Why Breaking Up Was Good for My Finances: 5 True Tales

Libby Kane

breaking up is a good thingIf you have an ex—which most of us do—you’ve probably received the “You’re better off without them” speech from a friend.

“You’re too smart/attractive/cool for that person,” said friend will tell you. You always hated their style/dog/way they chew anyway.

And now that you’ve broken up, they’ll say, you look better, feel better and have more time to exercise/score that promotion at work!

But what if the breakup left you better off in other ways?

Say, richer? Or without a significant other who was secretly dipping into your checking account?

That’s just what happened to the five people below. There are many financial red flags in a relationship, and their cautionary tales can help you avoid falling into a relationship you’re—at least fiscally speaking—better off without.

1. “My Ex Was Secretly Dipping Into My Bank Account”

Audrey, 38, New York, NY

“When my ex and I rented our first apartment together, it wound up being way too expensive. We were in our 20s, and our eyes were too big for our budget. At the time, our rent was $2,000 a month, and was in direct violation of the 50/20/30 rule because my portion of the rent represented about half of my take-home pay. For my ex, who was only sporadically employed, it was a lot more.

My ex grew up wealthy and didn’t worry about money, but rarely held a job and wouldn’t ask his parents for help. I wound up covering for us a lot of the time. Basically “our budget” became me paying for things, and him contributing when he could.

RELATED: How Money Is Ruining My Marriage

One day, I checked my bank balance and realized there was several hundred dollars missing. Weird, I thought. We didn’t have joint accounts, but I called my ex and said, “I can’t figure out where this money went.” He said he didn’t know anything, so I called the bank, and they told me that the money had been withdrawn that morning, from the ATM on our corner. I checked and my card was right where I’d left in my wallet. And I hadn’t gone anywhere that day.

When they told me the time of the withdrawal, a cold chill came over me. I realized my ex must have taken my card out of my wallet while I was in the shower and withdrawn the money thinking I wouldn’t notice. Meanwhile, I wasn’t aware that he even knew my pin.

I moved out shortly thereafter, and it made me wonder for months after if he had ever “skimmed” money out of my account before, and I just hadn’t noticed.

  • Kary

    This article is ok but some of the stories weren’t particularly helpful aside from pointing out some red flags in their partners regarding money. It seems some people have benefited from ending the relationship financially while others were able to separate themselves from relationships that drained them financially but haven’t really invested what they’re saving into changing their habits and financing their futures.

    It’s an ok article but I expected better.

  • takabanana

    I think the biggest key as #5 said is being “on the same financial page.” – because it’s really not about the people “financially irresponsible” – that’s subjective – everyone’s priorities and spending habits will be different. On the other hand, what they say must really show in their actions as #5 also says.

    I was married to someone who I *thought* was really great at saving money – she got into extreme couponing (which I was very supportive of because she proved it works) and saved about 80% on each receipt. I always handled the budget and bill-paying – kept the spreadsheet data open and available – and there was never a disagreement (as far as I was able to tell). I’ve been in debt before and I vowed never to go back.

    It became bad when over our marriage of 9 years, I accidently stumbled on 4 hidden credit cards, some maxed out, totalling $12k, not being paid off. It should have been a sign when 2 years into our marriage, my ex secretly obtained a credit card under my name, maxed it out, and never paid it off – the bills were being mailed to my in-laws so I never knew about it. I was gullible, and maybe an “enabler” myself, paying off her $8k debt when we got married, and paying off each of those credit cards, thinking she’ll eventually figure it out. We shouldn’t give an alcoholic alcohol and assume they’ll figure it out, right?

    After our decision to get divorced (when one night she literally answered “no” to my question of “do you think I’ll be able to trust you ever again?” – while I expected her instead to say “yes, because I will do everything I can to win your trust back”) – I found out the mother-in-law was an “enabler” giving her a debit card to use without my knowledge and received some money from my ex’s credit account (which I had paid for), and the ex also had a secret PO Box where some of our mail, including statements and bills with my name on them, were being sent. It was obvious I really had no choice but to get a divorce – even though we had 3 young children that I absolutely loved.

    Now divorced, I am still getting lots of calls from Collections Agencies asking for her, but my personal financial situation is finally stable and obviously reliable. Unfortunately, that does not “fix” the fact that I am not a 24/7 parent to my amazing kids anymore – a role I always cherished and loved – but that is what I get for being gullible and trusting.

    • JenInBoston

      That’s sad. =( I hope you spend lots of time with your kids and teach them strong habits about money and honesty. =)

      • takabanana

        Thanks – and yes I try to do what I can….

    • Carol F

      Your example is more moving than the stories in the article. Thank you for sharing and I hope with your stability you’ll be able to provide experiences for your children that they otherwise wouldn’t have because of their mother’s financial irresponsibility.

  • liz

    If your partner expects you to buy them gifts and flowers on every date, that’s a serious problem. Never mind that spending $150 for two people for dinner several times a week is ridiculous. I live in an expensive city, too, and we go out to decent places (better than Friday’s, not as good as three Michelin stars) at least once a month and it’s usually $50 for both of us. Sure, we don’t order everything course on the menu, but we prioritize saving for the future (and not eating so much!).
    My family has a fair amount of money, but even they would say that’s excessive. It sounds like some of these people were just taking advantage of their partners. And the partners were letting them. It is possible to say, “No, we’re eating in tonight” or “Let’s cook something together!”

    • Metoo2

      Yes that’s the one that stood out to me. As a woman I think it’s completely over the top to buy gifts & flowers several times per week while spending hundreds of dollars on meals & drinks. Sound like he found out money can’t buy love.