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Fountain of Life with Taiwo Odukoya: Maintaining Joint Accounts

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It was a heated argument in my office between this young married couple. The young lady had come to see me with her husband for what she said was a threat to their marriage. I was a little worried because they were very committed church members and had been married for just two years. As it turned out, it was all about money. Specifically, it was about how the man was handling the money in their joint account.

They had decided that there was no point having separate accounts after their wedding. So they opened a joint account and both closed down the separate accounts they had operated prior to their wedding. Unfortunately, the man was not so prudent with money, and had practically shut her out of their finances. All entreaties to let her have a separate account had fallen on deaf ears. No longer able to cope with the situation, she opened a separate account and that was the beginning of her troubles.

To have a joint bank account or not to have a joint bank account – that is the question the majority of married couples will have to answer at some point. Unfortunately, the answer is not as straightforward as the question; it is never an outright yes or no. Often, the answer lies somewhere in-between.

Many get into marriage with the intention of becoming one with their spouse in every area, including their finances. Having a joint account therefore becomes a natural step. They soon discover however that, as much as it is desirable to pull the family funds into one account, a lot of details need to be worked out so that one party does not feel cheated or restricted. The immaturity of one party, and inability to handle the finances in a joint account in an acceptable manner to both parties, can lead to resentment and avoidable friction in the home.

A Daily Mail research showed that only one-third of couples have a joint account, with others keeping separate finances to avoid arguments or their partner spending their money recklessly. Some 34% of people who are either married (or living together) run their finances solely through a joint account, while 38% have both individual and shared accounts. But 28% of people prefer to keep totally separate financial arrangements, with 81% of women who do not have a joint account anxious to maintain their independence.

Just under a quarter of men and 13% of women keep their own accounts to avoid arguments, while 18% of men said they earned more and wanted to keep their money separate, and 21% of men worried that their partner would dip into a joint account without them knowing.

Now, a major advantage of a joint bank account is the fact that there are less chances of encountering financial “surprises” when all the family finances go into and come out of one account. It is easier for couples with joint accounts to keep track of their finances and balance the family account at the end of the month.

Depending on the kind of account, joint accounts usually provide each account holder the privilege of a debit card, a chequebook and the ability to make deposits and withdrawals. In our days, each account holder also receives online access to account information and other tools, like sms notifications, thus further simplifying the process of keeping track of transactions.

In addition, in the event of one spouse passing away, joint accounts provide a legal covering for the other party to easily access the family funds. This is different from sole account ownership, where a surviving spouse will have to go through a lengthy and often frustrating to access the account.

On the other hand, some may be uncomfortable with the loss of financial independence that comes with a joint bank account, especially early in their marriage. If one party or the two are more comfortable with personally managing their own funds, then having a joint account can be a major source of friction.

Joint bank accounts can also cause issues in a marriage when spouses carry out transactions on the account without informing their partners or continually breach the agreed terms of setting up the account. The convenience of joint access to funds, although good on its own, may cause overdrafts and bounced cheques if one partner is reckless and makes unreasonable withdrawals or payments. Having separate accounts will, therefore, keep much of the damage to the other spouse under control-  if one spouse is less financially responsible.

Based on the foregoing, it is difficult to make a sweeping recommendation that works for all couples. Some young couples who have traditional views of marriage, and what it should entail, have no problem merging finances. On the other hand, some go into marriage with a resolve to separate everything only to discover later that joint accounts make more sense.

A newly married young lady confided that she does not mind having a joint account for special projects but she would want to have a separate account.

That, I think, is the best approach to the issue. For many couples, a blend of joint and separate accounts makes sense. In this arrangement, you keep a joint account that you and your spouse use for special projects like paying for holidays, paying house rents, buying or building a house, paying children’s school fees, etc. Separate accounts can then be kept for personal expenditures.  This will provide a sense of autonomy which can sometimes be difficult to achieve in marriage.

Now, with your own bank account, you do not feel guilty (or require permission) when spending your own money on the things you need. This is more so when it comes to personal items like clothes, shoes, toiletries, underwear, etc. And you will not also have to worry about the resentment that comes with one partner taking the money that belongs to both of you to buy things for himself or herself alone.

There is no gainsaying the fact that money is a major issue in a lot of marriages; there is therefore no need to further complicate things. If your spouse is reckless with money, there is no point trusting him or her with family finances in the form of joint account.

Where a couple can reach an agreement on how a joint account should be managed and mature enough to respect the terms of the agreement at all times, then having one is good. However, where this is not possible, then it is better to avoid having a joint account.

Taiwo Odukoya is the senior pastor of The Fountain of Life Church. He is an avid believer in the role of the Church in the social and economic life of the nation. He is the host of The Discovery for Men, The Discovery for Women, The Woman Leader, and Ruth and Boaz, quarterly meetings that reach out to thousands of men and women from all works of life and denominations. He lives in Lagos with his wife, Nomthi, and children. He can be reached at [email protected]

56 Comments

  1. Fashionista

    September 3, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Joint account is all well and dandy oh, but I will and MUST maintain a personal account where MOST of money will be saved. The joint account shall only receive a carefully assigned sum as often as agreed with my partner.

  2. Profound

    September 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Great article. I think the best approach is what the couple feel would work best for them. My husband and I have a joint account where we contribute the same amount monthly. This is used to run the household i.e Mortgage, Bills,, Groceries etc. Anything else we earn is kept in our separate accounts. This works perfectly for us and there’s never been a case of resentment due to surprise expenses as we’re both fully aware that the account is there solely for running our home. This works for us and may not necessarily work for another couple because cicumstances differ drastically.

  3. blah blah

    September 3, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I can only have a joint account if my future husband’s income totally and absolutely obliterates mine. I am talking 250k to 2.5mil per month o. Ehn en. Many people are not financially prudent. My uncle and his wife had a joint account. When divorce came she was at the losing end. In fact she stupidly bought lands in his name. Messy stuff.
    If you are married to a Nigerian man thou shalt make and keep her money! And then have a joint account for household finances where a certain percentage of your income goes.

    • Tee

      September 3, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Yes o….”If you are married to “one kain” Nigerian man (emphasis on *one kain* cause they are not all the same), better have a smaller amount in the joint account o and INVEST… INVEST… INVEST… the larger percentage (and Pleeeease in your name or your child’s).

  4. Berry Dakara

    September 3, 2014 at 10:01 am

    100% wholeheartedly agreed! I’ve seen couples where they rush to open a joint account and at the end of the day, only one person is putting money in it, or one person is spending the bulk of it without regard. Don’t open a joint account if you cannot agree AND PRACTICE what you have both decided to do.

    berrydakara.blogspot.com

  5. Tee

    September 3, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Money!!! Its one thing that brings out people’s true character.

    My husband always shielded his finances from me in the beginning of our marriage. Even as little as keeping me in the know of how much our rent is, or how much he bought anything.

    I always wanted to know not because of any biggie but because it gave me a sense of belonging that I am involved in the affairs of our home. Me on the other hand was very free letting him know how much I earn and my willingness to contribute in no small measure if and when necessary.

    From what I understood, he was doing it cos he felt I was receiving pea nuts and therefor didn’t deserve to know about his so called big money. Infact he couldn’t even let me in on his intension to start building in the villa because to him, I had nothing so why bother telling me?

    Fast-forward 2 years and I got a good job and he goes all *we have to be transparent with our finances* and declare our income! lol. All of a sudden you want transparency???lol

    He has given me so many reasons why I CANT HAVE A JOINT ACCOUNT with him.

    As I have learnt on BABES REDEFINED (Facebook group); Wisdom is Profitable to direct. (erm…hope I got it right)

    • Bisi-Bukola

      September 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      That’s my babe

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      *All of a sudden you want transparency???*… I am also LOL’ing on your behalf!

    • BabyDee

      September 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      ahhhh my fellow Babes Redefined member i hail oooo…

  6. misspynk

    September 3, 2014 at 10:12 am

    No offense but using daily mail research article is flawed. It doesn’t go with Nigerian marriages where chronic womanising is the order of the day and women are victimized by the law. I have been married for 2 monthly legally. I love my husband from the bottom of my heart, the issue of joint accounts have never come up. At this point unless someone gives us a cheque as a wedding gift with mr and mrs on it, that account will not be opened.
    He has my heart already, he cant have access to all my money too.

    • Amazingly me

      September 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Lmao!!!!

  7. Mystique

    September 3, 2014 at 10:20 am

    @blah blah, i agree with your position to have a joint account for household finances…..aside that, keep separate account for peace to reign.

  8. C'est moi

    September 3, 2014 at 10:27 am

    For a number of my clients, the wife holds the purse strings. The man’s earnings is paid into the wife’s account (in most cases a stay at home mum) & then the wife gives the husband an allowance. These are educated women who’ve given up their careers to be a home-maker and thus financially overcompensated for by their husbands, most investments even being in the wife’s name (if Jewish this is the norm, everything is goes in the wife’s name). The man brings home the bacon, the ‘home-makers’ then manage the finances.

    • word

      September 3, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Im single. Biko, do u have single male clients who buy into this idea? Ngwa, connect us sharp sharp!

    • Fumee

      September 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      @C’est moi, are your clients Nigerian’s? They pay into their wife’s account? That’s good to know.

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      September 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      His Clients can never be in Nigeria, Wetin?! the Umunna will gather for you

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Family meeting with the village herbalist present who would have been contracted to “investigate” the jazz she’s using against their brother 🙂

    • C'est moi

      September 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      Yes a few are (not naija based) & yes into the wife’s account though in some cases it is a joint account but with the wife as the lead i.e main signatory. Big ticket items can’t be approved without the wife’s say so.

  9. kenitola

    September 3, 2014 at 11:01 am

    well said, but i preferred the personal account. my husband buys things he want not what he needs, he buys excesses, a good man to the core but he is not prudent and for the past three years of our marriage, we have been operating our personal accounts and its very very okay by me.

    • Mrs Adepoju.

      September 3, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      You just described my husband.

  10. Annie

    September 3, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I am for a joint account for house upkeep and other household finances, then a joint account runs too. We have to agree to contribute a certain percentage every month to the joint account, won’t matter that our salaries are not same, we have to contribute on percentage basis…then use whatever is left as we individually want…

  11. Angie...

    September 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

    @ C’est moi.- ‘For a number of my clients, the wife holds the purse strings.”…Please where are these clients from? Definitely NOT from Nigeria. I am aware that such things play out in the some foreign cultures (yes, this is a cultural value) like the Lebanese community but can it work in Nigeria? A country where the man, to date, has more faith in his mother or siblings than his wife? A country where the death of the man brings his whole family out of the wood works into your home to recover HIS presumed assets, not minding that there are children to be trained and cared for? A joint account has never been discussed in my marriage of over 10 years, but I know what my husband earns and he knows what I earn. We also both have a basic knowledge of what each person’s finances is going into. When there is a project, we contribute, oftentimes equally. When the project is an asset for the family, it is bought in both our names. So with the above arrangement, who needs a joint account? Better safe than sorry please.

    • obi-talk

      September 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      dear angie what c’est said is so true. even some pastors who preach on relationship says that he gives his wife the money to hold. my guy gives me his money to hold. most Nigerian men do it because men tend to spend alot so it is better to give women. I don’t know why you sounded so surprised when I actually know alot of couples who do this.

    • C'est moi

      September 3, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      A few are but not the thoroughly bred Nigerians. Though some that were partly raised in Nigeria do put the marital home in the wife’s name for her own security & that of the offspring, particularly the ibos to counter some of the issues you noted above.

    • Meh

      September 4, 2014 at 3:59 am

      My cousin who is only 6 months married had/has his accounts in his wife’s name for business and a separate business account he operates. He is Nigerian. My father also has most of what he owns in my mothers name and separate business accounts that are in both their names. In his words’it keeps him accountable’. They talk through most large expenses. He is also very Nigerian. It’s the attitude to money that matters more. Not the nationality

  12. Jasmine

    September 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I have been married for 4months and we both agreed and opened a joint account for projects. a certain amount is put in there monthly for Rent, vacation and school fees( when the babies come. we both still maintain our individual accounts. Works perfectly for me though. Emergency Money in case of any crisis.

    • beautifulonyinye

      September 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      @ Jasmine,that’s exactly my situation and I’ve been married for 4 months too.I have 2 personal.accounts,he has his and everyone is happy.

  13. B!

    September 3, 2014 at 11:59 am

    But the man in the beginning of the story is wicked sha.

    How can you just spend all the money and say she shouldn’t open a separate account? Some men are evil.

  14. Ayaba

    September 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    As for us (hitting the aisle soon) we have decided on separate accounts and then one joint account for family projects where we will agree on the amount to deposit in it on a monthly basis. finito!!!
    But as @Profound said, whatever that works best for the couple. While growing up i came to realise my parents shared the bills as in they decided on who takes care of what. i don’t know if they had a joint acc but what i noticed was my dad takes care of thgs like elec/water bills, schl fees/stationary and general repairs around the house etc. then ma mum takes care of feeding, clothing (including schl uniforms), toiletries, kitchen stuff and house decor etc. of course when one person was short, the other steps in to support. This worked perfectly for them and i have never heard any dispute concerning money btn them.
    Another frnd told me, him and wife have separate accounts, when a project comes up, they decide on what to chip in and they both bring forth the money and put in the project, when it is xmas time and they need to send gifts home which is usually money, they decide okay dis amt will go to ur mum and dad and this will go to mine. etc etc….this method also worked for dem pretty well. So i will say to each, his own!!!

  15. beautifulonyinye

    September 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    @ Jasmine,that’s exactly my situation and I’ve been married for 4 months too.I have 2 personal.accounts,he has his and everyone is happy.

  16. great

    September 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I think people who have been married for at least 1 year or more will have more varied opinions. I’ve realised that the longer you live with a man /woman ; the more you learn things about him , yourself, and marriage itself. Because our opinions can change over time. Having said that no disrespect to newly weds. All I mean is may God lead us and direct us .

  17. Jane Public

    September 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I came from a home of a joint account for special projects and bills. Le Boo came from a home where his mum is or should i say was a stay at home mum (all kids are grown now). Papa G paid Mama G a personal allowance every month into her account to do as she wishes, in addition to cost of household bills and stuff for the kids, lessons, holidays, school fees etc, She handled all that, he just paid. Plus she also had her personal account separate from the account he paid money into which contained money from her investments and inheritance from her parents. Two people, two separate ideologies about accounts, and un-similar circumstances, as I work. He won (choosing my battles wisely) and we both have separate accounts, but we decide who pays what every month and we have access to each others personal accounts, credit card accounts, passwords and all. When he complains about how much I spend on shoes and restaurants, I remind him how much his car costs and the expensive kit in the den. Problem solved, everybody faces their work o. Joint accounts, even strictly for the special projects etc, doesn’t appear to work for all

  18. sexy_babe25

    September 3, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Personally i dont think i will want to have a joint account with my huband. I am married and I initially though about it but with the way things are with him and his family responsibility i.e financing siblings wedding and naming ceremony, emptying your account to your sibling becuase he has no job and he wants to set up a business and 5months on he’s yet to start the business,………so for me its a capital NO.sorry!

  19. rs

    September 3, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    I am surprised Pastor Taiwo would suggest not having a joint account. My pastor mandate/encourage joint account because it says a lot about trust in a relationship. Why marry him or her if there is no trust in the area of money management. Distrust in a marriage in whatever form is recipe for disaster. Why would you trust your life with a man or woman you don’t trust to handle your money well? If you don’t trust him with your money don’t trust him to protect or care for you. It is a waste of time to spend the rest of your life in a relationship built on financial distrust.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      I’m not any kind of relationship counsellor but I think that when people marry, it is with the realization that you may not always be married to a perfect human being and you, not being perfect yourself, are getting on this long ride together to work out as happy a future as you can build for yourselves.

      So, imperfect people come with their flaws which may include overspending. If he/she was a spendthrift when you both met and started mending his/her frivolous ways after you started dating, it shouldn’t necessarily be implied that once you’re married, he/she has been fully cured of the malady. Or the case may not even be that he/she was a spendthrift: it may be that he/she just has a penchant for generousity to family and friends which was fine when he/she was a singleton but needs to curtail that open-handedness a bit now that you’re both becoming a family unit. Of course, there is a kind of unchecked financial irresponsibility which should have given a potential spouse serious pause for thought during the time leading up to your “I do”s.

      As someone said in a comment above, wisdom is profitable to direct. If you fully believe that your other half is capable of acting as a prudent co-trustee for the money being placed in your joint account, no wahala. If you know you’ve both still got certain imperfections when it comes to finances and the thing will pain you seriously if someone does something to breach the trust of managing finances together, then explore your other options.

    • `

      September 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Trust comes over time in a marriage believe me! The trust and love you think you have at the start of a marriage no matter how strong it is changes for the better or the worse after many years of marriage. I have been married for 15 years and i know what I am talking about. Pastor is talking from a very experienced point of view and it is not unchristian. Sometimes a spouse can be very financially reckless and this can cause huge problems in a marriage. If you keep your money separate then you both can plan effectively

    • Amazingly me

      September 3, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      My dear the same Bible says in everything apply wisdom 🙂

    • Ade

      September 4, 2014 at 6:20 am

      Finally 🙂
      Reading through all the comments actually makes me appreciate my marriage more. We have our own issues, we fight but never about money. I’ve been married for 3 years and having separate accounts was never an option. Personally, it makes no sense to me why you would be married to someone you can’t trust with money. Don’t get all the talk about my money your money. Shouldn’t it be our money.I mean you’re willing to share your body and your life but not money? We are in it together if we overspend and can’t pay bills or buy food, we both suffer together lol. Hmm guess we aren’t so bad after all.
      Anyways to each his own.

    • Ella

      September 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

      rs,why are u surprised? Pastor Taiwo is right. He did not say you should not keep a joint account, he said a blend of both joint and personal account makes sense. Trust Is important in marriage my dear but also know that change is the only thing that is constant. People change.

  20. omoboy

    September 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    My wife is totally on all the accounts I own..her paycheck goes into one of them ……she lost her job briefly in 2008 so I added her to all of them.including my credit cards. Since 2008…and it aint going to stop.. She used to be a bit reckless with her finances – I took my time to train her on how to be fnanicially responsible and see the power of not being in debt.. Of course she still likes to shop but now with moderation. I dont mind cause she’s my world anyway. I just always pray that the well will not go dry..and it wont by His grace – we save and invest.

    Full joint accounts – if you want to do it, yes you can. But the two of you must be fully commited.

    I am a full ekiti man….in case you are wondering 🙂

    • rs

      September 3, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      You are right. Marriage is all about trust, love, and commitment to God’s commandment. Two shall become one is what the bible says.

    • PD Young Billionaire

      September 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      I’m not surprised.Most Ekiti husbands I know are wonderful.Keep it up bro!

    • Ade

      September 4, 2014 at 6:22 am

      I was beginning to wonder if my husband and I were crazy lol

    • O

      September 4, 2014 at 7:50 am

      I’m married to an Ekiti man too and you guys rock :). My husband and i have separate personal accounts, then a joint account where only his income goes into. I really appreciate the fact that he trusts me that much. I’ve never made any withdrawals from the joint account though cos i have my salary. Even though i have access to the joint account, because its his money that goes into it, whenever i need any extra money i ask him then he transfers from the joint account to my personal account.

      We also have an account where we save for projects and even though 90% of the money there is from him (cos he earns way more than me), i’m the only signatory. God bless him.

      This may not work for everyone though.

    • Manny

      September 10, 2014 at 8:06 am

      I was looking for double and triple likes. You are a man indeed.

  21. PD Young Billionaire

    September 3, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Having a joint account sounds great if couples are faithful in all areas.But I dont think it makes sense if one is married to a serial cheat.

    • rs

      September 3, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Why would you marry a cheat?

    • PD Young Billionaire

      September 3, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Are you married to one?????

  22. Yinka

    September 3, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I’ve been married for 5 years and we have just one account which is joint. Our paychecks go in to it, I mostly write the checks for bills and we both have a debit card to the account. We are both responsible with money and we don’t have to worry about someone overspending. All my friends have joint accounts just like we do and no one has ever complained.
    I live in the US and we file our taxes together, so there’s no way hubby is going to hide his finances from me.

  23. ogo

    September 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Hmm. Am yet to be married, so i don’t know. Naturally i love to enjoy my privacy. Joint account? Hmmm…..till i get there but i doubt. Ekiti man keep it up!

  24. iba

    September 3, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    God bless you but stay your own make i stay my own na my ideology.

  25. Manny

    September 4, 2014 at 8:28 am

    I think people should iron out such issues before marriage. However, it only works when both parties are honest. My boyfriend is extravagant. We are looking towards marriage and I asked how we would manage finances. He was clear what he wanted. He said he could not be trusted with the family finances. He said we would have a joint account and then separate accounts as he still wants his independence and thinks I should have mine. He said he would be trusting me with home management. Easier said cos we have built trust and also talk helping each other with our weaknesses. But I know it is not the case with everyone. Girls, date a friend. Build friendship. Guys, grow up. Both parties must grow up and be open. Even now in dating, we have started practicing it. My boyfriend gives me his money and I disburse to him. So, when he does not have cash at hand, he does not overspend. He dropped his credit card with me so he does not also go withdrawing… Now, if he could not trust me, he would never have done that. I consider it an honour and promised not to betray the trust. We keep growing in God and praying but the point is, people should come into relationship with openness. No one is perfect.

  26. mrs G

    September 4, 2014 at 9:47 am

    My husband always wont to contribute the same amount even though he earn 3x my salary. he doesn”t want me to save money, once i collect my salary his eyes goes red to make sure i spend it. he is so selfish, but am stock

  27. Jasmine

    September 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    all you women saying you cant have a joint account, would love to be signatories to their husband’s account. Trust in marriage is key. A joint account doesn’t mean you put all your earnings in there. You can still operate individual accounts and be reckless and broke. Nothing as good as money being kept aside monthly for special needs when they occur. You can operate individual accounts, spend reckless and when its time to pay rent or pay medical bills, u start running from pillar to post or advertising on bella naija looking for donors. Please plan for the future of your family. Make wise financial decisions and invest. We women are always distrusting and expect the men to trust us with their own money.

  28. Lady Mo!

    September 4, 2014 at 10:38 am

    My fiancée’s a “Yes man” to his family and friends. He hardly says no to them. Once he was broke and his aunt needed money, bros called me to loan sm wen I asked wot for n he told me I was so mad n angry! why wud u borrow money to lend smone else?! We cant have a joint acct o! I know dat already,, I don’t wanna have a heart attack.

  29. SegunTomilola Omotosho

    September 5, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    In my opinion, I feel joint account shouldn’t come in at the 1st five years in marriage, since early years in marriage is characterised with disagreement and getting to know each other better. After getting to know one another and maturing into the marriage, then, Joint account can be introduced..
    However, we are not to rush into condemning joint account coz it works out well in some marriages.
    In conclusion, Joint account symbolises the sign of financial union and getting married without total union (which includes financial union, conjugal union, spiritual union, psychological union & extended family union) is incomplete. Having said that, until a marriage is able to handle financial union, it is not totally unionised.

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