What happened to my money?
Jul 6, 2023
Season 8 | Episode 8

What happened to my money?

Relationships require trust, particularly when it comes to money. How do you recover from a major financial betrayal from someone you love?

It was the 1970s, and Sally had it all: a loving husband, a baby daughter and a stable job working for New York state. But after a car accident made her a widow in her mid-20s, everything fell apart. She didn’t know who would be interested in a single mom with a 2-year-old, until she met Todd. (Note: not their real names.)

Todd had big dreams of becoming an architect, being his own boss and not having to work for “the man.” He promised that they would be millionaires. And in the meanwhile, she was happy to support the family. It all seemed to be going great … until it wasn’t. “He had spent all the money,” said Sally, “and he never told me about it at all.” Even now, she is still reeling from the effects of giving her trust — and her savings — to the wrong person.

In this episode, we also check back in with Hayli McKnight, whom you might remember from our season 1 episode, “The college fund.” When she was a teenager applying to colleges, she found out her dad had spent almost all of the money that her grandpa had put aside for her college education. It’s been four years since we last spoke to Hayli, and her relationship to money and her feelings about her dad’s choices have changed. And her financial life has only become more complicated. 

But she has a new perspective on controlling her own money: “Before my money goes to anybody else, it’s mine,” she told Reema in a recent interview. “I deserve to be able to do that. I am definitely smart enough to do that.” 

If you liked this episode, share it with a friend. And to get even more Uncomfortable, subscribe to our newsletter. Each Friday you’ll get a note from Reema Khrais and some recs from the “This Is Uncomfortable” team. If you missed it, here’s the latest issue.

If you want to tell us what you thought about the episode or anything else, email us at uncomfortable@marketplace.org or fill out the form below.

This is Uncomfortable July 6, 2023 Transcript


Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.


Reema Khrais

 I met Sally at her condo… in a suburb of New York City. 


Reema Khrais: Can I take my shoes off? 


Sally: You do whatever you feel comfortable with. I don’t know if it’s physically, for some reason, whether I never like to wear shoes


Reema Khrais

 Sally isn’t her real name– she asked us to keep her identity private when sharing her story. 


These days I don’t often get to meet the people I interview in person. But when I was visiting New York and realized Sally was just an hour away, I had to go meet her. There was something about her presence over the phone that I found comforting…she talks to strangers like they’re old friends…and in person she was just as inviting…


Reema Khrais: Oh this is such a beautiful home!


Sally: It’s comfortable…I wish I had one more bedroom but it’s good…


Reema Khrais

 Next to the door she had a pair of bright pink Crocs. They matched her pink shirt and the pink lanyard around her neck that holds her iPhone. 


Sally: Pink’s a good color


Reema Khrais

 Sally lives alone and follows a strict daily routine…she wakes up, does some balance exercises and then she’ll catch up on the news…she listens to a lot of public radio…which was still playing when I walked in


Sally: Alexa stop!

And I have the same thing for breakfast every day. 


Reema: What is it? 


Sally: I have an english muffin hopefully, whole wheat…half of it is covered in peanut butter… 


Reema Khrais

 As we got settled into her living room, we started talking about her family. How she grew up in the South Bronx raised mostly by her mom. Even though Sally was just a teenager, her mom would sometimes give her relationship advice… but like so many of us, Sally didn’t always listen.


Sally: My mother always used to say that to me, have your own bank account. And I thought, oh, what does she, what does she know? Like, you know, that’s so unromantic. 


Reema Khrais

Sally’s dad had multiple sclerosis and died when she was young, and so her mom, an Irish immigrant, started working, cleaning houses to provide for Sally and her brother


Sally: She did not grumble. She did not complain. She just like, you just get up in the morning, put your feet on the ground and just get going and that’s it…you know, I, as I’m getting older, I think back and I think, God, she had a really good attitude.


Reema Khrais

She taught Sally: don’t depend on other people to get you through hard times, that way you won’t be disappointed when they let you down. 


And now, at 79, Sally has advice of her own to share…which she admits echoes a lot of her mom’s


Sally: Spend less than you earn. Save regularly, whatever amount of money it is. Put it, be consistent about it. Take advantage of direct deposit. Um, and um, just know, know your limits. 

have your own money. Have your own money and be able to spend it the way you want. 

 never get married to somebody that you have to apologize to about all this. I’m like, you have to excuse his behavior because, you know.

That goes along with someone who doesn’t have any real friends.


Reema Khrais

Sally is a listener of the show and she reached out to tell us about a mistake she made, one she hopes younger folks will learn from. 


Sally: I wrote in because I was responding to some segment that talked about, I believe, financial mistakes that people made. And I was thinking about the biggest financial mistake I ever made, which was marrying my ex husband.


Reema Khrais

 I’m Reema Khrais…and welcome to This is Uncomfortable, the show from Marketplace where we talk about how money makes life complicated. 


Something I think about a lot is how messages get passed down through generations, sometimes they’re very blatant – like the advice Sally’s mom gave her – and other times, they’re just as strong, but are never spoken aloud. And these messages can have serious impacts on us, they can shape how we see the world, the choices we make…the partners we choose. 


This week on the show, we’ve got two stories about family and money, and about how our most intimate relationships can leave the deepest financial wounds. 


Sally: there’s a saying, what’s too painful to remember we choose to forget. And I think I have forgotten a lot by choice.

I felt a lot of anger, and mostly towards myself, and a lot of confusion as to how could I have been so stupid not to understand or see what was going on


Reema Khrais: So let’s back up, I want to hear…


Sally: Okay


Reema Khrais: the story from the beginning,


Sally: Okay


Reema Khrais: So, that was your second marriage


Sally: That’s right. My first marriage I married a man that I met when I was a senior in high school


Reema Khrais: Oh wow


Sally: and life was pretty tranquil  


Reema Khrais

Sally and her first husband met at a New Year’s Eve Party, where he gave her a ride home and asked for her number. They had a baby together, and saved enough to buy a house. The marriage was easy. He was a good guy.


Sally: And then one night he had an auto accident, and he was in a coma for a week, and he died.

And it was just a few weeks after his 25th birthday. Our daughter was 21 months old at the time. Um, I think I was in complete shock. I didn’t, you know, I don’t remember crying, or I don’t remember anything. I just, you know, this wasn’t supposed to happen. So I I was… As I say, in shock.


Reema Khrais

 This was 1970, and Sally had everything a woman was supposed to have: a charming love story, a house, a baby. And then her partner in all of that was just…gone. 


Sally wasn’t in a bad position financially, which was a huge relief. She worked for the state government and made decent money. But emotionally, she was at sea. 


First came the grief, and then as time passed, she wondered what would come next for her. Would she ever find a man who wasn’t turned off by her being a widowed mother?


Then two years later, she met a guy who we’ll call Todd through her job…


Todd and Sally started to spend more time together. Sally liked how he interacted with her daughter, how he could get on her level. She felt less alone with him, he was a steady presence. After a year or so they decided to get married. 

Sally: for whatever reason, my mother had a perspective that this guy was not right. I don’t think, as I said, I don’t think she understood what it was. It was just a gut feeling.


Reema Khrais

But Sally was in love. So they went through with the wedding.


Todd wasn’t contributing financially to the marriage at first. He was a carpenter, but wanted to work for himself, as an architect.


Sally: So he wanted to go back to school and I said, fine. And you know, I supported us while he was going to school and I didn’t, I didn’t expect anything from him money wise. but there’s gonna be an end in sight You know that this is not gonna be forever


Reema Khrais

Initially, she thought about supporting him financially while he got his degree as an exercise in teamwork. But when he eventually dropped out of school, Sally started to get anxious about money.


Sally: I had some money in the, in a checking account. And money was getting, starting to get a little bit scarce because he wasn’t, um, working. And I remember thinking, a couple of times thinking, well at least I have that little cushion there so if anything goes wrong. 


Reema Khrais

 She had $5,000 of cushion in her account. This was back in 1973. Today, that would be over thirty five thousand dollars. She stopped by the bank one day while running errands and asked to withdraw some money, a hundred bucks or so. 


But the teller told her, there’s no money in your account. 


Sally: that cushion was gone. He had spent all the money and he never told me about it at all


Reema Khrais

She asked Todd about it…


Sally: I said, what, what happened here? And he said, well, I needed the money. I’m walking around without that much money in my pocket.

I don’t even think he apologized for it


Reema Khrais

 Sally was hurt, but not angry, which kinda surprised me. 


Sally told me though that her response had to do with her mom’s advice 


Sally: Don’t expect that a man is going to support you, because it’s not going to happen. And always expect that you’re going to have to take care of yourself. And in some strange way, um, that, that kept me from being as angry with him as I could have been, or should have been.


Reema Khrais

It struck me that, though this advice sounds empowering: be a strong, independent woman! It’s actually a double edged sword, because it led her to feel like she was on her own in what was supposed to be a partnership. Her mom had told her “don’t depend on a man”… and now a man was depending on her!


Where Sally had no expectations, her husband had huge plans. At this point, Todd was doing construction work and he wanted to start flipping properties. He’d tell her: we won’t have to work for “the man.” this business…it’s going to make us millionaires, I promise.”


Sally: He was saying this is, this is a great deal. We’ve, you know, I know how to fix this place up. This is in a location where we can rent it out without any real problems. It’s it’s going to be a good return for the money. Let’s do this. 


Reema Khrais

And they were successful, Sally and her husband were even able to build a bigger, fancier house. It was on an acre and a half of land, with lots of room for her daughter to play. 


She would’ve been happier staying in the townhouse she bought with her first husband, but Todd insisted. 


Meanwhile, they kept buying new properties, renovating them, and renting them out. 


Sally: We turned things around, we were making money, I started signing, co signing loans with him.

And um, that’s when all the problems began.


Reema Khrais

She was cosigning loans to help them buy more properties. But as I talk to her, Sally pauses throughout the conversation to think…cause even today, she doesn’t have the answers for what was actually happening…


Sally: when you ask me these questions, I, I start wondering how much he didn’t tell me. 


Reema Khrais

They’d get paid, her husband would cash the check and then…


Sally: Where did he, where did this money go? I was wondering, did he have a drug problem or did he, what was he, where was the money going? I did, I just did not know then. If I didn’t know then, I don’t know for sure now. 


Reema Khrais

She later found out that he was struggling with alcoholism (FC). But at the time, the doubt, the questions, it stirred her anxiety. She hated how it made her feel. And that’s when the arguments started.  


Sally: I became the great white bitch of the West.

I was, I was so nasty and so angry. We would have furious fights, and furious fights about stupid things, um, I don’t particularly like air conditioning. And he did. 

And when one of us would take a shower, the other one had the control of the air conditioner. And like, I would turn it off and he would come back out of the shower and he’d say, “It’s so fucking hot in this room!” And I would come out and say, “It’s freezing here!”


Reema Khrais

A lot of us have had those kinds of fights: where you’re arguing about something petty because it’s easier than talking about the real, deeper problems. 


As Todd kept spending and their financial life started to go downhill, Sally and her husband began borrowing money from private lenders. 


Sally:  I wanted so much to believe that it was going to work out. That he knew what he was doing and it would work out.


Reema Khrais

About a decade into their marriage they were still depending on private loans.


Sally: We used our house as collateral.

So he comes upstairs one day and he says, We have to be out of this house in two weeks. And I said, Oh my God.


Reema Khrais

She’d already left behind the affordable townhouse she’d bought with her first husband for this home, and now the dream was falling apart.


They got a new place but then got evicted. For a while, they stayed with a relative.


Her memories of this era are defined by financial insecurity… bounced checks, overdue bills, debt collectors.


She wanted badly for the marriage to work, but her patience was wearing thin. 


Sally and Todd both worked in Manhattan and were planning to meet for lunch one afternoon. She called his office to coordinate


Sally: I asked to speak to him…He hasn’t worked here for the past two weeks. And I said, oh, oh, okay


Reema Khrais

 Sally’s husband had been lying to her, he wasn’t going into work. 


Sally: and I, again, I say, What, are you, What, what’s going on? He’s, he was getting up, getting dressed, and going out every morning as if he was going to work. 


Reema: oh my god that’s maddening…


Sally: So he shows up around lunchtime at my office and I said I called your office…And the minute I said I called his office, he knew. I said, this is it. I am out of this. So we took the elevator down, he went one way, I went the other way. 


Reema Khrais

And that was it… Sally divorced him. She couldn’t take any more of his lies. 


Even though he was out of her life, she was still on the hook for some of Todd’s debts and the loans they’d cosigned. It took years for her to financially recover. 


But being on her own wasn’t as scary as she’d thought it would be. If anything, it felt good… 


Sally: I knew what was going on. If money was going out, I knew when money was coming in and I was in control. I could make the choices and I could breathe. I could just breathe normally.


Reema Khrais

 But she didn’t yet realize the ways the marriage would haunt her. 


It’s been decades since all of this went down, but talking to Sally today, it’s clear this has had a profound impact on her. 


Like at one point she tells me she’s going to spend this afternoon going over her bills. Even though most of her finances are on autopay, she double checks everything by hand, writing out all the expenses to make sure everything adds up. 


She remembers how it felt when her wages were garnished because of missed bill payments, or how she’d sneak into the backdoor of her home to avoid process servers….


Sally: if I get somebody ringing my doorbell and I don’t expect it, I get really nervous.


I’ve always been someone who’s going to live within my means. But this intensified it, that I have to have every bill paid in full every month, I can’t carry a balance.


Reema Khrais

 Looking back, Sally wishes she hadn’t jumped into a marriage so soon


Sally: Maybe if I had, maybe if I had waited longer, I would not have felt such a need And maybe I would have been a little bit more mature in, in being able to judge someone


Reema Khrais

She’s reminded of what could have been every time she thinks about the house she lived in with her first husband. 


Sally:  I lived across the street from where I am now which is twice the size of this. And it would have been paid off and, you know, if I had never met him, I would probably be still living there. And, I’d have a lot more money to my name. 


Reema Khrais: Wait, it’s just across the street?


Sally: Yeah, right across the street. 


Reema Khrais: Like, can you see it from the window?


Sally: Uh, well, if you walk down the street a little bit, you can see it


Reema Khrais

 After her second marriage, Sally never pursued another serious relationship


Hearing Sally’s story, I thought about how financial anxieties get passed down through the generations. Like, Sally’s mom taught her to never depend on anyone else. And that sense of anxiety only compounded when, after trusting the wrong person, Sally almost lost everything. And now she’s racked with anxiety for her two granddaughters. 


She’ll often grab them by the arm and tell them listen you have to save money, you have to be consistent, you have to spend less than you earn and …..most importantly….


Sally: No woman can depend on a man. You have to be able to take care of yourself. That’s it. And I have said that in so many words so many times.

Reema Khrais: How do they usually respond? 

Sally: Yes grandma!!


Reema Khrais

After the break…how do you come back from finding out someone you love spent your college fund?


Reema Khrais

During our first season of This is Uncomfortable…back in 2019, I talked with a woman named Hayli McKnight. She was a mother of two, living in Texas with her husband. 


Back then she told me about a pivotal moment in her life. 


How when she was in high school, getting ready to apply for college…she was sitting at her desk filling out a financial aid form. That’s when she turned to her dad, and asked him about the college savings account her grandpa had set up for her before he died.                                                                                                                                                  


Hayli McKnight: Dad is kinda standing behind me. I said hey how much is in that college fund that was set up for me. I mean last I heard it was like $20,000 so should be even more than that. Right …  And he looks at me and he goes oh there’s about 100 dollars in there 

And I kind of deadstop and I said excuse me what. Well where is it? And he goes Well how do you think we’ve been living all these years without me having a job. 


Reema Khrais

Hayli’s dad had been raising her since her parents’ divorce. He lost his job when she was 14 and had kind of checked out. He spent more time with his girlfriend, leaving Hayli home alone. So realizing that he spent her college fund…that was the last straw. 


Hayli McKnight: I sort of like blacked out from rage. I remember just kind of screaming at him, just I hate you I can’t believe you did this. That money was mine, you stole it from me.


Reema Khrais

 Hayli told me that discovering this betrayal was a turning point in their relationship…the money was especially sentimental because when her dad wasn’t around, it was her grandfather who played with her, who showed her love and care. 


And even a decade later, when she was in her thirties… she couldn’t let it go, her dad just blowing through her college fund behind her back…even if he didn’t see it that way. 


Rick: I don’t think she knew that we were broke. 

I never wanted her to have to worry about money. 


Reema Khrais

 Her dad, Rick, told me that after being laid off from his IT job, it was a struggle to pay bills and get food on the table. He knew the money was for her education, but he thought it was better to use it to meet the needs of the moment.


Rick: so rather than me borrowing a bunch of money and getting in debt /I was just drawing off of that fund.

I didn’t see any other way to maintain a lifestyle either one of us would be comfortable with. I wasn’t spending it on me. I was spending it on us.  


Reema Khrais

 When I last spoke with Rick and Hayli, Rick had been trying to make amends — he contributed to his daughter’s student loan payments… and he helped her buy her first house. But for Hayli, that still didn’t feel like enough to erase what he did…


When we first published this story, we got a surprising mix of reactions. Some ppl really sympathized with Hayli…while others couldn’t understand why she was so upset. 


Over the last four years I’ve found myself thinking a lot about our conversation… so  last week, I texted Hayli to see if she was free to catch up. She responded right away and told me she had big life updates, so we hopped on a Zoom call…


Reema: So I’m curious…how would you describe your relationship with your dad these days?


Hayli McKnight: Actually, my relationship with my dad has, I would say, improved and honestly, since um, Everything has been paid off and he was helping me


Reema Khrais: you paid it off?


Hayli McKnight: I did. I made the last payment, um, this week.


Reema Khrais: Oh my gosh.


Hayli McKnight: yeah, like it’s just done. They sent me, a letter in the mail and it said, Hey, we’re done with you. Congratulations.

I have never been so pleased to be dumped by something. I was like, yes!

Reema Khrais: Good riddance


Reema Khrais

She paid off about 45-thousand dollars in loans. Took her 15 years, with some help from her dad…


Hayli McKnight: Um my dad, he would send me money every month. That would go straight toward the loan. So he would basically make my monthly payments for me, as kind of a, an act of contrition, I guess. But it was, it was a very nice gesture. And it was something that I truly appreciated. And it’s one of the things that really kind of helped to mend the relationship. He really, he came in in the pinch when I needed him to


Reema Khrais: Mm hmm. When we last talked, you explained how your dad using your college fund was a really pivotal moment in your life that left these pretty lasting impacts on you. Uh, do you still feel that way given how much he’s contributed to your financial life over these last several years?


Hayli McKnight: Um, I will say toward my dad, I don’t harbor any ill feelings anymore. I mean, it was something that He thought he needed to do at that time, he was unemployed, he was trying to take care of me, the money was there, he was in charge of it, like, as an adult and as a parent, I can understand that, but I also really would have appreciated just, you know, treating me more like a person who that money belongs to and discussing it and be like, look, honey, I’m not employed, I need your help, you know, can I can pay our bills? You know, just something, if he would have just asked instead of just done it would have been very different. 


Reema Khrais

Hearing Hayli explain things in this way… her anger makes a lot more sense to me.

It wasn’t so much about the money as it was about wanting her dad, who she already felt hurt by, to be more transparent with her, to treat her with respect.  


As her two kids have gotten older, that’s how Hayli approaches things with them….


Hayli McKnight: Whenever money was tight and they wanted a bunch of stuff, I would tell them, you know, money’s tight right now, so that money needed to go towards the bills that help keep us comfortable and safe and fed. So I want to make sure that as these things are happening I’m discussing it with them in age appropriate terminology, you know for them to understand that how all of us are connected by money


Reema Khrais

We didn’t talk with Hayli’s dad for this update, but she tells us he’s enjoying retired life and traveling in an RV with Hayli’s stepmom.  


Even though Hayli’s on good terms with him now, the betrayal of trust followed her into adulthood and into the next big financial relationship she’d have 


Hayli McKnight: it did, of course, have lasting effects on my Security and the way I viewed money and I mean, going into the marriage I did where I still wasn’t privy to the finances, despite how many times I asked, it was, it was like, okay, do I just not get to see my own money ever?


Reema Khrais: Oh, interesting. And do you feel like that connects back to what happened with your dad?


Hayli McKnight: I do very much. I mean, it almost felt like, okay, well, I guess everybody’s just welcome to my money but me, I guess.


Reema Khrais

When Hayli and I talked last time, she hadn’t shared anything about her husband. I knew she was married, but we didn’t get into the financial details of their relationship… so this was all news to me. 


She tells me when they first got married many years ago, things were smooth. Her husband was this funny, sweet guy who shared the same values as her. She liked that they divided up housework, that things felt equal. 


He was the one who managed their finances, which Hayli initially appreciated. But as time went on, it began to irk her. They had separate accounts, but after she’d deposit her paychecks, he’d basically drain her account to pay the family’s bills. 


Hayli McKnight: he would always talk to me about how Oh, it’s going to be really tight this month. I need to take more than usual out of your account. We’re not going to be able to make our bills. And I would say, how? And he would go, what do you mean? And I would say, how do we not make our bills with how much money you make?


Reema Khrais

 She says her husband had a good paying job, made about 175-thousand dollars. And Hayli worked at a local supermarket making about 55k. 


Hayli McKnight: You know, and he would just say, well, I’ve got lots of loans and then this is expensive. And then I have to do this and I have to pay for my own way whenever we go have conferences. And, you know, he said a bunch of stuff that naive me who never traveled and never really. knew any better, was like, oh, okay!


Reema Khrais: can you share some examples of, uh, what it was like to not have control over your finances? Like how did that translate in your day to day life?


Hayli McKnight: there would be times where I would go to the grocery store to buy groceries for the week, and my card would ding insufficient funds, And so that was always really embarrassing, or um, I distinctly remember a time and I remember going, wow, why am I working full time and busting my butt at this job I hate? I have no idea, because it doesn’t, I don’t even get to use this money,


Reema Khrais:  And, and were there times where you tried to gain control over your own finances, like hold on to your own paychecks


Hayli McKnight: um, by the end of our relationship, I was so resentful and angry about it all that I just decided, well, he can’t use my money if there’s not any money there. 


Hayli McKnight: I was just rage buying so

Reema Khrais: Mm.


Hayli McKnight: I just bought things. I was like, you know


Reema Khrais: Like what?


Hayli McKnight: this and I’m gonna do it so I would just go buy clothes

 or I would go buy cute things or I would buy fun stuff for the house or more elephant figurines because I’ve been collecting them since I was born basically…

so I I would kind of just do whatever, and if I felt like eating out, I would go out to eat.


Reema Khrais: Mm hmm. How did that feel?


Hayli McKnight: It felt… It was exhilarating, honestly. Like, part of it was very much, “Yeah, take that, you jerk.” But the other part was, Wow, this is what it feels like to go to work and work really hard and earn money and actually get to do stuff with it. Something that you choose. This is incredible. And that’s when it kind of clicked also that I was like, I think? This is how it’s supposed to be.

I think people are supposed to be in control of their own finances, you know?


Reema Khrais: hmm. Ugh, that must have been so suffocating.


Hayli McKnight: Yes. I mean, I, I felt, when I, when I feel completely out of control in a situation, I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel like my opinions or my voice is being heard.


Reema Khrais

 It took her back to how she felt when was 17, filling out college forms, and realizing her dad had drained her college fund without ever telling her…


Hayli McKnight: And, you know, when I feel like people just don’t really care about my thoughts or what I have to say or how I can contribute. That definitely hits my self worth pretty hard.

Reema Khrais: Yeah. It makes you question yourself and what you can contribute.


Hayli McKnight: Correct. It’s like, okay, well, maybe the reason everybody treats me this way is because I’m secretly really stupid or I’m, you know, nobody sees me as smart enough to handle my own money,


Reema Khrais: hmm. Right. Right. Yeah. I mean, that makes, that makes sense. You start, you start doubting yourself 


Hayli McKnight: Right. So I started talking to my therapist about those feelings about how it doesn’t necessarily feel right. Something feels wrong about… You know, not being in control of my own life. And so the more we discussed that about the money thing, she was the one that encouraged me to, you know, question it, to approach him and say, what are we doing here? What is, you know, I deserve to know about the finances as well. I’m the other contributing adult to this household.


Reema Khrais

There were other reasons for her family’s financial troubles, but Hayli didn’t realize the extent of it at the time. Her husband had a substance use disorder. She’d supported him through programs like AA, but eventually it became too much to handle. And so since we last talked, she’d decided to separate from her husband. 


Hayli McKnight: When I first met him, it was a very different person. But that’s, that’s what addiction will do. And that’s what I told the kids when I explained to them that we were separating. I said, look, I don’t know who this person is, but addiction took your dad from me.


Reema Khrais

 Then several months after the separation, her husband died unexpectedly from an accidental drug overdose. 


Hayli McKnight: My best friend, my soulmate, is gone. I realized that not every marriage ends the way that my grandparents’ marriage did, where they had 50 something wonderful years together. You know, not everybody ends that way, no matter how much you wanted it to.


Reema Khrais

After her husband’s death, family finances changed…


Hayli McKnight: The way our finances were laid out, my husband’s income was about 75% of our total income. 

So I was really scared that I wouldn’t be able to make ends meet But what I learned through all that is, um, I could actually make the bills on my income alone. Which led to a lot of questions like, where is the money going? Why were we always struggling? And when we were cleaning out his apartment, it just led into a very deep rabbit hole where he had a lot of demons that he was not discussing.


Reema Khrais

Going through his computer and looking through the finances, she discovered a lot of surprises… not just drugs


Hayli McKnight: It was basically anything to make him feel any kind of joy or excitement or anything. So it also branched out to shopping. He was always buying something. And as we’ve been cleaning out even this house, I’m finding things all over the place that he bought that were still in packages

I found three different dash cams that he never put up. 


Reema Khrais

Their shared money had been feeding his secretive shopping and drug use. 


Hayli McKnight: I was in the dark and all the time and after all my years of therapy and, you know, talking about these events and kind of working through them, I realized That’s not normal. That’s not the way people function. They discuss things openly together, they’re open about finances, they’re not trying to hide things from you all the time


Reema Khrais: Hmm, Mm hmm,


Hayli McKnight: And so, like, realizing that and realizing that I was worth my own money made a big difference


Reema: So how would you describe your relationship to money today?


Hayli McKnight: It’s really comforting to me to be the one in control of my finances. It’s comforting to me to be able to be the one that says, no, we don’t need to spend this money right now because we need to take care of our needs first and then we’ll see what’s left for once.

Hayli McKnight: And it’s been really nice. all of the payments now instead of being late or not at all are now early. And, you know, it just feels really good to be able to make my house payment a week before it’s due,


Reema Khrais

Today, Hayli is seeing someone new. This relationship was supposed to be casual but…


Hayli McKnight: We ended up falling for each other rather quickly. He owned his own business and had his own finances in order, which I was already like, “oh, that’s amazing!” And, um, you know, he had a son as well,


 Reema Khrais: Yeah.


Hayli McKnight: Um, You know, the kids met and they really hit it off and it just kind of felt right to pursue.


Reema Khrais : And so how are you approaching finances now with your boyfriend?


Hayli McKnight We don’t share bank accounts or anything like that, but he is like me, in a lot of ways, where he is very money conscious. You know, before he makes a purchase, he will do research, he will discuss it with me, and, you know, that’s amazing to me, for him to come up and just say, hey, I really want to get this, I think it’ll be beneficial in this, this, and this way.


Reema Khrais: Mm hmm.


Hayli McKnight: So, you know, it’s, it’s incredible, this is the kind of, you know, financial relationship that feels… Right.

before my money goes to anybody else, it’s mine. I get to choose where it goes. You know, I, I deserve to be able to do that. I am definitely smart enough to do that. And, you know, now I’m starting to realize that.


Reema Khrais

 Alright that’s all for our show this week…


As always, if you have a story about money or work that you’d like to share with us or if you just wanna shoot us a note, we love hearing from you all. You can always me and the team at uncomfortable@marketplace.org


Also if you want more this is uncomfortable content…be sure to sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already. We share the best things we’re reading…watching…cooking, be sure to check it out by signing up at marketplace.org slash comfort. 


H Conley

This episode was produced by Alice Wilder, Yvonne Marquez, and Zoë Saunders. It was hosted by Reema Khrais. Alice, Zoe and Reema wrote the script together. 


The episode got additional support from Hannah Harris Green, and me, H Conley, I’m the intern.


Zoë Saunders is our senior producer.


Our editor is Jasmine Romero.


Sound design and audio engineering by Drew Jostad 


Bridget Bodnar is Marketplace’s Director of Podcasts


Francesca Levy is the Executive Director of Digital.


Neal Scarborough is Vice President and general manager of Marketplace


And our theme music is by Wonderly.


Reema Khrais

 Alright I’ll catch y’all next week 


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