It would be rare to find one medical student, near graduate, who does not have this plan as regards the one year of housemanship. It would be considered being directionless or in fact, with no future ambition if it is not at the back of your mind that the housejob year is the year to save at least N1M.
This is because, for most of us doctors, the housejob year is our first time of actually earning a steady, sumptuous salary, thus, the first time we can really take some sustainable action about our savings. This statement does not in any way include those guys who are on their ‘2nd, ‘3rd, or whatever other number of housemanship.
The day I heard people actually go for housemanship more than once just for the money was when it was reinforced in my head that money is a terrible slave master. These people are willing to go through the stress and other negatives of housejob just to have some extra cash in their bank accounts? Not even because they want to hone some skills or get some extra learning? It be things, mehn.
And this saving goal from housemanship does not apply to those already steady in the ‘PP’ arena (Private Practice). These ones were already reaping some fruit of their labor somewhere and should have done a bit of saving. And lastly, this does not refer to those who were already involved in some form of profitable, consistent business.
Point being, for the average medical student experiencing the outside, adult, earning life for the first time, there is this lofty goal of saving at least N1M by the end of housejob. The reasoning is simple; save N100, 000 each month and by the 12th month, the total would be about N1.2M if no month is skipped. It actually sounds simple and achievable. How hard can it be to save N100, 000 monthly?
Well apparently, very hard!
I conducted a quick social media survey, focusing on doctors that just completed housejob and many of them could not reach that goal. In truth, few of them got up to half of it. I’d be outlining some of the reasons why here:
Reasons why some did not meet the target…
1. First time earners with ‘freedom’ don’t really think of saving first: The average houseofficer is firstly just amazed that he/she is the sole owner of such a huge amount of money. “WOW, all this money just for me?!?!?! Is this a dream?” And in this dream state. They would step out just to breath in the evening air and come back with half the amount left in their bank accounts. Of course, they would express surprise and bewilderment at how fast the money disappeared but in the first months, they would not really be bothered. That’s how they missed the chance to get their first million via housejob. As a dear colleague said,
“If housejob was up to two years, most of us won’t start saving till the 10th month after we have purged ourselves of our financial foolishness.”
2. Quality over quantity: For most of us, this year, we had to change our priorities from having more of things to fewer, more durable, trustworthy and premium quality things. We started to see the importance of things being steady and being there to fall to always. And this is expensive. So, we had to ensure our phones were top notch because no one would believe your phone started hanging just as your attention was needed at the emergency. Query letter stat! We had to ensure our laptops were ‘normal’ enough to help us read up on topics, do some research and type up presentations, type up morbidity and mortality data and other things that you’d need to do at odd hours so as to meet up with deadlines. You really don’t want to find out the owner of the only cafe in your area has gone to get married the morning you have to get some unit data to your consultant. For the females, most of us had to get proper wigs. I mean wigs that all you had to do was brush them, slap them on and you’re good to go for the whole day and more. Many times, we would have been complimented on how good we looked before they go, “Is that a wig by any chance?” At first, some of us were not willing to disclose such female military information but as time went on, we figured, “HEY, I bought this thing with my hard earned money and it has been saving my neck and head, I should be proud of it. I should be able to stand up for it to anyone and at any time.” So, we started most responses to compliments with, ‘Oh, it’s a wig you know, thank you…”
3. “You know what? I really, seriously, honestly, cannot come and go and kill myself”: You see, after the initial gragra about housemanship being the year of millions, you are hit with the work load, dying patients, terrible call hours, unkind senior colleagues, misunderstanding among colleagues, failing healthcare systems, poor health and lifestyle and you just realize, “YOLO. In this life, I cannot come and do more than myself”. So, when the salary alert comes in like this, you are ready to… splurge… anything to take your mind off the realities of work and the helplessness of things. You are unable to put yourself through the restraint and sort of ‘parental/adulthood’ control of saving again. You console yourself with how hard you’ve worked and all the things you’ve gone through and how you still have some months ahead to meet the target.
4. Exams: Just in case you did not know before, many of these doctors do not intend staying back in Nigeria. And with the advice and prompting of friends, family, some senior colleagues, they have already started the journey towards leaving. They have written IELTS (hopefully just once), registered for PLAB or USMLE, enrolled for one expensive tutorial or the other, entered the Canadian Express Entry crowd and are not sparing any kobo in their pursuit of a better life. People took other courses outside of medicine, some within medicine but outside the country via online routes and paid good money for them. Oh, and if we put other payments into consideration; permanent license, ARD duessssssssss… well, you get the picture.
5. “You are now an adult, go into the world and do exploits”: For some people, the moment the employment letter came through, they were shoved into adulthood and independent living by their parents, family and relatives. While we do want to be seen as adults, we were not ready for the sudden cutting off we got. No more, “Oh, I have a daughter out there who is new to this adulthood thing, maybe I should send her something light.” In fact, we were turned to benefactors overnight. While we would want to give back to our parents and even help out some other family members, we were not bargaining that those things would come at our own detriment. So, we had to bear the cost of all things we needed, especially for those who had to go to new environments and totally strange lands for housejob; rent, bedding, furniture, repairs, electricity bills, transport for the leggediz–benz gang and fueling, maintenance and repairs for those with vehicles and of course, food, without which most of us would have evaporated by now. Most of us spent a huge chunk on eating out because cooking was another luxury we could not afford. I remember one of my friends lamenting about her newly cooked stew which she had not warmed in days because she had been unable to get back home to it.
6. Ego: Now, while some people were forced to embrace the adult life without being prepared for the withdrawal symptoms, some people willingly forced adulthood on themselves. Things they could have reached out to their parents for help, they decided to wrap their agbadas round themselves firmer and clamp their mouths shut. They would have gotten instant and bountiful cash if they asked but as one of them said,
“A man’s got to be strong and know how to manage his finance”.
Well, while it meant more financial confidence and independence, it also meant more responsibilities… sometimes beyond their capabilities.
7. Unexpected expenses: As we are still humans, not immune to the circumstances of life, some of us had to field some unexpected happenings… some of them too huge to capture in this article. From the sicknesses we thought minor but ended up tearing our bank accounts apart to the hospital admissions, stolen gadgets and property, death of loved ones and in some cases resulting in the premature elevation to breadwinner and other things we could not have factored in while starting housejob. Some people lost their lives during this housejob, so, whatever they could even save … amount to nothing in the end. May their souls rest in peace.
But, hold on, some people met this target, right? YES. A senior colleague said…
“N1Million is very possible during housejob. I saved N85,000 monthly for 12 months.”
So, how did these people achieve this? And for future houseofficers, you may want to take note…
The Housemillionaires speak
1. Delayed gratification: This is a recurring theme with all the Housemillionaires. Many of them decided to postpone some purchases. As one of them said, “Didn’t buy unnecessary stuff during housejob… things I wished to buy. Although, I started buying them now after housejob but I just wanted to meet the target first.” Another one, a guy said, “Saved aggressively in the first six months and only bought clothes and other stuff later on.” Another guy corroborated the not spending on clothes part by saying, “I didn’t do that (buy stuff)… hell, I just bought new shoes this year since 2018… three new shirts only.” These testimonies go to show that with strict policies/rules on spending, especially in the first half of housejob, reaching the N1M target can happen. It can occur. It would not be easy. It would take a lot sacrifice. It would hinder your wilding and detty plans. It would limit your big boy/girl lifestyle. But, it would give you a very good start towards saving a very good amount before housejob is over. As one of them said,
“Now, even if I don’t get to save much again (but I’ll still do), I think I am satisfied with what I have done.”
2. Marriage: Okay, this can bounce both ways. But, I decided to add it to this part because three of the Housemillionaires are married ladies. This does not mean they did not have things to spend on but they had some other backup coming from their husbands. As weird as it may come to some people, especially the guys, it only applies to married females. At least, no married houseofficer/medical officer came forward as a Housemillionaire. So, I think it is safe to assume that being married during housejob only serves as a financial cushion for the wives. A particular Housemillionaire is described thus, “… she saved up to N1.2M… her husband is rich sha.” So, if you think you won’t be able to save otherwise, find yourself a rich… RICH husband and get married. Don’t say I did not do anything for you.
3. Group targets: “If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go with someone.” When there is a group of same goal oriented friends who double as accountability partners to one another, it makes the goal more achievable.
I am not saying y’all should start an ajo or anything of the sort, I mean, you guys being on each other’s necks to watch your spending and do more about your savings. “It was realistic… at least with my circle of friends during housejob. We met the target.” If you can find one or two people who would go with you against the pressures of the former part of this write up to ensure you meet the target, hold them tight.
4. Business: Brother, sister, don’t dull ooo. Find some other hustle. My other hustle was supposed to be this writing but I let myself slack in its pursuit. I was supposed to field many writing projects and it was one of the motivating factors for purchasing Chekwa. But, I did not maximize that at all. I mean, I could not even uphold commitment to my blog. Anyway, people held their businesses to their chests during housemanship and it sure paid off for them. “… I had to travel to Ibadan every two weeks to keep the business running.” I know people who were selling things and were not quiet about it at all. One that readily comes to mind is Papaz Style. I don’t even want to imagine how much money he was and is still making from selling ties, cufflinks, brooches, socks and wristwatches. And don’t let me even go into Genteel by my sweet Ibilola. She was sewing owambes clothes and making good dough. SELL SOMETHING!!! So long as it is legal and sits well with your conscience and is not harmful to others. I know of SUVO who does voiceovers for adverts and I’m certain he is not doing them all free.
5. Investments: “I bought treasury bill, made forex investments…” See, these things are not for the ‘rich’.
And this is not an aspire to perspire then acquire talk. It is something you can do. Find legitimate means of investing a steady amount of money and watch the rewards come in steadily too. Thank God for apps like PiggyVest, you can do the whole saving and investing without stress while your interest piles up.
In all your doings, I will advise that you have a separate account for this target, preferably one you don’t have easy access to because, trust me, you would be tempted times without number to just… let go and let’s spend. It takes a certain mindset and sticking to a lifestyle. “I saved 100k monthly with doctor’s welfare and learnt to live with the little I had left.“
YOU CAN DO IT TOO!
However, do not be so bent on reaching the target that you put off other important aspects of your life. Like a colleague said,
“What is the point of saving N1M and ending up squandering it all in the post housejob or peri-NYSC stage? Don’t just keep the money, let your money be invested and this includes investing in yourself.”
Thank you for your responses.