, groundnut oil, pepper and salt. Some may like adding a bit of onion, but it’s not really necessary. Very cost-effective, right?

You can also prepare moi-moi with the ingredients you can afford. After grinding your beans, add the right amounts of pepper, onion, salt, seasonings, and a small amount of oil and you are good to go.

  • Yam and Egg Sauce

Simple yet delicious, this dish is a crowd-pleaser. Boil some yams and prepare a flavorful egg sauce with tomatoes, onions, and peppers. It's quick to make and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

However, yam and egg sauce can't be stored for too long, or it will go bad. But it still makes a lovely and cheaper option for days when you're craving something different and spicy.

7. Cook in large batches

Another fantastic food trick to save you expenses is cooking in large quantities. Here's how to do it: 

  1. Stew: Cook a huge pot of stew and store it in your fridge. It can last up to two weeks. When you need a quick meal, boil some rice and scoop out the stew you need. Heat it on your stove or microwave, and you have a delicious meal ready in minutes. If you get tired of rice, you can easily switch it up with spaghetti, yams, or even boiled potatoes. Since you don't have to cook from scratch every day this method saves you money and time.
  2. Soup: Similarly, you can make a large batch of your favourite soup, such as egusi or Okra soup, and store it. This ensures you always have a nutritious meal at hand, which can be paired with various staples like pounded yam, amala, or eba.
  3. Other Dishes: You can do the same with other dishes. Prepare large quantities of beans, fried rice, or jollof rice. Store them in portions, so you can easily reheat and eat without any fuss.

Easy Budgeting Apps to Help Track Your Expenses

One of the best ways to save money is by keeping a close eye on your spending habits. Budgeting apps can make this super easy and even a bit fun. Here are some great options you can use:

1. Money Lover

This app is fantastic for tracking your daily expenses and setting up budgets. You can categorize your spending, see where your money is going, and even set savings goals. It's user-friendly and perfect for staying on top of your finances. Download Money Lover here.

2. Goodbudget

If you like the idea of envelope budgeting but want a digital solution, Goodbudget is for you. It lets you allocate portions of your income to different categories, helping you stick to your budget. Plus, it syncs across devices, so you can budget with a partner. Check out Goodbudget.

3. Monefy

Simple and straightforward, Monefy makes it easy to log your expenses on the go. You can quickly add new transactions and see an overview of your spending habits. It's great for anyone who wants a no-fuss way to track their money. Get Monefy here.

4. Mint

This app is fabulous for beginners. It automatically tracks your expenses, categorizes them, and even provides tips on how to save. Plus, it syncs with your bank accounts, so you always have an up-to-date picture of your finances. You can download Mint here.

Benefits of Saving Money

Saving money might sound like a tedious chore, but it is rewarding. Let's tell you a little story to illustrate how powerful saving can be, especially in Nigeria.

Meet Tunde. Like many of us, Tunde loves to enjoy life—weekend hangouts with friends, beer nights, and the occasional spending on the latest gadgets. But a few months ago, Tunde had a wake-up call when his car broke down, and he didn't have enough money for repairs. He ended up borrowing from friends, which wasn't a great feeling.

That's when Tunde decided to start saving. At first, it was tough. He had to cut back on some of his luxuries, but he was determined. Here's what he discovered about the benefits of saving:

1. Peace of Mind

Knowing he had a little cushion in his bank account gave Tunde a sense of security. No more sleepless nights spent thinking about unexpected expenses. He could handle emergencies without stressing out.

2. Financial Independence

With savings, Tunde didn't have to rely on loans or borrow from friends. Whether it was fixing his car or dealing with medical bills, he could handle it. That sense of independence was priceless.

3. Achieving Goals

Tunde always wanted to start a small side business selling custom-made shirts. With his savings, he bought the initial materials and started his venture. Now, his side hustle is growing, bringing in extra income and boosting his confidence.

4. Better Opportunities

When Tunde's friend offered him a chance to invest in a promising startup, he was ready. His savings gave him the flexibility to seize new opportunities without hesitation. This intelligent move paid off, and his investment grew over time.

5. Less Stress

With a savings plan, Tunde found he could enjoy his leisure activities more. He still had fun with friends, but he did it smarter—like hosting home dinners instead of dining out, or exploring free local events.

Wrap up

Saving money doesn't mean giving up on enjoying life. It's more about making smarter choices and setting yourself up for a brighter future. 

Just like Tunde, you can start small. Maybe skip those extra outings or opt for homemade meals more often. Before you know it, those little savings add up, giving you the financial freedom to handle whatever life throws your way.