Surviving on a Tight Budget: The Story of Tikya Kofi Highlighting the Challenges of the Average Ghanaian Teacher

This is the story of Tikya Kofi a newly employed Diploma Graduate.

He takes home 1500gh each month after all the necessary deductibles are deducted. He has a wife and two children- a son and a daughter.

Tikya Kofi decided to apply his mathematical knowledge in spending and preparing his budget. He divided his take-home by the days of the month. He realized 50gh per day.


Spending beyond this threshold means bad news for him. After tracking his spending routine, he realized that each member of the family spends an average of 10gh each day. The remaining 10gh goes to cater for utilities and other expenses.

He was living simple normal life until few months ago, his daughter got seriously sick. He went for a loan of 5000gh to take care of the medical bills. This truncated his take-home from 1500 to 1100.

To keep up with the simple life, he started going for salary advances (Overdraft) to complete the months. He wondered how he was going to undertake the building plan he had.

He successfully spent all the money he managed to save towards his further studies. He also wondered what he would do if another problem with such gravity should come his way again anytime soon.

The story above is what I call, salary as a “Maintenance Ration” or “Hand to mouth”.
Only keeping body and soul together but when storm blows, the story changes for a long time, if not forever.

As we grow, our problems grow with us, often disproportionately while the salary crawls behind.

This is the story of a typical Ghanaian teacher. Those without dependants may have slightly different story which may appear to be a little better until the dependants arrive.

Those who have extended family to cater for in addition to their nuclear family have worst stories to tell. Averagely, Out of every ten teachers, at least 8 are on loans. Eget, why.

Fact is;
1. Your employer is not paying you and your family. You are being paid as an individual for the service you render. There’s nothing like “payment by family size”. If it were so, those with more dependants would receive higher salaries.

2. You might be struggling with finances. Bit the amount you receive is not entirely the issue. It is the size of your problems. Someone somewhere is taking half of what you’re being paid and he’s doing just fine. If you have a way of reducing your problems, do it.


3. No salary can ever be enough. If today, you should get a pay raise to 5000gh monthly, I can bet you will start going to 5000gh market. Your taste will change, your lifestyle will change. Expectations from society will change as well. You will be back to this very place.

4. Yo have to understand that you salary can’t make you a rich. Your employer wants you to live an average life so that you can keep working for him. You are a teacher. Your salary only permits you to live a simple and normal life. You can’t live extravagant life like those you see on TV. If you try, you shall surely remain in debt.

Here are some suggested steps to slowing down how the pressure on you;

1. Spend wisely. Everything you spend on must serve a crucial purpose. You are not under any obligation to impress anyone.

2. Get an extra source of income if you can. If buying and selling doesn’t work for you, learn a skill. Discover your potential. Solve a problem and get paid. Single source of income in this era doesn’t help.

3. Choose a partner who is also earning something or help the set up a business that brings something to the table.

4. Make a conscious effort to live within your means. Be intentional about it. Don’t allow your colleagues or friends give you pressure.

5. If you plan to save (which you should), don’t wait to save what is left after spending. Spend what is left after saving.

6. Take reasonable risks. Do due diligence before venturing into any business. It’s difficult to come by capital, make sure it counts. Risks are good but calculates ones are better.

7. Extend arms to friends and extended family but wisely. Don’t do it for good name outside and be starving yourself and your nuclear family at home.

Congratulations! you made it to the end of this long post. May God give us all ideas that will lead us into financial liberation.

Hon. Jerry Akporhor- Lead Educator- Informed Teachers Network (ITN)


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