Joint Account With The Spouse: To Do Or Not To Do

I read a story about a couple who had a joint account and pooled money into the account without touching a kobo of it. The plan was to go round the world upon retirement for a year and then set up a fast food business and sell the best burgers in town. They were successful accountants and the money was in excess of 250 million naira at retirement. They had the fast food business plan all drawn out and their global junket all planned. The man died a week to the start of their holiday, thereafter the wife used the money to build decent terrace houses on the island and rented them out handsomely. The man’s family suspected foul play.

Recently, a friend’s sister battled a very acrimonious divorce, and she kept lamenting how she wished she had never kept a joint account with her spouse. She also said what led to the divorce what money as he spends more money than her while they kept a joint account. I kept wondering this issue would have been resolved assuming the couples understood themselves or kept a separate account altogether. While many couples today are not keen to have a joint account with their spouses, they think the thin line between love and hate is "Money". Some couples even think that having the same account with your spouse would create many problems and even it might eventually lead to Divorce. While some couples believe that it has strengthened their bond. Some other couples sit on the fence operating both accounts.

Sampling people response to it Abu Idris Ojoogun, a master’s student at the University of Lagos said I have two accounts, a single and a joint account with my wife. I'm not evil, nor is my wife and I pray to Allah that neither of us become evil over money. My wife doesn't get "maintenance money" or an allowance. I pay for everything in the home, so she is maintained. If my wife needs something extra, or would like some extra money for whatever reason, all she has to do is ask me. If the financial capabilities are there, she'll get it, if they aren't, she'll have to wait. She understands me and I understand her. I think it is very important for new couples to discuss this before marriage Mrs Abibat Quadri, a Teacher at the Mushin Community High School thinks that having a joint account with your husband is very risky, especially if access to the account is restricted to the husband alone. She thinks most women make the mistake of allowing just the husband access to the account, both parties must have signatures to the account, if it is done that way I think there is no reason for a couple not to operate a joint account. Mr Muhammed, a pharmacist is of the opinion that separate bank account is the best, he said his wife suggested they operate separate accounts from the beginning and I totally agree with her.

Because we never argue about money and it’s not like we don't have access to each other’s account, and it’s not like my money is strictly my money and vice versa. Mr Kolade Kadri, a worker with the Lagos state ministry of Transportation says I remember a shaykh was asked about joint accounts and he said that in Islam (for issues like zakat) the individual ownership of the money has to be clear all the time, so that’s why couples should not have joint accounts. You can't have joint owners of money. However, the benefits of pooling a joint account is numerous, but it is pertinent to consider what would happen to one's finances if the relationship with the spouses takes a turn for the worse. A joint account is good but it would be better to stay of it to avoid future problems. For example when one of the holders of a joint account dies or in the case of divorce, the account in question is frozen by the Caisse (cash holder or bank). It cannot be accessed until the estate and finances has been settled, which may take weeks or months. And so much money would be wasted on lawyers and litigation.

It should be noted that a joint account should be created when there is absolute trust between the couple. Before deciding whether to have a joint or separate account experts suggest that detailed discussions about incomes and personal financial goals should be made. Couples should take about a lot of things before there union which includes, who will manage the money? And what most of their money will be used for at the beginning of their union. Here are some tips suggested by N.W. Journey for Managing money in Marriage . Communication is key.

Couples should communicate effectively with one another. Effective communication is of paramount importance when it comes to family finances. The management of the family finances must be talked about and agreed upon by the couples. Financial wants, needs and goals must be discussed and agreed upon. Communication is the key to agreeing and it should be frequent between the partners. Managing Day-to-Day Finances Effectively Second, one of the partners in marriage needs to give up control to the other partner to handle the day-to-day finances. This does not excuse the other partner from contributing and to participate in the weekly/monthly money meetings. However to cut down on confusion between partners, one partner should be responsible for working the day to day finances of the family. This is an essential part of couples that have good marriages and manage their finances successfully.  This would require trust, communication and understanding between both parties.

Be Debt Free Or At Least Minimise Debt Successful married couples have little or no debt additionally, if they have debt, they have a plan for tackling and paying off their debts. They are successful at managing their money and that is why they do not have any debt. They agree the debt is not good and are working together to eliminate it. These couple have decided together that they are going to get rid of this debt and they have developed a plan to get out of debt. These couples are working the plan together and are accountable to each other for results. Living Within Your Means Couples that have good marriage and manage their finances well are frugal and live within their means. The word is not cheap but frugal. Frugal means economical in use or expenditure, prudently saving or sparing not wasteful. These couple are working together to get the best deals on items they want and need and careful not to spend money wastefully.

Additionally, these couples also live within their means. They do not buy stuff they do not need or they cannot afford. Couples that have good marriages and are successful at managing their money communicate effectively about money. One of the partners have given day to day control of finances to the other to stop confusion. These couples have little or no debt. And if they have debt they have a plan to eliminate the debt. Lastly, these couples are frugal with their money and they live within their means. I would like to end with a comment from J.D Roth an author he said “I love my wife, and believe that maintaining separate finances has strengthened our relationship, not weakened it. But that might not be true for you and your situation. If you and your spouse are happier with joint finances and if it strengthens your marriage, then use joint finances. But don’t combine finances just because you think it has to be done that way. It doesn’t.

What’s most important is honesty and communication. Any system in which the partners are open about their money habits is a good one. However, it is pertinent to note that Almighty Allah encourages us to live in peace and tranquility with our spouses. As evident in this surah: “And among His Signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect. [Qur'an 30:21] May Almighty Allah bless our spouses and make them the coolness of our eyes. Ameen.

If you are a man would you have a joint account of all finances with your wife or keep it separate so you can control the money and give her maintenance money according to the nikaah contract? If you a woman would you be okay with your husband having his own account as long as he pays you reasonably for your maintenance? Or would you insist on a joint account so you have your name on all his finances (and house) as well? 

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