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How to live through and survive a recession 

Months after Nigerians are drowning, struggling to stay afloat in this mind-bending recession, two ministers (Kemi Adeosun, Finance and Udo Udoma, Budget and Planning) in the last 24 hours have finally admitted that we are indeed technically  in one. The denial of many months has given  way to facing reality after millions of our  compatriots have lost   their jobs and humanity, finding it difficult to meet basic obligations, with companies, big and small, downsizing and closing shop.

Since a recession “is the shrinking of a country’s gross domestic product, which translates to the reduction in the value of all the goods and services produced each year”, many were astonished that the Muhammadu  Buhari administration could not acknowledge the economic misfortune for this long.

It had long been apparent that there “is a decline in economic activities lasting more than a few months”, what Nigerians wanted was the resolve to address this recession and ensure that the damage is minimal, with a clear cut and publicized programme of recovery.

The three major characteristics of a recession had stared at us for several months. No one can pretend that : 1. Companies have generally witnessed reduction in profits; 2. That unemployment figure is rising beyond reason; and 3. There is decline in investment activities.

But how can Nigerians live through this recession which may last till 2017 and 2018 (recessions usually last a year or two, and they are economic cycles which happen every four to five years, or at best every seven to eight years)? What can you do to keep sane, alive and well, and ready for the next cycle of prosperity?

Here are a few tips :

1. Acknowledge the difficult times – That is the very first step. Accepting that we are indeed in a recession and it will have wide ranging effects, both on the country and your household, is the beginning of living through it with eyes wide open and all our senses sharpened and creatively looking for solutions.

2. Put your family and associates on the same page – Have a heart to heart discussion with everyone that will be affected in your household or business that a recession is here. Explain its characteristics and effects. When everyone knows what it is about, and how they will be affected, when the effects land on their table, they already know.

3. Reduce spending, especially on non-essential items – Money will be hard to come by, so you have to reduce expenses. Stick to basic things that you can not do without. Forget extravagance and concentrate on what really adds value to you life and your household. And if you can, buy non-perishable items in bulk.

4. Be positive and keep your spirit high – This period requires you to be in top shape and good health because the challenges will test you. You cannot afford to be sick or depressed. You must keep hope alive. After all, recession only lasts two years at most, unless the government abdicates responsibility.

5. Be better at your job – Millions will lose their jobs, but there is always a place for the conscientious hard worker who goes beyond the call of duty . Who walks the extra mile, smiling and positive and upbeat. This is not the time to slack. Get to work earlier than schedule and leave later. Do the job of two people and stay honest. The first to go are those who don’t add value and are difficult to work with. Save your company money by being inventive.

6. Learn a new skill, increase your income stream – Always step up, improve your game and do something that can bring extra income. There are many things a thinking man and woman can do. Be engaged in other vocations outside of your regular work. You can farm, bake, design clothes, teach…

7. Keep saving – In bad times and good times cultivate the habit of thrift, saving and investment. You cannot tell how bad things will get, but with your savings you can wade through horrendous periods better. Save like a squirrel.

8. Pay debts and renegotiate difficult ones – Debts will accumulate when you fail to service them. So, pay off the ones you can and negotiate others. Don’t accumulate new ones. Live far below your means, and you will be surprised how little we need to survive.

9. Enjoy simple pleasures – You can have rollicking good times with so little. There are many activities that require nothing or so little. There are parks that are free, beaches to explore, long walks to ease tension. For a happy person, simple activities multiply joy.

10. Network with friends and family – Mixing puts everything in perspective. It grounds you and situates the challenges as being widespread and commonplace. It is a recession, not a personal misfortune. So listening to  others experiences and how they are coping helps.

11. Always have a Plan C and D – Challenges come with a lot of surprises, so develop contingency plans and work scenarios out on paper and in your head. Preparations go a long way.

– Agbolade Owolabi

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