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 41-year-old OAP who took several loans to get her ex a house. She talks about enduring the abusive relationship and the struggle to pay back the loans without much help from him.
Could you tell me your worst money mistake?
In 2014, I took multiple loans for the man I was in a relationship with. When we met, it wasn’t love at first sight. But that same week, oga was already telling me that he loves me.
I had just come out of a relationship, so dating wasn’t on my mind, but he seemed like a decent fellow. He doted on me and was everything my exes were not. I think that was all a part of his plan.
What plan was that?
With time, the real him started showing. In just a month, he changed drastically. He was short-tempered and was cutting me off from friends. He didn’t want anyone around me.
That sounds abusive.
It was. He could shout at me anywhere. Then he’d tell me it’s because he cares about me. In the past, my friends have said that my rigidity was the reason none of my relationships lasted.
That made me determined to make this one work. I wasn’t enjoying the relationship, I saw the red flags, but a part of me was optimistic that he would change.
No, he didn’t. After a while, he started asking me to send him recharge cards with the promise of paying back, but he never did. It was the days of BlackBerry, so I’d send ₦3,000 for his subscription.
It didn’t occur to me that he could be broke because he could dress very well. One would look at him and never assume that beneath all of that was a broke man.
Did he have a job?
He told me he was his church administrator, and they paid ₦50,000. At the time, I was earning ₦150,000, and he was aware. That was how he graduated from asking for recharge cards to calling me on the last day of the month to ask if my salary has dropped.
What did he want to do with this information?
He was calling so he could borrow. He’d ask for about ₦20,000, and I’d send. There was a particular month I needed to take care of my brother’s school expenses.
He asked how much I wanted to send, after telling him, he went, “Ehn, you’ll have some more money left.” I asked what he wanted me to survive on if I gave him what was left. He assured me that he was there to take care of me.
I ended up giving him the balance after sending my brother money.
How much was the balance?
It was almost ₦100,000. He said he needed a new phone and would pay me back. I had to use the funds from my side gigs to survive that month.
When was the big money mistake?
He complained about accommodation problems, how the people he was staying with were disrespecting him, so I advised him to get his own space. He agreed, and we went house-hunting together.
When he found a place he liked, he asked me to go to one microfinance bank and take a loan for him. I told him that I was already servicing a loan from another bank, and I didn’t want to take any more loans.
How much was the apartment?
It was over ₦400,000. I ended up applying for a soft loan from my office. I got about ₦200,000. Around the time, the bank I took the initial loan from alerted me that I was eligible for a top-up loan, so I took another loan from them.
The microfinance bank came to my office, and I took a ₦150,000 loan. As I took these loans, I was updating him. I gave him the money for rent, and I furnished the house with the loan.
What do you mean you furnished the house?
I felt this was someone I was going to build a life with, so I went all out. I got brand new appliances, rugs, furniture, everything. Even the paint on the walls, I took care of that.
How much did the furnishing cost you?
It ran into over ₦300,000. The loan I got from the first bank was about ₦450,000. I had factored in my own project when I took the loan, but he didn’t even let me do any of my projects.
He’d come and say, “Oh, we need these things for the house,” and I’d withdraw to do those things. We ended up spending all of the money on his house.
How did you service these loans?
I couldn’t keep up, so I kept defaulting on all the loans. By the time, I had taken about four loans. I was worried, and it began to affect my health. I couldn’t even afford my rent.
It got so bad that they were sending their loan agents to my office to look for me. The bank used to take a chunk of my salary to service the loans. One month I got paid, and they cleared everything. It was humiliating.
Did your boyfriend offer to pay off these loans?
No. He blamed me for taking the loans. He said he was warning me about the consequences, but I didn’t listen.
I had to talk to an aunt of his. After much persuasion and so many excuses on his end, he paid ₦85,000 within three months. Then he stopped altogether.
When I confronted him, he flared up that I had reported him to his aunt.
How much was the total debt incurred?
₦850,000. I was able to clear it up in early 2015.
Were you guys still in a relationship at this point?
No. We had broken up. After fixing the house, he told me, “Thank you for everything you’ve done. God will bless you with your own man. I think the reason God brought us together is so we can help each other.”
What the hell? Do you know why you stayed for so long?
The things my friends said stayed with me. The way I was blamed for my past failed relationships shaped how I interacted with my partner. I was ready to do whatever it takes to stay in the relationship.
Do you have any regrets?
I regret meeting him. I had a feeling things were off, but I just wanted to have someone. I couldn’t understand why my relationships failed, and I felt it was my fault. That made me ignore all the red flags.
What’s your biggest lesson from all of this?
Never compromise yourself for anyone’s happiness because they will never be satisfied.