The topic of how young Nigerians navigate romantic relationships with their earnings is a minefield of hot takes. In our Love Currency series, we get into what relationships across income brackets look like in different Nigerian cities.
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24-year-old Feyi* has been dating her boyfriend for six years. They met in 100 level in 2017 and survived university as a couple. In 2022, they have limited incomes, but Feyi is confident they’re set for a comfortable financial future. Read her #LoveCurrency below.
Occupation and location
Hairstylist in Ibadan
Average monthly income
₦30k salary. She also sells wigs on the side, and on a really good week, makes up to ₦50k in sales. Monthly sales can take her total earnings up as high as ₦250k. But on average, it falls closer to ₦100k.
Monthly bills and recurring expenses
Data subscriptions: ₦18k
Food: ₦30k. She gets free food from her employer but has to eat out sometimes when there are delays.
Miscellaneous (includes black tax, vanity purchases, self-care, etc): ₦50k
Boyfriend allowance: Minimum of ₦15k. He’s still in uni, and she’s already working
*No rent because her employer provides her with accommodation
How did you meet your boyfriend?
We met on a group chat while we were trying to gain admission into university in 2016. He was always putting mouth in everything in the group. Me, I was always like, “What’s wrong with this one sef?” He slid into my DMs one day because my profile picture was a baby — he loves babies. We started talking, and I got to know he was at Yabatech and doing an internship. He wasn’t even expecting to get admitted into OAU, but eventually, we both did. We got along really well and started dating officially when we met on campus.
How were your finances then?
I’d already learnt to make wigs. I’ve always been a hustler, to be honest, so I’ve always had small change in my pocket. My boyfriend earned ₦7k from the internship, but he’s also into graphic design and did freelancing gigs, although his money wasn’t as steady as mine.
I also made wigs, which wasn’t as popular in 2017 as it is in 2022, and earned ₦3k in profit per wig. We didn’t have much, but we lived within our means, and people thought we did. When his ₦7k came in, he’d buy foodstuff, and when you have food, nobody will know you don’t have money. I’d also cook in my hostel and take to him.
Ahn ahn. Campus couple
Yes o. Six years is not beans. I’ve left him there sha. My course was four years while his is five. ASUU is just doing him anyhow.
So you don’t live in the same city
No. I only recently moved to Ibadan because I was tired of all the Lagos stress. Plus, my current job in Ibadan promised the same pay but with free accommodation and feeding. Even when I lived in Lagos, we only saw three times. He’s currently on an extended industrial attachment at a startup firm in Magboro due to ASUU strike. I was living in Igando and working at Ikotun. It was still a long distance.
How did you guys run the relationship sturvs?
I used to work six days a week at a hair salon and have my off days on Wednesday. When I wanted to see him, I’d give my boss an excuse to move my off day to that weekend. I’d tell him I was ill or having cramps or that I needed to see my parents.
Lying to go and see man
LOL. It’s not easy jare. And this “seeing” takes serious planning ahead because we couldn’t just stay indoors looking at ourselves after so long, but we also don’t have much money, and my boyfriend is extremely meticulous with spending. No penny leaves his pocket without being accounted for, while I know how to spend. That’s why I think we’ll make a good husband and wife.
Tell me about the last time you saw him
We met in August , and he paid for everything. Of course, I had my money ready, but I didn’t even touch it. I was surprised because he only really spends on necessities. But he’d been saving for the last two months and really wanted to see me, so I lied to my boss as usual. I think that one knows it’s man I want to go and see sef, but he won’t say anything.
My boyfriend also does interior decor, and earlier, he’d painted my boss’ salon and earned ₦25k from it, after transport and feeding expenses. When my boss opened a bigger salon, my boyfriend got the contract to paint it and received ₦150k. He renewed his rent on campus and invited me to spend the weekend with him in Lagos. He booked a hotel for two nights (₦10k per night) in Ogudu. The first night, we ate at The Place (₦4k). The next night, we went to dinner and spent ₦15k.
He took danfo back to Ikorodu while I took Uber (₦2,500) to Igando. It was the most expensive date we’ve had. Usually, we go sightseeing and do things that don’t cost much but still helps us make memories. The Ogudu stay was our last date before I moved to Ibadan.
How much does your boyfriend make in a month, on average?
About ₦70k. Added to his monthly stipend of ₦20k, he does graphic design, charges about ₦5–7k per design and can get up to five gigs in a month. He also paints rooms (₦10-15k per room) and does interior design work (upwards of ₦20k).
What kind of conversations do you have with your boyfriend about money?
It’s usually about the way I spend. I can’t lie. I like nice things. I like to reward myself. Sometimes, I feel like he should understand because I don’t pressure him to buy me these things. He should be happy I’m spending my own money but he keeps telling me to save more. Sometimes, I agree with him sha; I’m trying.
How much do you save on average, per month?
I put ₦10k in a savings app. LOL, now that I say it, I’m not proud of myself. But I’ll start saving more now that I’m in Ibadan, since I’m not spending much on transport and my employer provides free accommodation and feeding. So help me God.
Have your spending habits ever caused problems?
A lot of times o. In fact, it’s even the cause of our major fights. I can’t count how many pairs of heels I have, but when I see another colour or style that calls my name, I’ll want to buy. He’ll now be saying that I should’ve saved the money. I dont like when he does that. I know he’s trying to look out for me, but I should be allowed to spend my money anyhow I want. It’s not easy to make it.
Anyway, sometimes, when I’ve squandered my money, it’s him I fall back on. I won’t ask him o, but he’ll know his girl is broke. So he’ll have to take out of his savings or deprive himself of some things just so he can come through for me.
How do you guys resolve such conflicts?
I can’t bear to fight with him, so I usually apologise and promise I won’t do it again. And then, he’ll be like, ehn, he knows I’ll still do it o, but it’s not like he’s not telling me not to buy things, but I should buy things I don’t already have. That one is not even possible. Ehn, I have wig now, but what if I want another colour? I’ve tried to hold back, and I’m still trying sha.
The funny thing is when I give him random gifts, he doesn’t complain. Imagine o. If I see something I know he’d like, I’d buy for him. And they’re usually expensive because how much am I earning? If I spend ₦20-30k on a man, I count it as expensive. He won’t complain; he’ll collect it. If I now spend like that on myself, problem.
I think the reason he doesn’t like me spending so much is because he doesn’t have plenty money himself. He’s still in university, and it’s me who normally sends him money. But I feel like when he’s done with school and starts making more money, he won’t bother me so much.
Do you have a financial safety net?
Yes. I saved ₦120k last year in a locked savings app I can’t access until the next two years. I’m on track to reach ₦240k this year. I’m saving to open my own hair salon, and from my research, I need at least ₦500k. ₦250k should get me a room and parlour self-con in Ife for a year. I already have most of my equipment; I just need a salon chair (₦50k), washbasin (₦30k), mirror and interior decor. The money will get me started, and as time goes on, I’ll put more things in place.
I also have kolo for rainy days. Anytime I sell one hair, I save ₦5k from my profit. That one, I can break it if I ever get stranded.
What’s your ideal financial future as a couple?
One where we’re both earning enough to comfortably sustain us. My boyfriend’s handwork promises to give him a lot of money. Mine is also promising. We don’t have to be stinky rich; I just want to be able to afford as many wigs and shoes as I want and decide not to go to work and not feel guilty.
When my boyfriend finishes school, I know he’ll build something for himself. It’s just money to start that’s the koko. If he has a day job and an interior decorating company on the side where he can even open a store to stock decor products. It looks very lucrative and I see him as a rich man in future.
If you’re interested in talking about how you manage money in your relationship, this is a good place to start. We’re willing to keep your identity anonymous.