Doyin walks into the home of the Thomas’s to hear the tail end of a marital row between her childhood friend Millie and her husband Osaro. Osaro is yelling “I will damn well do what I want with my money, after all…I work for it”! Millie and Doyin were scheduled to visit a mutual friend Vero and Doyin had stopped by to pick her up. She manages to calm both parties and suggests calmly to Osaro that she take Millie on a drive out to calm the situation, to which Osaro agrees. In the car, Doyin inquires from her friend about the cause of the argument.
Millie explains: “My dear, I am sick and tired of having arguments over the allocation of our finances. Osaro is a spendthrift who squanders resources on irrelevancies” she ranted. “You know, I discovered early into our marriage that he advised we kept separate accounts for selfish reasons. At the time, he earned way more than I did, though the tables have since turned. He would starve us of funds for mundane things like housekeeping, maintenance for the children, school fees, etc. while splurging on irrelevancies like fancy restaurants, parties, exotic foods, cars and the like. I was therefore forced to take the tab for housekeeping, maintenance and school fees. In spite of protests over time, the pattern has not changed and it is so frustrating that every penny I earn goes toward giving the family a decent life. These expenses are on the increase with the double-digit inflation in the country and especially as the children grow older. I do not have any savings or funds to spend on enhancing our environment, acquiring revenue generating assets, etc”. The other day I walked into your foyer and fell in love with your console and mirror arrangement, I cannot replicate it at home, meanwhile, we are on the same salary level at work”.
Doyin responds: “Millie, you should not compare because you don’t know my husband’s pay or if there are other sources of income available to us. Don’t forget that I advised you some years back, that you have a joint account which enables both you and Osaro to contribute a portion of your account to cover the everyday expenses. What we do is have a joint account into which we contribute agreed portions of our salary (80%) and retain the balance (20%) for our peculiar fancies. From the joint account, we handle everyday expenses – Housekeeping, maintenance, fees, bills, etc. We also comingle funds from other sources e.g., bonuses, inheritance, allowances (non-salary income), etc. and use them for capital expenditure. At the beginning of the year, we draw up a list of proposed projects and asset acquisitions for the year and prioritise them. As the funds become available, we implement. It is quite simple once it is pre-agreed. If an emergency comes up, we address it and go back to our list after”.
As they walk into Vero’s home deep in the conversation, Vero listens a while then clears her throat. She volunteers her advice “If I may come in sisters, I agree that financial interdependence should be encouraged in marriages because it facilitates bonding and proper alignment as both parties are carried along in the pattern of expenditure. A joint account allows for ease of financial administration in the event of the death of either party. It serves to check the excesses of either party but it also has its cons, especially where one of the parties is prone to debts and incurring liabilities. I prefer to advise that while maintaining a joint account for expenses to which they have agreed to be mutually responsible, the couple should maintain its individuality by running separate accounts from which they can fuel their idiosyncrasies. For me, I contribute 40% of my salary while Dike does 60% of his. This ratio works for our joint account and takes care of the basic needs of the family, capital expenditure and emergencies among others. That way I get to spend on my vacations, artwork and other things that interest me. Mind you, the ratios are reviewed from time to time based on the dynamics of our income”.
All three agree that the issue of Financial Management is fundamental to sustaining a marriage and is one of the key issues to be resolved by couples prior to marriage. It is one of the top causes of divorce. They further agree that the couple must do the following things:
- Align their financial goals and possible timelines where relevant.
- Agree on their priorities and set parameters for a review e.g., when their incomes increase or decrease.
- Determine how expenditure on items that affect the family, in general, will be handled. E.g., using a Joint account.
- Agree as to whether both signatories are required for every withdrawal or whether limits will be set as to what each individual can withdraw.
Millie, makes a mental note to reinvent the wheel by having the necessary discussion on financial management with Osaro but needs advice on how best to approach it. What would you advise?
5 thoughts on “NUPTIAL ECONOMICS – HOW IT PLAYS OUT”
Joint account have it’s advantages and disadvantages.
My best advise is both couples must have their separate account . I don’t believe in joint accounts at all.
It will bring some amount of peace in the home not 100% though but better than joint account wahala.
Thanks for your opinion Sylvia. I still maintain there are pros and cons for both options – separate versus joint. However thecouple should weigh the options and agree the method of operation preferably before marriage or early in the union. It is also important to be joint signatories if a joint account is part of the agreement.
The article makes it clear that there are pros and cons for couples to operate joint accounts. My take is that if a joint account is to be operated, then each party should only donate an agreed percentage of their income and both parties should sign before any withdrawal can be made.
Thanks Dr Nike. I agree with you perfectly.
Tnx for the piece. Joint account would not solve the problem if the couple does not have a communicating relationship. What makes Osaro prefer to blow his money on cars instead of on school fees is more than just a joint account or no joint account matter. Marriage is more than a partnership. It’s a soul tie thing. When we treat it as a mere partnership, it might work for a while but sooner or late cracks will begin to appear.