By Martins Itua
Bouncebackability is the ability to recover fast from a loss, an ugly situation or a difficult time. During these difficult times that many people are passing through hardship arising from the economic recession, it is important to explain that all great economies pass through recession. The authority may choose to bury its head in the sand and pretend that all is well but millions of Nigerians are daily experiencing real financial crisis. There are clear signs that we are experiencing a recession and that a financial tsunami is upon us. How do you know that our economy is in recession? First, we have a negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters according to National Bureau of Statistics. Second, things have almost come to a grind in terms of real economic activity. Household incomes and business profits have drastically dropped and inflation is high. Cost of business is also high and companies are either closing their shops or laying off their staff to remain in business. Generally, there is increased poverty amongst Nigerians due to the general increase in the prices of goods and services and no commensurate increase in income. For instance, whereas the price of a bag of rice has jumped to nearly N20,000, minimum wage of civil servants remains N18,000, which most State governments have owed for nearly one year.
The focus of this write-up is not to emphasize the negatives because Nigerians are fully aware of their struggles and hardships. Our focus is to point you in the right direction and show you how you can survive these difficult times. There are already thousands of people who have been laid off by their employers and they have no idea what their next steps are or what the future holds. This is harder because a lot of these people depended solely on their salaries as their source of livelihood.
The first reaction is usually shock and then many people start to wallow in self-pity. But this is hardly the time to regret the past or stay stagnant because what will count in the end isn’t that you lost your job but how you managed the situation and bounced back again. While some people will shrink and sink into poverty and be unable to meet their family obligation, others will show more resilience and find a way to make the best of the situation.
Determine your monthly expenditure
You need to immediately determine your total monthly expenditure. What do you spend money on? You will need to itemise them. If you pay monthly rent, how much rent do you pay? If it is annually, how many months do you have left before your rent expires? How much do you spend on your children’s school fees? How much do you spend to maintain your home and feed your family? Do you have extended family obligations? Are their loans you are servicing monthly? How much? You may need to speak with your bank to consider refinancing.
Accept the reality
You must climb down from your high horse and begin to accept the reality of the situation. The reality is that at the end of the month, there will be no pay-check. Climbing down from your high horse means that you will need to immediately reduce your outgoings and cut costs on unnecessary things. For instance, if you ate out much, then it is time to cook your meals and save money. If you had two cars and hired different maids and servants, then it is time to cut down on them. You may also need to look at how much you spend on electricity and cable television. It may be easier to bear if you saved up in the past or had an emergency fund as this will give you some room to plan and also be able to meet your immediate financial obligations. What it also means is that you will need to conceive of a plan quickly because your savings may not take you for too long since you are not receiving income. If you had another stream of income from a business you did on the side, then this can be a platform to start from. There are others who didn’t have an emergency fund or adequate savings to cushion the immediate effect of not receiving a salary by month end.
Invest in a business or get another job
As soon as you are able to minimise your outgoings and cut unnecessary costs, then you need to make the difficult decision of either investing in a business that will bring you income or stay at home to look for another job. Whichever, you choose, there are risks. If you choose to immediately begin to look for another job, this may take more time than you anticipate and you may eat up all your savings. You need to remember that the reason why you lost your job in the first place is that we are in a recession, hence companies are downsizing and not hiring. So the possibility of getting another job may be dim. A better option is to look for something you can do that can bring in money for you. The principle of using what you have to get what you want comes in handy here. So the question is: what do you have? You need to think deeply in answering the question. Strangely, some people usually think they don’t have anything but this is important in determining your next move. How you handle this stage also determines if you will sink or swim.
Start where you are
You should not make the mistake of thinking that you will start big. You must start where you are so that you don’t spend too much money from the outset. You only need to spend money on the most important things that are required to start something. If you have a car, you might decide to do car hire service instead of staying at home. It might seem easier to rent out the car to someone else for car hire. But be aware that if you take that option, you may end up spending more money to repair your car. It is a temporary situation and it provides you with time to think of something you can do while doing car hire services. If you provided high level cab services to visitors, you can easily make N20,000 per day which translates to N120,000 if you worked for six days. Looking at it, it’s not such a bad idea. The reason why this is the first viable option is that you are not spending a dime since you already have a car. You only need to buy the fuel.
Learn a skill in an area where there’s demand
If you have enough savings to take you for some time, then you will need to immediately learn a new skill in an area where there are demands. For instance, you take a job in an ICT company to learn how to design websites. There are very few people in this country who can design professional websites. So there is a great demand in that area. You can decide to take up lessons in graphics design. This is irrespective of what your area of discipline is. It is not rocket science to do some of these things. You only need to show interest and be willing to apply yourself. Once you discover what your interest is, then you have to give it everything you have to make a success out of it.
Always remember the words of Robert Schuller that “tough times never last, but tough people do”.