Personal Finance

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:

Transparency

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:

Privacy

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!

Tax

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!

Zakat

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

Ibrahim

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.

Mohsin

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.

Conclusion

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!

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  • Great discussion, also I would add its nice to buy your spouse something without them seeing the payment being taken from the card before it arrives!
    We also have separate accounts and it works well but I like the sound of a joint account to save for a common goal.

    Reply
  • Great topic of discussion!

    Does Islam recognise the concept of owning property jointly? Jointly here means that where two or more people own the whole property, if one (or more) was to die, the survivor takes the property (bypassing the laws of inheritance as set out in Suratul Nisa, which might indicate that this is forbidden).

    The alternative which is almost certainly recognised as permissible, is that we own a share of joint assets and when one dies it follows the terms of the will/rules of intestacy?

    One might suggest that automatically passing assets to a survivor of joint ownership of assets, could abrogate certain ayahs of Suratul Nisa but for a separate legal document which identifies what share of the joint asset each proprietor owns?

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Reply
    • We’ll need to do a full article on this! Look out for it!

      Reply
    • Inshallah would be great if IFG could post a separate article on this or send appropriate links. My situation is somewhat similar (and I assume others will have a similar dilemma). I earn significantly more than my wife but gift her enough such that we own 50:50. If I pass away, however, that would mean a significantly lower estate will be shared amongst my heirs. Is that ok? Equally, if my wife passes away, she would have a much larger estate to share amongst her heirs. Somehow the 50% gift seems like it has defeated the wisdom behind the Shariah. Finally, does the house we live in count as part of our respective estates such that upon death we would have to sell the house to pay the other heirs (assuming we don’t have additional assets).

      Reply
      • Ibrahim Khan
        April 20, 2020 9:58 am

        You can gift your wife that – and no it doesn’t defeat the sharia objectives iA.

        Your house would not necessarily need to be sold as long as the heirs agreed to just take a legal stake in the property (perhaps take rent for their share). But if they all want it to be sold then it should be.

        Reply
  • Me and my husband do both. We both work full time so we have a joint account on monzo where we both contribute % of our salary into every month. It’s all automated and goes out into the seperate pots we have for savings like holidays and house savings and then a mainpot that is budgeted for joint spending like date nights, grocery’s etc. But then we use our own accounts for day to day spending like tube fare etc. Feel like it alhumdilliah gives us the best of both worlds as we contribute to things together but also have our financial independence too.

    Reply
  • AA
    Really interesting article
    I’d be really keen to hear from couples where the wife earns more than the husband (but the husband still earns a healthy salary). What do you do?
    I earn more than my husband and have seperate accounts. He pays for household bills etc and I pay for myself (clothes, travel, lunch at work etc). I also have agreed to pay for larger expenses eg holidays. This is happened after numerous arguments about finances and me having to be firm that islamically my money belongs to me.
    Should he be sending me a monthly allowance as a gesture? Or is that more ‘want’ than ‘need’?

    Reply
  • Jzk for the article.
    My wife and I are both full time earners and for some periods her income is more than mine (but usually roughly similar).
    We both have our personal bank accounts into which our salaries come. From that account we contribute equally into a joint bank account. From this joint bank account rent, bills, eating out, grocery, holidays etc (all joint expenses) exit. My wife was quite keen that she contributes significantly (which ended up being equally) towards the household expenses.
    This way we keep joint expenses collective, yet still have the privacy of our own accounts and to do whatever we wish with that – saving, not saving, etc.

    This works out Zakat wise quite well as well as (roughly) your asset is the private bank account(s) + half of the joint bank account.

    Now she’s on maternity leave so we’ve sort of calculated the overall reduction in her net pay, and adjusted how much we pay into the joint account accordingly (roughly a 70-30 split).

    Works well for us.

    Reply

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