Not to sound like an annoying feminist, but a woman with her own money is everything! For as long as I have known myself, I have never been one to look to boyfriends or anyone else really, for sustenance or financial support.
I won’t lie, I have fantasized about dating a rich uncle who would cater to all my needs or having an “Otedola-like” sugar daddy (even though the giving of sugar thing has never been easy for me) but truth be told, a man can leave, get sick or become disabled, lose their source of income or even die at any time.
My drive for financial independence came to me as a child. Growing up, I watched my mother and step-mothers swallow a lot of things -which they could have defied or refused- in their marriage. Notwithstanding the dictates of our African tradition as well as the general expectation of submission from wives, I knew these women were actually forced to stomach it all in silence; as housewives, they were completely, financially, dependent on my father. Do not get it wrong, my dad was not entirely the worst. In all honesty, he was a better man than most men born in his generation; yet, I saw enough to make me take a vow at about the age of twelve to never be like any of his wives.
The truth is, we may be in a different generation today where the female folk have more liberty and are presented with better opportunities, but surprisingly, a lot of women -Nigerian women especially, are still in financial bondage. They are trapped and unable to walk out on a crappy job, a boss abusing them sexually, a bitter family friend and her apartment, or a relationship that has run its course.
Last week, I got an e-mail from a lady (I’ll call her Amara) who stumbled upon my article “Your Boyfriend is not your Husband”. In the e-mail, Amara stated that she was guilty of doing some of the things I pointed out in the article. Furthermore, she shared that the boyfriend, who she has been dating for the last 3 years, had recently invited a female colleague to live with them in their apartment, and had even formed the habit of spending their nights with the girl in the other room, leaving her alone in their room. According to Amara, one week after he started doing that, she called him out on it, but he claimed the female friend was going through a painful break-up and needed a male shoulder to lean on. He even went on to assure her that he was not having sex with the girl and that even if he eventually slept with the girl, he would still marry Amara. Amara, 28, admitted she knew she should leave the relationship, but she was afraid to actually leave him as she had invested so much in him already and, she couldn’t even afford to rent an apartment on her own any longer.
In my response to Amara, I asked her to start a “walk-away” fund. I suggested she start the fund by opening a savings account with a basic of NGN100,000 from the money she has in her other account first, then boost the account further by saving at least a quarter of every money she gets from day job and her side make-up business every month; also, she should try to live on a budget, even if for a while and cut down the amount she spends on herself, her boyfriend and in hanging out with friends.
A “walk-away” fund is simply money saved exclusively for the purpose of maintaining your dignity and safety when life unexpectedly throws a shitty situation at you. It gives a sense of financial solvency and ensures that you never have to compromise your self-esteem and personal safety. Basically, with a “walk-away fund” you do not ever have to make fear-based decisions where you sacrifice your morals and your values. The moment you feel emotionally bullied at work, you are bold enough to speak out without fear of being let go in the next rounds of layoffs.You actually stay in your job because you want to, not because you’re afraid. You do not feel pressured to become a “runs girl”, steal from anyone or become any man’s punching bag. Even more, when you get home and the Yoruba demon you call your boyfriend starts to yarn balls, you quickly tell him to shut the hell up or watch you walk away.
Of course, having a “walk-away” fund does not guarantee that you can gloriously march out the door of a toxic situation, but it helps ensure that the door is unlocked, left ajar for you when you are ready. Honestly, the feeling of independence and freedom it gives is priceless. Have you ever been saved by a “walk-away” fund? Please share your story in the comments section.