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.

Image Source: Unsplash (Actual interview subjects are anon*)

After 30 years at the bank, Mr Patrick* retired in 2014 and moved into his house in Warri, Delta state. He shares what led to his early retirement, how his friend ghosted him after an investment deal and putting his children through school on an epileptic pension supply. 

Occupation and location

Fabric trader in Warri, Delta State 

Average monthly income

It’s hard to say because the market isn’t fixed. But he gets about ₦30k in a bad month — which has been the case for most of 2022 — just enough to reinvest in the business. The only money he’s sure of is the ₦51k pension he receives every month and ₦588k in rent per annum. 

Monthly bills and recurring expenses

Feeding: ₦40k on average. His wife assists with this most times. 

Fuel: About ₦20k, subject to the frequent hikes in fuel prices. 

Data: ₦5k

Transportation: ₦13k

Electricity: ₦6k. His two tenants jointly contribute ₦4k to the bill sometimes. 

Savings: ₦15k

How did you meet your wife? 

It was in 1992. I was ready to settle down, and a relative knew someone they thought I’d be interested in. I reached out to her. After a year of talking and getting to know each other, we got married. We’ve been married for over 27 years now.

How were your finances at the time? 

I was a bank worker for a long time, in different roles with different pay, so I can’t remember. I do know that in 2008, my salary was about ₦135k. The naira was still good then, so I had enough savings from that to buy land in three different areas. 

How much did the lands cost? 

I got one for ₦1.8m and the others for about ₦350k each in 2008. But I’ve had to sell two of them — one in 2015 for over ₦2m, and the other for ₦3.5m in 2017. Oh, I forgot about the land on which I built the house we currently live in. I got that for ₦600k. 

Why did you sell the other two?

In this Buhari’s Nigeria? I had three kids in the university, and with the bank retiring me two years early, I had to look for a means to survive. Retirement age is supposed to be 60 years, but mine came at 58 as punishment for a fraud case I was associated with in 2014. 

I was the operations manager, and the head of funds transfer embezzled a lot of money using my password. We were close — family friends even, so it would never have crossed my mind to suspect him. It wasn’t until the internal department in charge of records went through the books that they discovered ₦4.4m was missing. The money had been taken in bits stretched over a year. When they traced it, the evidence led to us. They arrested both of us, but I was let go after he confessed that he did it on his own. 

Why were you still retired? 

For allowing someone else use my password. So while he was sacked and had to refund everything he stole, I was retired early and stripped of ₦3m worth of incentives. 

How did your wife react? 

I’m blessed to have a partner as understanding as her. And my kids are really great too. Everyone understood money wasn’t as available and adjusted. My wife is a businesswoman — she sells clothes — so she had to heavily support the family during the two years that followed. When our second child gained admission into the university in 2015, things were really hard, and she had to sell her gold necklace to assist with the fees. 

How was life post-retirement? 

It came with its challenges. In May 2014, I decided to invest ₦2m in my friend’s fuel station, and he was supposed to pay me ₦150k monthly for three years. Less than two years after we started, he fell ill and had to travel out of the country for treatment. I understand it cost him a lot of money. But the money stopped coming in even after he came back. 

Ah. Why?

He kept saying business was bad and there was no money. When I noticed he was avoiding my calls, I travelled to meet him in Edo state. Sometimes, after plenty begging and chasing, he’d send some money. He became a prayer point in my house. 

Did you have a contract? 

Yes, we did. But I couldn’t involve a lawyer because everyone knows going to court costs money I didn’t have. So I let it go. I don’t hold any grudges. Like a few months after the bank incident, my former colleague reached out to ask for forgiveness. 

What do you do now? 

I run a fabric business. When I started in 2016, business was good, but with how bad the economy has been, my business has suffered greatly. People are working hard just to make ends meet, so they’re not thinking of getting new fabric. Sometimes, I go a week without selling a thing. Still, I open shop Monday to Saturday just in case a customer comes. Some months, I could get orders to supply a friend for an event, and the profit would be about ₦50k – ₦70k. Part of the money goes back to the business and shop rent at the end of the year.

And your wife? 

She still sells women’s clothes from home. Most of her customers are either regulars turned friends or are referred by friends, so they meet up at our house when she has new stock. When they’re not buying on credit, they pay the money in small bits like they’re paying for crayfish. According to her, she makes about ₦80k – ₦100k profit on ₦200k stock. She used to get a ₦28k monthly pension, but that stopped coming about two months ago.


Do we know? When the money comes, we rejoice; when it doesn’t, we’ll be fine. 

Besides housekeeping, how do you spend on relationship sturvs with your wife?

I buy her catfish barbecue. It costs about ₦3k, and she really enjoys it. So I get it on birthdays or give her between ₦5k – ₦20k to buy something for herself when I make good sales at the shop or whenever money enters my hand from rent or cash gifts. We go out sometimes, but it’s mostly with other married friends, so I spend less than ₦15k. 

That’s nice. What does your wife do for you? 

On birthdays, she cooks like it’s Christmas — rice, chicken, drinks for the house. My 60th birthday though, she also got a cake and invited our friends over. When I asked how she funded everything, she said the kids helped. 

So you don’t really buy gifts for each other?

When things were better, she’d buy me perfume, a watch, clothes or whatever she thought I needed. Even then, I mostly gave her money because she’d rather buy what she wants by herself.

Do you have joint investments or accounts? 

We’re very transparent with our finances, but we’ve never tried to put our money in the same place. The only thing we do that’s close to a joint account is our monthly osusu with a couple of other people. We contribute ₦15k each. 

What about your kids? 

They’ve long graduated from school and are working now. They don’t ask for money. Maybe it’s because they’re doing okay for themselves, or they don’t want to stress us. But they even send us money. This year, they put us on some sort of monthly allowance — sometimes ₦30k, sometimes ₦50k. It helps around the house. 

Do you have a financial safety net? 

Not exactly. I still have two plots of land in Warri and family land in my village. But that’s all. 

What’s your ideal financial future? 

Future? At 63 years old, it’s hard to have plans for the future. I hope both our businesses pick up, my children become successful in their careers, and the economy becomes favourable for us to afford more land, vehicles, and investments. 

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.



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.