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Marital Finances: Joint Account or Not? - Chrisyinks

Money! Money!! Money!!! Money determines a lot of thing in a partnership, business relationship, and even marriage. Marriage, the most important merger a man or woman can undertake is also not immune to the effects and complexities of money. Money greatly influences or determines the spending pattern and lifestyle of any spouse, relative comfort of a family, the pedigree of education any offspring receives, the type of meal that is eaten and how frequent it is eaten , healthcare available to the family, vacations or not , what can be bought and many other crucial aspects of living. Surprisingly the good book (which hinges its teachings on Love) takes an unusual stance on money (Ecclesiastes 10:19b):
‘Money gives everything (NLT)’

I once heard my grandmother remark that to know if a man trusts another, he must be able to trust such person with two treasured possession – ‘his wife and money’. This statement holds a lot of insightful truth and serves as a good yardstick for understanding trust. However, apart from the obvious meaning, it also has a subtle meaning – there is a level of trust that can only be revealed or attained when couples can trust each other with their individual monies. For the purpose of this post, I’d be talking about money with respect to a man and woman in a relationship.

I’ve always been a firm believer that in a marriage, individual monies should be seen as our monies and not hubby’s money or wifey’s money irrespective of the earning power of either spouse. But over and over again, society informs me that such view might be overly simplistic of the marriage institution as is obtainable in today’s world. I’d be rational with my analysis as I often find myself, thus I’d give a brief background to my idea of how the joint account should operate, possible pros and cons of such approach, with the climax coming from your comments.

Joint Account: hubby and wifey contributes an agreed percentage of between 60% - 70% of their disposable income to the joint account pool while the remnant percentage is used for their individual and private expenditures. I don’t suppose it should be an equal percentage as women generally tend to incur a tad more on appearance upkeep. 
      The obvious question is what does the joint account fund? This I think should be determined individually by each couple. My take on what the joint account fund would include: house rent/mortgage and house related maintenance costs, utility bills, children upkeep, food, basically any expense that has the nuclear family as the direct benefactorBank alerts via email alerts at no cost could be used to track withdrawals from this joint account.

I intentionally did not mention anything about tithes, investments, debts. Funds for this purpose, should be deducted before arriving at disposable income i.e. salary or earning minus (tithes, investments, and debts) equals disposable income which funds the joint account.

Possible pros of this measure would include: transparency and accountability (this shouldn’t just be expected from the government!), better knowledge of one’s spouse – the spending pattern of a person provides a great insight into such person (“You make a living by what you earn, you make a life by how you spend it”), and of course TRUST (need I explain more on this?). I suppose it also develops ‘capacity’ in both spouses. Capacity in this case means that that each spouse manages a bigger pool of money. To a good extent, it keeps cheating/infidelity at bay as cheating usually is a financial intensive activity. Also, In the event of death of any spouse, the other spouse has ready access to the family’s hard-earned fund.

Possible cons: disagreement between spouses as one party might not share ‘happy feelings’ with the spending pattern of the other, difficult to plan big surprises for one’s spouse, the burden of having to keep the other spouse intimated on large withdrawals.

Of course, this is a theoretical situation, and is not unusual for reality be different from the scenario painted. I have taken into account numerous assumptions including assuming an average marriage institution (please don’t ask me what average is, I don’t know what it is either), a scenario in which each spouse is forthcoming with their salaries, etc. 

What say you? Am I being overly simplistic? Are there other lacking factors that have not being considered? What’s your experience (personal or vicarious) if you’ve had one? For the married in the house, what works for you and what is your best advice? And to the singles, what would be your ideal proposition for your marriage?

PS: Writing is hard work, Thumbs up Thelma!

Yay Chrisyinks! You've just got to respect a person that delivers. 


  1. Wow,wld have tot ur name was "Christopher" or "Yinka".
    When I read the post,I'll come back and reply...

  2. Quick question Mr Chris, does having a joint account preclude a couple from having personal accounts? Because while I'm in support of a joint account, I see myself having my personal account (with or without hubby's knowledge, depending on the character of that currently unknown individual). I think this could help avoid some issues, including the cons you've mentioned. I don't want to have to explain every naira I spend or worry about hubby's scowl when he sees an alert. Besides the cons, I think it's imperative that I have my own savings, for a myriad of reason.

    Pros; transparency like you mentioned is one and it juggled my memory. I remember when a former classmate was a mistress and she requested for a car from her lover. He was inclined to buy her this gift but the issue; how would he explain such lump withdrawal to wifey? Suffice it to say the motor never materialized.

    Can I also add that while joint accounts are good, the wisdom in opening an account for the children can not be overstated. If there's one thing I admire about westerners (I don't know if some Nigeran parents do this) it's that from the birth of their children they begin to save for their college education. We all hope for a better tomorrow but if tomorrow always is better then all our parents would have sent us abroad to study in great schools. I made a decision months ago that I would start saving for my children's future as soon as they come, or even sooner. That way, no matter my/our financial situation then, (if I'm steadfast with the savings) I'll be able to afford the kind of University education that I want them to have.

    1. Thank You. Writing an article for your blog is the least I could do.

      Sure, I'm totally in agreement of each spouse having their own personal accounts. I mentioned 60-70 percent contribution for the joint account. The rest percentage goes to individual accounts of each spouse.

      I'm also in support of opening an account for one's children as early as possible. It ensures that huge expenses like school fees are well planned for. However, I must mention that since the goal is to ensure that children are better catered for in the future, how about becoming 'investment savvy'. I know First Bank (I do not work with First Bank or have an interest in their operations) has a mutual fund and they give far better returns than the average savings or fixed deposit account with our commercial banks. If one is disciplined enough to always commit a defined amount of funds to less risky investment, its a given that you'd get better returns than saving it in a bank. This money can then be used for children fees and upkeep in the future. (I am averse to savings because I feel the returns/interest are crap and worse still, the value of money depreciates by the day.)

  3. Ok,nice write up but Paragraph 6 is abit humph. How do u decide how much investment u wld embark on then minus from ur salary and co before u now have disposable income? I think investments shld come from the joint account (unless it's a personal thingy)
    2) I also don't think joint account shld be used to fund surprise parties and co.
    3) Joint account is ok for salary earning couples. What happens to wife's who are housewives or couples who both run personal biz and have to use their funds to re-invest in their biz?
    4) Money matter is very tricky. Who decides what joint money shld be spent on? Joint account sounds good but the when time to spend it comes,it can cause a bit of trouble...

    1. Thank you.

      To your questions:

      1) I believe it is a better practice to first deduct your investments from your monthly or periodic earnings before arriving at your disposable income. It often time ensures that one doesn't overspend acquiring necessities and frivolities. For instance, one could dedicate five percent of one's earnings to investments. Also the spouses might have different approaches on investment, which could be a good path in times of financial crisis if they both towed the same line of investment.

      2) Almost always parties make a huge dent to one's savings, thus if going by my proposition, a spouse's 30-40 percent share of the disposable income might not be able to pull the financing of a party. Anyways, I also did mention that it is at the discretion of a couple to decide what a joint account funds.

      3) For wives who are housewives, the husband's earnings solely funds the joint account, of course with a regular salary to the wife. For personal business or entreprenuring spouses, if you remember from blogposts on 'Smart money with Arese', she adviced a monthly payment to owners of business keeping monies for business aside. Hence the salaries earned by the owner spouses constitute the earnings.

      4) Like I mentioned in the post, the couple decides what the joint money funds. For it to suceed, there has to be understanding between the spouses and in its success, they gain greater understanding and trust.

    2. I loved/enjoyed ur apt explanation Chris!
      Hope to read from U again...

    3. I thought the whole idea was to get blog visitors to participate and not just me alone. I'd be looking forward to your article!

  4. I Think the cons are more than the pros when it comes to joint account cos money is always a touchy subject

  5. I love my husband but am so sorry I can't and won't have a joint account....Anytime he talks about it,I just look for a way to change the topic despite the fact that I know he would bring more to the table... Am not so trusting on that level....God help me... TNHW..

    1. Lol, u no de play go money matters. Hahaha

  6. Anonymous Rider!1:49 pm, April 12, 2015

    What is mine is mine. What is yours is ours....Kikiki

    1. Preach!!!! Lmaooo! I just love you jare anonymous rider! 60 - 70% ke? Fun kini?! Loool!

      Omoh! This joint account things is not as easy as uncle Chris explained it o.
      I am up for/down with(lol) opening an account for the kids... and depositing a certain percentage every month. after that... oga! save for the rainy day and let me save my own too. Fulfill your financial responsibility as the man of the house and i'll help out in anyway that I can. Shikenah! This is my personal opinion.

    2. Anonymous Rider!10:36 am, April 13, 2015

      That is the conclusion of the whole matter!

  7. At the moment we don't have a joint account. We discussed it once and agreed that a percentage of our earning will be put aside for big projects e.g rent, investments, new cars etc). Let's say 40% of our monthly earnings)

    When i'm broke i'm pro OUR money likewise my husband. When we are both doing fine we are pro MY money hehehe. The issue of joint account is very complicated because it's based on trust.... sadly trust can be betrayed. i'm naturally a planner so joint acct or no joint account, I save well. J

  8. A woman gave her severance pay to her husband. It was for him to invest in his business. He used it to pay his girlfriend's M.Sc tuition in the UK. I will not have a joint account with him. Even if I am forced to, I will stash some money somewhere. Instead of the joint account, we'll have a trust fund for the children. It is when a man has money that you will know his true character.


  9. Ok, i recently learnt a lesson on this joint tin. So boo and i spend money from either my account or his. So its more like a joint account. So we now over spent to the extent that e became broke and i too became broke. That was wen i sat back and was like noooo ooo. U cant be broke and i broke simultaneously o. So now that its all good again, we have decided to mind our accounts and support each other when one goes low on cash. Being in control of my account once more just gives me a sense of confidence and i would want that even in marriage.

    1. If i would even think of having a joint account it would be towards our kid's future or really serious unforseen circumstances. These men ain't loyal oo. Thats all that rings in my head wen i hear joint account.

  10. Keep accounts separate. When there are big purchases to be made, combine the required amounts - however it works for both parties.

  11. I feel joint accounts should be done with a main focus in mind besides personal expenses, i.e, Building houses, saving for a future business investment, vacations and any other that might fall in this category.

    Both parties save a particular percentage of their income, the rest is yours to decide what it would be spent on.

  12. SB,I no dey play go that side oh.....But come to think about it,majority of the women say no to joint accounts and we preach the i love my boo and for better or worse story.... Hmmmm,we ain't all loyal jare.....All the single ladies in the house,shey u see....

    1. Bt dat does not mean we love them less. A woman can give her head for her man if that man is loyal to her. Bt these days, with all happening?everyone woman is learning from other ppl's heart shattering experience o.

  13. I was pro joint account before. Now, I'm not.

    People change, (for the better or otherwise)

    Best be safe than sorry.

    1. Hmmmm... better safe than sorry! I totally agree with you on that one.

  14. The only joint account I'm having is towards family investments. *New Properties & Business* or saving for our kids future!
    Asides this, Oga keep ur money & give me house keeping cash while I keep my own money!
    Unnecessary heartache biko!

  15. Thank you Chrisyinks. Joint accounts Foster unity and transparency in marriages but I think the cons outweigh the pros. Unfortunately I don't see myself having a joint account, I don't think it's wise to let my spouse know how much my salary is. I think its best to plan together and split the responsibilities in the home and each person should take care of theirs. Eg we decide who pays rent, school fees, buys groceries, fuels the generator etc. I'm not in support of having a joint account.

    1. Thank You Anonymous.

      Trusting with money is a delicate issue for most couples. However, I feel it is still an issue - an issue that can be resolved with apt wisdom, character and also developing the required skill. If there exists an opportunity where your better half is inclined to a joint account, I'd advise you give it a try maybe with part of your income and if at the end of the testing period, it all turns out well, then you can go in fully. If it doesn't, then at least you'd know you did make an attempt.

  16. i agree with you anonymous. once your spouse knows your salary everything changes. my boo used to support me financially until he knew my salary, when i ask for support he goes, babe you know i have plenty investment at hand but what do you do with your salary? you cant tell me you've spent quarter of it... next is but you just got your salary... then be contended and considerate... then you don't need this money... then tell me what n what did you buy... then every penny counts to me right now... and so on. marriage with its turn around. i love boo i no go lie and can cut my head for him but when it comes to money tread softly. joint account is good n children trust fund is better. tnx chrisyinks

    1. You are welcome.

      I think your boo desires that you learn better to be more accountable and judicious with your monies. Personally, if I knew I could be subsidised without loosing anything, I'd be living an extravagant life.

      I'd advice you and boo draw up a budget of your needs and montly expenditures and don't forget to include the seemingly irrelevant like spa, movies, charity, contigencies, dinner costs etc. Doing so would enable you present a better case to boo of how much extra you need and how frequent you need the extra. It'd also give you the added benefit of knowing your spending pattern and how best to optimize it for increased savings/investment.

  17. Writing is hard work but you, Chrisyinks make it look seamless....

    From my experience, I would never advise a couple to keep a joint account. Instead, financial responsibilities should be divided between the couple with the other helping out where one genuinely falls short. An illustration would be that husband pays rent/mortgage, school fees etc while the working wife takes care of feeding, miscellaneous household expenses etc.

    I just love avoiding possible troubles.


    1. Thank you for the compliment.

      I see you are risk averse when it comes to finances. I tend to be more of a risk taker, hence our different perspectives. Different approaches, same answer.

    2. Thank you for the compliment.

      I see you are risk averse in financial dealings. I tend to be more of a risk taker, hence our different perspectives.

      Different approaches, same answer.

  18. To me, having a joint account for all our expenses- following a budget, and contingency savings is the way to go.
    I don't understand why my husband can't know how much I'm earning. It's not about having privacy. Is my money more private than my body biko? Okay there are reasons, but we both should have an idea what range the pay is. Besides, his knowledge about what I earn doesn't mean he has access to it.
    I can well be a worrier. And that's why I think the joint account it is! We set all expenses, plans etc on the table, draw a budget accordingly, and fund the account. Every other monies is ours independently.
    It keeps me feeling safe.
    Also, what's the fear about him withdrawing money and leaving me hanging? What happened to the bank order that says, money can only be withdrawn when the 2 signatories to the account confirm?
    Even.if one doesn't want to disclose what they earn, no problems, just contribute the amount decided.
    So, should a good husband change negatively, or the bad one continues being bad, there's some.kinda safety as long as he keeps depositing money as agreed.
    Anyway, in all of these, is married to might be a factor to consider before deciding on financial patterns.

    1. this may not apply to all men, but some men begin to shirk their financial responsibilities once they learn the size of your pay check. This is how some women end up being breadwinners. The fact that I have a healthy monthly income should not divest my husband from keeping his end of the bargain, especially if he can afford to. I think this is the major reason some women keep their salary a secret or even lie that their income is less than what it actually is. It's hardly about privacy or him availing himself to your cash, it's basically to ensure that one day he doesn't start shying away from his duties just because he knows that you can afford to have it covered. I'm not suggesting that the hubby ought to be the sole-provider.

  19. Speaking from personal experience. I have been married for close to 5years by early next year and my husband and I have always had joint account with all our salary(minus retirement funds) going to one account and small pocket money going to individual account.
    While, I would not advocate this type of arrangement for everybody, it has worked well for us so far. All expense goes out of the joint account and any huge investment or spending is discussed and agreed on before the expense.
    So, my bottom line is anybody considering joint account should make sure they know the spending habit of their SO, before marriage and be comfortable with it, before embarking on such arrange.


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