Temi sat her desk at work, totally oblivious of every movement around her; her entire being was transfixed on the long sheet of paper she was holding in her arms. About two years ago, she and her husband Tunji decided to run a joint savings accounts. They agreed to save a certain percentage of their salary monthly, so when there was a capital project to execute, they could draw out of the account. They still maintained personal accounts for sundry expenses, and the way Temi saw it, they were only going to be making deposits and no withdrawals yet on the joint account. About eighteen months ago, she decided she wanted to go for Masters degree abroad, and started putting extra twenty percent of her salary into the joint account monthly. Now, imagine her shock when she requested for a bank statement of the account, to help facilitate her admission process and the account showed steady withdrawals over the last six months by her husband.
What was left in the account was barely enough to pay for her tuition. She couldn’t understand why her husband would withdraw money from the account without telling her. She felt betrayed and disappointed, but instead of calling Tunji to confront him, she decided to play the game with him. She went to the bank and withdrew ninety percent of the balance; exactly the amount she needed for her tuition and she deposited the funds in her personal accounts. On getting home that evening, she was surprised to see Tunji back from work, so early. Her first instinct was to confront him, but she decided to wait and see what he was going to do when he wanted to withdraw money again and found most of it gone. But she hated that he was smiling and giving her a peck on the forehead. Did he think she was a fool? He was siphoning their money and still had the conscience to kiss her forehead. “Judas Iscariot” she muttered under her breathe as she changed into some home clothes.
“There is something I want to tell you” She heard Tunji’s voice behind her, and her heart skipped a beat. How did he find out so early about her withdrawal? Did the accounts officer call him? Did he get an alert? How could he get an alert when she never got any alert of his withdrawals? The accounts officer never called her as well, whenever Tunji withdrew money from the account. She made a mental note to ask the accounts officer these questions on her way to work the next day, as she turned round to respond to her husband. He was holding a file in his hand. “What is in it?” she asked, not in the mood to play ‘guess’. “Take a guess” Tunji said, apparently excited. She hissed and collected the file from him. “I don’t have time for this Tunji, I am very….” she found herself stopping when she realized what she holding. Tunji had bought a piece of land in a choice area in the city. “How come? When did this happen?” She asked, confused and equally excited.
As it turned out, Tunji had made gotten a huge bonus from work, just at the same time that a real estate company marketed the land promo to him. He used the bonus and some personal savings, to make the initial deposit, and had being withdrawing money from their savings for the installment payments. “I left enough money there for your Masters though, but I wanted to surprise you with this. Now, after paying for your Masters, we can work on saving to build on the plot” Tunji continued. Temi realized that she had probably jumped into conclusion; she should have trusted the man she married and know that he wasn’t going to be frivolous with their money. She hugged him, and told him everything she had done and felt earlier in the day. Since then, they still utilize their joint accounts for capital projects, and it has made them both accountable to each other on finances, and has also helped them plan together and execute projects collectively, which has done wonders in making their bond stronger.
On the other hand, Chude frowned as the cashier handed him back the debit card. “I am sorry Sir, your account doesn’t have sufficient funds to complete the purchase”. Since he got married to Susan, this had become a problem. Money simply evaporated in the air with Susan, and he hated the fact that he had even suggested the joint accounts idea to her. He had thought that running a joint account was going to keep Susan accountable and make her financially-responsible, but she remained a frivolous and impulsive spender. Susan was yet to understand the concept of saving and investing, and that attitude made it impossible for them to have any investments. Chude paid for the groceries from cash in his pocket, and as he walked out of the grocery store, he was determined to close their joint account.
Joint accounts work best where both parties have established a solid level of trust between them, this is because whilst running a joint account offers transparency and convenience, it makes both parties financially liable, and both bear the brunt when one party goes and drains the account. Having separate accounts doesn’t mean an absence of money problems in a marriage or relationship, so there really isn’t a size that fits all. Couple need to determine if they are both disciplined and honest enough to handle a joint account, without causing a strain to their relationship. As with any other relationship matter, communication matters. Keep the line of communication open concerning plans for the money being saved, expenditure and deposits.
God help us all!