Marriage & joint bank accounts in Islam
Money isn’t the first thing you think about in the excitement of marriage. But you definitely need to give it some careful thought.
Money is often cited as one of the top reasons for divorce (top 3 according to this link). So if you haven’t had a proper financial sit down with your significant other – you really should.
What should you talk about with your spouse? Well, in this article, we’re going to discuss one of those topics: joint bank accounts. Are they a good idea? What does Islam have to say about joint bank accounts in marriage?
We’ll also share what we personally do in our day-to-day lives too.
Islamic position on joint bank accounts
The concept itself of joint bank accounts is relatively new, so we don’t have a truly Islamic answer.
The default position in Islam is that if it hasn’t been expressly forbidden, then it is permissible. See also our previous article on finance in marriage here which outlines the financial responsibilities of a husband and wife.
Permissible does not mean that it’s encouraged or discouraged. It’s basically up to you to decide what you want to do.
Which leads us nicely on to…
The arguments for joint bank accounts
I know a bunch of people with joint bank accounts. It works for them and it’s how they’ve always done it. Here are some of the reason they cite:
There’s a sense of accountability with a joint account that isn’t quite there with your solo account. Just knowing that your partner may query that dubious £175 spend at Selfridges may make you think twice.
That’s actually a good financial habit in my view. If you can’t justify it, then should you be spending it?
Good if one partner is not working
If one of the partners is not working (he/she may be a stay-at-home parent, for example), there is a mental burden with having a stagnant and empty solo bank account.
The act of having to ask the other partner for money can feel a tad strange for some people. Particularly if they’ve spent some time working before.
For example, my wife went from a life of working to being a full-time mother. She hated having to ask me for money.
In order to relieve that, having a joint bank account means that the non-working partner has ready access to money for his/her day-to-day needs.
We’re a couple
Some people feel that part of being a couple is having a joint bank account. It’s just something you do.
From my purely anecdotal experience, I think this is much more common in the older generations than it is in the younger ones.
The arguments against joint bank accounts
I also know a bunch of people who operate completely separate bank accounts as husband and wife and swear by it. Here are some of their reasons:
Not in a suspicious way, but it’s nice to be able to spend your money the way you want to spend it. As long as you’re not suffering from some sort of addiction or any other reason which may result in you being financially irresponsible, partners should be able to trust each other with money right?
Clean and simple
When you start mingling money (particularly relevant if both people are earning and/or have various income streams of their own) things can quickly become complicated. You lose track of what you as an individual have been able to save as a proportion of your income, which you may just want to know out of interest.
Solo accounts are much cleaner in that respect. There’s only one source of incomings and outgoings and that’s you!
If you have to file a self-assessment return every year, then having access to all your bank transactions in an easy way can be very handy. But if your bank statements are mixed in with your partner’s incomings/outgoings, it’s an added complication when you’re trying to get through a tax return at 10pm on 30 January!
Even if you don’t have to file a tax return, you do have to do a zakat calculation! Again this is made far more streamlined if you have a separate account.
What we do personally
My wife and I have separate bank accounts where our salaries come in. This makes sense for us as it gives my wife independence and keeps her salary separate to mine (reminder: the wife’s salary is hers to keep).
But at the same time she has a joint credit card with me which allows her to make any grocery or household purchases from that, which ultimately I will pay off from my account. This effectively means she can use my account for household/family shopping.
We also have a joint account but we use that to just send money to each other.
My wife and I each have our individual bank accounts. My reasoning is that we like things clean, simple and traceable. It also means that I can do things like link up my bank account with the budgeting apps I use without having to factor in my wife’s spending.
When it comes to my Islamic obligations of paying for my wife’s lifestyle, I simply set up the direct debits to my bank account. Things like her phone bill and similar.
If she ends up spending on the house from her own money (e.g.on-the-go supermarket shopping), I’ll just transfer it over. She doesn’t ask for it, but she’s well within her rights to do so. Any spending she does in this way is just out of her own volition.
We pay zakat separately. In fact, my wife is the only person I know who pays zakat outside of Ramadan! So having separate bank accounts help us for that. We also both file our own tax returns, so the financial separation is useful.
We do have a joint bank account, but we use it when we have a common saving goal. For instance, when we first got married, we decided that we would save up for Hajj together. I’d transfer some into the joint account monthly, as would she. Alhamdulillah we saved our money and went on Hajj. That’s where I think joint accounts are useful.
How do you married folks use your bank accounts? How are you handling things like zakat?
What tips would you give for people that are about to get married or newlyweds?
Hit us in the comments!