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.
When Titilayo* met Edwin* in 2015, she was fresh out of NYSC and splurging her salary on clothes. But since they married in 2019, she’s become obsessed with saving. In this article, she tells Zikoko how she’s surviving on only ₦300k out of her ₦1.3m monthly salary while earning more than her partner.
Occupation and location
Tax consultant and accountant living in Lagos
Average monthly income
₦1.3m net salary; an average of ₦2.5m in annual bonuses.
Monthly bills and recurring expenses
Feeding: ₦200k. She mostly buys food in large bowls from restaurants.
Black tax: About ₦20k
*Her husband covers most of the household expenses such as rent, electricity, DStv, and the likes.
When was the first time you discussed money with your partner?
During the four years we dated, we were very transparent with our finances, but it wasn’t until 2019, when we got married, that I started to emulate some of my husband’s financial habits.
Saving! Before we got married, I used to spend over half of my salary on clothes while I struggled to make it through the month with what was left. It wasn’t until our wedding in 2019 that I started to see the importance of savings. Because even though our families took care of a fraction of the wedding’s cost and I paid for a few things, he’s the major reason we were able to have the wedding of our dreams.
First, how did you meet your partner?
I was fresh out of NYSC, and looking for a job that’d pay me well, when a friend of mine said he knew someone who could get me into the Big Four. He linked me up with Edwin, who in turn spoke to his uncle at a Big Four, and helped me secure a job. After I got the job, he’d call to check on me. He was also an accountant, so he’d ask me about courses I took — he showed genuine interest in my career. A couple of months later, he asked me out, and we started dating.
How was that?
It was nice. From Edwin’s ₦176k salary, we’d go on restaurant dates at least. He’d gift me ₦30 – 40k on my birthdays, Valentine’s and Christmas. He even got me a Samsung phone that cost around ₦40k four months after we started dating.
What of your salary?
I got him some small things, but the only thing that stands out is a Valentine’s package I got him in 2018 that cost ₦25k. My salary was for me, LOL. After spending about ₦80k on clothes, I’d have to manage the ₦49k left from my ₦129k salary or the rest of the month.
It still surprises me how I moved from being obsessed with spending money on clothes to being obsessed with saving.
What do you mean?
When my salary increased to ₦340k, I started to save ₦200k. When I got to ₦500k, I saved ₦350k. Now, at ₦1.3m, I save ₦1m. I think I can do this because I’m married, so I have someone who takes care of most of the household expenses.
He pays ₦650k for rent, and ₦175k for our son’s school fees. In addition to monthly expenses like electricity, DStv or any other minor expense around the house.
How do you do relationship things now?
Between our busy schedules and our son, we don’t go on as many dates as before. In the last six months, we went on three dates, and I paid. Previously, he would pay, but immediately my salary got to ₦800k in 2021, he stopped. On an average, our restaurant dates cost ₦40k, so it’s not as expensive.
We usually go for a mini vacation in December. Edwin gets us a shortlet here in Lagos for a couple of days. The change of environment is nice. We spend most of the time indoors then step out to try out a new restaurant.
I was having such a nice time being in a different space, that I tried to convince him to let us stay two days more. But considering he had also paid four days at ₦65k per day, he said I’d have to cover the expenses for the extra days, which I did.
We’ve never celebrated an anniversary, and on birthdays, we do the same thing for each other — get a cake, food and friends. Basically, have a small party.
We don’t do gifts again, but I give money on random occasions. When I got my 13th month in December, I gave him ₦150k.
How much was the 13th month?
It was ₦980k. In 2022, I got ₦2.5m in four-part bonuses spread throughout the year. It’s from there I buy personal things for myself, send money to my parents and keep emergency funds.
Do you guys have conversations about money?
Because Edwin earns ₦880k, the pay gap is pretty obvious. Whenever I complain about him not chipping in with the feeding, he reminds me that he pays for most of the recurring expenses. He also gets upset when he thinks I’m splurging because I don’t have to pay bills. Sometimes, I wish we could switch to when he earned more.
It’s a big responsibility being the higher earner because even though I currently hate my job, we can’t afford to lose it. I make a lot of money, but it’s not showing because a chunk of it goes into savings — we’re trying to get a property, and it’s ₦25m.
Has your husband considered working with the Big Four?
Working with the Big Four is a lot of work. As you can imagine, the plenty money they’re paying you is in an exchange for your sweat and blood. Watching first-hand how draining it gets for me is enough to discourage him from wanting to try it. I’ve thought of quitting a couple of times, but I can’t pass off that money.
Do you have any other investments together?
Nope. I suggested a joint account the year we married, but Edwin wasn’t sold on the idea. He said I’d put ₦5k monthly while he put ₦10k. But that barely lasted a year.
Do you have a financial safety net?
Not really. I have ₦15m in savings, but since it’s for our property, I don’t think it counts. I try to keep a separate savings in my PiggyVest account, but honestly, it has never gotten up to ₦1m. The ₦700k I’d gathered was depleted last December. During the holiday, I sponsored a trip with my siblings and another with my husband. I gave my sister ₦150k for a new phone and gave my parents money. It’s just ₦300k left now.
What’s your ideal financial future as a couple?
If we can reach the pinnacle of our careers, we’d be very fine. I could go on vacations, change my car and just enjoy the baby girl lifestyle.
What’s the pinnacle?
I’d become a partner — last I heard, they earned ₦3m net and profit sharing of over ₦100m. While my husband would be CFO, I think. We just need some divine intervention that’d achieve this in five years time.
If you’re interested in talking about how money moves in your relationship, this is a good place to start.
Read the other Love Currency stories here.