How breakups affect women’s finances

Some of life’s best memories are the fruits of romantic relationships, many have argued.  And that is not far from the truth. Romantic relationships, in healthy cases, are portals into overwhelming experiences of love and passion. It creates a utopia where you and your partner are gods, endowed with powers to bring joy to each other’s hearts. Really, it’s a bliss everyone should experience at some point in their lives. But like all things in mankind’s fallible world, romantic relationships suffer, crumble, expire, and die. 

When relationships end—or, in Nigerian speak, breakfast is served—it causes a lot of emotional stress, which easily trickles down to other areas of life. At Herconomy, we are focused on the financial and mental health of women in Africa, so we did some social research on the connection between breakups and women’s finances. 

We spoke to some women in our community, many of whom only realised the existence of such connections as we progressed with the conversation. “I’ve never thought about this,” one said, “And maybe that has prevented me from being proactive with my finances when some of my previous relationships ended.” If, like her, you’ve also never thought about it, you’re in luck today. Here are the stories of three women opening up about their experiences with money, after the blissful couple thing faded away. 

  1. Bridget, 24

Being in a relationship made me spend way too much. I always had to spend extra on my hair, fix my lashes, and get new clothes. Added to the never-ending dates and random but consistent “thoughtful gifts”, I had about 50% of my income going into the relationship. I didn’t mind, to be honest. The butterflies all over my belly were worth the money I was spending. But as those butterflies began to die, I realised I had been a poor saver all along. Right after the breakup, I felt alone, pushed out of a beautiful world I had spent time and resources building. And that came with some urgency for seriousness with my life. One night, I took out my diary and set five life goals. They were SMART goals that I swore to achieve before getting into any new (romantic) relationship. Of course, my savings and financial management went up as a result of that decision. I was also not spending too much on upkeep or new things. My money grew faster, and I was proud of myself. I should add that I’m now in a relationship, and I’d still spend whatever I need to to make me and my partner happy. I guess I can’t change the part of me that sees money as a tool to get what I want. Or maybe I’m just a lover girl. 

  1. Ayomiposi, 32

I went through an incredibly tough time after one of my breakups. My man then was a baller, so we built an ethos of extravagant spending around our relationship. When we went to weddings, he’d slip wads of cash into my purse and hail me as I made it rain over the couple getting married. It was the same thing at the clubs. I’d throw his money in the air and allow Lagos girls scramble all over the floor for it. It made him happy to see his babe “queening”, and I didn’t mind the accolades. In fact, I think I began to enjoy it too much. Too much that I began to ask for “spray money” at events. If he showed hesitance, I’d pull out some personal cash—and his fragile ego would be affected. We finally broke up due to health reasons. It was a peaceful “this cannot work” situation, so we easily transitioned to friends. Then came the pressure of maintaining a lavish lifestyle my income would collapse under. But I tried to prove a foolish point: that I could ball without him (honestly,  who cares?). I continued to throw money at clubbers and couples, and showed off the videos on my Snapchat where I was certain he’d see them. The result? I got broke and often had to borrow. My budgeting became a mess. My savings, non-existent. Those were tough times. It took joining a community of growth-focused women to pull me from that pit. I blocked my ex on social media and learned how to manage my money better. Now I am in control and I run profitable businesses. May the clubbers find another sprayer, abeg.

  1. Tobechi, 29

In my early twenties, I dated a trader that brought in goods from China. His company supplied hundreds of businesses in key markets across Lagos and Aba. I was more educated than him, so I often found myself giving him ideas to optimise his processes. One day, he casually asked me to take over the operations of his firm. “Nne, will you come let us run this thing together? Talk any salary you like,” he said. Excited about the opportunity to work on my terms, I agreed, and doubled my salary. My man was equally excited. He told his accountant to note my preferred salary and send me the cash equivalent every month end as “girlfriend benefits”.  That was how I 4Xed my salary in a month. One year down the line, we broke up. Of course, my job left with the relationship, and I had gotten too comfortable with him that I did not develop my professional skills. The breakup came with the realisation that I had gotten used to an income standard that was not feasible with my skills. I had also started a personal building project that needed funds to be completed. I prioritised that and threw most of my savings there, eventually wiping it out. My next step was to lease the building for five years. That brought in the liquidity I needed to finish the project, get my life on track, and pursue personal development. Now I'm earning more than what my ex-boyfriend paid me, and I have a house in Lagos. Feels surreal. 

Herconomy’s POV

Data shows that women are more negatively affected by heartbreak compared to men. This essentially means that rebounding from the effects of heartbreaks may take longer for women, and could affect their lives and financial health more. As a woman, it pays to be aware of this, so you can—or at least, try to—flip the script if you find yourself in a similar position. It’s also wise to be wary of wasteful financial habits that may be learned from a partner or those sustained from being in a relationship. Financial prudence is a rewarding lifestyle, and a relationship status should not change that. 

At Herconomy, we organise numerous capacity-building and wealth-creation programs to empower communities of women. We have a savings solution; an app we designed to help women grow their wealth. With us, you get 10% interest on your savings and kiss transaction charges goodbye. You can also save with communities of women in a way that enforces your relationships and commitment to financial freedom. Herconomy’s got the solutions you need, We were born with you in mind. 

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