Let me start this piece with a common saying on social media. If you are in the habit of complaining people are stingy, it might be an indication that you are begging too much.
Well, much has been said about people in the United Kingdom being tight-fisted. To a large extent, I am of the opinion that this is true and could be attributed to some of the reasons explained below:
The United Kingdom just like most Western countries has embraced individualism. The system of every man for himself. In Africa, it is collectivism which simply means ‘Let’s do it as a family, let’s grow together’ You will hardly see the core Britons help each other financially. They will rather rely on credit facilities from banks, credit cards, and benefits to survive tough financial times. This is unlike Nigeria where ‘billing’ is almost cultural in the 21st century due to age-long systemic poverty.
(2) Littany of lies:
Some Nigerians are in the business of cooking up comprehensive and water-tight lies to extort money from their family members abroad. Personally, I have friends who have abandoned their WhatsApp accounts to avoid hearing countless touching stories from friends and acquaintances in Nigeria. To cope with the virus of lies, people in the UK have adopted a firewall to block all intrusions.
(3) Hustle is hard:
Life in the UK is historically difficult, and in recent times, things have gotten tougher for the 6th largest economy in the world due to the growing population, Brexit, COVID-19, and other issues. People work round the clock, under extreme weather conditions, to earn money and the cost of living is too high. As of 2020/2021, employees were chasing people for jobs. Two years later, the reserve is the case, even in the blue-collar jobs industry. So every penny counts. You don’t want to make money only to play a Father Christmas to someone whose financial challenges might not be genuine.
This topic doesn’t require much explanation as this is a paramount issue in the UK. Any sort of comfort you enjoy in the country is taxed. It runs a service-based economy. I have seen people earn about £3,000 gross salary in a month and get a net pay of £2,300. Income tax, National Insurance, and pension deductions took about £750 which is more than the salary of a successful person in Nigeria. Rent, council tax, loan repayment, vehicle insurance, and others would further beat your take-home pay until it struggles to take you home in the end.
(5) Personality traits
Some people are naturally stingy. In fact, they even struggle to spend their own money on themselves. It appears they might be of the belief that the funds could be taken with them to the great beyond. I have a friend who has no record of helping anybody in the history of his life and he has no plan to turn a new leaf. People like these come to the UK and become hardened in the area of stinginess.
(6) People are broke:
If poverty in the world is being measured by raw cash and not access to food, the UK might be one of the poorest countries in Europe. Most people have to overwork, to the detriment of their health to make extra bucks. This is why some locals see the paper chase as a rat race and they prefer to stay unemployed and focus on benefits from the government. Furthermore, the housing crisis in the UK is real. As a family man, 70% of your monthly earnings easily go into accommodation costs. This makes life mentally stressful and frustrating.
Anyone looking from the outside is easily deceived by the glossy pictures, nice clothes, and lovely locations they see on social media. This set of people constitutes the ‘God When Squad’ – a popular faction in the Nigerian social media space.
Osahon George Osayimwen writes from Sheffield, United Kingdom.