#HustleStory: From Working 2 Jobs in Nigeria to Almost Getting Broke in the UK

#HustleStory: From Working 2 Jobs in Nigeria to Almost Getting Broke in the UK

In this episode of #HustleStory, Tee talks about how he had to work in 2 jobs while in Nigeria and saved for his school fees in the UK and how he eventually became broke after moving to the UK. After moving to the UK, he’s had to juggle 2 jobs whilst being a student. He shares his story of how he’s hustling every day to build a financially secure future for himself. 

Hustle Story series is a dedicated effort to capture and share the financial journeys of immigrants in the UK and Europe. By highlighting the diverse paths immigrants take to achieve financial stability, OhentPay aims to empower and support prospective immigrants.

How did you financially prepare before moving to the UK?

It was quite stressful in the sense that I practically started saving two years before travelling. I wanted to travel to the U.S.A. initially and I had applied to a school there.  I had passed the first stage of applications and it was the last stage for the board management to decide on the international students they were going to admit into the school but they told me that my application was unsuccessful. 

After that, I moved back to my parents' place. I stayed with my parents for two years and I didn't have a life, so shuffling between work and home in Lagos, Nigeria was all I did. I was hardly going out, so I could save almost everything I was earning as I wasn’t paying for rent.

I also picked up a second job because inflation was happening. I worked in a financial institution and understood how inflation affected foreign exchange rates. I only attended one event per year because I was trying to save, so I was only spending 25,000 - 50,000 Naira per month. I also only used public transport all through, except on some occasions when I had to take an Uber to work and my company paid for all of that. So basically, I didn't spend money on anything and I can say that what I made for say one month could save me for half a year. That’s how I prepared to move to the UK.

Can you share your experiences with your first job in the UK and the salary they offered you?

My experience with my first job in the UK was basically in and out in the sense that when I came to the UK, I had enough money, so to speak, and a certain amount of money that I had projected that I was willing to spend. I'd saved my entire life while working 2 different jobs in Nigeria so I had my entire tuition fee as I was coming to the UK.  

I was living with a family member when I came to the UK, but I needed to get a job immediately. After 2 months, I still had no job even after sending out over 80 applications but I got no response from any. I got a care job eventually but something happened and I couldn’t take the job anymore so that was very frustrating. 

Along the line, the Naira started increasing and I had to pay my school fees even while I had no job in the UK. I was broke in the sense that my transportation to school per day was about £25 per day, and I was going to campus twice a week. I also had to do different things, so roughly I was spending about £50 per week and it was not sustainable for me because I still didn’t have a job and Naira was increasing anyhow. And along the line, my Nigerian job had to drop me.

I eventually got my first job as a support staff, helping people with learning disabilities. This was officially my first job in the UK and it paid £12.50/hour and I was working for 20 hours a week as an international student. I was being paid a wage, because I didn’t consider what I was earning a salary. 

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What are you currently doing to earn a living and support yourself?

Currently, I work a remote job in the US. So basically what they do is they contract me with people who have startups who can afford to pay big bucks. Once in a while, they give me jobs to do for them, say running ads, marketing campaigns, running automation, and I do it at a fraction of the original amount it is supposed to be. 

I also still work as a care worker and I earn £13.2/hour and I work for 20 hours a week. I currently have done HCA training, so I  can work in NHS roles and I do support and care work as well.

What do you allocate to bills (rent)? How has this changed over the years?

I do the 50-40-10 rule when it comes to allocating bills. I now rent an apartment because I don't stay with my family members anymore, as I had to move to a different city in the UK.  I pay 50% of my income and that's £700 for accommodation, while I save 40% and 10% is miscellaneous. 

How do you go about savings and investment, how much are you able to save, etc?

I have answered how much I save currently in the previous question, but let me get into the details more. I always save 40% of my income no matter what and I don’t touch it. So I have two different bank accounts, I have a bank account that I spend from and another bank account that I have never transferred money from. All I do is send money to the account constantly irrespective of how inconvenient it is. 

At the end of the week or month, if I do not spend my miscellaneous money, I move it back to my savings account. I don't use the extra money for anything because I don't have a life in the UK yet. I just go from class to work. All my classes are currently online, and I go to work and focus on my other work when I have a task sent to me.  

If you could go back, what would you do differently in terms of money? 

I don't think there's anything  I would do differently if I could go back in time. Coming from a place where I didn't have a lot of money growing up, having money right now doesn't necessitate me to spend. I didn’t have money growing up and now I currently have a couple of bucks, but that doesn't mean I should spend everything on anything that comes up. Growing up, I understood more of what it was like living within your means, and now that I have some money, it’s more like if you could survive all this time, you can still survive again. I’m used to saving and I’d been doing it while in Nigeria because I had to travel, so this lifestyle is nothing new to me.

So I don't think I have or I would spend money differently or do anything differently. I enjoyed myself within the exceptions but then I knew that I couldn't spend above a particular amount in a month even when I was in Nigeria, and if I had to go out for anything, I’d spend the money I could from my miscellaneous account. Back in Nigeria, I could spend between 50,000- 100,000 Naira in one sitting and people would think that I had money. What they didn’t know was that I was spending the remaining money I had from my miscellaneous account.  

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Now that you’re in a different country from Nigeria, how do you feel about black tax?

The thing is that nobody can tax me for anything. Thankfully, in my family, the only person allowed to tax me is my junior sister. She doesn’t tax me because she doesn't even ask. I send money to her because I understand the situation of things back in Nigeria and the fact that our parents are struggling to pay the outrageous school fees that keep increasing. My parents started by paying around 1,000,000 Naira for her fees and now it’s almost at 2,000,000 Naira, so I understand how hard that is, so I try to send money to her for upkeep when I can. 

Here in the UK,  I don't talk to a lot of people because I have a couple of friends who have travelled to the UK and whenever I initiate a conversation it’s always ‘How far guy, when you dey show for here?’ I don't want that conversation, so I avoid it because I would not show. I don’t show because if I leave where I stay and travel to visit a friend in Birmingham, I will have to spend money one way or another, and that eats into the money I already don’t plan to spend. I’m currently living on a strict budget, so maybe when I’m done with school I will be able to go out and flex more. 

I have a couple of friends who are planning to travel around Europe after we’re done with school. But now that I'm paying £700 for rent I work for 20 hours and my US job is once in a while, it’s hard to travel around with my income. I can't afford to spend money anyhow, and I also have applications to make to extend my visa later on and also proof of funds that I need so I can’t afford to spend money that I get like that right now. So black tax is not possible because, you won’t see me, I hardly post. I hardly do things. So before you see me once in a while it's not possible. 

Do you have any advice or insights for prospective immigrants in terms of financial preparation and job-seeking?

One of the things that helped me is the fact that I did not leave above my means, so I was able to cut costs in the sense that I understand that going out and having fun are essentialities of life, but then you have things that you want to do, you have where you want to be in terms of that. You have to understand that if you do not make that sacrifice, you can't again. And I tell people that they shouldn’t travel if they haven’t fully figured out a realistic way to pay for their school fees.  It will be a big embarrassment to yourself after you've travelled and then you've posted that you’re now in the UK and then you're unable to pay your fee and they have to send you back.

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