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.
Susan* (28) and David* (30) have been together for over five years and have been married for less than six months. During this time, they’ve relocated to the UK. In this article, she talks about her small wedding, relocating on a dependant visa and how they’re surviving as a young couple in a new country.
Occupation and location
Customer sales representative living in the UK
Average monthly income
I make about £200 weekly, so that’s £800 or £1k if I work extra hours.
Wristwatch gift: ₦20k – ₦25k
Random food surprises: ₦5k
Surprise dinner: ₦212k
Birthday shoes: ₦40k
Kaftan: ₦20k – ₦25k
Occasional flight to Lagos: ₦60k return ticket
What takes the most money in your relationship?
Flights. When we were dating, we lived in different cities — Abuja and Lagos — so one person constantly had to make the trip if we wanted to spend time together. However, we couldn’t make the trips all the time. There was one time we didn’t see each other for a whole year.
It was in 2019, the year after we started dating.
We first met at a wedding in Lagos, but we’d been talking for nearly a year after being matchmade by a mutual friend in 2017. Between talking for long hours every day and being busy with work, we didn’t realise so much time had gone by. But once we did, we started planning to see each other. I spent the whole of 2020 in Lagos because I got a fashion design scholarship. Also, there was the lockdown.
What about the lockdown?
It was the best time of my life. My classes were at walking distance from where I was staying in Ikeja. My cousin’s husband, whom I was living with also had clearance to move around, so he’d drive me to David’s place at Festac, and I’d spend a week or two there.
Our relationship got really serious during this time. We talked about our plans; marriage, kids and all that stuff.
I returned to Abuja in December 2020, and he visited in July 2021. He was still working remotely due to COVID, but I was back to working from the office, so I’d leave him at home with my mum while I went to work.
It was nice that I didn’t need to be around before they bonded. He stayed for about a month before he returned to Lagos.
At the end of the year, I flew down to Lagos for his birthday. I wanted to do something special — a surprise because he always surprised me with gifts on my birthday. So I spoke to one of his close friends and invited his other friends for a surprise dinner. The budget was ₦200k, but we spent an additional ₦12k. I also got him mules which were about ₦40k.
That’s a lot of money
I know. Gifting is my love language, so I like to go all out. I see something nice, and I want to get it for him. It started with watches; I got him one for his first birthday since we got together in 2018, and another because I had admired it on my coworker. Each costs about ₦20k – ₦25k.
But I noticed he wasn’t a fan of wristwatches, so I moved to shoes. They range between ₦40k- ₦50k. I also used to surprise him with food or cakes from my chef friend. They were always within the range of ₦5k, and sometimes I make him kaftans. I usually don’t make clothes for men, but I do it for my man. So I have to buy the fabric, which costs about ₦20k.
I’ve learnt to pay attention to the things he needs or spends time admiring online. And living with my parents also made all these easier because I wasn’t paying rent; my only expenses were buying some self-care products, paying tithe, savings and spending on David.
Before I met him, I was very reckless with money. I figured the money would always come, so I made money for spending. I wasn’t scared of going broke because I always thought it would be temporary if it happened.
Exactly. But David taught me how to put money aside and live on a monthly budget. I started saving ₦60k from my ₦100k salary.
More than half your salary?
Asides from my 9-5 job at a dental hospital, I was making up to ₦200k monthly from my sewing business, so it didn’t hurt to save.
By 2022, I was confident in my skills and knew it was what I wanted to do, so I quit my 9-5 to focus on sewing. My income increased to ₦300k – ₦400k in a good month, and I started saving and investing more.
MAD. And you still decided to japa?
I’ve always wanted to leave the country. I just wasn’t interested in going for a master’s. So when David first discussed his japa plans with me and offered to study while I joined as a dependent, I agreed.
How did that go?
The process was pretty seamless for me. He had gotten admission for his master’s, so he did all his preparations while simultaneously planning for our wedding. He travelled a week after our church blessed our marriage. I started my process after he arrived in January 2023, and it took a week before it was approved. I travelled in March to meet him.
How much did this cost?
I don’t know how much he spent on his end, but I only paid ₦1m for my flight ticket. He paid ₦100k for the agent fee.
What about the wedding?
We didn’t have a glamorous wedding. In February 2022, he proposed on a dinner date we were having with some of our friends. We had both our court and introduction in October 2022 and went to church in January 2023. My village doesn’t require the whole traditional ceremony, so he had calculated everything on the list, monetised it and paid in addition to the bride price. I have no idea how much it cost.
We had just a few people at our court wedding, so he ordered food for them. We didn’t have a white wedding because throwing money at a party and cooking for a bunch of people seemed like a waste to me. We just did church blessings and went to a restaurant with our friends after.
That’s so chill
I made all three outfits, so the only money I spent was on fabric, which was ₦15k – ₦20k per outfit. I don’t think I did anything that made a hole in my savings. But I can’t say the same for David.
Asides from our wedding expenses, he had travelled about three times to Abuja for me and our wedding. And since flight ticket prices had drastically increased in 2022, he was spending nothing less than ₦100k on each return ticket.
I agree. Occasionally, I offered to take care of some of the hotel bills when we had to lounge in one because we wanted our privacy. They cost less than ₦50k.
Fair. What’s an ideal date for you?
We both realised early in the relationship that neither of us liked going out. So when we are in the same space, we make out time to watch a movie every night. And it’s become a ritual for us. After dinner, we choose a movie – an oldie or something new — and watch it together.
What has changed since you relocated?
It’s beginning to feel like we’re a married couple. I have my own pots and a kitchen! Even after the court wedding and introduction, it still felt like we were dating because we spent limited time together, but now it’s different. Nothing has changed in how we treat each other, but we’re settling into this new life together.
He pays the rent and major bills from what he makes from his part-time care job. And I’ve become more prudent with money. Some days back, we saw a nice hoodie on our way home, and he was considering getting it for me, but I told him it wasn’t necessary.
Awesome. Do you have a financial safety net?
I have about ₦2m saved in my naira account. We plan to start a joint savings account once I fully adjust to the system. I’ve started to sew alongside my job — £100 per outfit. Hopefully, the orders become more frequent.
What is your ideal financial future?
I want to be able to buy a house in the next two to three years, in the UK, Canada, Nigeria, wherever we find ourselves. I also want to have enough money to help people around me whenever they need it without batting an eyelid. I think the same goes for David.
But for long-term goals, he’d want us to travel the world.
If you’re interested in talking about how money moves in your relationship, this is a good place to start.