A few days ago, I wrote on managing stress and mentioned a pharmacist who took his own life supposedly as a result of debt. It is alleged that he borrowed money to start a business but the business failed and he was still in debt which he couldn’t afford to pay back. This happened in Nigeria and this came as a shock to many. How can a Nigerian take his own life? Many Nigerians believe suicide is an oyinbo (white man) problem – something a black man should never do. But what many fail to realise is that suicide is no respecter of age or race. This issue of suicide among Nigerians has only come to light thanks to social media. This problem has possibly been on for decades but no one heard about it. So yes as humans we have a problem called suicide. We also have a problem called debt which is on the increase thanks to the bad economic situation we all face and our desperate attempt to make ends meet – to be honest, sometimes borrowing money seems like the only solution but it is only a temporary solution.
So I want to look at the issue of debt and the stress it brings. It pains me to hear of suicide as a result of debt because this is something that is avoidable. However, in Nigeria it is a much bigger problem because there are no laws protecting debtors and I am at a loss as to how to efficiently deal with the harassment from creditors but have a few tricks up on sleeves that I hope can help. In the UK, it is a lot easier – there is the free National Debt Helpline (www.national debtline.org) 08088084000 or private debt management companies (they take a charge) who can be the main point of contact with your creditors so you don’t have to face them. In Nigeria, there isn’t much help one can get but I have come up some with ways to ensure you maintain your sanity when you are faced with money troubles.
Before going into debt.
My advice is to stay away from debt. Avoid borrowing by all means possible. You don’t want to be that guy that has sleepless nights or changes his/her phone number every so often. If you really need to borrow money, make sure it’s an amount you can conveniently pay back over a short period of time. Times are hard but don’t make it harder by worsening your financial problems by running into debts. Seek help from trusted family and friends – but please bear in mind that not everyone will be willing to help you. By now you should know who’s got your back and who doesn’t care if your lack consumes you.
If you are already in debt.
Now here is where my focus today is as this is a bigger problem than experiencing lack. The thing is you are experiencing lack and debt which in my opinion is a deadly combination. If this is a situation you are in, please take my candid advice.
1. Refuse to be bothered.
Agree a repayment date(s) and plan with your creditors. Make sure this is an amount you don’t have to stress yourself to pay. If you don’t have an income, then what can you really do? As Nigerians will say “I can’t kill myself jare” – Have this attitude and ignore your creditors. Let them write, call, visit, embarrass you, pay the police to arrest you (in Nigeria) but to remain sane, I encourage you to act like none of that is happening but continually work at paying off your debts. Stay positive and have a good attitude – I’m not saying you should fake a smile but do your best to look and feel good.
2. Swallow your pride.
Another important thing I need you to do is swallow your pride. Do you have expensive jewelry, cars or items you can sell? Do you really need all that luxury sitting around and watching you wallow in lack and debt? You probably don’t want your friends and neighbours to know how bad you’ve got it? My dear, push that pride aside and start to live like a human being. Sell off whatever it is you can sell to help ease your money troubles. You will realise how your life and self esteem remains intact after getting rid of unwanted property.
3. Have fun.
Another thing you can do is to try to have some fun and exercise regularly. Exercise has a way of making you feel good from the inside, even if it means you jogging up and down your street. With regards to having fun, you might not be able to afford restaurants, resorts, bars and clubs but you can create your own fun. Go to the beach, have a picnic, visit friends, and remember to laugh always even if it means laughing at yourself.
Finally, I say read your Bible and Pray. As Christians, the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing and to rejoice always (1st Thessalonians 5:16-17). Praying might not seem like the best solution when all hope seems gone but think back at those times you gave up and God came through for you. There is always hope as long as you have your life. Pray and believe that with time your problems will be gone. God encourages us to be strong and courageous, never be afraid for He is always with us and will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Are you wondering if these points aren’t far fetched? Can you really do them you may ask. Well, you have to do what you have to do to stay alive and sane. I welcome your comments whether you are in support or not or if you have any real life experience of dealing with debts in an impossible situation / environment.