This paper exploits original data collected in Benin, using both income and expenditure at the individual level. We provide evidence suggesting that husbands and wives do not pool their respective incomes and thus do not make expenditure decisions on the basis of a common budget. As corroborated by numerous anthropological accounts from West Africa, husband and wife are secretive and individually allocate their personal income to private and public goods. We describe a non-cooperative context that enables us to predict the determinants of spouses' patterns of consumption. Our empirical results confirm that spouses' financial spheres are, to an extent, disconnected. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.