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Monday, July 15, 2024

Effective Budgeting Strategies for Students Facing Record High Living Costs in Nigeria

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Changing Costs for Nigerian Students: 2019 to 2024

Most undergraduate courses in Nigerian universities take about four to five years to complete. But, some courses like Veterinary Medicine and Human Medicine can take up to seven years. This means a final-year engineering student started school in 2019. A lot has changed since then.

On January 1, 2019, the Nigerian Naira exchanged at N360/$ in the parallel market. As of May 1, 2024, a dollar traded for N1360/$. This shows a significant drop in the value of the Naira, which is not the only thing that has changed. Let’s see how the prices of everyday items students need have gone up over these years.

How Prices Have Changed

Food: The prices of food have gone up a lot. Many Nigerians talk about how they survived on ‘Garri’ (a staple food) in tough times. Unfortunately, Garri is no longer cheap. According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), a kilogram of Garri cost N145.3 in June 2019. By February 2024, the price jumped to N723.45 per kg. That’s an increase of about 700%!

Other food items like beans have also become more expensive. In 2019, beans cost around N382/kg. By February 2024, the price shot up to N1,177/kg. Bread prices have also increased by almost 500% in the same period.

Transportation: Transportation costs have also surged. In February 2019, the average bus fare was around N1,541 for intercity travel. By January 2024, it increased to N7,577 for the same trip. This is almost a 600% increase. Even short rides, like the tricycle from the school gate to the department, have jumped from N100 to N350.

Clothing: Buying clothes has become much more expensive for students. Jeans that used to cost N4,000 or N5,000 in 2019 now cost as much as N25,000. Online shops like Jumia show jeans priced between N15,000 and N40,000.

Rent: Housing is another big cost. Government accommodations in universities can’t house all students, so many live off-campus. Near the University of Lagos, rent ranges from N300,000 to N500,000 per year, which is nearly ten times the country’s minimum wage.

Printing Paper: Students need to print a lot of papers for assignments and projects. The cost of 80gms Double A copy paper is now about N45,000 on Jumia. In 2012, printing a page cost around N4; now, it’s up to N20 per page. So, printing a 100-page document, which used to cost N400, now costs N2,000.

Sanitary Pads: The price of sanitary pads has also risen. In 2019, they cost around N300. By April 2024, the price had escalated to about N850, which is more than a 250% increase.

How to Budget Amid High Living Costs

  • Cut Luxury Expenses: This is not the time to spend on luxury items. If you can’t afford the latest phone or a trendy wig, don’t buy them. Focus on essential needs, which are already expensive.
  • Stick to a Strict Budget: It’s really important to have and follow a strict budget now. You can no longer be carefree with your spending. Plan every expense carefully.
  • DIY (Do It Yourself) Solutions: Look for DIY options to save money. For example, if you need a phone stand, use a couple of books. Instead of eating out, cook your meals at home. This will save you a lot of money.
  • Plan Your Trips: Transportation costs are very high, so avoid unnecessary trips. If you can sort out issues over the phone, do that instead of traveling. Minimize mid-semester trips and consider going home only during breaks.

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