Romantic infidelity and financial infidelity often go hand in hand. Money is frequently spent on the affair partner, and in high-control relationships, spouses can feel like they have no say about where the money goes.
In this episode, guest Tracy Coenen and I discuss:
- Hidden money
- Financial rights for stay-at-home moms
- Divorce settlements
- Financial options, even if you are staying married
Tracy has been investigating fraud for more than 25 years, but she didn’t always want to be a forensic accountant. With a dream of one day being a prison warden, Tracy went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI to get a criminology degree. A class on financial crime investigations reminded her how much she loved Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid. She continued her criminology degree but added accounting and economics courses so she could become a CPA … and here Tracy is, finding money in cases of corporate fraud, high net worth divorce, and other financial shenanigans.
Learn more from Tracy at: https://www.fraudcoach.com/infidelity
To learn more from me, be sure to join email list at: https://andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/
I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 128, Financial Infidelity with Tracy Coenen.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive, and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Heal from Infidelity.
Today I have a special treat for you. I brought a guest in named Tracy
Coenen. You’re going to hear all about her. You’re going to hear what she
does. We’re going to be talking about all things financial infidelity.
Before we dive in, I just want to say to you that this may be an episode
that’s a little bit uncomfortable, and I want you to listen to it anyway.
Whether you are staying in your marriage, whether you are going, there are
gems in this episode that we talked about that I believe everyone needs to
hear. So I invite you to understand that the discomfort means nothing about
if you have to stay, if you have to leave. Sometimes, our discomfort just
raises our awareness of things to look at, things maybe to question, to
check into, ask questions about. So go ahead. Listen, dive in. I can’t wait
for you to hear the conversation.
Hello everybody. Welcome, welcome. Today I have an amazing, amazing guest
that I’ve been so looking forward to bringing to you. Her name is Tracy
Coenen. She is a wealth of knowledge about all things financial, getting
money that is mishandled. I’ll let her speak to the things that she does
But today, we’re going to be having a discussion about financial
infidelity. It’s something that I hear come up where my clients sometimes
don’t know where money is. They feel beholden to their spouse as far as
their ability to spend money. And today, we’re going to talk all about this.
But before we dive into it, I want you to meet Tracy.
Tracy, can you please tell us about yourself? First of all, welcome to the
show. So happy to have you here, and please give us an introduction. Tell
us about yourself, how you got into what you do. Tell us what you do. It’s
fascinating. Take it away. Go ahead. Tell us all about yourself.
Well, I’m excited to be here too. I am a forensic accountant, and that
means that I find money. I do fraud investigations. A bunch of that is on
the corporate side, where I’m looking for money that executives are
stealing, or messing around with, or companies that are fighting with one
another about contracts gone bad, and who caused who to lose money. And I
deal with all those money issues, and I’m an expert witness, and that’s all
cool, but I also work in the divorce space.
And so I am finding money that spouses are hiding. I am helping people get
proper settlements, because you can’t get a proper settlement in a divorce
unless you know how much money there is. So we’re figuring out how much
money is there, what has our money been spent on, why isn’t there more in
the accounts? Are there accounts elsewhere? All sorts of money shenanigans,
I’m looking into that.
And so I do divorce work for typically people who are higher earners,
higher asset values. But last year, I created the Divorce Money Guide,
which is my resource for average people going through divorce who have more
typical situations, aren’t the high earners, but they still have concerns
and they need to understand more about their money.
I love it. And tell me about, how has that landed? How have people been
finding all kinds of money? Tell us about that.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “I wish I had a resource
like this when I was getting divorced 10 years ago.” So there are so many
people who are regretful, because they didn’t know things about their money
when they were getting divorced, and they settled anyway. And that’s one of
the things that I see women doing far too often is accepting a settlement
without having enough information about the finances to know, is this a
good or bad settlement?
And let’s be realistic. We’ve come a long way baby, but men are still more
often in charge of the money, and men are still more often in charge of the
family finances. And that gives them an opportunity to shuttle money away
to accounts and places that we don’t know about, and just they have more
information. They know the full scope of what we’re dealing with
financially, and you don’t if you haven’t been actively involved. And so I
want to change that.
Oh, it’s so awesome. So awesome. So good. Yes. Okay. So can you tell me,
how do you define financial infidelity?
Financial infidelity is a lie about the money to your partner, and it’s a
lie that matters. I’m not talking about little white lies, although those
can be precursors to bigger things. I’m really talking about the things
that you know in your heart of hearts, if your spouse knew about this
spending or this transaction, that they would be upset about it.
So for one woman, buying a pair of shoes and hiding it under the bed, she
knows her husband is probably not going to care about it, but she just
doesn’t want to have the discussion about why she needed another pair of
shoes. That probably isn’t financial infidelity.
The other wife whose husband really is keeping tabs on the money and is
really concerned about how they’re spending, maybe because they have a
super tight budget, or they have some debt they’re trying to dig their way
out of, and she knows, “He would lose his mind if he knew that I bought the
shoes.” That’s financial infidelity.
But I do have to make one distinction here. When we talk about financial
abuse, we’ve kind of got a whole different animal. There is financial
abuse, where some spouses are extremely controlling about the spending, and
you might be concealing some of your spending because of that abuse
situation. That’s a whole different thing that we’re just going to set
aside for right now.
Okay. Yep. Definitely can see why somebody would do that in that situation.
Right. Okay, so let’s dive into this piece around infidelity. Okay. This is
something I hear all the time. There’s two things. Okay?
One is I have people who are going through divorce, actively going through
divorce, and they are so over the stress of it, the anxiety of it. And I
can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “I just don’t even
care anymore. I don’t even care anymore. I just want to be done and move on
with my life.” And every single time what they hear from me is, “Whoa,
whoa, whoa. Hold it, hold it.” Right? Because we often want to make these
emotional decisions to feel better, and then it can totally bite you in the
So what would you say to a woman in that situation? Let’s say that there is
money she might not even be aware of, has never really been in the know
about the comings and goings of all the money, where it is, where it’s put
away, all the things, and she kind of just wants to be done and turn a
blind eye to really looking at what the assets are, really looking at what
she legally is entitled to. What would you in your position say to that?
There’s so much here, but it has to be strategic. There is strategically a
right time to say, “I am now going to settle.” And that time is when we
know enough about the money. Working with your attorney, maybe with a
divorce coach, maybe with a forensic accountant like me, these people can
be a little bit more of an objective sounding board to help you make that
decision as to when it’s strategic.
Now here’s the unfortunate thing, is in so many divorces, they will try to
wear you down. They’re dragging it out. They’re making it as emotionally
painful as possible. They’re making it as expensive as possible. You’ve put
tens of thousands of dollars into your attorney, and you’ve maybe run out
of money. They want you to run out of money. They want to keep abusing you
financially through the divorce process.
And if we are going to make a settlement without all the information, we
just want to make sure that we’re thinking strategically about it and
making sure what the cost and benefit is of settling today.
But I do see too many women walking away too early. “Well, he says I can
keep the house if I don’t touch his retirement account, and so I’m willing
to make that trade off.” Hold on a second. We need to evaluate, what’s in
that retirement account? What is this house worth? How much do you owe on
it? Can you afford to keep it, and are you getting a fair share if that’s
the way it goes? I’ll tell you what, nine times out of 10, this is no gift
to you from your husband. You guys are getting divorced for a reason, and
this is not a gift, and he’s not being generous.
Right. Yep. Perfect. So you’re saying it’s about, “Let’s just look at the
numbers.” Really sit down, look at the numbers, and make a decision from
that rather than, “I get the house, he gets this thing.” It sounds fair,
right? Not so much. Not so much.
Right. Or I have cases where there’s a business involved, and he is going
to keep the business and he’s going to run it. And he says, “Hey, I’ll let
you keep the house if you don’t touch the business.” Well, until you know
what that business is worth, you can’t make that decision.
I work primarily with women, which is why I talk about the perspective of
women, and I say husbands, but this of course applies equally. If it’s wife
and wife, it can happen. If it’s roles reversed, husband is the stay at
home and wife is the breadwinner. So please don’t be distracted by my
language when I say the husband is doing this.
But too many times what I see is the husband pushing for that settlement,
“Sign off, sign off. This is the best deal you’re ever going to get. I’m
withdrawing this offer if you don’t sign,” and all these kinds of things.
Some really helpful language that I have surrounding that is, “I am happy
to make a swift decision about settling once I have all the information.
You have not provided me with X, Y, and Z, and I think those are important
documents. And when I have that information in my hands, I’ll be happy to
look it over and make a swift decision.”
Boom. Yes. Clear, clean, yes. Powerful. I love it.
Because I’ll tell you what, they don’t withhold documents just out of
convenience. It’s not like, “Ooh, it was too hard to get that document.”
No, they’re withholding it because it says something that they feel is going
to damage them in the divorce. “I don’t want you to know I spent this
money,” or, “I don’t want you to know what the balance is in that account,”
or, “I don’t want you to be able to see I took $25,000 out of the
retirement account last year when I shouldn’t have done that.” There’s
something they don’t want you to see.
Yep, yep. Okay. So as you know, my clients are mostly dealing with
infidelity involving another person. But there’s something that comes up a
lot in regards to this, where money is pulled to pay for the infidelity, to
pay for the trips, to pay for the hotels, to pay for gifts and trips, and
all kinds of things. And the blow of the infidelity for my clients is
usually enough for them. They can be disgusted with that. They can be upset
about it, but often just kind of leave it be. What is your thought on that,
on the financial price of infidelity?
Right. So I like to talk about it as romantic infidelity and financial
infidelity. And there is that overlap there. So financial infidelity can
occur in a lot of different ways, but one of the ways that occurs, and one
of the primary ways that I see is spending on an affair partner. Every
penny, every dollar that was spent on that affair partner is half yours,
and you can get that money back. And I am a huge advocate of figuring out
how much was spent on that affair partner and going to get your half back.
Now you might say, “Well, the money’s been spent, it’s gone. How am I going
to get it back?”
Here’s how we typically get it back in cases. There is equity in the house
that you’re splitting, or there’s a retirement account that you’re
splitting, or a bank account that you’re splitting. If you are in a
marriage where you guys don’t have any assets and there’s really nothing to
split, you’re probably out of luck. But in most marriages, there is
something to split. There might be value in cars, homes, retirement
And so if you were going to split a retirement account 50/50, but you find
out that “I can prove that $30,000 was spent on this affair,” you can
probably get your 50% of that house or retirement account plus half of the
$30,000. That’s the way we make it fair, and I’m a huge advocate for going
But the key is you have to be able to prove how much was spent. You say to
your attorney, “He was spending money on his affair partner.” You’ve got to
be able to prove it.
Yes, fair. Okay. Another thing that I see a lot is women who feel trapped
in their marriages because their husbands make the money. I’m talking about
some of my clients who are stay-at-home moms, or who have maybe a little
part-time work, or maybe they had a career and gave it up to be a mom. And
their spouse brings in the bulk of the money, manages the money, pays the
bills, things like that. And I have clients who feel completely trapped by,
that the money’s not theirs. They see it as not quite theirs, and that they
are beholden to their spouse to make any decisions for themselves because
of that situation.
I’m thinking of one client in particular that just recently reached out,
and she’s really in this right now. There’s a lot of money there floating
around, right? There’s a lot of money, there are a lot of assets, things
like that. But in her mind, it’s very complicated, and none of it’s really
hers because it’s all in his name.
I would love to hear your thoughts on that. This is very common. And I will
just add before you answer, I know this story well because it was mine. It
was my story. I was married to, he was an attorney that worked for Google.
We lived in the Bay Area. I was a stay-at-home mom. And he made the money,
he had the Google stock, he had all of those things.
And I remember when I first found out that he was cashing out Google stock
to pay for some things without my knowledge, I remember being upset by it,
but then going, “Well, it’s his anyway. He makes this money.”
And I can see it now. I can see now that that was financial infidelity.
Absolutely. But what would you tell that girl 10 years ago, or my women who
are in that same situation that don’t quite feel like it’s theirs and feel
trapped by that?
It’s so common. It’s a very common feeling, and many of the women that I
work with are in that exact situation. The first thing I want to say is
please don’t be ashamed that you maybe don’t know what’s going on with the
money, that you don’t have any control over the money, or that you don’t
have any money that you consider your own right now, because it’s super
common. But what I want women to think about is finding a way to have money
of your own, opening your own bank account in your name alone that you can
get some money into.
I am not advocating secret accounts. Again, unless you’re in an abuse
situation. Totally different animal, we’re not going to talk about that.
But in the average marriage, opening an account where you can start putting
some money that only you can access. I do recommend an open book scenario
with your spouse so that you both know what’s going on with all the money.
I also recommend opening a credit card that’s only in your name. You can
get a credit card based on household income. It’s not your income, it’s
And so that credit card is protected. No one can close it without you
knowing. No one can charge on it. It’s yours. It’s your backup. It’s your
If you are on a path towards divorce, if you are going to be filing
divorce, and you have money in an account that is a joint account, I am a
huge advocate for taking money out of that account and putting it into one
in your name only. So the second you’re getting ready to file for divorce,
you take money out of that account. I recommend talking with your attorney
first. Attorneys have different ideas about how much to take out of that
account. If you’re a stay at home, I suggest being aggressive with how much
is taken out of that account. Some attorneys say, “You can only take half,”
things like that.
But that is one way where you protect yourself financially. And I know that
for a lot of women right now, they’re probably cringing saying, “Oh my god,
taking money out of that joint account doesn’t feel good right now. It
feels a little dishonest.”
And here’s what I’m going to tell you. I have been involved in countless
divorces where divorce was filed. He drained your joint bank account and
shut it, and you had nothing, and you waited two months to go to court to
have a judge order him to give you some of that money. How are you going to
eat in that two months’ time period? The husbands will not hesitate to
drain that account. And I don’t want you to feel bad whatsoever about taking
money, and putting it in a safe account for yourself. You will have to
account for it in the divorce. You may “owe” some money back to him. Who
caress? You made sure that you and your kids could eat and have a roof over
your head while that divorce was ongoing.
Yes. I’ve heard way too many situations too. A former client, again, when
it first kind of hit the fan and she said, “I’m getting divorced, I’m
divorcing you,” he drained their account down to one penny. Literally left
one penny in the account, with children to feed, and very, very difficult
situation for many years. It was hard for many years.
And here’s the other fun one, they drain the account and then the mortgage
payment goes through and puts the account negative. And guess what? If your
name’s on that account, you owe that overdraft. It can get ugly, which is
why I’m super aggressive in my stance on taking money out of the joint
account, particularly if you don’t have an income source of your own.
If you are working outside of the home and you have decent money coming in,
it’s different. You are not going to be homeless, you are not going to go
hungry. But if you’re a stay at home and you don’t have a source of income,
and your spouse does, your spouse is going to be fine. They’ve got income
coming in. You have to protect yourself for what may be an ongoing divorce
battle, where you’re not getting any support payments at all.
Yeah. And I think the mindset shift here, is it’s not about being
vindictive. It’s not about being ugly and sticking it to them. It’s about
taking care of yourself. It’s about protecting yourself, protecting the
mouse that you’re feeding, the home that you live in, all of those things.
And you’ll hear people say, “But then you might get in front of a judge and
the judge might order you to put some of the money back.” Okay, fine. Then
you put some of the money back. “Well, the judge might say that there were
some overdraft fees and now you are the one who has to pay those overdraft
fees.” Okay, fine. But guess what? You still got to feed your kids in the
When you weigh what could happen to you, what a judge might do, you’re not
going to get some big punishment. You’re not going to jail. That money
belonged to you, just like it belonged to your spouse. Talk with your
attorney so you’re doing it strategically and so that your attorney is
saying, “In our state, the law says this, so here’s what I would advise you
to do,” and then you’re cool.
I love it. Okay. I know that you deal mostly with people who are getting
divorced, right? I have a question though, around people who are choosing
to stay after infidelity.
There are many things to navigate. There are many things to learn to change
the ways that my clients think about the infidelity. There’s a lot there
for them to navigate.
I think that sometimes what can happen is in an attempt to hurry and kind
of get back to some kind of sense of normalcy, they’ll want to sweep things
under the rug. And I don’t encourage that. I don’t encourage that. I’m
about let’s deal with this all head on, really look at it, look at what’s
sustainable going forward.
My question for you is in regards to money, where the majority of the time
there has been money spent on the romantic partner, or if it’s not a
romantic partner, if it’s other forms of… There’s all kinds of things,
different apps and connecting with people in different ways that are not
necessarily in person, but some of them cost money.
What would you say to people who want to stay married, who see that their
spouse is making an effort to mend things? What’s your advice about the
money, about what to do? Let’s say that 10 grand was spent, that you can
prove it on hotels, on airplanes, on gifts, or even five grand. What would
you recommend they do about reconciling that money?
The first step is if you’re going to stay in the marriage, to make sure
that you have full visibility into the finances going forward, and that
you’re protecting yourself. That’s the first way that you protect yourself
is by making those finances be an open book so you can see if there was
spending like that ever again.
If you’re choosing to stay married, you’re not really getting that money
back ever, because it’s kind of all one big pot. But to protect yourself
going forward, you make sure that you are actively involved in what’s going
on with the money.
So if your spouse is still going to be the one responsible for paying the
bills and moving money around, that’s okay, as long as you have logins to
accounts, and you go in on a regular basis minimum once a month, maybe even
more often, looking at, what is the balance? What has money been spent on?
So you would catch any of this kind of spending again. That’s the first
thing to think about.
The second thing to think about is a postnuptial agreement. Now, we’ve all
heard of prenups, the prenuptial agreement, and that’s basically a contract
that you enter into before you get married, thus the word prenuptial. And
it says, “If we ever split, here’s what’s going to happen with the money.”
And you can get super detailed with the money, and how things will be
divided, and does anyone owe anyone support? You can do the exact same
thing if you’re already married, and it’s called a postnuptial, because
you’re already after your nuptials.
And I see people who are recovering from infidelity do these to protect
themselves. Things like, it might say, “If we do end up splitting because
of another instance of infidelity,” there might be penalty things in there.
That’s one way to approach it.
Another way to approach it is to not necessarily put a penalty in there,
but to just say, “Okay buddy, here’s what’s going to happen. This is how we
are agreeing it’s going to go down with the money if we do split.” So that
can be a really great, protective type of thing.
I know that to some people, if you’re trying to heal your marriage, this
sounds really confrontational or negative. But I think it can be spun as
something as part of a larger way for me to feel security in re-engaging in
Yes, I see that too. I see it as I’m really showing my commitment, right?
I’ll put my money where my mouth is basically. Right? Saying, “I’m willing,
I’m so committed to being faithful, that I’m willing to sign this thing
that would cost me money if I weren’t.”
Yeah, I see that too. I can see it being a great source of comfort and
confidence boosting to my clients that is there, that no matter what
happens, I’m taken care of. I’m fine. I don’t need to be afraid of that
So yeah, I think that if you look at it from that lens of how can we ensure
a rock solid future rather than going back and, “Well, you spent this,” and
dragging that piece out. To me it sounds much more proactive, forward
thinking of how can we make sure that we don’t get into this situation
again, and protect both parties in this, no matter what happens? So I love
that. That’s great. Thank you.
Okay, so tell me this. Where are some good places for people to even go
learn what their financial rights are? I know it varies from state to
state, but tell me where people can learn about that.
The safest place to start with at all is to assume that you own 50/50,
everything in your marriage. Yes, the laws do vary by state. But unless you
have a prenup in place, as a general rule, things are kind of going to get
sorted out 50/50. And if there’s any divorce attorneys listening, they’re
cringing right now saying, “Well, but, if,” etc.
Here’s what I just want you to think about 50/50. There are times when you
maybe as a stay at home, you might be entitled to 70% of the assets, and
that’s all cool. But 50/50 as a starting point to think about is important
because you will probably hear during your divorce, “You’re not going to
get a penny of my retirement. You’re not entitled to anything out of this
house. I’m going to leave you broke and homeless,” and none of that’s true.
So start with the mindset of, “This is at least half mine.” And then from
there, honestly, your divorce attorney is a really good place to start.
Because as the state laws differ from state to state, they’re going to know
specifically what’s going to apply to you.
Yes, you can go Google what happens with the house, and you’re going to
find general information. But then again, what your state laws say are
going to be very specific. So that’s how I recommend starting to get your
arms around this financial thing.
But I do recommend that when you’re going to going to talk to your attorney
about this, that you go in with a plan and with a list of questions that
you want to ask so that you approach this strategically. Divorce attorneys
are expensive, and they usually bill by the hour. So you want to make the
most of your time with them, and you don’t want to forget questions. You
don’t want to be emailing them 20 times after your meeting, because every
time they have to look at an email or respond, they’re going to charge you.
So having a good plan about what you want to talk about with your attorney
to understand this financial stuff is a really great way to approach it.
All right. So maybe spending time beforehand researching as much as you can
on your own, doing some good Google searches, and then having more specific
questions to your situation, right? Not just the general things that you
can Google. You don’t want to pay your lawyer hundreds of dollars for
something you can Google, right?
Right. The trap with Google is that there’s a lot you can find. It’s hard
to know what’s reputable, what’s reliable, what’s not. So think of Google
as a great starting point to get some ideas about where you’re heading, and
then refine that with your attorney. Or if you’re working with a divorce
coach or a forensic accountant, someone who can help you a little more,
that’s a great thing to do.
Okay. Yep. Perfect. Okay, next question for you I’d love to talk about is,
if there’s listeners that suspect their spouse of financial infidelity, how
do you recommend they start looking into it, deal with it? Tell me your
thoughts on that.
Well, the first thing is to figure out, is there financial infidelity or
not? And we look for red flags, which are signs that something is
occurring. They’re not proof. We’re not there yet, but they are the signs
that something is going wrong. Looking for things like changes in behavior,
someone becoming more secretive about the money, restricting your access to
money when previously maybe it was more open, or restricting your access to
information, getting you to sign documents without letting you read them or
understand them. All these kinds of things are concerning behaviors. So I
rattle off a list like this and people say, “But I don’t know, am I
overblowing it in my mind? Am I minimizing it? I don’t know how worried to
be.” So I put together a quiz, the red flag quiz where you take three
minutes, answer about 15 questions about how the money is handled in your
marriage. Some of the signs that you may have seen, you check them off for
me, and I tell you how likely it is that you have financial infidelity in
your marriage. So that’s the first part-
Yeah, it’s kind of deciding Houston, do we have a problem?
I love it.
And if you end up saying, “You know what? All signs point to yes, there is
a problem.” My first recommendation is don’t say anything just yet. Start
gathering information, start downloading bank statements, start making
copies of tax returns and other important financial documents. Protect
Because again, just like we talked about with that bank account being
drained, when you let on that you might know that something is going on
with the money, you may lose access to accounts. Accounts may be closed,
your name may be taken off. Who knows? So I always recommend gathering the
information first before you say anything.
And to anyone who this feels icky, don’t be feeling icky about it. If your
name is on an account, you have a legal right to that information, and
there is nothing wrong with you downloading statements and saving them
somewhere in the cloud, where they’re safe and they can never disappear.
I love it. Yeah. I think that for a lot of my clients, the infidelity, the
romantic infidelity, for many of them, it was a one-off thing. It was this
thing that it was…. Anyway. But for some it’s not. For some, there are
patterns, there’s a history of it. And some of the mindset that goes on
around it, there’s often grandiosity of thinking, “I’m above the rules. The
rules don’t apply to me. I’m bigger than them. I can kind of bend things
the way that I want, and it works out for me. And I can see how financial
infidelity could go very much hand in hand with the kind of infidelity I’m
used to talking about. The rules don’t quite apply to me. I can bend them.”
Tell me, do you see this a lot, that kind of grandiosity?
All the time. All the time. They think they’re so clever, they’re so smart,
they’re entitled to do it. A lot of it comes from… Again, in working with
a lot of stay at home moms, a lot of that entitlement comes from, “I made
the money, it’s mine. I can do what I want.” They also know in many of
these situations, that their wife is not looking at the finances. She’ll
never know, “If I siphon some money off, if I get a secret credit card.”
They certainly feel very powerful. There are so many parallels, and there’s
so much overlap between that romantic infidelity and the financial
infidelity, and those attitudes are so, so important.
Which is why when I’m talking about look for a change in behavior in your
spouse, actually many times if we get further into it, I talk about them
being secretive about their whereabouts, them hiding their phone, never
letting that phone out of their hands and stuff. And unfortunately, it
often relates to that romantic infidelity that then has a financial
component to it, so they’re committing the financial infidelity at the same
Yeah. Yep. Makes sense. They often go hand in hand. And if I can get away
with one, and I don’t mean that in a… That sounds really harsh, but
that’s kind of the mindset of while they’re in it is, “No one has to know.”
It would be a very easy place to go, a very easy place to go to, “What can
I pull off here in the finances? How can I hide it? No one has to know.”
Well, and let’s remember that as a general rule, affairs aren’t free. They
cost money to be involved in an affair. Maybe a one night stand is free,
but an ongoing affair that went on for months and years, there’s going to
be dinners out, maybe hotel rooms, there’s gifts. I mean, these affairs
cost real money. And the person engaging in that has to get that money from
somewhere where it’s not going to be missed.
And so if your spouse isn’t looking at the finances, it might be easier to
do that, but that’s where a secret credit card comes in, right? Because you
are not seeing the statements for it, etc. It’s insidious in so many ways,
and that’s why you can tell I get really wound up about some of this stuff
when I talk about it. I get really passionate sounding, because it can be
so expensive, so damaging, and so damaging to your long-term financial
I always say to women who are getting divorced, “What would an extra
$10,000 in your divorce settlement mean to you long-term?” That money could
be saved, invested, or it might help towards a down payment on a new home.
It might cover expenses for a few months while you’re looking for that next
job or something. And so I get really wound up.
So, so needed. In preparation for this episode, I have been studying Tracy,
and getting to know her work, and really seeing all the things that she’s
doing. And it just is so, so important because they do often go hand in
hand. They often do. And I think even though your focus is around divorce,
I see this playing out. This is something that has to be addressed, period.
Whether you’re staying married, whether you’re leaving the marriage, this
piece of, how was it paid for? It does affect you. It needs to be looked
at, right? It needs to be looked at and dealt with, and with a plan in
place. I love the proactive ways that we talked about it earlier, but these
are things that do often overlap that need to be talked about.
And one of the things as a coach in this space that’s been so painful for
me to see is when my women just think that they have no rights, right? That
they have no say. And I love that you are taking this time, that it’s your
life, right? What you’re doing-
My life’s work. Absolutely.
Your life’s work to educate women, and what a gift. And where were you 10
years ago? Where were you 10 years ago?
What a way to bring it back around. So true.
Oh my goodness. I could have used you 10 years ago. Anyway, so helpful. Now
I want to ask you, we’ll wrap up here shortly, but I wanted to ask you,
tell my listeners about your Divorce Money Guide. I’ve seen that floating
around. I want to hear more about that. Please share that with my
Thank you for asking. The Divorce Money Guide is a tool for men and women
going through divorce who need to know what’s been going on with their
money. Most people are going through divorce. The vast majority of them
can’t afford a forensic accountant and don’t need one anyway, because it’s
probably not all that complicated.
So with the Divorce Money Guide, it’s an online product that gives videos,
worksheets, checklists, where I walk you through, what’s the financial
piece of the divorce, what documents do you need, how do you get them, and
what do you look for in them once you have them, even if you don’t have any
accounting or numbers background? And it’s not just for people who are
getting divorced. It’s also being used by women who are considering what
happens next. They don’t know if they’re getting divorced.
So even if you are healing after infidelity, and you’re deciding to stay
together, but you haven’t been involved in the finances, it is a resource
that can help you. In a really easy methodical way, get your arms around
what’s been going on with your money.
And tell me, how empowering is that for these women to wrap their heads
around all the money? I want to hear from you on that one.
Well, you’re exactly right. If you haven’t been involved in the finances,
and I’m telling you, “Hey, why don’t you go get all your bank statements
and have a look at them and see what’s been going on?” That is
And what I find is if that were the task that was given to you, you
probably would just throw your hands up and say, “I don’t know where to
begin.” But if I can lead someone through some easy steps to get there,
“Here’s what you do, and then next you do this.” It has been very
empowering, these women saying, “Oh my God, I had no idea it was this easy
to get my bank statements. I had no idea that he was holding our tax
returns hostage and wouldn’t let me see. I had no idea that I could go to
the IRS, and in 10 minutes, I could have our tax returns in my hands. Maybe
I don’t even understand anything about tax returns, but the idea that I
could get them and have them without him giving me permission or handing
them to me is so empowering.”
Yes, yes. Something that I coach on often is going all the way to the edge
of staying or leaving, and seeing every option there. Because often what
we’ll do, we’ll go to the edge of our comfort zone. “That part feels too
scary,” and then we’ll tell ourselves a story. “I can’t leave because of X,
Y, and Z. I can’t. I can’t.”
And I encourage my clients to go all the way past that, all the way to
where they really know all of their options, where they have them laid out
in front of them. They know exactly what the financials would look like.
They know exactly what they’re looking at, right? Where they can live,
where they can not live, what they can do legally in their state. All of
the things to really know.
And in the end, the marriages that succeed after infidelity are the ones
where they have really looked at their options, really seen them. It can
feel so scary. “Oh my gosh, am I choosing divorce by looking at this?” No.
Right? You are educating yourself on what your options are, and then really
making a conscious deliberate choice, which is power, to make a choice with
your eyes wide open.
In the long run, that’s better for you, to really know with everything on
the table, “This is what I choose.” Rather than, “I can’t. Because of this
financial situation, I’m going to stay,” and then resent it. Right? That’s
a recipe for disaster. It’s not sustainable over time.
I love that approach.
Yeah. About your Divorce Money Guide, I love that you mentioned that it’s
not necessarily just for people who are getting divorced. It’s in this
space of going, “I have no idea about all of these things and I need to
wrap my head around it. I need to understand it.” Right?
Yeah. Because there are so many women who are in that position of just not
being involved. And there is, again, nothing to be ashamed about that you
weren’t involved. But I want to give you a framework and a process for
chipping away at getting the information that you need, in a way that’s not
overwhelming and doesn’t add more drama to whatever it is that you’re going
Yeah. Wonderful. Yes. I think let’s put that, ways to find you, ways to
work with you in the show notes. We’ll make sure to do that. Okay. Before
we wrap up, is there anything else that you would like my listeners to
hear? Any parting words?
I have been through hundreds of divorces with women, and I have seen it all
when it comes to the money. And I just want you to know, I talk a lot
about, “You could do this, you could do that, protect yourself, get the
information.” And I recognize that a lot of it is easier to say than it
might be to execute, and that this is an overwhelming time. You are going
through a lot emotionally, and the money issues make it even harder, and so
I don’t discount any of that.
I just want you to know that you can make it through this. You can
understand more about your money. You can take control of your finances.
You can get a better settlement in your divorce. There are all sorts of
things that are possible for you, and I just hope to be able to support some
of you in that.
Thank you. So, so powerful. So good. I’ve been looking forward to having
you forever, because I know that there’s so many of my listeners who
absolutely need this. They need your expertise and your wisdom, so thank
you so much for being here. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll link it up
in the show notes, but can you tell people here also where they can find
Yep. Super easy. You can go to my website fraudcoach.com, because I like to
say I’m your fraud coach during divorce, but I made a page there for your
listeners. It’s fraudcoach.com/infidelity.
On that page, they’re going to find everything that we talked about today,
that red flag quiz. If you’re wondering whether or not you are at risk of
financial infidelity, can find my book there Find Me The Money, which we
didn’t get to, but it’s the story of a woman who’s getting divorced, and
her husband has committed financial infidelity and romantic infidelity. And
it walks you through how she got her arms around the money, and then the
Divorce Money Guide is linked there as well. So fraudcoach.com/infidelity
will get you there.
Wonderful. So many amazing resources. Thank you for the work that you do.
Thank you for being here. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you today.
This has been one of my best conversations, so thanks for having me.
You bet. Thank you.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.