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How Can Nigerian Couples Better Navigate Their Finances?

relationship finance

Since being in the business of starting money conversations, we’ve learnt how hard it is to get Nigerians to discuss their income and finances, especially within the confines of a romantic relationship.

Money is the leading cause of arguments among couples and one of the primary reasons for divorce. In essence, financial compatibility is requisite for a successful, happy relationship. But finances are not a fun first-date topic. Or second. Or third. Something about asking your date how much they make doesn’t mix well with overpriced seafood pasta.

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Even as the honeymoon-phase butterflies settle, and these relationships solidify, discussions about money don’t get any easier. Reading stories of how Nigerian couples navigate money in their relationships, you realise how differently couples view money. 

How do Nigerian couples view money?

Many of these viewpoints are influenced by their financial backgrounds and social conditioning. “I’m the first son of my parents, and I’ve been fending for myself since university,” Jimoh*, a Data Analyst, explained.  “That’s just how I was raised—it’s what I know. When I was dating my wife, she said she didn’t mind contributing to the home. I love her for that. But I believe holding down the home financially is the man’s job, so I ensure she has everything she needs. This is not to say she doesn’t take care of some expenses in the home o; she spends on smaller things for herself and our kids, but I’m in charge of the major expenses. She can keep her money for her own needs.” 

When asked how she views combining finances in a relationship, Onyeka* a content creator, replied, “I don’t buy into that, ‘My money is my money, his money is our money’ stuff. Our cumulative monthly income can be anything from ₦1.2m to ₦1.5m. My husband earns more, and we both contribute the same percentage of our earnings towards our home. About 30% each, toward our monthly budget.” She further related the reasoning behind this thought process: “I just think it’s quite a selfish mindset to hoard your money, especially in this big 2023. But as women, we must also be mindful and protect ourselves; if you have this equality mindset, you must find someone who shares the same values, unless you will lose both ways.” 

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Onyeka made a few solid points. As the dollar exchanges for ₦1,000 on the parallel market, two-income households have become more of a necessity than a preference. Aside from the constantly increasing cost of living, combining finances and applied financial intelligence helps you reach financial freedom faster. The norms have shifted, and so should you. But even among willing couples, combining finances can be complicated.

4 tips for combining finances with your partner

To aid your transition, here are four helpful tips:

1. Have money talks

Honest communication is essential in a relationship, especially regarding money. Before successfully combining finances as a couple, you must first transparently discuss your income and assets. 

Find out each others’ financial situations, habits, strengths and weaknesses. Take this couple, for instance — one person is an expert saver, while the other is a better spender. Listen and speak about your past experiences with money; discuss any trauma or debts you may have. And curb the urge to judge your partner for their weaknesses.  

2. Set financial goals

Before you set goals as a couple, discuss your individual financial goals first. Whether or not these priorities are the same as yours, it’s important to discuss them to ascertain a starting point. Then, find a way to merge these ambitions to channel your finances towards a collective goal.

3. Create a budget:

Budgeting is a step-by-step process, so don’t expect to figure it out on the first try. Part of this process also involves creating spending rules and boundaries, as well as being accountable to each other where the rules might need to be bent.

4. Merge your accounts

It’s also unadvisable to merge your accounts if one partner has significant debt or you cannot agree on the same goals (in which case you should seek professional help). 

Many couples create a joint account to merge their finances. However, the hassle of all the procedures and paperwork may be discouraging to some. Sans joint account, you can try ‘Cliques’ on the Pocket App to manage your cash flow. Just go to Groups → For Boo & I. Group targets are also a fine savings tool to help you categorise and crush all your saving goals. 

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