My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.
For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 25-year-old songwriter who fell in love and had to travel during the pandemic. He talks about funding an impromptu vacation from his savings and the actions that led to him blowing millions in less than six months.
Could you tell me your money mistake?
During the pandemic, I got into a relationship with someone who lived in another state. She lived in Calabar while I stayed in Uyo. We started talking in April, had a lot of phone calls and around late June, I decided to take an impromptu trip to see her. This decision would trigger my impulse spending.
Can you provide context for your spending?
First, I took ₦100k from my savings. The hotel I lodged at charged ₦8k per night, but I got a discount. Then some money went into food. Full disclaimer: I eat a lot; I’m a foodie with my full chest. I was always ordering in from the hotel and you know how hotel bills can get. It was racking up.
The spending doubled when my girlfriend came around. Surprisingly, we didn’t go out at all, but money was just leaving my account. Whenever she needed to go back home, I would send ₦10k for transport, and everybody knows that from point A to Point B in Calabar is not even up to ₦2k.
I was doing all these things so she would find me impressive. I gave a lot of cash gifts, dropped money for nails and all sorts of personal expenses. It was crazy.
So what happened after the trip?
I began to console myself. During the pandemic, jobs weren’t coming so I had no salary or source of income. All I had were my savings, and it was supposed to last for a while. At the time, the trip was about 40% my savings, and as I sat in the cab on my way back to Uyo, I kept asking myself, ‘Bro, why did you make this trip?’
That was when I knew I had messed up big time. I had to console myself, making excuses like, ‘It’s been a tough period, I had to clear my head, I’ll do better.’
LMAO. Did you do better?
I wish. This is where things got worse. Two weeks after my impromptu trip, she came to Uyo and spent a very long time there.
Wait, what? Did she live with you?
No. She alternated between her relative’s house and mine. She would stay at my place for a week and then go back for a couple of days. But it didn’t matter because it was still touching my pocket; I spent so much money during that period.
Could you give a cost breakdown of her stay?
I don’t have the exact figures, but my feeding allowance increased. I was dropping about ₦15k every week for food. Also, we went on a lot of dates, where I had to always pay. I’m not a very outgoing person, so there were days when she’d want to go out and I wouldn’t be in the mood, and I would just give her my card to hangout with her friends.
Other things like clothes for the both of us, getting her hair and nails done. There was a time she needed to buy wigs and I had to foot the bill. This happened twice.
Twice? How much did you spend on the wigs?
The first one was about ₦70k, and it was for a short wig. For the second one, she got ₦50k from me and said she’d add up her money to complete the purchase. So, I ended up spending a total of ₦120k on wigs.
Wait, how much was in your savings that you could afford to spend this much?
At the time she came to stay with me, I got lucky with a few trades I made on crypto, so I had about $3k. That just gave me the false impression that I was good, the money had come and it would keep coming. Even though I didn’t have a salary, it was sufficient to get me through, so I kept spending.
What was the turning point for you ?
It was an expensive lifestyle that wasn’t sustainable. I did a review and in three months, I had spent ₦1.5 million. And it wasn’t just my relationship, I had to send money to my mom, cater for so many personal bills and I realised that I had burnt through so much money without a plan of making it back. There was no inflow at all.
That was when I decided to make a few decisions, one of which was to set up my girlfriend so she could become independent from my pocket.
I had a conversation with her about the situation and, luckily, she was very understanding. We came up with a plan to revive her old food business that shutdown due to the pandemic. We went shopping for ingredients in bulk and made fliers — everything could have been about ₦100k.
But it was worth it because she didn’t need as much money from me anymore. Also, there was a time when I couldn’t spend cash as I used to, and the business sustained us for a bit.
What’s your biggest lesson from all of this?
The experience taught me how to review my finances and check where the money goes. Is it profitable to me and lifestyle? How does it set me back? As a rule, I try to do it every month. Currently not 100% at it, but I do it as much as I can remember.
This has helped me catch unnecessary expenses, especially in my relationships. I remember my mom asking for money to visit relatives back home, and when I calculated how much it would cost me, I started asking questions. The answers didn’t work for me, so I refused. If it’s not important, I cut it out.