What We Learned (About Money) From Taking Cabs For A Year

Note: The city is Lagos, the year is late 2017 to late 2018 and the cabs are Uber and Taxify.

Taking cabs is convenient, maybe too convenient.

You download an app and just like that, you’re ordering cars to your location like pizza.

There’s no haggling over change (usually), no strangers other than the driver, you enjoy comfortable seats, space and cool air, you don’t even have to say anything if you don’t want to. It’s so, so good.

But that’s not the full story of moving around in cabs. Here’s what you should really know:

1. You have a lot until you don’t have enough.

Convenience is easy to justify when you’ve just gotten paid, but that’s also when your finances are most vulnerable.

It starts with one unplanned trip, swapping a public bus for the isolated comfort of a backseat ride.

Sure, you’re tired, but aren’t you tired every other day?

When paying for convenience becomes a habit you cannot afford, it’ll eat so deep into your money that you may not even be able to afford mild inconvenience after a while.

2. Things add up.

Logically, cabs are best for short trips: even if there’s a traffic jam, it won’t add so much to your bill.

But even short trips add up, and if you take them often enough, your bank account could still take a hit.

For example, five short trips at 500 naira each add up to 2,500 naira. Comparatively, the same number of trips by bike or auto rickshaw (keke to the rest of us) cost less than a third of that. Just saying.

3. Comfort is relative.

Seriously, it is. For sure, no one would pick being stuck in a space with strangers over riding alone in peace, but there are ways to teach yourself a little endurance for the sake of your finances.

Not everyone you see on a bus cannot afford to take a cab, some have chosen to sacrifice a short-term pleasure for a long-term financial benefit.

It’s not always so terrible. On the bus, you can listen to music, read a book (for your safety, not on a mobile device) or take a nap if you can. Anything that will distract you from the discomforts of the ride and help you pass the time is welcome.

4. People will help you save.

Or people’s cars, if we’re being precise. We’re talking about carpooling, as in sharing a ride with other people. You can take a cab together and split the costs or offer to contribute to fuel a personal car. With boundaries respected, carpooling can be enjoyable and great for saving money.

5. Discounts save lives.

Not quite, but you get the point: chase those discount codes like a lifeline. 2,000 naira off a trip makes a world of difference. So does 750 naira off eight trips. There’s no shame in the discount game.

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