Follow Us On Your Favorite Podcast App
<iframe title=”Embed Player” style=”border: medium none;” src=”//play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/22213256/height/128/theme/modern/size/standard/thumbnail/yes/custom-color/c1bca4/time-start/00:00:00/playlist-height/200/direction/backward/download/yes” scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen=”” webkitallowfullscreen=”true” mozallowfullscreen=”true” oallowfullscreen=”true” msallowfullscreen=”true” width=”100%” height=”128″></iframe><iframe title=”Embed Player” style=”border: medium none;” src=”//play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/22213256/height/128/theme/modern/size/standard/thumbnail/yes/custom-color/c1bca4/time-start/00:00:00/playlist-height/200/direction/backward/download/yes” scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen=”” webkitallowfullscreen=”true” mozallowfullscreen=”true” oallowfullscreen=”true” msallowfullscreen=”true” width=”100%” height=”128″></iframe><iframe title=”Embed Player” style=”border: medium none;” src=”//play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/22213256/height/128/theme/modern/size/standard/thumbnail/yes/custom-color/c1bca4/time-start/00:00:00/playlist-height/200/direction/backward/download/yes” scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen=”” webkitallowfullscreen=”true” mozallowfullscreen=”true” oallowfullscreen=”true” msallowfullscreen=”true” width=”100%” height=”128
Exposing Secrets Behind Financial Deception. Tracy Coenen
Do you suspect your spouse, significant other, business partner or anyone else of cheating you out of hard-earned money and assets? Forensic accounting is quickly emerging as one of the most powerful weapons when it comes to uncovering and then prosecuting cheaters.
In this episode CPA and fraud coach Tracy Coenen, explains what forensic accounting is, how it works and why it’s such an effective tool in catching those who are seeking to hide financial secrets. Tracy teaches people how to look for financial red flags of fraud to find money that belongs to them.
Free Red Flag Assessment
Take Tracey’s free red flag assessment to evaluate potential fraud in your marriage and learn to become your own money detective
Divorce Money Guide- $100 off
If you are moving towards divorce, Tracy’s valuable resource, Divorce Money Guide provides action steps to uncover hidden financial fraud in your marriage. Go from stressed and left in the dark to confidently taking back control. Use the coupon code BOB at checkout and receive $100 off.
Tracy Coenen CPA 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 sit for the CPA exam…and here Tracy is, finding money in cases of corporate fraud, high net worth divorces, and other financial shenanigans.
Click to Read Full Transcript
[00:00:00] Bob Wheeler: Do you suspect your spouse, significant other business partner or anyone else have cheating you out of hard-earned money and assets? Forensic accounting is quickly emerging as one of the most powerful weapons when it comes to uncovering and then prosecuting cheaters. In this episode, C p A and fraud coach Tracy Conan explains what forensic accounting is.
How it works and why it’s such an effective tool in catching those who are seeking to hide financial secrets. Tracy teaches people how to look for financial red flags of fraud to find money that belongs to them. Take Tracy’s free red flag assessment to evaluate potential fraud in your marriage and learn how to become your own money detective.
If you are moving towards divorce, Tracy’s valuable resource Divorce Money Guide provides action steps to uncover hidden financial fraud in your marriage. Go from stressed and left in the dark to confidently taking back control. Use the coupon code Bob Capital b o b at checkout and receive a hundred dollars off.
Link is in the show notes. I’m Bob Wheeler and this is Money You Should Ask where we explore why we do what we do when it comes to money.
Tracy has been investigating fraud for more than 25 years, but she didn’t always wanna be a forensic accountant with a dream of one day being a prison warden. Tracy went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin 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 sit for the C P A exam. And here Tracy is finding money in cases of corporate fraud, high net worth divorces, and other financial shenanigan. Tracy, so great to have you on the show. I know that I’m actually gonna nerd out with you because I love this topic and I think it’s a really important topic.
[00:02:14] Tracy Coenen: welcome. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here, and I will happily nerd out with
[00:02:18] Bob Wheeler: you. Cool, cool, cool. So Tracy, for those listening, what is a typical day for a forensic?
[00:02:26] Tracy Coenen: A typical day for a forensic accountant is just digging into a lot of numbers. I tell people that I find money, but the way that I find money is by digging through thousands and thousands of transactions on bank statements and credit card statements and investment account statements, digging through tax returns, other financial documents.
And I really follow a trail of money. So it’s a lot of detail work, which I really enjoy. But here’s the catch, and here’s where sometimes young forensic accountants go wrong. You gotta dig into those details, but you can’t lose sight of the big picture. And what are we trying to prove? And does this get us to proof of
[00:03:04] Bob Wheeler: it?
Yeah, I’m excited about that stuff because to me, forensic accounting is a really good audit with a purpose like, right. You know, it’s not just, yeah, the numbers are right. It’s what are we trying to find? What are they hiding? Or maybe they’re not, but it’s juicy and. People just don’t realize there’s so much information.
You’re sort of like a financial detective, really. Absolutely. But here’s the thing, when you went to college and maybe as a little girl, you wanted to be a prison warden
[00:03:34] Tracy Coenen: as a little girl, I didn’t wanna be a prison warden. Thankfully, I didn’t know what a prison warden was, . I was just a fan of Encyclopedia Brown.
So for those who are old enough to remember, encyclopedia Brown was the boy detective, and we had a bunch of those books in the little library at school. I think I was the only one checking him out and I was checking him out repeatedly. So that’s sort of where I got my initial interest in investigating.
But as I got older and got college age, I decided that what I wanted to do for a career was be a prison warden. I felt that I had a lot to offer there. I was fascinated by prisons themselves and the societies that develop behind the walls. What is the purpose of prison? Is it rehabilitation, protection of society, something else?
I liked all those topics and I felt that I had the heart to really create some positive. Both for the prisoners and for their victims and for society. That was my goal. I stepped into a criminology program, you know, intending to learn all about how I could become a prison warden and the skills that I would need and the knowledge that I would need, and I took a class called Financial Crime Investigation my sophomore year.
It was an elective that was offered only once every few years, and I said, here’s my chance if I wanna get this in before graduation. Let’s see what this is all about. It sounds kind of fun. Sure enough, I loved it. So I started taking some accounting classes and I was off to the race.
[00:05:00] Bob Wheeler: That is so cool. I was actually gonna be in the criminal justice system.
I was gonna be a lawyer. I thought you, you were gonna say you were gonna be a criminal. Well, aren’t lawyers, criminals? .
[00:05:10] Tracy Coenen: Wait a second. All of my consulting work comes from attorneys. I, I’ll plead the fifth on that question. We, we
[00:05:15] Bob Wheeler: love attorneys when they’re on our side. And accounting for me was just a side gig.
It was an easy A, somebody in high school said, Hey, I think you’ll be good at this, and I was determined to be a lawyer. I just kept taking accounting to help the grade point, as most people do. Right. Wonderful. . Forensic accounting sounds like something very, very corporate, but it’s not just for big corporations Who can benefit from this and why is it so important in divorce?
[00:05:43] Tracy Coenen: Well, you’re right that a lot of the work does go on on the corporate side. A good bit of my work is investigating on behalf of companies who have executives who have been stealing or manipulating the numbers, but. A good bit of my work is on the personal side as well. That might extend to brothers and sisters fighting over mom and dad’s money after they pass away.
It might be someone who invested in a business and got scammed out of their money. It might be business owners who are deciding to split up, but someone suspicious about the money before they do that. Most of the time, the personal stuff that I do is regarding divorce. One of the spouses has suspicions about what’s happened with the money, where it’s gone, how it’s been spent, and I come in to sort that out for them.
[00:06:28] Bob Wheeler: Yeah, it’s so fascinating. I go through this. , every time I have a client pass or something happens and the family says our family’s gonna be different, there’s no issues with money. And then I laugh because maybe one out of 10 doesn’t have issues around money. Somebody’s not strategizing. Same thing with families in divorce.
Or I have a client where stepmom sold off like 20 or 30 properties, multimillions of dollars, never told the kids about it. It was all supposed to be theirs, right? And then they discover 15 years later. The buildings are all gone . So it happens a lot.
[00:07:02] Tracy Coenen: It does. And even when people are getting along, when they’re talking about mom and dad’s money, it’s just natural that they’re not always going to agree.
You know, it might be a matter of someone in the family is going to buy mom and dad’s house and keep it in the family, but people disagree on what that purchase price should be. It’s nothing salacious other than someone thinks it’s worth this much. Someone else thinks it’s worth a different number. And how do you come to a fair number for that family member to purchase that piece of property from the estate?
[00:07:34] Bob Wheeler: Sell everything. No , that’s not always the answer, but it gets frustrating. Years ago, I was offered an opportunity to work for this guy for five years and I could take over his practice. And he was a forensic accountant. He said I typically work 80 hours a week. And uh, I. Oh, that doesn’t sound fun. It just doesn’t sound fun.
But I did get to do a bit of forensic accounting. I’d work with divorce lawyers, this particular team, and I would go in and I would go through the numbers. I would discover stuff, and then I would help in the deposition, writing little notes to them, ask this, ask that where people were using, Automobiles to pay payroll to hide money from spouse and going in or trying to find a book, his calendar with all of his jobs cuz he was making no money, but he was a commercial contractor.
Going to the vendors, figuring out how much he purchased so we could back in cost of goods. There’s all kinds of craziness that people do. Like What are some of the typical findings you find when you’re going through people’s account?
[00:08:33] Tracy Coenen: Honestly, the most typical thing that I find is one spouse is having an affair and spending money on that affair.
And if you think of it, that money they’re spending is really marital money and it belongs half of it to their spouse. So it’s really important to figure out how much was spent on that affair because the other spouse deserves a credit back when we are dividing the house, dividing the retirement account and things like that.
So as unfortunate as that response is, that’s what I most commonly see is those affairs and they get really expensive.
[00:09:07] Bob Wheeler: I joke about this sometimes, but you know what’s yours is mine. What’s mine is mine. And it feels like a lot of times when we’re going into divorce that people are all of a sudden discounting the fact that the other spouse put in all the time and energy, or typically the woman has raised the children and managed the entire house.
And that doesn’t get factored in as any kind of value when it now comes to splitting the hairs. No, no, no. I earned the money, eh, it was a team. When I work
[00:09:35] Tracy Coenen: in divorce cases, I am most commonly on the wife’s side. I’m typically on the side of the non moneyed spouse. Yeah, that’s the person who wasn’t working, doesn’t have the retirement account and things like that.
Of course, the pushback that we always get from the husband who has been the breadwinner is exactly that. This is my paycheck, these are my earnings. I worked, you didn’t, this isn’t our house. This is my house. This is my retirement. And man, you know, sometimes we’ve gotta pump these women up to tell them it is at least half yours and it might actually be more than half yours.
And let’s talk about when that may be the case. Yeah.
[00:10:17] Bob Wheeler: Well, you know, it’s interesting. I have a few clients where the woman has been the breadwinner. The husband, I guess, has been just beautiful I candy or so. It’s amazing how they will come in and then in this case, the men are very much like, this is all my money.
I did everything to help you so you could have your career. And I feel, I mean, I hate to admit this, I feel bad for the women on both sides, , because like they’ve worked really hard and they have so many obstacles, like gimme a break.
[00:10:46] Tracy Coenen: Well, I worked on one last year where I was on the husband’s side and he was a stay-at-home dad.
He had left a very good career and had stayed home for 15 years with the kids. His wife was a neurosurgeon and made anywhere from a million to $2 million a year, depending on, you know, what are caseload was like. And she offered my client. $2,000 of alimony per month for two years, and then he was gonna be done.
She said, that’s all you need. Well, no, sorry. He’s been out of the workforce for 15 years. First of all, he needs a lot longer runway than two years. He probably, at his age will never recover those earnings and will never catch back up to the peers he had when he was in the workforce. He’ll never have an opportunity to save her retirement the way she will.
There’s long-term alimony that needs to be paid in a case
[00:11:38] Bob Wheeler: like. Yeah, and I was thinking about the case where not everybody, but a lot of men will put title of property in their their mom’s name or do things to just keep all, I don’t have any assets. The fancy car, all these things aren’t somebody else’s name.
Is that pretty hard to pull out of if they’ve done it? Like if they’ve done their due diligence and they did it three years ago, like they were plotting ahead. Is that hard to unwind that.
[00:12:05] Tracy Coenen: So there’s a lot of legalities and I, I have to say that’s that the attorneys who are listening don’t get upset with me.
And of course it varies by state. But I will tell you this, if we are able to go back in the financial records and prove that that was an asset that was purchased during the. With marital money, with the salary that the spouse was making while they were married, and we can lay out that proof and show that the.
Would never have agreed to have that title transferred. She didn’t know it, but it was, it was a marital asset at one time, and here’s how we can prove that we’ve got a great chance.
[00:12:44] Bob Wheeler: Yeah. So here’s advice I give sometimes to women that are getting a second marriage. It’s usually women and they’ve had this little property they’ve had.
The second husband says, let’s sell the house. Cuz now we have my house. Our house. And I always tell him, keep that soul and separate. Don’t ever pay the mortgage out of the mixed joint money. Keep it very separate so that if something happens down the line. You still have your house, like you can rent it out, but just keep it in a completely Never pay insurance.
[00:13:16] Tracy Coenen: right? Keep it completely separate. What I see in cases, or even just in online divorce support groups where people are talking, I see so many times where the woman says, I sold my house and I took that money and I put it as a down payment on our marital home, and we both went on the title and we both are on the mortgage and now we’ve been married eight years and we’re splitting and I feel like I’m gonna lose what I put into that house, or I’m, at the very least, I’m gonna have to split it with him, and that is a huge risk that is run.
So I’m a big fan of keeping that all separate.
[00:13:52] Bob Wheeler: It varies state to state, but it’s so important when you’re getting married, when you’re getting remarried, make sure that you’re checking all those legal boxes or even just your IRA beneficiaries. I had a client, they accidentally left the wrong account to an estranged nephew who got like three or 400,000 and the brother got 10,000 and they went to the nephew.
He. Hey, that’s my money, right? Law says it’s my money. And he was right, which made him more estranged. But you have to pay attention to that stuff. It matters what’s been written down, what’s been documented, because years later they’re not gonna go by a verbal or a handshake.
[00:14:30] Tracy Coenen: Right? And that’s what precisely why I have made tools for people who are getting divorced, who are after divorce, and need to know what are all these legalities that I need to think about so that I protect my.
So that you make sure your spouse can never access your credit again, can never access any bank account that you have, but also that you’re changing those beneficiaries, that you’re double checking your will and your healthcare power of attorney, all those kinds of things. There’s a lot to think about, and so I’m a big fan of tools to help people navigate that.
[00:15:03] Bob Wheeler: If I’ve got a client saying, I’m contemplating dis divorce, do your homework first. Don’t just walk out the door, because in some states that’s spousal abandonment and you could lose everything to me. I’m not saying be sneaky, but be diligent.
[00:15:17] Tracy Coenen: Right. Well, I’m saying be just a tiny bit sneaky. I say be quiet.
You’re thinking about divorce. Do not say a peep. You want to go speak to an attorney or two, get a consultation. Actually, I like talking to more than one attorney, cuz you’re gonna get some different viewpoints about what your state laws say about your circumstances. Maybe you do have that separate. Or maybe you did put some money in together, or maybe, maybe you agreed that a piece of property could be titled in his mom’s name, and now you’re worried about how that’s going to work.
So go get that advice from that attorney just so you know what you’re facing. But number two, start gathering information. Gather all the financial information, all the documents that you have legal access to. So I of course, say legal. I say don’t break into online accounts. If your husband has given you the password to an online account, but your name is not on that bank account, don’t enter it at this time.
If you’re contemplating divorce, don’t even, don’t even go there only. Look at the accounts your name is on. Download all the bank statements. Put ’em in a safe place. Gather, gather, gather, because that financial information will come in handy if you do get to the point of divorce. Ask me how many times a client of mine has been on a bank account, had access to it, the divorce gets filed and mysteriously her name is no longer on the account and she can’t access any of the information.
[00:16:42] Bob Wheeler: probably hundreds of times over and over, over and over, over and over. Now I’m gonna ask you a gender bias question. This is my own perspective for sure. Often I tell my women, if you have the option, get a female attorney. . And the reason I say that is because I had a family member get divorced. It turned out the lawyers on both sides were like best buds.
And this female family member ended up not getting that great of a deal. And afterwards they’re like, Hey dude, hey dude. It was just like they were just going to play tennis and I just felt like if she had had somebody advocating for her a little bit more, instead of like, Hey, my buddy’s on the other side again.
It was a one experience. It’s a slight bias of mine, but I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on that.
[00:17:31] Tracy Coenen: I don’t have that same bias. I think that you can run into problems no matter the gender of your attorney. So you could have a female attorney who similarly has that cozy relationship with opposing counsel.
The divorce community, as far as attorneys go, is pretty small if you are in any given. , these attorneys all know each other, and so the risk is there regardless of gender. What I think is more important, Necessarily choosing a particular gender is talking to two or three attorneys to get that feel for who you would work best with.
But I also think because having these conversations, by the time you get through three attorneys, you are gonna notice some red flags in one or two of them that are like, ah, I’m not sure if he’s gonna fully listen to my concerns. Oh, she was talking over me the whole meeting. Those kinds of. I think are more important than necessarily a particular gender for your attorney.
[00:18:28] Bob Wheeler: Okay. That’s awesome. Do you think they should be pit bulls? Do you think they should be like, like do you want somebody that’s gonna really go for it? Or somebody that’s like, well, let’s work it out? It
[00:18:38] Tracy Coenen: very much depends on your circumstances with your spouse. If you have what appears to be an amicable separation where you seem to agree on most things, but you just have to go through this legal process.
I would tend towards an attorney who is more collaborative about the process. But if you right out of the gates know that you have a spouse who is combative, who is, you know, going to oppose you at every turn, then I’m gonna lean more towards that pit bull. What I would say is important is if you start with someone who seems a little more collaborative and cooperative.
You do wanna ask questions inquiring about what happens if this gets really difficult and we do start arguing. What would your approach be so that you could know that this person who now is really open to collaborative could still amp it up if they had to?
[00:19:32] Bob Wheeler: There’s so much strategy that goes into this.
That’s why I think it’s so important to be mindful and strategic, and maybe a little bit sneaky before you just jump into this, because once Pandora’s box is open, there’s usually no going back. That’s right. I mean occasionally, but it’s there and so you’ve gotta have your ducks in a row. But when it comes to forensic accounting, I’m wondering your take on this, because I’ve had this happen a few times.
One spouse has a business. They probably spend a hundred thousand dollars in forensic accounting, getting valuations and all this stuff. Originally, there was an agreement. Nope. Nope, that’s not good enough. We now spend a hundred thousand on forensic. We probably spend another a hundred, 150 on legal fees, and after a three year horrific, very contentious process, we almost settled at the exact same numbers that we started out with.
[00:20:22] Tracy Coenen: It happens far too often, Bob. It really does. Some people want to fight just for the sake of fighting or they want to fight because it’s a way to continue to control their spouse. If their spouse gets that divorce and has that final decree. The control is in many cases, eliminated, or maybe if there’s children, there will still be some control, but it’s substantially reduced once the divorce is finaled.
Bob, unfortunately, I see that more often than we should. Yeah. I’m
[00:20:54] Bob Wheeler: wondering in your personal life, since you see all this, if you go into relationships a bit of a, um, sign this disclosure, or does that skew the way you look at your own personal relationships?
[00:21:06] Tracy Coenen: It skews the way I look at business relationships.
I will never have a business partner, but on the personal side, it really doesn’t affect me. I’m very protective over my money. I have a policy. I don’t lend money to friends or family. If someone needs money, I consider whether I want to give them a gift or not. But I really keep money issues very separate, and it seems that my family and friends, because of the work that I.
Really don’t often even come close to that topic, you know, and, and so it doesn’t really affect me that way. No, that’s
[00:21:39] Bob Wheeler: great. You just mentioned business partners and I think that is just such another piece to be so aware of. When you have a business partner and you’re both signing on checking accounts and have the ability to sign contracts, you better know that you’ve got somebody you can trust.
I had a partnership client where one was generating all the income. The other one was theoretically managing the. When things went sour and we were like, there’s no money for payroll. This guy knew that there was like 15,000 left, so he ran a payroll, took that money as we started going through the account and discovered he had paid like $10,000 for some teeth work and all of a sudden tire repair, $5,000 and he had probably drained the company of 50 or $60,000.
The other guy was just like, oh, I trust him and was never verify.
[00:22:25] Tracy Coenen: Bob, there’s one simple thing that could have put a stop to all of that, the second it started. Do you know what that is? I don’t. , all the other guy had to do was look at the bank statements and the checks. Once a month. Yeah. Literally a five minute or less exercise once a month.
And the guy would’ve written one of those rogue checks or done an electronic transfer to something bizarre sounding. Or the dentist and your guy would’ve seen it and said, what the heck is this? And it could have been shut down immediately.
[00:22:57] Bob Wheeler: Yeah. It’s amazing how many people don’t look at bank statements.
Oh, the money came out. It’s all good. Banks don’t lie. They make mistakes all the time. And if you’re not looking. Money can leave. This is years ago, I did bookkeeping for a client and I would go out every three months. They got really busy with their business and I didn’t go out for 14 months. Oh, oh no.
And I go out and this new person greets me at the door and they’re like, hi, who are you? I said, oh, I’m the accountant. I just, I usually come out every three months. They’re like, oh, do you want donuts? Do you want coffee? I was like, no. Hey, do you need your car wash? Okay. This is strange, right? I start going through the bank statements about third month in some checks are missing.
This is when you used to get the actual canceled check. Sure. They’re not in the envelope. I’m like, make a note. Every once in a while, Hey, how are you doing? Do you need a donut? Hmm. So now we get into six months. Now there’s lots of checks missing. They’re bigger amounts. So I. I know I have a suspicion. I go to the business owner and I say, look, I hate to say it, but I think that employee, the one offering me donuts is stealing lots of money, and here’s why.
They said, no, no, that She’s like family. Well, if it’s like my family, then she’s stealing. No, I’m kidding. . Anyway, so we go to talk to her, she’s fled. Her parents call and say, we’ll pay everything back. So again, just looking at the bank statements or paying a little bit more attention to your money is so critical.
[00:24:19] Tracy Coenen: personal. So true. And this is a good time to tell you that most businesses that experience a theft like this recover none of that money. So to any listener who’s like, oh yeah, sure, someone stepped in and paid off what this woman stole, that is so rare in the scheme of, you know, corporate frauds.
People do not steal money to save it. They steal it to spend it. So the person who was stealing, it’s gone goodbye. Yeah. And how many of these people who are stealing from the everyday average business have parents with the wealth that would allow them to pay it off? It just is such an oddity that that happened.
[00:24:57] Bob Wheeler: It’s amazing the number of times I can think of two clients specifically. We caught the situ. In that case, a couple years later, they hired her back. Oh. Because she promised to be good. And guess what? Well, sure she did it again.
[00:25:11] Tracy Coenen: Oh, you mean, you mean they didn’t watch her the second time? No.
[00:25:14] Bob Wheeler: Cuz she was, she apologized.
She promised. Yeah,
[00:25:16] Tracy Coenen: she promised. I often wish I could find people who were that willing to let me steal from them with no consequences. Wouldn’t it be nice? It would be so fun.
[00:25:24] Bob Wheeler: It’d be fun. I probably wouldn’t sleep at night, but it would be fun.
[00:25:27] Tracy Coenen: Same deal here. I wouldn’t sleep.
[00:25:29] Bob Wheeler: But I do see that a lot where people give people a second chance after they’ve proven, I’m not capable of being responsible with your money, and I will steal it at any given opportunity.
And then people still go, I can’t believe it.
[00:25:41] Tracy Coenen: Well, you know, what you’re talking about in the business context is very applicable to husbands and wives and the divorce situation because in so many households, one of the spouses is taking care of the money. It’s often the spouse who is the major breadwinner and the other spouse isn’t watching.
And the reason why they don’t is because this is what we do in marriages. We trust people. That’s why we’re married, right? We have a certain level of. . We divide and conquer. You take care of the bills. I take care of cutting the grass every week. You see to it that the kids get to school in the morning. I see to it that they get picked up in the evening.
We divide and conquer. So it’s typical for one person to have control of the money, pay the bills, watch the budget, and the other spouse doesn’t get involved unless something blows up or there’s a big money decision that needs to be made when you’re headed towards divorce. However, That’s a bad position to be in.
If you haven’t had any visibility into the money, you don’t know where you stand as you’re heading into divorce. You don’t know what the money’s been spent on for the last five or 10
[00:26:47] Bob Wheeler: years. I mean, look, every relationship is different. I just saw an article that said people that combine their money and share an account have longer relationships, but there’s also maybe more trust there, and you have to hope that there’s trust there.
[00:27:02] Tracy Coenen: or it may be that there is a feeling of helplessness there, because if you work with women getting divorced like I do, you see how many of them feel trapped in marriage? When the finances are combined, especially if they’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years and they don’t have an income source of their own, they will typically stay years longer than someone who has a level of financial independence.
[00:27:26] Bob Wheeler: Ah, I love that perspective. I think that probably didn’t get factored in. Be mindful of your money folks. Well, Tracy, we’re at the fast five, so we have to shift the energy just a bit. I’m ready for it. We are at the Fast five. Fast Five is brought to you by Fam Zoo, preparing kids for the financial. Prepaid cards and a family finance app for kids, teens, and parents.
Keep your kids on a budget. Track chores, automate allowances and encourage saving. If you want your child to learn money, habits that match your values, sign up for Fam Zoo to learn more, check out the link in the show notes. Here we go. What’s the single most frustrating thing for you when approaching your own personal finances with a.
[00:28:03] Tracy Coenen: The fact that I don’t have control over my partner’s credit card. ,
[00:28:09] Bob Wheeler: how do you feel when you help a client discover something that’s really huge that’s gonna help their case?
[00:28:14] Tracy Coenen: It’s amazing. That is the whole reason that I do this, is to help people be informed and find that money.
[00:28:21] Bob Wheeler: Yeah, absolutely. Do you have a financial goal you’d like to hit in the next six
[00:28:25] Tracy Coenen: months?
In the next six months, gosh, I’d sure love to recover the losses in my retirement account from last
[00:28:31] Bob Wheeler: year , I think we all would. . When you think about your own personal relationship with money, what word would you use to describe the feeling you get when you look at your bank account inspired. Awesome.
Love it. Well, we are at the m and m spot, the Sweet Spot, money and Motivation. I’m wondering if you have a practical. Or a piece of wealth wisdom that you can share with our listeners. Something that personally has helped you. It really has
[00:28:57] Tracy Coenen: been all about staying informed, and I know that we’ve sort of beat that drum today, but that is where it’s at for people, whether they’re considering divorce or not.
If you can just dig in a little bit to your finances a little bit more from wherever you are, so don’t worry if you are in a position of zero inform. Then find a way to just take some baby steps towards getting a little bit more information. If you do feel well informed, what else could you learn about your situation?
[00:29:26] Bob Wheeler: Yeah, I think that’s awesome advice. And one of the things that we’ve talked about today that feels so important is that being informed, being proactive, even if the money thing is not your thing, make it a little bit of your thing. Don’t stay in the dark. And if you have to make movement towards an. Keep it quiet until you get close to the door.
Find out the facts and the laws in your state. Like you said, make copies of bank statements and all those things. Get your affairs in order before you decide to move on, because once it gets ugly, it gets ugly and you wanna have all those documents. Documents disappear, files disappear, money goes outta bank accounts.
That was there yesterday. If you’ve got property that you had going into the marriage, make sure you keep that separate so that it’s not part of the marital assets. Just going down the line, Bob, you
[00:30:16] Tracy Coenen: talk about people not being good with money, but set that aside for a second. If you think you’re not good with numbers or not good with money, okay, fine.
You don’t have to be good with money to look at a bank statement. See where the debit card was used and know that it shouldn’t have been used at a hotel, a estate over last weekend, or to know that this is not a company that we do business with and I wanna know what that money was spent for. You don’t have to be good at money to take two minutes to look at that bank statement and see if it makes any sense.
[00:30:47] Bob Wheeler: Absolutely. I agree. That whole, I’m not good with money thing is a story we tell ourselves. It’s not that complicated. Somebody holds your hand and you can take a deep dive or a little dive. Just get informed. I’m gonna tell this one more story, ed, because I just love this topic. When I first started working, I worked in a hotel.
I was a hotel controller of a convention hotel. We would send out invoices for people if they didn’t show up for the hotel, and they would get paid prompt. And I said to them, owner, I don’t understand this. We sent out invoices to people for 2, 3, 400 bucks for not showing up for the week, and they paid the bill for this conference.
And they said, oh, well that’s because they weren’t at the conference. But they don’t want their wife to know that they were in Orlando, right? And so they’re paying that bill so that they have proof that they paid for the room. I was very naive. I grew up in a small town, . I was shocked. The tricks
[00:31:38] Tracy Coenen: cheaters use, they will surprise you.
I mean, I’ve been at this for 20 some years. There’s things that still surprise me to this.
[00:31:46] Bob Wheeler: Yeah, it’s crazy. Well, Tracy, you have a Divorce Money Guide that people can get. Where can they find that? Where can they find you? Online and social media.
[00:31:55] Tracy Coenen: They can find firstname.lastname@example.org. So the Divorce Money Guide is a tool if you need to learn more, more about your finances as you head into divorce.
If you’re suspicious about what’s happened with the money and you’re not ready to hire a forensic accountant, or you’re not able to hire a forensic accountant, this guide is gonna walk you through how to look at your finances, how to get all that stuff together. It’s super easy. I’ve got videos and checklists and all sorts of fun stuff.
So go to divorce money guide.com. At the top of the page is a link to take the red flag assessment. So if you’ve seen some signs in your marriage that make you question. Whether some money has been hidden from you or whether there has been secret spending, take the assessment and I’ll give you my feedback on whether or not you have something to be worried
[00:32:40] Bob Wheeler: about.
That’s awesome. And if they use the coupon code, Bob, b o b, all caps Bob, b o b, they can get that for free. They
[00:32:49] Tracy Coenen: get a hundred dollars off. They get a hundred dollars off. That was a great try. That was a great negotiating tactic, but it’s a hundred dollars off the divorce money guy.
[00:32:58] Bob Wheeler: That’s awesome. Well, folks, that is an important tool.
If you’ve got some suspicions, do your homework. Play detective. Absolutely. Tracy, this has just been such a fun conversation, a fun topic. This stuff fascinates me. I could nerd out for hours and share war stories. Thank you so much for taking the time, and I hope everybody goes to the website and grabs your tools.
[00:33:20] Tracy Coenen: Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun.
[00:33:29] Bob Wheeler: We hope you enjoyed this episode. Did you learn something new about your relationship to money today? Maybe you have a friend who has some financial blocks or beliefs that are holding them back. Please share this podcast so they too can get off the roller coaster Ride of Financial Fears and journey towards financial.
To learn how to have a healthy relationship with money, visit the money nerve.com. That’s nerve not nerd. We’ll be back next week with another perspective on money and the emotions that bind us.