The topic of how young Nigerians navigate romantic relationships with their earnings is a minefield of hot takes. In Love Currency, we get into what relationships across income brackets look like in different Nigerian cities.
Bayo* is a digital marketer for an insurance company during the week and a photographer on weekends. In this article, he talks about his ₦1m target savings, starting an office romance with his superior at work, and why he’s convinced she’s the one he wants to spend the rest of his life.
Occupation and location
Digital marketer living in Lagos
Average monthly income
I get ₦100k from my day job, ₦500k monthly from photography gigs and about ₦200k from my photography studio.
First date: ₦84k
Subsequent dates: ₦60k per date
Sanitary pads: ₦8500 for a year
Valentine’s Day gift: ₦30k
Xmas weekend getaway: ₦200k. (₦70k for two nights at a hotel, ₦10k for food, ₦8k for smoking supplies, and the rest was for miscellaneous spending)
Hair and Nails: Occasional ₦10k – ₦20k
How did you meet your girlfriend?
We work in different teams in the insurance company. She leads the strategy team while I work in digital. In a sense, she’s my superior; I’d be reporting to her if we worked on the same team. I always thought she was proud because she had this stuck-up behaviour. If we bumped into each other at the elevator or in an office, she wouldn’t say hi or acknowledge my presence. I’d want to say something to her, but she just seemed so uninterested.
Then in September 2022, I had to photograph her at a work conference. During the session, she said she thought I hated her because I was never as pleasant with her as I was with others. I admitted I felt she was rude, and we apologised to each other. The conference was a three-day event, so we spent the last two days getting to know each other. I enjoyed our conversations and the attention which came with her trying to get to know me. But when I asked for her number and she said no, I returned to not talking to her.
Two weeks later, we met at a team hang. I felt we bonded and wanted us to build a relationship outside work, so I asked for her number. Again, she said no.
I decided not to ask anymore and focus on being coworkers. A week after the hangout, she came to my office asking me to take her friend’s passport photograph. I planned to send her the pictures the following day, but she didn’t come to my office for them.
Later that week, she texted me to ask about the pictures because I was working from home. I pretended not to know who she was even after she introduced herself because I hadn’t given her my number. But after a few minutes of back and forth, I sent her the pictures and she paid me for the work.
₦2k. After she sent the money, I decided to send it back to her. She called back, curious how I got her account number. I claimed I was a tech bro, so I knew how to pull technical information out of thin air.
I don’t know anything oo. I use PalmPay, so when people send me money, they let me see the account number.
When I went to work the following week, she showed up at my office. I didn’t pay her any attention because I was busy. Then she started tapping on my phone screen, which was annoying, so I shouted at her. She burst into tears, saying I was constantly being rude to her. I felt bad and apologised for my outburst.
I texted her on Google Teams after she left my office, telling her I liked her. I also mentioned that I didn’t know how to handle rejection, which was why I hadn’t told her earlier.
How did she react?
She seemed surprised but excited that I had confessed to having growing feelings for her. We moved the conversation to WhatsApp, but we didn’t talk frequently. Sometimes, I’d text her, and she wouldn’t reply until the following day.
It was clear that online communication wasn’t working, so I asked her out on a friendly date the next time I was at the office. I clarified that if I did anything she wasn’t comfortable with, she could handle it however she wanted.
We agreed on an activity date on the last Saturday of the month, and on the days leading up to the date, we started to talk a lot. We’d be very professional at the office, but once we got home, we’d get on a call till around 4 a.m.
And how did the date go?
It was so much fun. We played games, gisted and ate snacks. This cost ₦34k. Then we went to a restaurant nearby, where I got a bowl of pepper soup, and she got barbecued fish and chips. The food was so much, we ended up taking the leftovers home. Everything including drinks cost about ₦50k.
I wanted to impress her. Because unlike her who grew up with luxury, I didn’t come from a rich background or have a lot of money. I wanted to show I’d go all out to care for the people I love. This was the start of our love life.
What has changed since then?
We’re both involved in each other’s lives. I tell her everything, and she does the same. I also try to spend as much time as I can with her, even if it means cancelling my weekend appointments so we can go out.
How much money goes into your relationship?
We prefer activity dates with food after, so my budget when we go out is ₦60k. But depending on the location, we go over budget sometimes.
In December, I wanted us to spend a weekend all to ourselves, so I budgeted ₦200k. We got a hotel and paid ₦70k for the two nights we stayed there. I ordered food twice from The Place (₦10k total), got smoke for ₦8k and still went to a supermarket to do some shopping.
Towards the end of 2022, I got her a pack of sanitary pads that’d last a year. I usually do this for any girl I’m dating. It cost about ₦8500, because I just got 12 of them. For Valentine, I got her a gift box of her favourite banana bread, wine, a card, lingerie, a bracelet and perfume for ₦30k.
Does she give you gifts?
For my birthday in January, she got me a Polo Ralph T-shirt, a wristwatch and a pair of Skechers sneakers I’d admired for a while.
I live in Mowe, which is far from most of the fun places, so she doesn’t visit. When we’re not going out, I spend the weekend at her place, and she takes care of me. For instance, the weekend after Valentine’s Day, she made fish sauce, yam, chips and chicken for me. She also spent ₦10k on a bottle of wine.
When she didn’t cook, she paid for the food we ordered. All I did that weekend was eat, smoke and have sex.
Guys know when they meet the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. She is the one. My previous girlfriends always complained about my smoking, but she sees past it and indulges me. Tell me why I won’t take care of her.
Do you have conversations about money?
I’m trying to get her to save more. She currently earns ₦250k, but most of it goes into her bills — her house rent is the biggest at ₦2.2m/year. Her parents assist with some of that, but she still has small bills like electricity and maintenance. I think that’s too much money to pay for a place to stay.
She recently got a job offer of twice her current salary, and I’ve already started encouraging her to live on her old salary and save the difference.
Do you have a financial safety net?
With ₦5m in emergency funds, I have enough to feed myself for six months if I lose my job. I also have life insurance because God forbid I die due to my smoking, and leave my family empty-handed.
I also started a ₦1m target savings with my friends, just to encourage everyone to take their finances seriously.
What’s your financial future as a couple?
We’re barely six months into the relationship, but I’ve signed the marriage certificate in my head. So I’m trying to be intentional about our financial growth. We’re not looking to japa, but I want to be able to afford vacations easily.
I want to take a backseat in managing my photography brand and let my staff do the fieldwork. I want us to start pulling in over ₦7m a month, so I can retire at 40. Unlike me, my girlfriend strives to become a proper boss lady in the corporate world, maybe as head of a financial institution or CEO.
ALSO READ: Dating in Port Harcourt on a ₦249k Lab Scientist Salary
If you’re interested in talking about how money moves in your relationship, this is a good place to start.