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Your Heart and Your Wallet

I’ve heard a lot of chump stories. A conservative estimate would be hundreds of thousands. But Sheila’s stands out. I met Sheila in Australia last May — and she came up to me and said, “Well, I had to come meet you because you answered my letter.”

Uh. Sheila lives in the United States. Australia is at least 8,000 miles away. It’s upside down and tomorrow over there. Her foot was in a cast. A woman I had never met limped 8,000 miles to meet me? What on earth?

“You probably don’t remember, but several years ago you replied to me at 3 in the morning. I thought my husband was cheating on me and you suggested I could run a credit report.”

Sounds like something I might do. This tactic has been discussed at CN. I did it on my cheating ex and it revealed a whole host of horrors.*

“Well, I did it and found $175,000 in hidden accounts. So I figured I could spend some to fly over and say ‘thanks.'”

Knock. me. over. with. a. stick. What a story! What a woman!

It gets crazier.

So a several months months ago, I pitched a story to The Girlfriend (an online women’s magazine by AARP, for girlfriends of any age) on financial abuse and thought of Sheila.

Can you believe this mighty member of Chump Nation agreed to put her story in public to help other chumps?

You can read the whole story here. (Make the editor happy! Sign up for more.)

I didn’t know until I interviewed Sheila that she ALSO FOUND $275,000 WORTH OF GOLD COINS IN THE ATTIC.

Holy SHIT. She sent me pictures!

But the story I wrote wasn’t just your typical I Married A Monster clickbait — there’s some badass financial and legal advice on how to combat financial abuse, and where to go if it happens to you.

A shout out to blog friend and divorce financial analyst Vickie Adams — and Bethesda Md. family law lawyer Regina DeMeo (who was also a Patreon podcast guest last month).

If you’re going through this shit, they are also bloggers and have a wealth of resources on their sites. It’s very hard to stay in control when you discover bad stuff, but proper planning and professional help can put you in the driver’s seat.

Sheila said: “People NEED to be aware this type of theft is very real and very sneaky.”

Postscript — last I heard Sheila just finished hiking Machu Picchu. (Her ex still sucks.)

Your Friday Challenge:

Tell me how you followed the money trail and what you discovered. Got tips? Resources? Share. Let’s stop financial abuse of chumps.

*Per credit reports. Please don’t do anything illegal. Talk to your lawyer — who can demand a credit report as part of financial discovery in a divorce.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I saw this essay earlier today; what a great story! Go, Sheila!!

    I often recommend a credit report, and if you’re still married to Mr/Mrs Cheater, I believe it is perfectly legal to request it when you have all the necessary information. Also do checks for other addresses, etc., with online sites.

    • Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year. Google it and the federal trade commission supplies the url ( When I was divorcing, my lawyer told me to use this.

    • 1. Run their credit and run your own credit report too.

      My ex stole my identity and had cards out in my name I had no idea about – until I started talking to a debt consolidator worried over HIS debt, (trying to save the ship back when I believed in unicorns), who informed me of alll of my debts.

      2. Reverse search their number on google and Craigslist, etc.

      My ex would buy $1000 gift cards for Home Depot and Lowes using my credit cards and would hock them online for $750 cash.

      3. No mail?! Check to see if you have a stop mail placed on your address. Just bring your ID and go to the post office. Placing a Stop Mail is as easy as pie – can be done from a phone. The ex would do it on the days he’d know I’d be home. That way I’d never know the IRS and creditors were looking for us.

      • Do you have joint credit cards, or a credit card in your name with cheater as a authorized user? I saw that my cheater was spending out of control and forged my name on a check from our retirement fund. I had one credit card in my name that we both used and he used it a lot! I called credit card company and told them my card was missing and that I wanted to cancel both and get a new card, and no, I did not need a second one with anyone else authorized. He was declined while shopping and got pissed. I didn’t care. I said I cannot afford to have my credit in jeopardy by a cheater who literally said, “I trust you, free2bme, I don’t trust myself.” which was a moment of clarity in the fog.

        • Mine took his phone in with him to the bathroom and took a shower. I thought, why bring the phone in there if you weren’t intending to use it?

          I researched his call history that night and my world blew open.

          • Same.
            You open that phone and go completely faint.
            I don’t miss that feeling at all.

        • Smart move!

          He was an authorized user for the home improvement places but also opened a credit card under my name I had no idea existed.

  • All those credit card statements he never opened? They smacked me out of my chumpy thoughts quickly. Things I often ignored as a bit of porn I soon learned was for dating apps and live chats and backdoor payments.

    Not all that sneaky but it pulled back the veil

    • Speaking of credit card statements, you can look up the location of every change at chain restaurants, drugstores and coffee places. ATMs too. The store or ATM has a number next to it in the statement. Google the name with the number and it will give you a location. I found that he was going to a CVS and coffee place in a strange neighborhood. Strange to me but turned out it was where AP had an apartment!

      • Yes, Rebecca and checking accounts also list the venues when a debit/credit card is used. I followed his to my favorite restaurant, then the casino, hotel, and breakfast. He paid for it all with a total cost over 200.00 for that one night. He was also making multiple withdrawals for cash at the casino. I also followed the paper trail to other various dive bars she frequented in her area.

      • One more point about credit card statements. My attorney knew I could handle going through the 5 years of credit card statements to prove dissipation. The cost of the subpoena (since he would not provide them when asked) was minimal. The amount I saved by going line by line and then charting gave me huge sums and was the evidence I needed to prove he was stealing.

        Strip clubs are tricky since they don’t want to be showing up in credit card statements as a strip club…Look for a pattern…For example B&T food and beverage seemed very suspicious, and frequent with lots of charges. Turns out if you seach, you can find that they have a DBA (doing business as) in this case Booby Trap Cabaret)….which explains the $250 ATM charges from inside the “establishment”.

        It was painstaking work but I had proof of how much he spent on strip clubs, trips, (airline tieckets always had the girl’s name) etc. I got savvy very quickly. Of course that was just one card, and I saw lots of cash too, but I was doing google maps to find the ATM withdrawals from spots in downtown Miami about a block from the “club”…buste!

    • Cheater o’Mine always paid the bills so he was the one who opened the bills. I never even looked at them….until the time I did and learned about the hotel stay with her–on my birthday. I don’t know how great your marriage is, you should always look at your phone bill and credit card statements every single time.

  • Just a thought – many credit card companiesnow offer free credit scores as a bonus service if you carry their card. It’s not as complete as a full-on credit check, but it’s a good way to get a quick snapshot, if you happen to have one of those. And if both spouse’s names are on the account, it would be perfectly legal for either to take a look. 🙂

  • Sheila, they are going to make a film about you, whether it’s a feature doc or a fictional representation of your story I know not yet but I look forward to it when it comes out. It would make an awesome film. Good on you x

    • I love your story Shiela! It has a wonderful beginning, middle and end. Gold coins? Holy shit! The Limited saved state quarters worth 75.00.

      • Dudders and Doing – thanks! It certainly didn’t feel good at the time, and there’s a bit more to the story. Tracy is an excellent writer and got it all right.
        Dudders – a film! Well, I’d be happy to keep my megaphone going! 🙂

  • Question: how do you run a credit report on the cheater without it being known? Mine subscribes to a credit service that monitors his activity and alerts him to credit checks or adverse actions.

  • Had started to become suspicious of my wife’s relationship with a doctor at her work. Guessed the password for her personal bank account (we had only been married a short while and we’re getting ready to combine our personal accounts into our joint, just hadn’t gotten around to it yet) to see if I saw anything strange in there.

    Saw she was spending $1,500-2,000 a month on frivolous stuff (clothes, jewelry). I never noticed, her closet always looked like a bomb went off in it and she seriously wore a lot of the same outfits everyday. She only worked 2-3 days a week so a lot of times she got to the packages before I got home from work. Still have no idea how I didn’t notice though. Also saw expenses for food places we had never been to, and when I looked back through our texts at the transaction date she said she was running errands or something. I think it’s funny she was most likely with her AP at these food places and she had to pick up the tab at some of them haha.

    • I remember opening my now ex wife’s bank statement and seeing motel the time I was in the fog and accepted her lame excuses but now I find it amusing she actually paid for the room as she never paid for a room when we were together for 24 years and 2 kids..

  • Dollars are fungible!
    WTF does that mean?

    Well, I learned that money has fungibility because there is no difference between one dollar and another dollar. If one spouse liquidates an asset without the knowledge of the other spouse and temporarily parks the money into a shared marital account, it may be considered marital money even after it is removed.

    In my divorce, the ex was given money to buy an apartment by a third party. It was called a “loan” but with no loan documents. Of course I was told it was an exchange from one account to another for our joint benefit. I paid all the bills so he came up with a plausible explaination. Because he temporarily put the money into our joint account, it could then be considered marital assets even after he took the money out to buy something in his name only.

    OK, that’s a really complicated example but the point is it worked in my favor and translated into real money for me post-divorce.

    While I did not know this concept, once I discovered the affair, I went full on sleuth! I tracked every dollar that went in and out of our joint accounts. I highlighted EVERY dollar that I couldn’t account for and gave my lawyer a trail to follow the money. We had a joint checking and joint savings plus joint investment accounts. It was time consuming and tedious (I’m not a math person). It would have been a Herculean task if there was also business accounts. But anyone can do the basic work of just trying to balance the books. For those who have to use a forensic accountant, this gives them someplace to start. It saved me a lot of money in legal fees by finding the questions in advance. Plus it was a great way to channel my rage.

    The best part was the ex’s surprise that I found as much as I did. He didn’t think I had it I’m me. I didn’t find everything but I found enough for it to be a satisfying Fuck You!

  • You run credit score throughout the Bank, they tell you if you have joint accounts.
    All these stories were at some point hazard to reas and accept but once you are in Meh! there is no way back! Hard to realized the person you love is capable to do all this horrifics acts, all because they loose their brains and small heads with someone else. I am so glad a lot of us are out!!!
    Best to All

  • I just got suspicious. “Theres 25,000 in that account, and what if…?” So I went to the bank and had them print a 30-day statement. Sure enough, there was the withdrawal and the move of the money. The fun of it was the confrontation. I had a blast with that….

  • My ex lied about pension, and salary for years. He bought ow drugs, alcohol, god knows what. Attended crackhouses with prostitutes. Stole from me, borrowed money from friends, he remembered to pay them back.
    Incidentally ow was laughing when he was stealing from me. She actually stood outside back of house and was screaming steal from her.
    She actually dumped her kids for him.
    He now pays maintenance but doesn’t stretch to birthday and Christmas stuff, but in the past always had money for their drug and alcohol.
    Fuck the pair of them.

  • My fuckwit was withdrawing cash, a lot of cash, and moving money between accounts to make it appear as though money was just moved, but not missing.

    I discovered the affair but I felt he lied about where and when they met to have sex. He wanted to reconcile, and I knew i could not. My trust was broken, and for me, there was no going back. I knew that deep down, but i tried the “reconciliation ” and marriage counselling because i was still in shock, i think. And I thought that was what i was supposed to do. I told him i could never reconcile unless i knew the absolute truth. Up til then, he had said they fooled around in the backseat of her car but never actually had sex. I didn’t believe it.

    He admitted to going to a hotel. I asked which one. He claimed he couldn’t remember.

    Google maps showed several hotels close to his office. One particularly close. So, I called the hotel. It is a chain hotel with a points/rewards program. I told the front desk clerk that I had stayed at the hotel with my husband a while ago, but just realized that I hadn’t received my points for those stays! I said if I had the receipts, I could send if to the members rewards center and get my account properly credited. Silly me! I must have forgotten to give my rewards card at the front desk when i checked in! Could she help me out and email me the receipts?
    She emailed me everything in less than 5 minutes.

    Let’s just say they didn’t stay there 1 time only. And the detailed receipt showed he always paid cash. Hotel was reserved under his name.

    It wasn’t a “fortune”, but I was able to claim the money spent on his affair was owed back to me. In my country, there have been previous rulings on divorce and money spent on affair partners. He took money from the family resources and used it to the detriment of the marriage, is how its worded.

    So, in our financial settlement, I received money, my money back. 1/2 of the hotel bills.

    Btw I want entirely untruthful, I was a member of the rewards program. That how I knew how it worked. And that’s how I claimed those points ????

    • That is awesome, getting points for his shenanigans! Good for you not letting it be a trigger.

      • Those points are going to be put to use! Either for my divorce party trip, or just a trip for me.

        It’s been almost a year since I discovered the hotel receipts. In my daily commute, I have to go past the other hotels they stayed at (there were many) and my train goes right by 2 of them ???? it was a trigger for a long time. I would get weepy and anxious during that part of my trip, but now I’m pretty numb to it.

  • My cheater ex was always weird about money. We lived together in our twenties, his parents gave him an allowance. I remember getting down to my last $25 dollars one month and my ex insisting we split dinner 50/50 while he had thousands in the bank. Conceptually fine, i was working, we weren’t married blah, blah. However, it became indicative of his stance.

    Married 13 years, the recession hit. It hit hard. My ex asked me to move a large some of money from our joint checking account into an account only in my name. Like a large sum.

    Three years later, (naive me) asked if the monies could stay in the account as a way for me to have build credit….I know, they are not related, but I did not realize that then.

    At that point, my ex accused me of stealing the money from him. It was all moved back into our joint account when it promptly disappeared.

    Fast forward 5 years, we are having extensive work done on our home. We don’t have the money to pay the contractor in our account. My ex (now pay attention chumps) walks to his vehicle, pulls out a check book I’ve never seen and writes a check.

    Each month I pay the bills, when we are short I text my ex and tell him how much money to put in the account and it ‘magically appears’. This is the beginning of online banking and transfers….when banks take pictures of checks and you can download them. DOWN LOAD THEM!

    I suspect my ex is having an affair via the usual exhibited behavioral changes. I consult a lawyer. She asks, where’s the money? I say I don’t have access. She says “your smarter than that”. It took me a year. I documented.

    I get confirmation that he is having an affair, GAME ON. I file without telling him. My lawyer asks, “do you know where the money is?”. Hum.

    I have a checking account that is only in his name as he used it to move funds into our joint account. I have transactions showing me moving monies from the joint to an individual and back again….then we
    subpoena bank acounts….

    My lawyer calls me in to look info over…and I find that my ex is working to re-finance several houses. Some property he is using in loan documents belong to his mother who is elderly. Loan documents are filled out with him listing himself as “single”. Credit card accounts that he puts on documents are not his, they are his mother’s. I had no idea he was refinancing the family home.

    Forensic accounts become involved as he is a business owner. I’m told that “it looks like he’s moving deck chairs on the Titanic”. At his deposition, my lawyer gets him to admit he has a secret account on record. He had more than one…. but that’s what was needed to prove dishonesty.

    Like Chump Lady says, the court doesn’t care about infidelity, but if you can provide proof of dissipations of assets you’re in the race.

    We did not go to trail. My ex settled on the courthouse steps. I walked out of mediation on the advice of the mediator. In the end, I did not pursue all avenues. I took a settlement and walked away. I’m lucky. I had LEVERAGE.

    My lawyer asked if she could present my case at a conference as she had never seen anything so convoluted.

  • A good start is You have a right to see all of the bureau’s reports once annually, it is a federal thing. You have to pay extra if you want your numerical score but that is not what this is about– this will let you look at everything in your credit history for no charge and then you can begin to pull on the strings that look dicey. You can pull yours and your cheater’s reports with some basic information verifying identity.

    Fortunately the toddler I was married to didn’t do the adult money management so I am confident I was aware of every penny. He was really horrible in getting his work expenses reimbursed so he might have been using that one personal credit card for nefarious shit but I tracked it all. In the end he got stuck with the final unreimbursed work expenses in the end because of his poor tracking.

  • Seems she didn’t spend much on her affairs. 60 dollars on a cheap hotel to bang her boytoy. Mostly just gas money to travel to their houses. Guess I was lucky in that aspect! Was privy to her credit reports since we were purchasing her dream home during that time. All in all, probably 300-400 dollars. Cheap cheater!

  • Mine wasn’t nearly the financial cheater on the scale of those reflected in these horror stories, but more than 2 years post divorce I’m still wondering: Where exactly did the money go?

    I’m currently able to shell out $300/week in child support and still pay every home-related expense for the house we shared since 2010, car loan, paying down credit card payments towards being debt-free later this year, life insurance, half of all school and extracurricular expenses for our daughters, take a decent annual vacation with them, put some away for retirement, and have enough left over to indulge social and entertainment expenses for myself — all on roughly the same salary and bonus structure that I had 5 years ago.

    She made $50-60k/year in her job the last 3 years we were married, and we were never able to make the slightest dent in any of the credit card debt, nor put anything additional toward retirement savings, nor funded either of the girls’ college accounts.

    My mistake was removing myself completely from the day-to-day matters of paying bills, tracking family expenses and checking bank statements. My parents were able to make that division of labor work for more than 50 years, so that was my model. A very tough lesson, but the upside is I’m headed toward some semblance of solvency without a pathertic invertebrate in tow.

    “No one with self-worth wants to act like a warden for too long.” Truly words to live by.

    • “Where did all the money go?”

      I was blamed for the Limited’s inability to get anywhere in life. My money from day one went into supporting my children, buying their clothes, lessons, and private school, the down payment on my home and food. Still I also paid my educational costs. This was on a minimum wage job.

      He claimed he didn’t make money year after year.
      I’m still hearing about all the money he made and getting the blame for him ending up with no retirement or assets.

      Like you UX I’m able to fully support myself, two homes due to my work situation and saving for retirement. After paying down my credit card debt, raising my credit score, I purchased s car.

      His money was spent on pussy. Didn’t work out so well for him. Not my problem.

      • I’m with you there Ux. I made slightly more than him but paid the kids’ medical insurance, schooling and so on. I ended up going to hospital for a month some time ago and he was “horrified” about the state of our accounts, dragged the neighbour in to verify my “horribleness” and how I had spent him out of house and home. But the truth is, he was the one at the scuzzy bar every night spending an absolute fortune buying rounds for all the local alkies. He got drunk one day and went out (drunk) and bought himself a 60,000$ car. He needed to have 10 guitars. He ran up the electric bill to 344 euros a month (I got that changed to 80 after he left). He ran up the phone bill to 266 euros a month with a damn stupid contract for unlimited calls to the US. I got that changed too. I knocked over 1,000 euros a month off my bills when he left and that didn’t include his stupid 500 euros a month car insurance (drunk driver speciality). I was and am so much better off without him it’s unbelievable!

    • UX. It’s probably all related. No self control over vagina or just spending. Like I said could not track down any real money spent on affairs but she could spend money!

  • Innocently opening up his Bank/Debit card statement is what started the ball rolling. If I had not found that statement that clearly laid out a road trip vacation, and then followed that up by finding receipts for high end dinner’s for two, that took place while I was with my and HIS family FOR OUR SONS BIRTHDAY – – I may still be married to him!

    • “For our son’s birthday”: Yes, there’s something particularly outrageous and galvanizing about the added insult on top of the injury. For mine, it was sending me a “pay attention to me!” email the day after I had driven 1000 miles to be with my mother who had just had a stroke. He couldn’t give up centrality even when my attention needed to be with my mother.

      • XH the substance abuser insisted that I come home for Thanksgiving dinner with his kid’s family, even though my mother, with dementia, had just had surgery and was raging and incoherent with doctors and nurses. He never spent a minute at the hospital, but wanted me to set the table, eat the turkey and do the cleanup. I did, but although I stayed for years after that, the marriage was effectively dead, right there.

    • It’s ironic how an innocent action can lead to discovery. I never suspected my ex of infidelity until there was some glitch with one of my teenager’s cell phone and in order to take care of it, the phone company added me as an administrator on the family cell phone account. I casually mentioned it in passing during a phone conversation with my then husband and he went absolutely BALLISTIC! He started screaming at me and ranting that I had no business adding my name as an account manager. It was so out of the blue and disproportionate that it immediately raised my suspicions. He called the phone company right away and had my name removed as an account manager. Until that happened it never occurred to me to check the cell phone records. It sure did after that and I’m sure you can guess what I found. It still took over a year of serious spackeling before I confronted him about my suspicions but if he had just kept his cool, I might never have started down the path that ultimately led to DDay #1.

      • Wow so true, I suspected my ex only when one night he went upstairs and forgot his cell phone…he ran back down and picked it up and gave me a look of pure hatred ( I was at least 5m away from it and had clearly no intention of looking at it); once I saw that look I knew something was on that phone he didn’t want me to see. 24 h later and I had concrete proof of a four-year affair with howorker. This was 18 months ago – if he hadn’t given me that brief look I’d still be with him now.

        • Bellina – Right there! The look. We all know it well.
          Pure evil dark hatred.
          To me, guarding a cell phone is probably the biggest indicator of lying and cheating. When I initially thought he was having a brief affair, it turned out to be 3 years…right after I bought him his cell phone to be more efficient at work.

          Excellent point to share!

      • Mine took his phone in with him to the bathroom and took a shower. I thought, why bring the phone in there if you weren’t intending to use it?

        I researched his call history that night and my world blew open.

        • Just awful!. The obsession with using it in the bathroom . . like, who do they think they’re fooling?

          I also hadn’t thought to look at phone records, but when I did.
          There was no trace of anything.
          But, he cut me off of access to his work cell – at the time, Blackberry.
          I was his official employed assistant and we regularly drove down the road and I would send biz messages. That suddenly stopped when he changed his password and got really freaking mad at me for everything. Such a typical flag.. God, I wish just I could have cut my losses sooner. The pain is terrible and I wish I’d never met him. His actions wiped out a lot of once-good-memories. Thanks for all your support and comments.

          • I never looked at Jackass’s phone but he ALWAYS took it into the bathroom. Said he liked to read…I look back now and think he was cheating with someone or other the whole time. It wasn’t until MOW came on the scene that he decided to make me Plan B…

      • Another hint: my older X made a huge deal about how dumb he was about technology, had a flip phone, a simple computer in his office he claimed he had a hard time with.
        Completely untrue. He had a secret iphone (a friend of his mentioned it) and he worked that computer like a pro. For his sex activities… Found out post DDay. Immediately grab and hide any hard drives!

        I went on that verify website and discovered his secret post office boxes, several traffic tickets in places he had no reason to be, addresses where he was recently seen. Secret email addresses, etc. A good starting place for $15 or whatever. Especially the PO Boxes….

        I also conned the drug store into giving me a list of his prescriptions…that was interesting…

        I am 99% sure he had hidden money, we just could not find it (OW at his office could have helped hide bonuses, stock). I put a paragraph in the settlement agreement that he agreed that he had revealed all monies. If other monies were discovered at any time in the future, those monies at Settlement date values, came to me.(Like in probate). He actually signed it…????. How could he not?

        One more: check your State Corporation Commission website, or equivalent, for companies/directorships/partnerships using his name or the name of someone close to him. Here, it costs a mere $50 to form a simple company. A good way to hide assests without them appearing on your joint tax return…and scour those tax returns. If there is something there you do not understand, ask the accountant.

        Be Ruthless. Detailed. These people are experts and they love money…

  • My STBX did not have secret credit cards or bank accounts. He was stashing money in his parents safe. I found this out by Skankella’s daughter(also a cousin). He had $15,000 stashed and when he sold his 1970 Dodge Dart he stashed that cash as well. While I was struggling to pay the bills. He was spending who knows how much on Skankella and was stashing cash. He thought that if he hid money from me I would not be able to claim it in a divorce. My lawyer told him different. I can thank Skankella’s daughter for giving me the heads up even though I am sure her Mom told her to tell me. I estimate that my STBX spent about $500,00 a month on his tramp. This is $500.00 a month times 4 years. Well at least I am rid of a cheating manchild.

  • Mistake #1: My Ex was a CPA and the head financial guy for several medium size corporation so I *assumed* it was safe to leave all the bill paying and finances in his hands.
    Mistake #2: I loved him, my family loved him and we all trusted him. After my grandpa died and my grandma rewrote her Will and was going to leave everything to my brother and I, I asked her to leave my half of her estate to both my then husband and I so I lost the ability to claim those funds as my separate property. I’m also not sure where all of those funds went since my then husband was in charge of finances.

    Lessons I Learned #1: Always be in charge of your own finances even if you’re married to someone with more accounting/finance skills than you. I will never, ever again trust someone to manage my money or bills. In fact, I doubt I would ever have a joint account again.
    Lessons I Learned #2: Check for early withdrawals from 401K accounts before you divide them. All of ex’s 401K accounts were earned during the marriage so they were subject to division. Turned out that he had been making withdrawals from the accounts to pay credit card debt even though he was make a very healthy six figure income. A steady stream of stripper girlfriends ain’t cheap y’all. Tawdry, but not cheap. I made sure that all of the withdrawals and all of the penalties for the early withdrawals were subtracted ONLY from HIS portion of the retirement accounts. This meant that I ended up with almost 85% of his retirement. And as soon as I could, I rolled that money over into my own IRA so that I could make sure he had no access to it so a “mistake” couldn’t be made and a withdrawal taken from the “wrong” account. Was I being paranoid? Probably. Don’t care.
    Lessons I Learned #3: My Dad died between DDay #1 and #2. By that point I had wised up enough so that when I got my share of my dad’s estate I put it in investment accounts that I opened in my name only. Not commingling that money with our joint accounts made it super easy for me to claim that as my separate property when we divorced. While we were married, if we needed the money I would transfer some into our joint account but the bulk of it was safely under my name alone so I had no problem keeping that money in the divorce.
    Lessons I Learned #4: The devil is in the details. Check those credit card statement details. See any expenses you don’t recognize? Turned out NYNY “supper club” was a strip club. Do you have a hotel points reward credit card? Check to see if the points are being used and where. My ex was using MY Hilton Honors reward points for taking his stripper girlfriends on business trips even after we were divorced. It took me awhile to figure out getting his name off the credit card wasn’t enough – I had to separately take him off the reward points account too but totally worth it to think he wouldn’t get to use them anymore. Also Ex frequently rented a car for “work trips” to avoid putting miles on his personal vehicle. Check those statements too. I found the name of yet another stripper girlfriend looking at the statement and seeing a woman’s name listed as a “secondary driver”.

    Overall lesson: Beth was a trusting fool. Don’t be a trusting fool. Since the divorce, I manage my own money, pay my own bills, prepare my own taxes and I don’t need to be a CPA to do any of those things. It was difficult and scary in the beginning but I figured it out and slowly but surely it began to feel good to stand on my own two feet and be responsible for myself. And even though I make a fraction of what Ex made, I have more money than we ever did as a married couple because I’m no longer paying for his alternative life style.

    • Beth,

      I have followed you and always look for your picture. We share some storylines and I’m always impressed with forthrightness and knowledge. If you lived near me, we could be friends!

      • Out West,

        I read your posts too so yeah, we definitely share some similarities and could definitely be friends! If you’re ever in Southwestern Ohio (Dayton area) let me know. We will have to have a celebratory “we survived and thrived” dinner!

          • Oh!! I assumed you were literally *out west*, LOL. You’re not so far from me.

              • She and Beth

                I’m from Out West and that’s where my heart is. I’m in Michigan as I moved here for my ex. Hard to say where I’ll end up when all is said and done. I don’t have family here and like many on this site, my married life was isolating, most married friends were Switzerland or plain flat scared of my ‘affliction’. I’ve been rebuilding slowly but still find myself seeking deeper, authentic friendships.

  • Ha!! As if! We had nothing. The house is mine, and he left with his crap and the only marital assets we fought over were the two grave plots we bought when my son died. I have those.

    I wish I’d have found gold in the attic, but he’s gone along with his stench, so that’s just as good.

    • Just awful!. The obsession with using it in the bathroom . . like, who do they think they’re fooling?

      I also hadn’t thought to look at phone records, but when I did.
      There was no trace of anything.
      But, he cut me off of access to his work cell – at the time, Blackberry.
      I was his official employed assistant and we regularly drove down the road and I would send biz messages. That suddenly stopped when he changed his password and got really freaking mad at me for everything. Such a typical flag.. God, I wish just I could have cut my losses sooner. The pain is terrible and I wish I’d never met him. His actions wiped out a lot of once-good-memories. Thanks for all your support and comments.

  • One important bit of advice on the “fix your picker” subject is that before you marry again, a full and thorough background check on both of you should be a requirement.

    Any criminal behavior along with money issues will come to light. Besides sexual infidelity, financial infidelity is a huge destroyer of marriages. In all candor, my Ex screwing other men pissed me off but stealing family funds and putting us into debt that I didn’t know about was WAY worse and negatively affected me for years.

    Protect yourself going forward and if they refuse a background check, walk.

    • I met a handsome, charming man a few years back who wanted to marry me. At first glance and on the surface he seemed fantastic. After living with him a few months I couldn’t help but notice how poor he was when he made almost six figures. He had nothing to show for it either. He had been single for years, his kids were middle aged, he hadn’t put anyone through college. He had no savings, no retirement built up, an old pick up truck with over 200k miles on it and thousands of dollars in credit card debt. I said at least half a dozen times…’Before we get married we NEED to have an honest talk about money.’ Nope, not going to happen and he would completely ignore me. I was getting more and more anxious as our wedding date approached. One day as I was doing my taxes he made the comment that he owed ‘thousands and thousands’ of dollars to the IRS. That was it. I created a crisis and bailed.

      Never again will I be yoked to a man who is stupid with his money. I have no idea what he was after but it certainly wasn’t me. He was back online dating within days of our break up and had a new victim within weeks.

    • And get a prenup. It’s not difficult. And if your intended balks at the notion that you don’t intend to be taken to the cleaners AGAIN, head for the tall timber.

        • “A prenup isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” said my cheating narcissistic father Harlow’s wife 3.0 Hell. She calls herself a fiduciary accountant but she only completed a paralegal certificate and targeted my father. Either through the law firm where my rich grandfather worked or through their philately club. She was always encouraging her niece to join saying “These men have money !”

          Or as somebody commented “A restraining order is only as good as the person it’s issued to”

          Maybe cohabitation is a better option than legal marriage. Or better yet separate residences with just alternating sleepovers during the week. And vacations together.

          • I would say never cohabit with anyone you can’t fully trust. And always keep your car and your bank accounts separate. If you can’t talk honestly about money before you move in together or if you can’t agree to basic rules of the road like running credit checks, then that’s not the person for you.

        • I have written this here, before.

          I had a prenup before I married my X. I refused to marry him without it, as he had been married before and had complicated relationships with his former wife and adult kids.

          My lawyer sent it to his. They squawked that it was “out of date” and other BS. We sent the drafts, some in his own handwriting… not another word. The prenup was very valuable to me.

          Get a prenup, and KEEP THE DRAFTS. They prove the parties intensions during negotiations. Put in a monetary provision for recompense to the chump by the party that caused the breech. Heeheehee.

          • When I married Cheater X, we were young, assetless, and childless. I never thought I would remarry, but when I did I insisted on a prenup. The current Mr. Survivor did not bat an eyelash. We were older professional people, each owned property and had other assets, and he had a child. Taking the golddigging potential out of the equation makes the marriage less transactional, not more.

    • For the Americans who read this site and are planning to marry again, ask to see the annual accounting the Social Security Administration sends your intended.

      I smelled a male rat in my coed CoDA meeting, which I no longer attend. Total narcissist who managed to charm many in the group. Trained architect/faux European intellectual who hadn’t booked any projects in a long time. Whined about his “crazy” wife who he discovered was pulling the plug on their marriage but he beat her to the punch. His parents had given them a lot of money for their house down payment and his wife was the one earning all the money while he read,wrote and practiced his classical guitar. A bunch of us went out for fellowship and were talking about getting remarried. I said I’d have to run a credit report and see the man’s SS report before I considered signing on the line. This man just about sh*t his pants.

  • I would rather run a marathon through Macho Pichu than stay with my cheating, money-wasting ex any longer.

    (And I hate running.)

    • LiningupDucks. That’s hilarious because, I could barely catch my breath trudging up to Machu Picchu so, sprinting a marathon up there takes on a whole new perspective. The altitude was murder.

      • I took my kids to Machu Picchu! It was a trip of a lifetime. We have selfies with Llamas at the ruins! The best part of being divorced is the freedom to travel and live the way I want.

  • X and his (four-times married) sister concocted a scheme to put their parents’ inheritance in trust. It was simple and brilliant; if he died, she was the sole benefactor and vice versa. They cut out their spouses and kids. They also forged their parents’ signatures.

    So all the years I wanted to put money in an IRA, vetoed it, explaining that his parents’ inheritance was our “retirement.” I found emails to his sister YEARS before our divorce that he was waiting for his parents to die to leave me, so his objections to an IRA was a deliberate lie to leave me with NOTHING. OUT OF SPITE. Because he hated me all along. He planned his exit for years and had no intention of supporting me or our three sons.

    Right before his mother died, she gave him a check for $10K and told me it was to take our kids to Disney. When I asked him about it, he lied and said he put $1800 into the kids’ college account (never happened). When I asked about the remainder, he evaded the direct question by getting pissy, yelling, and stormed out.

    My advice is to never believe a word your spouse says unless they can back it up with joint account statements. And NEVER let him/her be the only manager of the retirement accounts. Ignorance leaves you destitute.

  • You should run a credit report on your own social security number and also on your husbands if you have any joint accounts. My long deceased father used one of my sibling’s social security number and forged her name on a bunch of credit cards before he died. She had no idea and guess what? Because her name was on the cards she was initially held responsible for the debt and had to hire an attorney who worked for a year to clear up the credit and get her name cleared. Bottom line, if someone is running up debt they might not have enough income or assets to support new credit cards so they will use your social security number, income and assets to support the request for increased debt.

  • When my heater and I first got together, I had a good job. He didn’t. We needed a car. I got a ban loan to purchase the car. While I was at work, he promptly put the ownership in his name. It was ‘our’ car – until I left him. He threatened to report it stolen.

    • My ex forged the title of my 1968 Camaro into his name. It was my car in college. He denied it was his handwriting ( mine was similar). Then came up with a cockamamie story about my mother taking HIM to Motor Vehicle and putting my car in HIS name. Another lie that I cannot fathom he concocted!

  • Hey, if you liked the Girlfriend story, please do me a solid and like the page on Facebook.

    I know people ask for likes and shares and such, I try not to do too much of that. But fact is, it’s publishing currency these days. Like the page = hey, chumps read! chumps like! = more chump stories. Engagement…

    Thank you!

    • As a card carrying AARP member, I not only liked the FB page but also signed up for the Newsletter which I didn’t realize existed until now so thank YOU Tracy!

    • Thanks Tracy! I signed up! I am going to share the piece on my Facebook so people know what goes on behind the scenes isn’t just physical!

      As usual a timely piece of writing. I was cleaning yesterday and trying to decide what to do with my ex’s stack of debt collection notices I had saved. I found them after he moved out because they were under the bed ???? he opened them and been so embarrassed he had stuck them there like a little kid!

      • My ex used to put his bank statements and bills on top of the kitchen cupboards. Out of sight out of mind. I remember finding them wand thinking ‘how childish’ that was a warning bell I didn’t think I had to listen to…. Oh dear….

        • no-way Oh no! There are red flags we all missed. Mine would never check his credit score “My dad uses my SSN. It’s already bad enough. There’s no point.” He’d say. Yeesh! Big babies!

        • no-way Oh no! There are red flags we all missed. Mine would never check his credit score “My dad uses my SSN. It’s already bad enough. There’s no point.” He’d say. Yeesh! Big babies!

          I could toss them… but when I first found them it solicited in my mind that he was a liar and I was validated in my decision to keep my distance.

    • Read your article and “liked” it- I’ve liked less than 10 things on Facebook in the last decade, but it’s totally worth it to help support the woman who created Chump Nation ????

    • Done and done ! You rock Tracy ! Wish you were around in the seventies and eighties when my late mother and some of her friends were getting reamed emotionally (and financially)

    • Yes, great job on the article. There are times when I think getting the information out about taking care of our finances is like getting a flu shot for one of the big horrors of infidelity–getting hosed financially. Great to get the word out to a wider audience.

  • For the longest time, I didnt think of his financial dealings in the last 7 years of his life as cheating-related, but way later, after I realized how selfish he was, I now see that he did very selfish, foolish things to indulge his narcissism that had little to do with OW but more to do with insisting he got his way no matter how it screwed me and the kids. The one especially nasty thing I do remember is catching him promising OW a $40,000 engagement ring when our kids had no college funds.

    He managed to keep hotels dinners and gifts for ow to a bare minimum (I balanced the family books like a hawk). During the same era though, he moved across the country alone, fully furnished an apt, started 2 businesses, bought a really expensive house we couldn’t afford at the time and bought and sold cars like a lotto winner (increasing our debt with each purchase). When he did this stuff, he feigned seeking out my approval (so he could blame me later) and towards the end, I refused to approve a crazy purchase that would put us deep in a debt we did not need and he went into a rage where he destroyed things in the house.

    It has become CN legend but for anyone who missed it, he refused to buy a more expensive, sensible, responsible life insurance policy and instead bought a cheap one that paid out more but was only good for a short term. About 1/3 through the term of the policy (in an ill-advised wreckonsillyation) he dropped dead and I was the soul beneficiary. (Things were so labile that when he bought it, I tore open the envelope to see if maybe OW was on it and whether or not he had HIV).

    I paid off house we should have never bought (I still live in it), paid off kids school loans, all cars…everything and invested the rest in my name alone (my new husband and I respect each others foundational investments and dont co-own them). I also had a vivid memory of him being especially abusive while discussing a certain investment he had made and had wildly blameshifted something about it onto me. I cashed it in and took daughter to London and stayed at a fine hotel downtown.

    Part of the moral of the story was my fear/unwillingness of seeing his behavior (at the time) as financial abuse when it clearly was. 1 or 2 very small details different and I could have lost everything, so I dont have gloating pride, I feel like a person who had a bullet go by so close I could hear it.

  • If anyone has an idea on how to locate a moved retirement fund, I need the help. During our divorce I accidentally rec’d a phone message confirming move of funds. So, I know it was done. Judge awarded my share, but ex has never filled out paperwork to divide it. It’s been a few years. I don’t know where the money is located so I can’t fill out the paperwork myself. Any tips on how to locate the account would be appreciated.

    • His employer should have that information. Contact their HR and let them help you. It’s a federal offense for him to hide community property such as pensions, etc.

      Sic ’em.

      • Many employers have conditions on retirement funds, where the employee cannot cash the fund in or move it without permission.

  • I’ve told this story a couple of times here: my paychecks suddenly had a consigned loan, 25% of my salary. What!?

    I call HR and they told me I would have to ask the bank. Since my account was a joint one with sparkledick, whom I trusted blindly, before going to the bank I asked him if he knew what was going on. He answered that he had “no idea”. So I stomp into the bank full of righteous anger. The manager proves to me that sparkles had taken out the loan. I leave humiliated.

    Sparkles “needed” the money and became very angry that I was upset, I even felt guilty.

    This was ten years before D-day. What a chump I am. I still regret not taking action.

    Sparkles’ eternally broke brother was upset about having to sell a favorite painting worth, according to him, about half of my monthly income. I had money saved so I offered to buy it to at least keep it in the family, maybe one day he could buy it back. I also trusted him blindly, furthermore he is in the art business.
    When I got divorced I got rid of every single thing that reminded me of sparkledick and his family. The painting was sold for its true market value, half of what I paid…

    I have plenty of stories of how sparkles’ siblings conned each other.

  • The day after I found out about the affair partner, I went straight to the bank, withdrew all our money and put it in a cashier’s check under my name only until I could figure out exactly what was going on. I left just enough in the account to keep it open.

  • Oh. and the credit card was under my name, he was just an add on user. So I nixed the add on user.

  • Whoo boy! Can I comment on this…

    I did a simple record search on my county’s register of deeds’s website. The general public can see that a document and what type it is and the date, but has to go to the actual office to pull the full file. Attorney offices have access to the whole record via the internet. Anyway, I saw there was a “Power of Attorney” filed with my name 1 year prior to D-Day. The full affair was also being conducted at this time.

    My ex MIL had my Ex husband (her son) sign my name, very obvious it was his, to a power of attorney which she used to attach my name, credit and income to a $6 million! loan for their family business. The loan officer and the notary who “notarized” it lost their jobs and the attorney who handled it was censured by the bar. I was interviewed by the FBI because it was a crime against a bank and the amount of money was so high. Unfortunately the bank refused to press charges so they got off scot-free.

    The credit reports showed the loan, which I did after the record search. I would also recommend doing a record search also. You can do it for free at the local courthouse or pay online to have it done.

  • Don’t trust anyone blindly with your money. Period. Not parents, not spouses, not kids.

  • With smaller amounts, but my ex withdrew and hid cash and kept some salary from me. He handled our finances and I hardly checked, but it just took one peek at one of our accounts to see. Another gotcha moment for me was when I logged into his travel website account at Expedia. I knew his login and guessed his pass—saw flight reservations. And that piece of information alone allowed me to fully comprehend his lying.

    He was insisting that nothing had happened and nothing ever would have, that it was online fantasy. But no one buys a plane ticket for an online fantasy.

  • This is some crazy stuff. My storys different. He wanted me to manage the money. I was good at it and it made him look good by association. He had an old reputation as a bum but with me he began to look quite respectable. He also seemed to believe i was too dumb and gullible to ever be dishonest. And for years i was not dishonest at all.

    I had access to his on line pay stubs and knew exactly what he earned and he brought that home in cash off the pay-card. He got a per diem he used on liquor and women i assume (i never knew how much per diem was) but he gave me the actual pay check.

    I would sort the money and pay things. And not to sound like a bad wife, but it also let me save a lot he was not aware of, which started and became important as his abuse ramped up on me and an exit plan became a thing.

    We shared a bank account and the online feature became priceless as things got worse and he would storm out for days. I could change the PW and remove funds from our joint account to a different acct before he could reach an ATM to wipe it out.

    When he came back I would move the cash back ….over and over i played this stupid game.

    On the day i kicked him out I reported his debit card as stolen and moved money so he had access to none of it. I regularly paid almost everything in cash so there was little bank trail and because Id managed to stash back a lot through this system,when his attorney looked at our accounts there was no real evidence of anything, the bank always looked empty even before he left. I had enough saved to pay cash for a divorce and then some.

    I recommend cash cause you can spend $100 on groceries but tell him it was $200, lol.

    An unrelated tip, i got a protection order that he broke by sending love bomb shit and i reported every tiny infraction so now he has 3 felonies and lost his job. He has to wear an ankle monitor, lol.

  • I was raised in a time and culture where the husband was the primary breadwinner, and where he went to work and came home to his family on a daily basis. There was never a lot of disposable income. I chose to go to college and to work. I usually earned less than my spouse, but also worked fewer hours and did more around the house, and almost everything for the children.

    When I figured out the father of my sons was cheating, I started paying close attention to the finances. Unfortunately for him, he was not very good at hiding his indiscretions. My next husband was not a breadwinner. It took me much less time to figure out I was better off without him. Also, I had been jaded by the actions of the previous spouse. I couldn’t believe the level of depravity, or the entitlement, and I had to figure out how to fix my picker and set boundaries. My life has been much better ever since I left these cheaters behind. If a cheater will practice infidelity, a cheater will cheat you financially, too. I will never have a joint account or credit card again. Fortunately I learned that lesson from the first marriage. I think there should be classes in the financial aspects of marriage prior to granting a marriage license. It is too easy to marry and too difficult to divorce. Laws need to change.

  • Personally I think that there are two types.

    The Evil Master-Mind which Sheila had who leads a complex double life and the Oblivious Complacent who is somewhat lazy in hiding their financial infidelities and is offended and surprised when challenged.

    Mme was pretty much in the second camp. I knew that she didn’t have a second income stream but she did manage to drive a lat of miles to see OM on a regular basis. One weekend trip that she said that she was going away “by herself to think” didn’t involve a hotel bill.

    On the other hand – she was paranoid about me and watched me like a hawk going daily through the online bank statements.

    An article – which ironically I had suggested to Mme a bit before D-Day is worth reading for many chumps. It emphasizes the importance of being financially independent.

  • Mine was too stupid (despite a doctorate from one of the best universities in the world) to get away with any financial games, but did refuse for years to add me to our investment accounts, claiming the broker “was old-fashioned and thought only the MAN needed to be on the account”. But since all deposits to it were made from our joint checking account…I walked away with half of it.

    My only additional documentation that I stumbled onto was toll receipts. My state uses EZ Pass and we got monthly statements. Very easy to see when he was actually scooting off to see his side piece instead of “working late”.

  • I didn’t “win” a lot of arguments during my separation from the EX, but I did win this one:

    I discover he is having a portion of his paycheck deposited into his personal account (and has been for 3 years). I knew he had a personal account, but we had agreed we’d only put gift money or side job income into our personal accounts. Our primary paychecks went into a shared account from which all household bills were paid. My discovery made me very angry, but he insisted it was fine that he have some “fun money” and that if I had wanted some I could have done it too. He hadn’t “meant” to keep it secret.

    The next day, I come home, and he shakes a checkbook in my face gloating about his discovery that I have used our shared checkbook for all kinds of personal expenses (charitable donations, gifts, etc.) Indignantly, I deny it. Then he opens the checkbook and flips through it–see, a check to the phone company, a check to the power company, a check to a charity I support, a check to the kid’s school, a check for a contribution to a gift at work. “You’ve been stealing for yourself from our shared account! he says.

    Then I explain the checkbook he has in hand is my personal checkbook. He rummaged my desk looking for dirt on me, and when he saw that checks from a checkbook were for bills, he assumed he’d found his proof. In reality, I dipped into MY money when we didn’t have enough in our shared account to cover or bills. (And, if hadn’t been siphoning off money, we’d have had enough!)

    So, I’ve discovered he steals money from us with his personal checking account; he discovers I cover his ass with money from my personal checking account.

    Pretty much sums up the marriage.

    I was lucky he was too lazy to engage in larger forms of financial fraud.

  • Based on the recommendations here, I just did a credit report on my STBX. He has racked up $46,770 in credit cards and a personal loan since he moved out in July. WOW! I think he bought the OW an engagement ring, but what on earth is he doing??? He truly has lost his mind!!

    • He’s playing the big shot for OW. Hope they get married and she has to deal with his debt.

    • My ex did the same thing. Make sure you use date of separation in the divorce petition, so any debt after that dae is all his.

  • Sometimes, I wish I had gotten my own lawyer but I didn’t have any money of my own. The Dickhead worked overtime every weekend. We had a joint account and he had a separate savings that
    I never knew the balance. We deposited our checks and he took out his overtime and put it in his savings. When we bought our second home, our payment went up $500 which the remaining money I had left each month. He never offered to increase how much he left in the checking.

    I didn’t pursue his savings because at the time I had more in my retirement than he did in his savings and retirement combined, if I’m to believe him.

    However, I have no idea if his family, mainly his sister, shielded things for him. Her husband owns a business and I heard enough over the years to know that she was willing make a fake check here and there to their advantage. She would have done anything to help him out one over on me.

    I look at it like this – I’m out, I have my life and I have a future. He can’t hurt me now.

    • That’s how I dealt w/my first marriage, Miss Bailey, to a very smart lawyer – who was an alcoholic. He was using all his and his lawyer’s lawyerly skills to drag things out, even to the point of him proposing a settlement, my agreeing to it, and him deciding he didn’t want that any more, multiple times. God only knows why he was doing that; it was all through lawyers and we weren’t in touch.

      So when he made hugely low-ball offer, figuring I would never accept it and he could keep fighting w/me and drawing this out, I accepted it. When we went to sign it, my lawyer made a big point of reminding me, in front of the Ex and his lawyer, that by signing, I was agreeing to be robbed. I told him nice and clearly that I agreed, it was worth it! Their faces!!!!

      I was out, I was safe, I was young and able to earn. That was all I needed.

  • My ex had a side business. He thought he could use that money as playmoney. Did it for years under my trusting chump nose. It was a marital asset so he tried to deplete the cash during our year of separation.

    Problem was that he used the business credit card for a lot of it. I went through 2 years of transactions and highlighted the suspicious ones. Did the same with his business checking. Cash withdrawals from casino ATMs are hard to justify as business expenses.

    Then in depositions, we questioned both OW and him about the transactions…Kate Spade purses, expensive restaraunts, weekend trips, etc.

    He even “hired” her to move income from him to her to hide a third of his income. That blew up in his face when she was recorded in the deposition as only working maybe 5 hours a week for the equivalent of $80/hour and couldn’t name a single sales rep even though he gave her the title of merchandiser.

    Discovering how deep his deceit could go and that he was willing to try and cheat not only me but his own children was the moment any feeling I may have had for him left. I didn’t even know him and everything we had together was built on lies and impression management.

    Luckily, my business valuation was used and even though the income for him that was used wasn’t as high as I thought it should be, it was definitely higher than he wanted. I have heard “I got royally fucked financially” so many times, I don’t even hear it anymore.

  • Sheila is a deadset legend! I also met her in OZ. She made us belly laugh so much. Love you Sheila! Xx

  • Everyone should have a FuckOff fund. It’s not just abuse or harassment or financial pressure that’s an issue. If you are married or living together and your partner leave or dies, you need access to ready cash. The best thing chumps can do for themselves is to get financially intelligent and to teach their kids to be the same.

    • I think having that is important even if you’re single – it is there if the shit hits the fan (major repairs are needed on your house/car/etc, you have to take an extended leave of absence from work due to illness of yourself or your family, or you lose your job). That way, there is a fuckton less stress if someone adverse does indeed happen.

      I am speaking from personal experience there.

    • I always called it my Fuck You Money, but Fuck Off Fund is even better. Yes, everybody should have something put aside. Except cheaters and abusers of all stripes. They aren’t allowed to hide money and we will take it back from them.

    • Agreed! I bought into the advice of my married elders that in order for a union to be complete, everything must be completely shared, including money. That if you maintain separate money accounts you might as well sign your divorce papers. I took it all to heart, wanting to fully invest myself in my marriage. Pretty dumb and not the advice I’ll give my daughter as she grows up. I’m lucky that the law at least shielded some of my inheritance even though it had been transferred into my ex’s name.

      • Yep. I bought into the idea that trust was demonstrated by blending assets. We did each have a personal checking account, but mine never had more than $1000 in it–it really was a way to buy gifts for him without him knowing etc. Consequently, I got taken advantage of in all sorts of ways. Some of them were just stupid–I took on all his debts and he took on all my savings.

        I thought we’d had “the money talk” prior to our wedding, but I was guileless about asking probing questions and he was slick with reassurances. I have plenty of advice now for how to manage the kind of financial merge a marriage entails!

  • I hope Sheila took those $275,000 worth of gold coins and just moved them elsewhere. “What gold coins?”

    Infidelity tax.

    • LOL – funny thing, the thought didn’t cross my mind until much later!

  • Alas, no stash of gold coins in the attic or secret accounts to be found with my ex. She really was the broke spendthrift who couldn’t keep a real job that I thought she was 😀 .
    But I did find out she and her mother did try to clean out the bank account and steal the one thing I owned of value, but failed. She didn’t have the bank password, and didn’t know where the key to the safe way. Thank goodness for small miracles.

    • that should’ve said “where the key to the safe WAS.”

    • I’d have loved to see their faces when they couldn’t get in. Lol. As soon as I found out about the cheating I opened a new account and put what savings were left (after his degenerate lifestyle depleted them) into a GIC he can’t ever touch. Good for you for keeping those assets safe and giving no quarter to cheating scum, TTW.

  • This is a story about my kids dad, not ex narcopath. Although, kid’s dad, was just as bad, but just a plain asshole, not a pretend nice-guy.

    Let me paint the picture: Living with kid’s dad. We are common-law. He owned a house, prior to us getting together. He stated very clearly he would never marry. I had been married before, did not feel compelled to push this issue. But law’s in Ontario are very clear – if you are a common-law, and your partner owned a dwelling prior to your relationship, you are entitled to nothing of it, should your relationship end.

    When I met kid’s dad, he was a tool and die maker, making good $$$. I made it clear that his house expenses and bills would exist whether I lived there or not, therefore I would not contribute. I would buy groceries and pay my bills (I had the better car), and when the kids came along, I paid for all things kid related.

    Fast forward to me being pregnant with son (our 2nd child). I had terrible sciatica and my work in the health field required me to be on my feet all shift. I could barely make it through a shift, was crying in my car on the way home from the pain. I knew that I would have to take an early maternity leave (at 5 months pregnant), but due to my own bills and all the child expenses, I was going to end up in the hole.

    At this time, kid’s dad had started working a new job in a factory making $50k +++ and refused to share or help me out in any way. I had to file for personal bankruptcy while living with him and pregnant. The bankruptcy people were appalled and he would not provide any of his personal information.

    After our son was born, kid’s dad became even more financially abusive, setting limits on how many times a day I could use the oven (once, apparently, OR ELSE!), and then he unscrewed the dryer cord and hid it during the summer months, demanding I hang all clothing on the line. (We had a baby in cloth diapers, and it rained a lot), and then he declared the hot water tank was going, but refused to fix it, so he would turn off electricity to the laundry room, and hot water tank when he wasn’t home, and lock the electrical box. The kids and I were only allowed hot water when he determined. You know. Since he was paying for it. And it was HIS house.

    I left him when our son was 8 months and our daughter 5. Moved in with my mother, because in Ontario you have to be separated for 6 months before you can claim separated, and then my child tax benefits would increase. And, I was still on maternity leave.

    He attempted a half-assed reconciliation, which I shut down, and he begged me not to go through lawyers for custody/child support, so I wrote up a separation agreement, quietly went to a lawyer with it, updated a few things she recommended, and then presented it to him. He. Never. Signed. It.
    But he did pay child support, monthly, even though it was on his terms and I had to beg for it.

    After 6 months at my mothers house, my child benefits combined with his support, I was able to rent a cute house for the kids and I, and lived there 2 years. At the end of two years, he became tired of working and paying support, so he sabotaged his employment and called me to tell me no more child support. I had to move back to my mothers for a bit, but then was able to get back on my feet and found a cheaper, cuter apartment.

    Fast forward a year and a half, and quite a few douchbaggy things that he pulled, I finally took him to court to make custody/child support official. We drew up a temporary custody arrangement until our case conference a few months later.

    One day, he calls me in tears. He can’t take the kids. He drove home from town and his house was all locked up with a thousand notices on the door that the bank was repossessing his house for failure to pay the mortgage. The bastards even took the cat and dog! I felt sorry for him for about an hour. Then snapped out of it, picked up some of the kids memento’s and laughed my ass off. The guy never opened bills. I told him, “the bank doesn’t just suddenly repo your house in the middle of winter in Canada, they would have sent you notice after notice….forgot to open your mail again? Bummer.”

    He lost everything, had to move in to a friend of a friend’s room, my lawyer started hammering him – stating he had 2 trades under his belt, there was no way he should be unemployed. Demanding full financial disclosure (he hadn’t done his taxes in 5 years). But his girlfriend paid for all his (read: MY) furniture to be put in storage, and paid for him to rent rooms at a local motel with a pool so he could exercise his custody visitation with our kids.

    Couple months later, after he was forced to file his taxes, I get a nice big retro refund $5000 for underpaid child tax benefit from years when we were living together (you know…when I was bankrupt)…. I happily spent some on the kids and paid off some bills….. He never breathed a word of it to me. He knew I got that money.

    Now, he has moved 2 hours away, has the kids 4 whole days a month, and they still cry and say that is too much with him, and is stuck with his girlfriend who pays for everything.

    Funny enough, I had a conversation once where I asked her (his gf) if she knew why we broke up. She said no, so I told her. I also told her that we had been in counselling while together, because he was pissed I didn’t feed him enough meat and used the wrong lightbulbs. She promptly burst in to tears, and cried that they were fighting over the same issues.

    Some things never change.
    p.s. my finances have recovered from all of this, my 6 years of bankruptcy is official over this June, and life is good!

    • Karma bus flattened this cheap, withholding a-hole

    • He sure got his and I’m laughing at him. I’m also an Ontario chump, but one who cannot divorce because cheater works for the feds. I would lose their amazing supplemental health and dental coverage and I need it badly. Scumbag has agreed to live separately but not divorce. I have dirt on him to make sure he complies.
      We should have an Ontario chump yearly meetup.

  • We were dirt poor. Any money trail my X would have left would have been McDonald’s receipts lol…and yet…
    You know how I tripped upon my second DDay? (and last)
    He was going to work a little early every day. You know, working hard for his family and all that. But I suspected something was up, just from his attitude and limp dick. So I checked the pay stubs from weeks before.
    No overtime.
    At all.
    So maybe this doesn’t fit today’s narrative, but in a way it still does.
    He came home that night and I had those stubs ready. It was late May though, so I had him put in the A/Cs first, and unclog the toilet…and then I brought up the stubs sans overtime.
    He denied everything, of course, but when he refused to unlock his phone…I kicked him out.
    Sometimes you don’t need proof of an affair, just proof of the lies is enough.

  • Let me just clarify about me not contributing to his household expenses. When I told him I would not contribute, and that if he wasn’t okay with that, I would just get my own place, he begged me to move in with him. He wanted me there with him, and was making 3 x the amount that I was.

    We had also agreed that I would sacrifice my income by raising the kids and only working minimal hours, and because the ratio of my income was so much less than his, we both felt this arrangement was fair.

    Until he felt it wasn’t.

  • TL;DR you can get historical lists of transactions from money transfer agencies

    If you’re dealing with a cheating ex who was transferring cash to an OM (like mine) on another continent via one of these money transfer agencies such as Western Union, Ria, etc. Then they do keep lists of the transactions performed by whom and to whom and you can request them. I did and it confirmed certain things I already knew, showed a lot more I didn’t know and overall confirmed that she sucks big time.

    For example, the money transfers had started much earlier than I thought, right in the middle of when we were in marriage therapy just after D-Day. So confirming another CN cliché that marriage therapy is just to keep the chump occupied while the cheater organises their escape plan.

  • Hmm. The closest I came was when I discovered the charges for Schmoopie’s Valentine’s Day flowers along with the charges for dinner and the theater tickets. I already knew about Schmoopie, we were already starting the divorce process although we had not yet filed but even so, I saw red. All I could think was “She got flowers for Valentine’s day, I didn’t and I paid for half of those flowers and that’s not ok”. I completely lost it. He had been out of the house for a few months by then but happened to be around doing something with the kids. I pulled him asside and yelled “I want back every penny you spent on other women”. My daughter overheard. That’s how she found out there was a Schmoopie involved in our separation (although she already suspected and knew who it was once confirmed).

    Although it didn’t lead to any new discoveries regarding his affair, it did give me the push I needed to follow through on filing for divorce and separating our finances. Meanwhile, rather than trying to claw money back in the divorce, I used that same credit card to play catch up and spend money on things that I wanted. I started hoarding maple syrup and high end olive oil in addition to general household needs such as paper towels and toilet paper. One of our sons also got sent to a $4000 summer camp on that card. My ex didn’t dare object. We finally sold the gold coins he had collected over the years to pay it all off just before the divorce (we sold the silver to pay the mediation fees). Lucky for me his airplane needed a new engine about that time and he needed to have good credit to get a loan for that so he was willing to sell the gold to pay it off. As soon as it was paid off I took my name off of that card so I was no longer associated with it. It all worked out in the end. Now I have my own credit cards and I never carry a balance. I also don’t buy flowers for Schmoopie.

    • Ugh! What a slimy pig. Mine took his whore out on MY birthday and every wedding anniversary but one (methinks she was unavailable that time) while he was seeing her. He brazenly, stupidly used our joint account to do it. I didn’t get anything for V day and I bought my own birthday gifts. He refused to iron his badly wrinkled clothes when grudgingly taking me out for one measly anniversary dinner, during which he barely spoke. A promised silver anniversary day trip to a place I had longed to go for years never materialized. What a worthless POS.

    • No sense at all for the X. Why spend on her with a joing credit card? Adding humilation to injury. Yuck. I am glad yu forced sale of his gold and silver collections. Serves him right.

      • I suspect that is not at all unusual. Mine put almost all his affair charges on a joint card, either for the the thrill of risking getting caught or just bald-faced stupidity. Which really are the same thing, actually. Also, you’re right. They love to add insult to injury. Both mean and stupid. That is a cheater, in a nutshell.

  • Luckily for me, shit for brains uses an app that keeps track of all incoming and outgoing funds so I can see where every dollar went. Plus he put most of his dates with his mistress on our joint credit card. Because stupid.
    Those of you with smarter cheaters should definitely get a credit report (and a forensic audit if there’s anything suspicious) and pore over all bank and credit card statements going back years.

  • My ex asked for a divorce right after a significant financial and status increase in his work. I had been paying everything other than his car payment and his credit card debt (acquired prior to marriage) on my 60K salary–he went from making 50K to 190K in a matter of two weeks, with his job.

    It was the only time I ever felt like I was having a stroke. It came from nowhere, and literally days of when the big change after being so cash poor for years. No sign of adultery though.

    We separated, and he wanted to move forward quickly “without lawyers” because we really had nothing to split at that time. I got a lawyer and he fumed. My lawyer was demanding disclosures….

    and all of a sudden, the “reconciliation” overtures began.

    I got sucked back in about 5 months later. Lo and behold! All of his income, assets, bank accounts, etc….were now in his name only! I was to deposit my 60K into my own account, and he kept his 190K + bonuses in his own account—each of us had to pay HALF of every expense, to the penny.

    I lost my job due to us relocating for HIS job—to a place where the only employer for my expertise was….HIS group. I wasn’t about to work for him.

    But he insisted that I pay half of all expenses anyway. I declined. Until I could find a job, he was to pay for things.

    That’s when the death threats started–how he made a show of ruminating out loud if “gunshots could be heard over July 4th fireworks” and how I ended up mysteriously having anemia so bad—with no known cause (went thru all testing for the usual culprits, negative)–I was hospitalized. When I was in the hospital, was when I found out that he wanted a divorce, and there was “no one else”—but there was.

    He had me pay his way thru all of the lean years, then wanted to walk away with all the marbles–and when his lawyer told him—judges don’t really like that sort of shit and they’ll make you pay her—he decided it was “cheaper to keep her”.

    I was placed on an “allowance” when he moved us to la la land and I wasn’t working. I was to pay for everything on a set amount that he doled out—and I was not to spend one dime on myself or my kids….as in….ice cream for a treat on a hot day or a haircut. I was lambasted for having a $3 on clearance tee shirt on that I had not owned a week prior.

    Never asked for credit reports, and I should have. I did win out in the divorce tho. He had to pay for MY lawyer’s fees, plus alimony for five years while I finished school, and child support.

    Suffice it to say, we moved back to where my family can and does protect us—because he has tried many times over the years to “get justice” for what he believes was theft—he believes that he should not have to pay any compensation to those he saw as stepping stones to his better, shinier life.

    Now he sits in his office, alone (schmoopies are long gone, because he was also so cheap and nasty with them as well)—counting his dollar bills. My alimony is long over, but I do have child support sent to me via lawyer’s office—because he tried that “poor mouth” thing—as he rakes in $500K per year with no kids, no mortgage, and working from his home.

    ALWAYS keep your accounts SEPARATE. It’s ugly and it’s seen as paranoid—but you MUST retain control of what is going on and be present in all transactions with household finances. If there’s nothing to hide, spouses and SOs don’t care. They usually welcome the help with those tedious chores.

    If someone balks at that? RED FLAG.

  • Both arsenic and lead poisoning can cause anemia. Were you tested for those? If not, the hospital may still have your blood samples, and there’s no statute of limits on attempted murder. I would pursue it and put that MFer in prison where he belongs.

  • Loved the article. The only issue I’d like to raise is with this quotation from the divorce financial analysist: “women mistakenly feel that protecting themselves financially telegraphs ‘you didn’t believe in us.” I would simply like to point out this is far from a female issue; too many guys I know were shamed by doe-eyed, weepy fiancées, (“what? You want a *gasp* pre-nup?!?!”) and learned to rue the day they neglected to protect their finances.

  • The day after Dday I got into his email and saw that he had co-signed as a guarantor for deadbeat Owhore’s new apartment.

    I contacted the rental office, told them he was using community property for that guarantee, that I did NOT give permission and implied I’d sue them. I then had the pleasure of sending them both the decline rental contract.

  • Hey all, it’s been awhile.
    I pulled back on the divorce proceedings just under a year ago, and guess what….I filed again last week.
    Cheaters don’t change, it’s in their code. I’m just glad I’m wired like the rest of us chumps.

    Cheater wife used to pay(write) all the bills. I worked, she stayed home with the kids, she was college educated, I took a year of college and that was it.
    Fast forward, kids got older, she went back to work as a teacher, I have a business and work a second job that provides family insurance. I never payed attention to the monies until I discovered her affair. Before then, I always thought to myself, how aren’t we saving any money? Aside from my 401k contributions, I figured we could put enough aside each month to build a substantial nest egg for the kids college and other dreams “we” had.
    Well, cheater wife did everything she could to spend every penny, every month, while I’m in the corner scratching my head saying “How don’t we have any money?”

    Well after discovery, I took over all the bills, took her Credit Cards, payed off her debt of 8k, have money on the bank, daughter has one more year of private HS, have all the ducks in a row, looking forward to having this albatross of a spouse off my neck.

    Lesson learned….I’ll never leave another in charge of my money, bills, financials, etc……

    • I think this is one of the common discoveries after separating from a cheater–money is not nearly as tight as you thought it was. People who cheat on their spouses generally feel fine about indulging themselves in other ways without heed to the other people in the family.

      I hope you are enjoying your own earning power these day!

  • Cheater #1 and I were at university together. I paid for him to live/work at a university hall of residence – he got a discount on the fees because he was tutoring there as well. After all, we were going to get married.

    This was several thousand dollars. I paid for this out of my own scholarship money.

    When I left him and broke off our engagement, his mother demanded that I return the two or three gifts of $100 his grandparents had given us. I think Cheater #1 may actually have set her straight on the deficit on his side, because she quickly clammed up and vanished. (PS. Reader, I didn’t.)

    Apparently later on he had a tale of woe about a particularly cheap and tiny television set I had taken, and that he never got back. But he was wise enough not to air this directly to me; just to our mutual friends.

    This was probably around the time I was selling our engagement presents to raise enough money to repair my second-hand car, having been left absolutely bereft of money by my own ill-timed generosity towards him.

    This is how we learn.

    • I am glad you did not marry him though. A man of integrity would have compensated for the thousands of $ you spent on him. Of course, he wouldn’t have cheated either!

      • I am VERY glad I didn’t marry him. I have never had second thoughts about him, ever. As soon as I was free of him, I knew I had made the right decision.

  • My ex and I are both professionals and earn a good living. I never understood why he couldn’t afford any thing. We kept separate ccs and bank accounts from the beginning. I never understood why he was reluctant to put money down on a home. He would say he couldn’t save cause the rent was too high. We moved in with my parents and I remember just before moving in, his mom was actually paying his portion of the rent. My family and I Thought it was to just be a year to save….

    He was so angry when we moved in. Wasn’t coming home at night, drinking a lot in my parents basement. He left us. Said I was verbally abusive etc.

    Found out a few years when divorcing that he withdrew a lot from his IRA to pay of cc debt that made sense. For a minimum of 3 years he had been leaving work. Sneaking out and withdrawing 700 a week plus 100 a day from atms in bad neighborhoods. Would have easily been enough for a down payment.

    We live in one of the most expensive areas in the country, so I cant move away more then 30 miles but I can’t afford to purchase a home and rent is just throwing money away and scraping by pay check to pay check in a neighborhood with a bad school district. So me and my son live with my parents. Which is very humiliating.

    I hate my ex. His mom fixed up her house for him to live in and moved to Florida for most of the year. he got a 10,000 raise he waited years to accept as soon as the divorce was final. the first lawyer had told me he had it perfectly set up cause we were living with my parents.

    I don’t know if this was premeditated or just a drug problem. Regardless he’s disguating

    • Good on you for looking after your son’s education. IMHO, best article (outside of Chump Nation) on how to use your rage:

      Living well is the best revenge. Of course, it’s easier said than done. “Meh” does not mean what he did was okay. It means the injury done to you
      no longer drains your precious mental energy. Darn, just read Chump Lady. She explains “meh” much better.

      • WOW! What a great story – thank you for sharing.
        I wrote earlier on the forum how I was proud of my (overall) actions after all the dust settled.
        I could have had him arrested for giving me a wrestler hold, and when he drove off with stolen things he shouldn’t have, but I didn’t. I felt I saved my dignity doing so.

        He was and is the one who has to live with his low-life guilt forever (and I know he will), and I’m now a free spirit. ~~ No regrets here ~~

  • My ex has been scamming others since before I met him. If my estimates are correct he has mooched, defrauded, stolen outright, and been forgiven debts totalling over half a million dollars in the past 25 years. How he always manages to get away with it I will never know.
    As far as the financial mess he put me through, that began with an inheritance I got and he spent in the first year of our marriage (he never wanted me working either) and still continues, because he refuses to sign his profit share savings over to me and we may be heading back to court though our divorce was final last year.
    After 20+ years of cheating on me and me (chump that I am) taking him back, he walked out. He said that he cared for me even though I “didn’t deserve it”. He offered me the kids, the used car, and an unfinished house we had been building. He also generously offered two years of support while I got back on my feet. He would then take the company we owned that was valued at 1,000,000 dollars. I was to simply forgot getting an attorney and go to his office to sign documents that his attorney had prepared already. While setting me up with this he was stringing along 2 mistresses and 2 girlfriends that I know of. All had been told that we split mutually months before he actually left me.
    I didn’t sign and when I started doing the initial investigation into financial and tax matters I found tons of stuff he had been fooling around with for at least three years before walking out.
    He had bank accounts and credit cards that I didn’t know about. He was spending upwards of 2000 dollars per month on women and entertainment and having the company pay for it. He was selling off company property and pocketing the proceeds without reporting it. He had lied to the accountant and declared himself the only shareholder for the company. He had never let me review tax documents, because he didn’t want me to be “overwhelmed”. Finally, when he realized I was suing for adultery and wasn’t going to submit to his repeat offer for settlement, he began to devaule the business and stopped paying the lein holder.
    I did lots of my own PI work and got the cooperation of one of the mistresses (in my state there is fault divorce and I would have gotten 75%). My case against him hit the court the same month that the lein holder threatened to forclose.
    The chumpiest mistress is a well paid woman with an MBA. She also comes from a family with deep pockets. None of them have any idea what kind of dog has joined their family. They were waiting excitedly to buy into the business and mingle accounts. So my ex, in order to keep them from learning his secrets in court, accepted my demands. I ended up with half the value of the business, the house and car, and his profit share.
    I can’t even imagine how much money the new chump is going to lose. All I know is that she supports him fully, because everything he makes comes directly to me for the next 10 years!!!!!

    • He sounds very charming and intelligent. Not to mention energetic. Is that worse than a dull couch-potato of a cheater?

      • Nemo – ha – could be a toss up. I would hate to have been married to ‘t.v. sports fan’. I picked good there. He was Charm/Smarts – and even pretty funny. Later, I even rued the day I met him.
        Looking back, well, I have no regrets because as somebody pointed out –I got the good years–

        But, I couldn’t live with a couch potato for all the money in the world.

        • Just to clarify….a true couch potato in my eyes would be lighting up a joint for breakfast on a Sat morning…sit and watch sports all day and all day Sunday…and continue his pot. Those are the ones I know. But charm, they’re out their flaunting themselves all the time.

  • I wish I’d found secret money. I found a lot of secret debt instead.

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