What Happens When That Job Goes Away?

I see men and women in their late 50s who are still working their asses off one way or the other because they have loans to pay off and mouths to feed and because their savings over the years have not gotten them anywhere. They’re barely surviving.

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I haven’t written anything of worth in a while because I have been, supposedlytied down with work. It has been so tedious and strenuous for the past couple of months and I’ve told myself that it is for good reason—it allows me to live a portion of the lifestyle that I want for myself—and thus necessary to my daily evolution.

I get home stressed and tired most days, barely having sufficient strength to do much else save to take a cold bath (which temporarily wakes me up) and then watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones or Suits. Thank God for that else I’d feel like all I do is just wake up at 5 a.m., go to work, come home at 9 p.m and then sleep.

What a life that would be!

As the years have gone by and I see those that have come before me and those who are coming into the labour market in 2017, I still ask myself what we are truly struggling for. I have come to believe that this is really the issue of the lower and middle class as those at the very top (and some who own their own businesses) aren’t really prone to this issue. They are pretty much set up. Right?

I see men and women in their late 50s who are still working their asses off one way or the other because they have loans to pay off and mouths to feed and because their savings over the years have not gotten them anywhere. They’re barely surviving. They have dreaded retirement all their lives and now, after all the hard work, time and effort they have put into it, there is nothing much for them to show. The younger ones are constantly doing anything to stay within the good graces of their employers in order not to get a sack letter.

So now the question is, how do we avoid this fear of retirement and being out of a job? How do we ensure that we provide for our—eventual—progeny and ourselves and still live a reasonably good life? The answers I have gotten from various persons include: “invest in stocks, bonds and treasury bills”, “invest in landed properties and/or engage in a side business that brings in extra cash (or being diligent with savings) and hope for the best.”

Which of the above is the right answer? Is there any right answer?

I have an uncle who was recently forced into early retirement because the company he was employed at eventually shutdown. He has three children currently enrolled in tertiary institutions and providing for their education has not been easy on his savings alone. I have seen men and women take insults from those younger than they are simply because talking back may or in some cases standing up said boss might cost them their jobs and they’re not ready to jump into the job market again when they have bills to pay and mouths to feed.

Is this a problem specific to the Nigerian system or is this prevalent across the globe? Is there a way out of this quagmire or are some persons meant to go through this brunt as their cross? What can we do to ensure that we only work because we enjoy our jobs and not because we are out of choices? What can we do to ensure that we retain our dignity and do not fear losing our jobs and the uncertainty that comes with it? What can we do to ensure that when we look back, we will say with all confidence that we didn’t belittle ourselves just to take home a paycheck and we can be proud or where we find ourselves?

I really want to know…

Responses

  1. Wizzlyn
    Changing job in his country is a tough call. Most people are content with living from paycheck to paycheck. Until unemployment, drops to an all time low or employment rises to an all time high, job choices would be a luxury.
    Nothing beats being your own boss but then everyone cant be an entrepreneur nor can everyone be a 9-5ver. Before you become audacious enough to change jobs, bills and responsibilities in an extented familial society like ours comes to mind. Best one can do is stick to the job you have while scouring the federation for better offers. However, i think, everyone should invest and target their golden jubilee for retirement. It’s not easy but i don’t expect to be in Lagos traffic everyday at 50 like i do in my younger life just cos i need the next pay check – that’s not a testimony unless career wise, i’m climbing the ladder and i can see the top or i’m already there.
    In all, it should be because, I wanna work not cos i need the next pay check. When your investment is speaking, the fear of sack doesn’t exist. Fear of job loss exist in 90% of Nigerian employees. Jobs are scarce – bills are pilling. Can’t blame them!
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    1. Osasu Elaiho Post author
      Boy o boy. I think you captured my feelings on this post all too well. I certainly don’t want to be stuck in Lagos traffic when I’m 50 that’s for sure or saying “yes sir” to some youngling who doesn’t even know where I started from. The time to sit-up is now while we still have the strength. God help us and thank you for reading.
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  2. Anita
    I laughed when i saw ‘loans’ cos i was certain you were talking about bankers and are probably one too…..yes/no?

    You have literally mirrored the thoughts/worries that myself and 90% of young people have daily. I think the best option from the 3 stated above to help one break the jinx is getting another source of income. This allows you save a decent amount of your income (maybe 100% of one source) so you can make some solid investments which will = house, bonds, and generally a secure future. Most importantly, you will not walk around feeling like your employer has you by the balls 24/7.

    The truth is, some of us may never get to have another source of income, be our own boss and unfortunately, our salary will never ‘seem’ enough. Life happens and despite our hard work, we cannot control what the outcome of our endeavors to get rich or move up the ladder fast will be. What we can control, however, is the salary we have now. So, make a conscious decision to save more today and although you wont blow in a year, you will definitely have some long term plans which you can achieve using the money you have saved up. Take it one step at a time and you will not be in traffic at 50 or be taking hell from a silly boss cos of ‘loans’ ……so help us God!!

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    1. Osasu Elaiho Post author
      Hi Anita,

      Lol! You guessed it, I am a banker. I’ve been one now for a number of years. You are right that life happens despite our hard work and you are right that some of us may never get a second source of income.

      The thing about saving is that not many of us have a savings culture (I do thank God. A painfully strict one at that). A lot spend their salaries as fast as it comes and some, even before they get it and thus live in a perpetual circle of paying off debts. These are the ones that suffer the most should they ever be out of a job and not have anything to fall back on.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, I enjoyed reading your response.

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  3. Wizzlyn
    Most companies even take advantage of the unemployment rate in the country to pay very low salary or worse leave spaces for corpers to occupy so as to save money.
    On the flip side, why do most Nigerians dream of air conditioned offices with system rather than follow the money. I think what youdo or job title is irrelevant when compared with the income generated. If business will bring more cash – why not. in the end, it is success that matters.
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    1. Osasu Elaiho Post author
      Here’s a question for you Wizzlyn: “can everyone be an entrepreneur and go into business for themselves?”

      Even being an entrepreneur comes with it’s own challenges and not everyone is ready for that. The truth is that for a lot of people (myself included), working in a corporate environment is what we’ve always wanted. What we didn’t expect is to become disillusioned so quickly because those at the top want everything for themselves and put up roadblocks to ensure that it takes much longer for us to take over from them.

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  4. charles
    I believe the answer is doing what you love the most…and when I say what you love, I mean having a skill, something crafty…when one has something he or she can do with their hands… they won’t lack or have the fear of retiring broke or still struggle an old age….. Steve Jobs once say….. ” If you love what you do, you will be successful” and I believe that.. take for instance, majority f our parents didn’t have second means of income, they depended on one…. but what if they had other source of income will they be bothered about retiring with the fear of lack…. NO! I believe in Skills, not just the white collar jobs.‎
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    1. Osasu Elaiho Post author
      Do you fall under this category Charles of having skills you can fall back on? I agree with you but doesn’t this still fall under the category of becoming an entrepreneur?
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      1. charles
        Yes I do Osa….. like 3 skills, and I’m hoping to get more. Yes it still falls under entrepreneurship. God help us all!!‎
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    1. charles
      it’s everywhere Ope…. the 7 – 9 life, but tell me, how long will one live that way…. 10, 15 years ? A woman came to my former office to sit for a CBT banking exam… and after she passed the exam…. she told me “son, I’m tired of the banking life, I want to live different that I have gave the banking industry 17 years of my life”…. I was like wow!!… now imagine how many years or 5am – 8pm she had… ? ‎
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