Do Family Obligations Prevent Nigerians from Saving Money?

Whether you are a Nigerian living in Nigeria or in the diaspora, you probably know someone who sends money regularly back home. Of course, if you live in the diaspora, you are likely to use services like Western Union, Money Gram, etc.  What the money you (or that person you know) send home is used for is not necessarily what they "told you" they needed it for.

Note: If you are building a house back home or ever plan to do so, do NOT send money to your relatives or friends to oversee this project.  It is in your best interest to do it yourself, or else you'll discover that your money has been used to fund several weddings and house-warming ceremonies.  And the foundation has not even been laid yet.  A word is enough for the wise.

Back to our discussion.

Family obligations come in different shapes and sizes, but they tend to have the same "flavor", i.e. the money is needed urgently and more than likely, the requested amount is over $ 100.  They include: school fees of relatives, healthcare and general upkeep costs (especially with respect to elderly parents), ceremonies, owambe parties, maintenance costs for family-owned buildings, and other "allied" matters.  Feel free to add your own to this list.

While I am not trying to make jest of genuine expenses and needs, which people rely on family members to provide, I am concerned with how much is set aside for savings. If in addition to regular expenses like food, clothing, shelter (rent or mortgage), utility bills, etc, a person has to add family obligations to the list, just how much is left for that person to save?  I would imagine that the answer to that is "not much."

The Pastor of the church I attended while I was in law school gave this recommendation on how to allocate your income with respect to savings and expenses:

Tithes:    10% of income
Savings:  10% of income
Expenses: 80% of income

This allocation poses several problems, none of which I am prepared to launch into today.  My question though is this:  For the average Nigerian who is responsible for providing for the needs (or wants?) of other relatives, do these obligations reduce the money that should go towards savings? Are Nigerians generally good at saving money?

P.S. This problem is faced by many immigrant families, not just Nigerians.

*Image Source

Eh! Yes, yes, yes!!!! I've seen people go into debt because they are sending money back home. Not like it's a bad thing o but even if we need to divide our salary into: tithe, savings, investments, bills and BACK HOME MONEY then let's do that but everything should be done with reason biko.

I think saving is should take a higher priority. No matter how small, save something. As for those people they are sending money to, why can't they just work?

I am someone who has almost all my extended family outside Nigeria, and no one sends me or any of my nuclear family a dime. We don't even expect them to. Apart from aged parents, everyone should get up and work joo.


I like this topic, and I think you should expand on it some more Relentless! I don't think sending money back home prevents one from saving, (although I guess it depends on how much you're sending!) but it obviously does reduce how much one can save. We could argue till the cows come home about whether certain money requests are genuine or indeed even needed, but there are obviously occasions where one needs to make adjustments in the budget for 'sending money back home' or just helping out family / people as the case may be. I'm not so sure about your pastor's recommendations but I read somewhere and the principle suggested was to tithe some, save some, spend some and give away some. In my case, apart from the tithing, the amount allocated to the rest is up to me. If I want more money in my savings account, I put more money in my savings account! p.s. I love your 'note' by the way!

Nollywood Reinvented: Going into debt to send money home is more common than people realize. Same thing with borrowing money to fund visits to Nigeria. Those costs add up. I think it comes down to trying to put up a certain image of "prosperity" to family members back home. But at what cost?

Atilola: I have no idea o! You know I have heard Americans ask immigrants why they send money back home. The concept is simply alien to them. I agree with you: apart from aged parents, everyone needs to work.

Free Truths: Thanks a lot for the encouragement o! I will re-visit this topic and treat it in greater depth later, as per your request.

Meanwhile ...

Good point, as per sending money home definitely reduces how much a person saves. My (former) pastor's recommendations poses several problems e.g. how can you spend 80% of your income? Sounds troubling to me. What about retirement, investment, etc? But even as strange as that recommendation looks, some folks don't even save the recommended 10%, meaning they spend 90-100% of their income!

I definitely support saving more, but it also means cutting more expenses. I don't consider sending money home a necessary expense unless it is for the upkeep of aged parents like Atilola [@@ilola] pointed out.


I would love to hear your thoughts. Please Share.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...