Beware of STDs (Sexually Transmitted Debt)

This is a quick note to remind us that not everything goes to plan – even when you do hit FIRE!!

(Left in the comment section of our early retirement quiz last week)

I haven’t really done the quiz – but rather than be a role model for y’all, let me be your warning.

I had aimed for retirement by 50. And achieved it. At 51 – my husband of 20 years walked without warning. Suddenly, I am backwards financially again.

Instead of having paid off the house, I am going to have to go get a mortgage. Instead of being able to run my own small business and live a slower paced life, that mortgage is forcing me back into the full time workforce. I have taken in a house mate to help with the bills, that used to be shared.

I am fortunate because I have had a superannuation (your 401k?) building up since I was 18. But this is the kind of thing that can leave people suddenly destitute.

Do what you need to build up your emergency fund, keep your own bank account, watch out for STDs (sexually transmitted debt) that can end up in the asset pool when doing a property settlement. And definitely work towards early retirement.

Because when you least expect it, your situation can change without warning.

I can’t even imagine going through this, but let me just say: DAYUUUUUUUM! What a kick to the balls! Killer reminder for sure, sugarglider, and something we often forget about with all our financial wizardry over here…

This time around it was a lame husband of yours, but others aren’t so lucky and won’t even live to see the wise age of 51, or have a myriad of other catastrophes hit without warning.

So I hear you loud and clear, friend. Plan for contingencies, stack as much as we can, and above all – appreciate what we’ve got right here in the moment! No one can predict what’s around the corner!

Now quick, someone tell me something GOOD! :)

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  1. Laurie@ThreeYear June 12, 2017 at 5:39 AM

    Whoa! That’s such a terrible story. It’s hopefully rare, but a good reminder, especially for us ladies who can sometimes be uninformed when it comes to the financial aspects of life, to make sure we have the means to make it if something happens to our significant other (that includes life insurance or workers’ comp, too). I think I’ve always been financially aware because that actually happened to my grandmother. My grandfather divorced her after 28 years of marriage and after she’d put him through med school later in life. She ended up a millionaire, so hang in there commenter!

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 6:41 AM

      Go grandmother!!

  2. Nicole @ Budget Like a Lady June 12, 2017 at 6:13 AM

    Sorry to hear that! This definitely puts things into perspective when trying to reach FIRE… :/

  3. Mustard Seed Money June 12, 2017 at 6:14 AM

    Woooooooooooooooooooow!!! This happened to my grandma as well. It definitely changed her life and having to go back to work after having worked so hard to create multiple businesses was tough. She landed our both her feet after everything was said and done but you could definitely tell it hurt a ton but I think she’s much happier now.

  4. Lily @ The Frugal Gene June 12, 2017 at 7:33 AM

    Something good…she’s following awesome money blogs and has a plan B! There’s hope yet and for anyone who has the skill set to rebuild!!!

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 11:50 AM

      Very true!

  5. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar June 12, 2017 at 7:36 AM

    Oof. I can’t imagine that happening to me, but I’m sure we all say that. In the end, I’m not dependent on my wife for happiness/financial independence, but we sure as hell are stronger together for the work we put in.

    1. theFIREstarter June 13, 2017 at 2:56 AM

      I hope your wife doesn’t read that comment Chris :)

      Something(s) good:
      It was my birthday yesterday (12th) and got to spend it in sunny France with the wife and kid.
      Playing in the sand and water with your kids (best things in life are free! As the saying goes)
      Crepes + nutella
      French beer
      Garlic bread

      The list could go on… :)

      1. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar June 13, 2017 at 8:00 AM

        LOL. I don’t mean it in a terrible way. If I didn’t have her, it would be like the loss of a limb. I don’t know what I would do without her but I’m sure I would find a way to manage. I think I was going for a more upbeat version of what I actually wrote…

        but I’m still not going to show her the comment. Good call!

      2. J. Money June 13, 2017 at 9:37 AM

        YUM YUM YUM!!!!!!!!!!

        Everything tastes better in France too, I imagine :)

  6. Danielle @ The Pennies We Saved June 12, 2017 at 7:36 AM

    This so horrible! Life definitely has a way at throwing unexpected curveballs.

  7. Budget on a Stick June 12, 2017 at 7:42 AM

    I couldn’t think of anything off hand so I asked my 2 yr old what is something good and he says “sandwiches” as he points to the felt toy sandwich he made in his play kitchen this morning

    1. Jody June 12, 2017 at 8:49 AM

      LOL!!! I really needed this today!

      1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 11:51 AM

        Kids are the ULTIMATE in appreciating life. Love it :)

        (And now I’m freakin’ hungry)

  8. Dave June 12, 2017 at 7:48 AM

    That was really terrible. It is so important to have a plan A, B, and C. Anything can happen and people change. My wife says that she has no fear of me cheating on her because I am too cheap to take on a girlfriend. She said asking the girl to split the bill would not go over well.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 11:55 AM

      Hahahhaa…. sounds like you’ve found yourself a keeper ;)

  9. My Sons Father June 12, 2017 at 7:49 AM

    That just sucks! It also goes to show that life is about more than just money. A good reminder to work towards a complete life and not just a financially free life.

  10. Amy @ Life Zemplified June 12, 2017 at 8:00 AM

    Something good… Today is a new day, the sun is shining, I made .42 last night and life goes on! :)

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 11:59 AM

      Woo – big winner! What did you do, raid a kid’s piggy bank?

  11. Master Duke June 12, 2017 at 8:11 AM

    The saying goes: a situation becomes favorable only when one adapts to it!

  12. Michael @ Super Millennial June 12, 2017 at 8:17 AM

    Yikes that’s terrifying! Always gotta plan for sure and keep the communication channels open.

    On a positive note I’m hitting my one month of quitting the “corporate world” and haven’t looked back since. Great choice :) have a good Monday!

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 12:03 PM

      Holy $hit man – congrats, that’s huge! I bet time just slooooooowed the hell down for you too, huh? Appreciating all kinds of things over there?

  13. Melanie June 12, 2017 at 8:26 AM

    I was 42 when my husband and I split up after 22 years, and it wasn’t so much he just up and walked out as I started saying: “Yeah, this behavior isn’t okay anymore and it never was…” And then he up and walked out. Turns out when you are trying to build a life with someone who’d walk out on you for merely asking for decency, the building was never structurally sound, what with being only half built.

    I had 500 dollars in the bank and my net worth probably hovered around 10k with the house and the debt. According to YNAB I’m now worth about $65K. I have my two grown kids’ rooms listed and rented on Airbnb, a great job with benefits…and I’m working my way toward lowering my expenses enough to live on a part-time job and spend more time writing.

    My Sons Father is right–money isn’t everything. And I would add, other people’s choices are simply out of your control.

    Today is the five year anniversary of my divorce. Peace and freedom are priceless. That is always good.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 12:05 PM

      A hearty congrats to you! Freedom > Money, always :)

    2. sugarglider June 20, 2017 at 6:16 AM

      Melanie – peace and love to you lady
      You are staying the course – both financially AND mentally – looking after yourself and making progress. Fabulous and impressive.

  14. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance June 12, 2017 at 8:32 AM

    Oh wow I hope she will be able to get back on her feet soon. I’d be so devastated and bitter if I were her. But maybe it’s also a good opportunity to reassess her life and turn over a new leaf.

    Sexually transmitted debts (STDs) is such an interesting concept. It always scares me to think about how I could easily go into hundreds and thousands of debt just because I married the wrong person. =(

  15. Mike Collins June 12, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    Ouch. That really does suck. Just when you think everything is settled and you’re good to go too. This is a good reminder to never get too comfortable and always plan for the worst and the unexpected.

  16. Paul June 12, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    there are always at least two sides to every story, and somewhere in the middle, the truth. So I don’t want to presume. However,if I may elaborate on your phrasing above, that does sound like a swift kick to the nuts, not the kind you expect but the one that takes you by surprise from behind and drops you to the ground for like 5 solid minutes….you know…cold sweat and all…

    I cant think of anything else to add. Without more info that is

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 1:45 PM

      I think you summed it up well there with the nuts part :)

      1. Paul June 13, 2017 at 8:11 AM

        Thanks to my brother I speak from personal experience

  17. Lisa O June 12, 2017 at 9:02 AM

    I always tell my children the “first” person you put in your life will play a major role in the journey. I married my high school sweetheart and divorced him when I was 30. We had two children, house, cars, etc. He didn’t give me much choice because of a gambling problem (that he blamed on me…ouch) and his love for his secretary. My freedom from that relationship was priceless and I found strength I never knew I had! I have worked full time since I was 19 years old and I have my own little nest egg. My second marriage is a partnership and we have his/her/ours! We work for a common goal but control our own finances :)

    I am in control of my journey now that the children are out of the house and doing just fine!

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 1:46 PM

      Happy ending to that journey, love it! Well done!

  18. Miss Mazuma June 12, 2017 at 9:03 AM

    Brutal. “Your situation can change without warning” is the key takeaway here. I think that is a big reason why One More Year syndrome exists in this FI space. You can never be prepared for a worst case scenario but you can create a bit of a cushion should something happen.

    Now for something good…I have 3 whole days off work (which actually means a week) due to laryngitis. A welcome and much needed rest break!

    1. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials June 12, 2017 at 12:05 PM

      I’m petrified of this happening to me after watching my mom struggle to make ends meet as a single mom. One reason I don’t mind working towards FI on my own at first – I know I’ll have something to fall back on should things go awry.

      1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 1:46 PM


        1. Miss Mazuma June 12, 2017 at 10:34 PM

          I said I lost my voice not my hearing! ;)

          Haha – thanks, Doll! It totally worked!! I am healed…kind of. Got my voice back but I’m still a bit stuffy. No matter – I have 6 more days off work!! Wahooooooooo!!

  19. Ty Roberts June 12, 2017 at 9:36 AM

    If you live life waiting for some end reward then a blow like this, especially the timing of it, can completely derail you. But if you are able to find joy in your journey then something like this can be absorbed. It’s still crushing, but you can recover.

    Something good: only 7 more days of school for us out here then the kids’ summer vacation starts, which means more vacations for me too!

    1. Amanda @ centsiblyrich June 12, 2017 at 10:50 AM

      I’m totally with you here, Ty! Couldn’t have said it any better.

      Something good: we’re closing on our first investment property today (at least that’s the plan!). So excited. At least right now. Ask me in a week…

      1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 1:47 PM

        HAH! Good luck!!! I got kicked out of my rental for a few days here as our landlord found mold, womp womp….

  20. Brian June 12, 2017 at 9:37 AM

    Well, that just plain sucks! I guess the good news is she is financially savvy and has a plan to recover. Many people in the position would just panic.

  21. Mr Crazy Kicks June 12, 2017 at 10:45 AM

    Jeez, we never know what life might throw at us…

    Something good: we just got back from the beach on the Mediterranean :)

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 1:47 PM

      Tough life :)

  22. Suzi June 12, 2017 at 11:05 AM

    Ouch, that does stink. My hubby had a similar story–had to cash out his profit-sharing from Walmart but wisely got the ex to agree to never come back for alimony. Unfortunately, we’re just barely beginning to build his retirement back up, but we’re way behind.
    I think the lesson here is much less “keep your own money,” as much as it is “choose your spouse wisely.” My husband and I trust each other IMPLICITLY, for ALL THINGS, and we discuss everything, from money to work to sex, from our separate pasts to our together future, goals to pipe dreams. If a couple truly is communicating and keeps nothing secret from the other, then you truly can move through life together. I realize that many marriages don’t have this, but it can be something to strive for, and something to LOOK for in a mate if one isn’t already married. We are no-holds-barred but approach each other always with respect and love to the other, and it’s AWESOME.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 1:48 PM

      A beautiful thing to hear in this cray world of ours – you two are blessed :)

  23. Joe June 12, 2017 at 11:53 AM

    Yeah, that sucks. Divorce will cause big financial problems for anyone. Be good to your spouse and stay on good terms…

  24. Done by Forty June 12, 2017 at 12:06 PM

    If I ever tried to leave Mrs. Done by Forty, I think her plan is to double check the life insurance policy, and to help hold the ladder when I’m working on the roof.

  25. Friendly Russian June 12, 2017 at 12:25 PM

    My great grandfather used to say “No mater how bad you are feeling right now, it could be worse” When I was young and stupid I used to think that my old-old man is so pessimist because communists robbed him completely, put him in prison. Before the WWII they put him in GULAG and he spent years in it. And he always said – It could be worse. He knew what he was talking about.

    Your situation sucks. And I am sorry, but it could be worse. You could’ve been without savings, or without knowledge. You have your reasons and the right to be sad and mourn a little. But you know exactly what needs to be done. Earn – Spend less – Save

    And the best part is – now you need 2x times less money for retirement ;-)

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 1:49 PM

      True that!

  26. High Income Parents June 12, 2017 at 12:48 PM

    I’ve seen it the other way around where one spouse runs up huge debt (like $300,000) after 32 years of marriage and the other had to divorce to avoid creditors and judgements and jail time.
    It’s a risk to love but when it works out it’s awesome. When it doesn’t it’s terrible.

  27. Gary @ Super Saving Tips June 12, 2017 at 1:00 PM

    Divorce sucks under the best of circumstances. My own divorce (which was not under the best of circumstances) took me from a position of financial security to a position of starting back at square one. But it taught me preparation and frugality and got me on the path to value-based spending. And I’m happy to say that after a few years I met the right person, I’ve been remarried now for over a decade, and couldn’t be happier (there’s something good)!

    1. J. Money June 12, 2017 at 1:50 PM

      YAYY!!!! Congrats man!

  28. Cindy June 12, 2017 at 2:04 PM

    I was glad to read this post, because I keep wondering what I did wrong? Why am I 57, a relatively frugal person, a hard worker and I’m working 3 jobs to make ends meet. The problem? my ends are NOT meeting! ugh, and it’s making me crazy. When I was 40, I was married and he made good money. I was home with 6 kids and we were doing the super frugal thing. We had the house almost paid off, 2 old vehicles and 6 kids. I had a degree and a part-time job and I had never worked so hard in my life. Then he walked out and left me with the kids, my vehicle, the house and all of the debt. That was fine, until my youngest turned 18, and child support ended. That was 5 years ago and I got a Master’s Degree and it turned out to be the wrong degree. I got the same one as my boss, but when accreditation came through, they grandfathered her in, and not me. ugh. now, I have all the debt from my Master’s, a mortgage and some medical bills. I moved out of my house and rented it out. Renters are Horrible! I was ready to file for bankruptcy, but I decided instead, to sell my house. If it goes through, next month, I will go back to being OK, and not considering moving to Australia and changing my name… I’m glad to see that I”m not the only one!

    1. J. Money June 13, 2017 at 9:42 AM

      Ack!! I’m praying it works out well for you over here – you seem like a strong woman! And I hope he kids are all okay too! Tell me he at least is a part of their lives still? I don’t know how you can stop loving your kids like that – saddest thing in the entire world :(

  29. Donna Freedman June 12, 2017 at 3:25 PM

    In my case it was I who left without warning, after more than two decades of financial, emotional and psychological abuse. (He wouldn’t go to counseling and berated me for seeking therapy on my own after a nervous breakdown.) My ex saw no reason to change because, after all, HE was the one who was right. Always.

    Took me 23 years to get up the nerve to go (Stockholm Syndrome is a thing) and he made good on his promise to make the divorce take as long as possible so that we’d both be broke when it ended. (He did not make good on his other vow, which was that the day the divorce became final he would kill me and then himself.)

    So I ended up broke — but that led to a new career. I wrote a freelance piece called “Surviving (And Thriving) On $12,000 A Year” and the reaction was so huge that I was asked to write another. And another. Ultimately I was asked to create the Smart Spending blog for MSN Money, and then a column, and then the Frugal Nation blog, and then back to Smart Spending, and then MSN kicked us all to the virtual curb in September 2013.

    Still writing, no longer broke — and best of all, I found the absolute. perfect. partner. He’s smart, loving, funny and kind. Says he believes he was put on the Earth to make me happy. Bonus: He’s as frugal as I am.

    Life can change without warning. But sometimes bad changes lead to good ones.

    1. J. Money June 13, 2017 at 9:44 AM

      I hate and love reading your story every time I see it :) But never knew that’s how you got you start with writing!! how incredible! And you’re still rockin’ it after all these years – love it.

  30. Mrs. BITA June 12, 2017 at 3:43 PM

    If you’ve made a plan, and you are executing to it, congratulations, but try not to be too smug. Always remember that your success is, at least in part, because life has chosen not to kick you in the balls. Be grateful everyday for your great good fortune, and always build contingency plans for if things do go wrong.

  31. Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom June 12, 2017 at 3:53 PM

    Something good? Six months ago, we finally paid off over 80K of debt. Now, we are saving our Emergency Fund and just squirreled away month number 5! AND we leave for a cross country trip for a family wedding. We have already saved the cash, and anything we don’t spend will be put into our EF. Things are consistently looking up for us!

    1. J. Money June 13, 2017 at 9:39 AM

      I said one thing good, not a million things good :) (Congrats!!)

  32. Mr. Tako June 12, 2017 at 7:51 PM

    It’s definitely much easier to achieve financial independence as a couple. The sharing of costs makes it tons easier.

    I think this just goes back to something Warren Buffett once said, “One of the most important decisions in life you can make is choosing a good spouse.”

    That’s damn right.

  33. K June 12, 2017 at 8:02 PM

    OH MY…. Yes I can commiserate Life changes in an instant. I was a SAHM of 7 kids w 1.4 million cash… ex husband in one swift move started a business w a woman and lost it ALL…she went to jail he decalred BK 2 million. Single parent w 7 kids and a college degree started over! Money isn’t everything! Something​s are meant to teach us a lesson (like J’s do something good challenge to make it all clear!) Money isn’t everything BUT it does pay the bills ;). YOU have no idea how life can change in an instant. REALLY enjoy the moment nothing stays the same and LIFE is Good!

    1. J. Money June 13, 2017 at 9:38 AM

      Wowwwww what the hell is wrong with us men!

  34. FIbythecommonguy June 12, 2017 at 8:49 PM

    That is a real kick in the pants! It is always good to have a plan A, B, & C, as others have said, but I can honestly say, none of my plans involve my wife and I separating (including a walk out scenario). Wow, I am still shaking my head on this one.

  35. Celeste June 12, 2017 at 10:19 PM

    This is why I don’t understand the thinking that if you are married, then all your finances should be combined. I work in the wedding industry and so many loved upped brides are saying that if you don’t trust your husband to combine all your finances then you shouldn’t get married. It blows my mind. Your partner could leave you at the end of 30, 40, 50 years. We should ALWAYS have a backup and have a nest egg, as some might call it.

  36. Michelle June 13, 2017 at 5:18 AM

    Ugh, it sounds from these comments like this is a way more common situation than I’d have thought!

    I read David Bach’s “Smart Women Finish Rich” as a teen, and it opened my eyes to the idea that many women leave the financial decisions to their husbands, and that’s just not ok anymore! Aside from this horror of a later-in-life split, women typically outlive their husbands, so we gotta be prepared to support ourselves and handle our own finances!

    1. J. Money June 13, 2017 at 9:36 AM

      As they say, “a man isn’t a financial plan!”

  37. Adriana @MoneyJourney June 13, 2017 at 6:27 AM

    This reminds me of my parents who split up after almost 25 years of marriage.
    I really don’t like to think about the negative (especially when it comes to money!), but you never know what tomorrow might bring..

  38. Money Under the Cushions June 13, 2017 at 10:11 AM

    This made me ask my husband if he loved me, while I looked deeply into his eye so I could see the truth. It also reaffirmed for me why having separate bank accounts is a good thing. We also have a combined account. I do feel like our conversations about stuff like this is much easier because we don’t have kids…but that’s based simply on experience with our familial and social circles.

    1. J. Money June 13, 2017 at 10:48 AM

      And what did he say??? Don’t leave us hanging!! :)

  39. Fruclassity (Ruth) June 13, 2017 at 9:31 PM

    Here is something good: After 5 years of debt-reduction, my husband and I have paid off $180,000 and we have $77,000 to go. We’re getting there! And this journey has made our relationship stronger. Warning taken though!

    1. J. Money June 14, 2017 at 10:24 AM

      Holy hot dogs!!! You are my new hero! :)

  40. ZJ Thorne June 15, 2017 at 12:34 AM

    Oh man, that’s brutal! You think you have everything sorted and the other person just says no. Ugh. I would be so frustrated.

  41. sugarglider June 20, 2017 at 6:52 AM

    oh wow! Popped back on site and was so not expecting this!! And I do have something good to say – I am doing OK! Got over the grief cycle. Friends and meditation keep my head straight.
    I have following this website for quite a few years – got a budget template and lots of motivation from you guys. Followed lots of the advice and ideas. This has been part of looking after myself and finding myself OK when the unexpected happened.
    It has been 4 months now. I am still job hunting and doing part time contract work. So
    Still no contact from Mr. MIA. Still don’t know why, or where he is. So – double check everything and go tell your loved one how much you love him/her.

    Reading all these beautiful / funny / sad / affirming comments is uplifting and reminds me to stay on task. SO COOL lovely people – THANK YOU for sharing your stories. THANK YOU J Money for giving us real life guidance and encouragement

    1. J. Money June 21, 2017 at 5:12 PM

      There you are!! Was hoping you’d come across this – totally meant to send you the link and must have forgot, sorry about that. At least it made for a nice surprise :) Glad you enjoyed reading, and even more so you’re out of the grieving period and into the kicking ass one! I hope when your ex does contact you again he’s astonished at how amazing you’re doing without him :)