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Should couples have joint accounts?

22 January 2016, 16:48 Shakila Alivitsa

Nairobi - Living in Kenya is sort of like a session of ‘Things Fall Apart’ but in real life. For the past two days I have not been able to write, and even right now I am not at my house because KPLC (Kenya Power and Lighting Corporation) is having a moment.  We have rain; we get swept away by floods. We have rain; KPLC breaks down and casts the rest of us in darkness. We just thrive in unpreparedness.

Anyway, for what you actually want to read about, joint accounts. It is always a serious discussion for couples; especially married couples. Do you have a joint account or you ignore your partner when they suggest it and pretend you are perennially deaf? Because there is going to be the wife that is going to be mad that you do not want to or the husband that is mad because you are not taking a larger chunk of the bills. That is just the way it is.

First of all find out why they want a joint account?

It can start off as the both of you pouring a chunk of your earnings to the account until one of you starts getting excuses until they just stop contributing. Is the account for emergencies or is it going to be used to pay off the bills equally. Is it for household expenses or for emergencies? What is that account for? A partner might want a joint account yet they earn nothing or the one that wants one but so that you can enable their spendthrift ways. You find out the reason for the account; emergency, bills and household expenses are good reasons for a joint account.

If on the other hand they just want a piece of your pie and they do not contribute yet you take care of whatever needs taking care of-then you get veto power. You can say no because you want to and it is your money.

If your partner takes care of their share of what needs to be sorted out or ultimately takes care of you and then some; then it is not your right to demand to know what they earn. It is just a matter of privacy and boundaries which a lot of people are touchy about. Here, you can start creating problems in your relationship by insisting on something that is not wearing you out.

It is not a good idea to have a joint account if….

If your partner is a spendthrift, they do not know how to save or spend money; they are impulse buyers and like buying ‘white elephants’. You cannot control them while they are out of sight or their purchasing habits but you can control your money side of things. So if you know they are not good with money, do not extend their habits by agreeing to give them your card or pin numbers. Let them spend their own and when they are done, they can stay like that. At least you can still sort out what you need to. The problem with sharing with such a spouse is that by the time you notice they dug into yours as well; they have fed into those habits so bad they get the whole family in trouble. At least you can still have yours if you are good with money. That is why a couple is advised; if you are going to marry, do not marry someone who has the same flaws as you do like such. If you are poor with money, marry someone who is good with money that way your kids will not suffer.

You do not have to put your whole salary into a joint account; just a portion

Like I said, joint accounts are a good idea when it comes to emergencies and household expenses. You sort out the problems without haggling but most people do not like the idea because they think they have to put their whole salary. As a couple you can agree on what amount can go in from each of you based on your salaries and then you keep the rest for yourself or whatever. You can still hide what you earn because that is what most of you want. You just take a portion of what each of you agree to and deposit it and keep mum about the rest.

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Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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