1. Water, water everywhere
Definitely filling your giant swimming pool up then being unable to pay the water bill, resulting in your water being shut off for months, forcing you to use the pool water for your water needs.
As in flushing the toilet, cooking, drinking, etc. Until the health department catches wind of it and has your kids taken.
They will come take your kids in this state if your house is without water for a certain number of days because it's considered uninhabitable.
Then you go around the neighborhood knocking on doors asking your neighbors for money to pay your water bill so you can get your kids back.
2. Smell of success
I work at a car dealership as an apprentice mechanic.
I've seen many examples of people wasting their money, be it on car parts, flashy but useless accessories, gaudy decals and so on and so forth.
There is one guy that I'll never forget, though. He comes in every three months and spends literally $75 on a very specific car air freshener.
What's worse is that he brags about it, constantly. He puffs himself up and claims he's "elite" because he can afford to buy a $75 piece of scented cardboard. It's ridiculous.
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3. That’s gotta hurt
I accidentally used an emergency room instead of urgent care.
Walked into a clinic, the receptionist said it was closed, and that I had to go through the “other door.”
I walked through the door without thinking about it. Turns out it was the ER.
I was on a long hike and contracted a giardia infection (that’s a parasite that causes bowel infections).
Anyway, it was $500 for a doctor to write me a prescription for Flagyl and a nurse to take my vitals.
If I had just waited a few more hours, the visit would have been free at the clinic. Pharmacy wasn't open until the morning too.
4. Went to the wrong neighborhood
My cousin got a reasonably sized inheritance and used it to buy a house in a city where he doesn't live, where he didn't move to, and where he's been unable to find a tenant to rent it.
Four years, and the house is still vacant, losing value and giving him nothing back.
5. Arrested development
One of my college roommates would constantly come home with toys. Literal toys. Like for children.
Toy dinosaurs, cap guns and army men. For himself. Then he’d play with them twice and forget about them.
Then he had to borrow money to pay our bills.
Great guy, and he's since gotten better, but wow that was baffling at the time.
6. Don't buy your friends cars
I was a teller line manager in college. One day this 19-year-old kid comes in with a check for like $350K. I start to chat him up to make sure he wasn't getting scammed or something.
Turns out his dad had died, and this was the life insurance check he got.
I say, "Well, it's terrible that your dad died but at least he thought ahead to take care of you. Let me set you up with one of our advisers, and if you play your cards right you'll be retired comfortably by 40."
Nope, he says, "I'm buying all my friends cars." And he did. The worst part is he was buying OK used cars. He came in every couple days for three months to get a couple cashiers checks for like $6,500 to buy each of his friends several cars.
By the end of the three months the money was gone.
That was about 15 years ago, so taking compound interest into account he'd have about $1.5 million at this point.
7. Easy money
I cashed in my retirement savings and opened a business in a field and market that I knew nothing about.
Basically I had a consumer mentality. I saw the potential for profit and thought of it like an investment that I assumed would net huge gains.
I also naively assumed that because I'm a smart guy, I could easily run a business.
8. A wedding that cost more than a house
I know a couple who spent $125K on their wedding.
Their marriage lasted less than four years. They ended up arguing over who had to pay which part of the debt ('I didn't want the flowers in the first place!') during their divorce settlement negotiations.
They were each still paying for the first wedding when they married their second spouses.
9. 90 Day Fiance
A 43-year-old woman I know got hooked by an actual “Nigerian Prince” email scam.
Not only did she send this guy all her money, she actually flew to Nigeria and married him.
He's 21 years old.
Her intention is to bring him back to the U.S.A., but he really has no intention of leaving. She funnels all of her money to him, which in turn helps him scam other women. He's living a pretty sweet life.
She went from living a decent life to moving into her grandmother's basement with her daughter, just so she could send all of her money to him.
10. Crash and burn
I had a friend cash out all of his stocks and savings so he could spend $100K on his own online marketing business.
First mistake? Never put absolutely EVERYTHING behind a business.
Second mistake? He had no prior experience and no clients lined up.
In the end he had about four clients over the course of two years ... one of whom never paid him.
11. Reinvesting in the lottery
I worked at a convenience store as a teenager. We had a few regulars that drank coffee and played dominoes. One guy, Earl, was pretty down on his luck. He had been laid off just a few years shy of retirement and was fixing lawnmowers to earn a living.
Earl used to buy a few scratch-off tickets here and there but since he got laid off it was like one a day. He liked the big $5 ones. One day he comes in, buys his coffee and a scratcher, and wins $250. He is completely convinced his luck has changed so he "reinvests" the $250 in more scratchers. He won $10, which he used to buy two more tickets, both of which were losers.
That $250 could have gone pretty far towards paying bills, buying groceries.
12. Bringing down the house
I bought a home in 2006 that was in severe need of repairs.
In retrospect it was probably a tear-down, but I didn't realize that until I had dumped a ton of money into the house for nearly a decade.
In the end, the house was worth less than I owed. Normally real estate appreciates (grows in value).
I bought it for $170,000, but the market crashed, making the house worth $130,000. Even with all the repairs, I couldn't sell it and had to put renters in.
Eight years later, I finally owed less on the mortgage than the house was worth and could sell it.
13. Math was not her strong suit
I watched a friend of mine give his wife of one year power of attorney right before he was deployed.
He came home eight months later to a pleasant surprise. She was six months pregnant.
Also, she had maxed out three credit cards in his name.
14. Used retirement funds to buy a horse
My sister worked at a local bank from the late 70s to about the mid 80s. She early on became one of their main computer people. I am currently an IT professional but I remember her explaining to me the difference between software and hardware.
So one day she finds out that there was a large chunk of money in her retirement fund from the bank. Like $30,000 or something. She is maybe 29 or 30 at the time.
For whatever reason she decides to quit her job and cash out the money, at whatever penalty she had to pay, and buy a bunch of crap including a horse.
She lived in a subdivision so had to board the horse. Got a job slinging cocktails at a local bar.
More: Ask the certified financial experts at Facet Wealth to plan your perfect retirement.
15. Watch yourself
My boyfriend’s dad owns seven different Apple Watches because he doesn’t want to change the bands out.
Man, just buy some bands. It takes like two seconds to swap.
16. Timeshare vacations
My wife's daughter and husband were unable to support themselves without help and moved in with us.
Later on I heard they were considering a "timeshare vacation." Basically their plan was to use this thing and take many luxurious vacations. Setting aside the fact that the monthly payment alone was irresponsible for someone who already had failed to support his family, it's a TIMESHARE.
Anyway, they found out the fine print required that they travel to another state to do a three week course, which cost money, to "teach them" how to use the timeshare.
Later on, I referred them to a legal service that helps people escape these arrangements, and of course, just like when I warned them not to buy the timeshare, they "knew" my advice was horrible.
To date, five years later, they still have this timeshare and have not been able to use it once. But $400 a month goes to the people who sold it to them.
17. Pyramid schemes
I watched a sorority sister sink thousands of dollars into an multilevel marketing scheme (also known as a “pyramid scheme”).
When that one flopped and left her with 5,000 unsold leggings, she took out a loan to invest in yet ANOTHER multilevel marketing scheme to "recoup" her losses from the first one.
I guess that counts as two extremely poor decisions.
18. Having a baby, can't pay rent
Married couple I know have never held down jobs. The guy keeps getting fired and the girl keeps quitting because of various reasons. My mother-in-law felt bad for them and let them move into her basement for peanuts for rent.
Man lost his job again, woman got pregnant. Had the baby, quit to take care of it. My too kind mother-in-law gave them a couple months of no rent to get back on their feet.
When the guy got a job again he kept making excuses about rent. Trashed her house, never paid. She eventually evicted them for unpaid rent and damaging property.
They still went to Disneyland. They go every year they said.
My mother-in-law is taking them to court.
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19. Feeling buzzed
My brother graduated from law school, and we were having lunch at a fancy restaurant before the graduation event.
My grandpa ordered a $500 bottle of Champagne for my brother and his wife to enjoy.
The waiter mistakenly thought my grandpa meant he wanted a bottle for the entire table of nine people.
The waiter then brings out a $4,000 dollar magnum bottle of Champagne and pops the cork off.
My grandpa, not wanting to be embarrassed, accepted it. It was too much, even for nine people. We all drank what we could and he had the rest sent up to his room.
It was about a $6,200 lunch.
20. Massive TV, no electricity
Having Rent-a-Center come out with a giant TV and living room suite. Having Comcast come out the same day and turn on your cable.
But not paying your electric bill so three days later you're knocking on your neighbors doors asking for money to pay your electric bill because it's been turned off.
Then sneaking onto same neighbors porches at night and plugging extension cords into their porch outlets.
21. Always read the fine print
Not touching my 401(k) for a year. I had a summer internship through most of college at a firm that offered 401(k) matching — even for interns.
I set it up, contributed to it for three summers and then wound up not working there during my last semester of college.
I thought, "No big deal, I'll just start contributing again at my new job."
Thing is, I didn't read the fine print and didn't know that after one year of no contributions, my 401(k) would automatically cash out and get sent to me as a check.
On top of that, I got dinged a 20% tax penalty for withdrawing the funds early.
22. Not focusing on the mortgage
My parents were constantly on the verge of foreclosure and could barely pay the bills or put food on the table, but every Sunday they scraped together everything they could to give tithes at the megachurch we went to (they couldn't even scrape together lunch money for me).
We ended up homeless because they decided that wasting all of their money on private Christian school for my brother and me was more important than paying the mortgage.
They were so terrified by the thought of us being exposed to atheists that they ended up choosing homelessness instead. All the while my mom didn't work because that wasn't her "place" in the household. Bad decisions all around.
23. Shopping addiction
My dad saved his entire life. Staunch minimalist. Had about $1 million saved by his 60s when my parents divorced.
My mom (a shopaholic) fought him in court and received $800,000 from him, which he just let her have.
All he wanted to do was spend the remainder of his years living in a tiny house he already owned outright.
He’s still self-sufficient to this day at age 75 and has been to 45 countries.
My mom, on the other hand, spent the $800,000 in less than five years. She bought nothing but garbage. Collectible angels, a bedroom suite from Ikea and a house she couldn’t afford.
I'm paying her electric bill because she can't afford it.
24. Blowing student assistance loans
From the U.K. One of my flatmates in university got the maximum maintenance loan and managed to blow his entire first installment on going to bars.
£100(~$130) into his overdraft, he took a girl out on a date to a fancy steakhouse and spent another £150 (~$200). All while being exploited by said girl.
It was embarrassing to watch, especially after everybody around him was giving him monetary advice.
More: If you owe $25K+ in student loans, this site could help you pay them off faster.
25. Blown inheritance
Had an unemployed friend inherit a ton of money when her dad died.
Instead of investing it and getting a job, she took it easy for 10 years and lived off the money.
She was homeless and living in a van when the money ran out.
26. Picking the worst of two evils
Old roommate who was constantly late on rent came into some money after his grandfather passed. After taking care of his debts (smart) he had about $2,500 left and was planning on buying a used Mustang he saw in a grocery store parking lot (dumb).
Luckily everyone was able to convince him that'd be a dumb idea because it'd end up costing him so much money in gas and taxes. Phew. Crisis averted.
So he bought a 30-year-old scooter instead. In New England. In the winter.
I think it lasted about 6 months before it broke down. Still not sure why he didn't at least buy a brand new one, he had the money for it, but I gave up on trying to make sense of his financial decisions.
27. Just what dad would have wanted
A girl I know burned through her inheritance money in less than a year.
She spent her father’s life insurance policy on a nose job and a BMW 7 series. She also gave a lot of money to help her deadbeat boyfriend’s “rap career.”
Now she's no longer with the boyfriend, she lives paycheck to paycheck and she had to trade in the car due to high maintenance costs.
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28. Mortgage fiascos
My aunt has declared bankruptcy twice in her life due to never having learnt her lesson. Recently her husband's mother died and willed them a fully paid for house.
So they do what any rational person would do and MORTGAGE THE HOUSE SO THEY CAN RENOVATE IT.
She just lost her job (again) and now they are in danger of losing the house. Brilliant.
29. All bets are off
I know of at least one guy who lost absolutely everything at the casinos in Atlantic City.
I was just hanging out with my girlfriend when we spotted this dude who had MONSTER stacks of chips at the roulette wheel.
They were worth at least $100,000 to $500,000. He had stacks of them.
I went to the bathroom, when I came back out five minutes later, the guy was holding no chips.
I kid you not. This guy lost a literal fortune in five minutes.
My girlfriend said he lost everything in one spin and we watched him cry his eyes out in the aftermath.
30. Owing more than the value of your house
My ex-father-in-law was incredibly bad with money. He would constantly buy and trade in NEW cars, over and over again. I'm talking $60,000 cars too. New trucks, Jeep's, a Corvette, everything. In a year he'd easily go through 4 new cars at minimum.
But oh wait, it gets better! He took an early withdrawal out of his 401(k), paying penalties and all, to buy a Corvette WHILE THEY OFFERED 0% FINANCING!
On top of that, I found out he was taking multiple home equity loans out. He bought his house in 2003 for $80,000 and NOW owes $165K.
All of this while constantly spouting "if you work hard, you can have these things too."
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31. Father doesn’t know best
My friend was told by his dad to always replace his used car every three years, even if it is still working just fine (WHY?).
Now, because of the constant trade-ins, new loans stacking up and poor credit, my friend currently owes $35,000 and drives a 2009 Toyota that needs a lot of repairs.
His first car was a perfectly fine Honda in perfect condition that, I believe, he could have paid off easily and would still be driving today.
This friend also put his dad's name on his saving account with the full awareness that his dad is not trustworthy, and now that account has been emptied and given to his dad's mistress.
32. $1,000 on Nerf guns
I dropped $1,000 on Nerf guns and accessories, thinking my friends would want to run a tournament style thing in the back yard.
Turns out my wife and I were the only people out of everyone we knew who would want to do something like that.
We were 20-years-old at the time. We ended up giving most away to relatives with kids or used them as gifts.
33. Married and buried in debt
I know a couple who spent $125,000 on their wedding.
Their marriage lasted less than four years. They ended up arguing over who had to pay which part of the debt ("I didn't want the flowers in the first place!") during their divorce settlement negotiations.
They were each still paying for the first wedding when they married their second spouses.
34. Squandered windfalls
My mom got a decent inheritance from my grandma passing, but instead of paying off her house (on which she's almost been foreclosed), or fixing her car (which is now gone because the head gasket blew), she decided to put in a deck, redo her kitchen, and buy some weird cabin out in the middle of nowhere.
Which aren't necessarily terrible ideas, but why she didn't choose to service her insane debts before making upgrades doesn't make any sense to me.
35. Flown away
I went to a wedding that chartered everyone from a hotel in Auckland [New Zealand] to a venue two hours away in HELICOPTERS.
Yup, there was a parade of like 30 helicopters taking people to a wedding.
$100,000+ outfits, multiple for different events throughout the day, booking A-list celebrities to sing, 20-foot ice sculptures, flown in chefs and top shelf open bars.
It was absolutely gorgeous, but that wedding had to have cost the family at least $5 million.
36. Buying into contracts impulsively
A friend of mine who is very bad with money and his girlfriend bought some sort of water filtration system from a door to door salesman. He has to pay something like $300 per month for this filtration system.
He was all stoked because it came with a free set of pots and pans.
Fast forward a year and his girlfriend has broken up with him, moved out of the house, and he's had to sell his home because he can't afford to live there.
The water filtration system is now sitting in a storage unit where he still pays $300 per month for it because he's on contract for another 2 or 3 years.
We have great water quality in my area.
37. Family … the ties that bind
My worst financial decision?
Keeping my brother, his wife and their two kids afloat for six months while he looked for his "dream job." What a waste of money.
What was his dream job?
To be honest I don't even remember. He couch-surfed the entire time.
38. Bought a samurai sword
One of my friends got a loan for tuition in college. Paid for his classes and had about $300 left over.
So he goes to the mall and buys a samurai sword from one of those knife shops. Then he buys a box of Hugs, these little juices for kids that come in small barrel shaped plastic bottles.
He proceeds to throw the Hugs into the air and cut them in half with the sword in a Kroger parking lot at 11 p.m.
Note, he was unemployed at the time and spent about $260 of the $300 on this parking lot slaughter fest.
39. More family matters
I would say my biggest financial mistake was agreeing to help support someone else and her children when I wasn't in a position to do so.
Letting someone else have control over your finances is a terrible idea.
Watch out for yourself first before you agree to help anyone else.
My credit tanked by nearly 200 points and I'm still working daily to recover from “trying to help.”
40. Disney economics
I'm a VIP tour guide at Walt Disney World.
Each VIP tour costs $600 per hour and the charge starts at the time you ask us to meet you, whether you're there or not.
A family booked two of us multiple days in a row and were at least three hours late each time.
They paid an extra $7,000 for tour time they didn't use. Didn't care at all.
Take into account that I make roughly 2% of that, or $12 an hour.
41. What's your health worth?
My ex-wife was complaining when we were married that I should be paying all of the bills since she couldn't afford to chip in at all. Eventually, I sat her down and went through her personal accounts to see how, exactly, she was barely scraping by making $50,000 while I was paying the mortgage, utilities and grocery bill.
I found out she was spending nearly $1,000 per month at her chiropractor. Multiple weekly visits. She got a massage there as well.
She also visited their in-house "nutritionist" who was charging her a few hundred bucks a month to give her some weird diet that included things like, "After dinner, you can have four grapes."
She also had a trainer at the most expensive gym in town and refused to switch to Planet Fitness because hers had a pool she never used.
She was also hitting Starbucks multiple times a day, eating lunch out every day and buying clothes whether she needed them or not.
42. Everything. Everything he did
This guy I knew went from being on mom and dad's bill to his own because he messed up in school. So instead of getting a cheap apartment close to campus, he picks one of the most expensive apartments in town.
No utilities included, got the cable/internet add on, got the several hundred dollar parking pass, and continued to eat out and go out on a regular basis.
You will be as shocked as I was to learn that that didn't work out and he had to move back in with his parents.
43. Alternate reality
My friend had more than $5,000 worth of gaming purchases. Not even tangible things, mind you, but virtual purchases.
Things like armor, weapons or finishes that you can buy inside the game.
He got banned for cheating. When you get banned for cheating in a game, your inventory of items for that game becomes locked.
Meaning the $5,000 he could have invested or used for literally anything else was rendered totally useless.
44. Impulsively buying a car
After a divorce, this woman I know used the split equity from the sale of their former marital home to buy a Cadillac Escalade. Then ended up in government apartment complex, on benefits, and losing the SUV because she couldn't afford to insure or gas it.
Girl, you could've had $50K+ in the bank to survive until you got on your feet...you set yourself back five years and may never recover. Her husband is doing great though.
45. Frustrated salesman
I've been working in the car industry for 10 years.
I see horrible decisions being made on the daily.
96-month loans on Dodge Caravans with $10,000 worth of negative equity rolled in at 10% interest.
$30,000 for a used BMW SUV with an 84-month loan term.
I have no idea how people sign up for these loans without reading what they have gotten themselves into.
46. Skip the sofa!
I used to live with a bunch of friends. One of them had his girlfriend move in with us and they were both bad with money so they didn't have a cellphone due to overdue bills.
The first thing they did when they moved out was get a $2,500 sofa from a rent to own place.
They're doing much better now that they're older but back then most of their financial decisions were super shortsighted.
47. Feline finances
Getting a cat when our apartment lease said no pets.
It started my husband and I on a long spiral downward that took a long time to get out of.
We were young and dumb. While the lease said “no pets,” we could see other people in the building had them.
When we asked the manager, she said it was ok. Everything went fine for awhile, until the actual owner drove by one day to check on the property, and saw a bunch of cats in windows and heard dogs barking.
Soon we all got notices that the pets had to go, or we'd be evicted. My husband and I found another apartment nearby that took pets, and moved before the eviction date instead of fighting it.
The new apartment was a lot more expensive and ate up a much higher percentage of our income.
48. Rent-to-own? Not for video games
My roommate is renting a PS4 from a rent-to-own shop. He's paying $80 a month and he's had it for about half a year. He's put, loosely, about $450 into it.
Well he's selling some of his video games and was deciding whether to keep it or return it. I asked him how much is left to pay, to determine if it's worth keeping.
He still owes $450 on it. He still, after paying nearly $500 dollars for it owes MORE THAN A PLAYSTATION COSTS TO BUY IN THE FIRST PLACE.
A new PS4 is like, $300. And the one he's renting is used.
49. Fast food, fast money
In college I would easily spend $50 a week (approximately $200 a month) on takeout and fast food.
I don’t eat fast food as often anymore, and I'm too broke to eat the way I used to, but it's so shameful.
Not only did I waste literal thousands on excess food but I also made myself unhealthy.
I'm still struggling to get my health back under control, years later.
Be very mindful when using food as a reward. I think there are definitely ways to do it and be healthy but when you're poor — and going for the cheap relief of $30 on a Big Mac meal and nuggets every other night — it's not as harmless as you think.
50. Where you come from matters, but not this much
My sister in law and her husband have three kids and make $1,500 a month(he’s the only one who works and she refuses to). They always complain about having no money and have GoFundMe pages up but she spends tons on learning about her ancestors.
She even hired a professinal genealogist at a whopping $50 an hour (she’s spent $1,500 so far in 6 months).
Meanwhile her kids need dental work, wear clothes with stains, and holes, and they live in a two bedroom shack in a bad neighborhood. Their car is 20-years-old, and hardly runs, but hey at least she knows she’s related to someone from Iceland 100 years ago...
51. Hindsight is 20/20
My worst financial decision? Not buying a house when I was younger.
My wife and I could easily afford one but our credit score wasn't over 700 at the time and the housing bubble bursting made it super difficult to buy a home.
We just continued to rent houses for eight years and flushed all that money down the drain.
More: Get a free credit score and credit monitoring from Credit Sesame.
52. Using plastic unwisely
Treating the limit on their credit card as money they have.
For example, they have a $5,000 limit on a new card and immediately think about what they could buy with $5,000.
And opening a new credit card when they run out of that $5,000. I used to be a cashier at a store which had a store credit card that can only be used at that store. Most of the credit applications I processed were either denied or given very low credit limits because those cards attract people with the worst financial decisions.
53. Need an army of lawyers
I gave my now ex-wife power of attorney while I was deployed (while we were married).
Came home to an empty bank account and a house in [a bad part of town] that she had paid cash for. Her deadbeat dad was living there and was acting as the “property manager.”
He didn’t pay the mortgage, but cashed the rent checks. I ended up with a foreclosure and a divorce.
54. Eating out all the time
Eating out for lunch every single day and complaining about how poor/broke you are.
Obviously, Sandra, was that peanut and chicken kale salad with a side of pasta and extra bakery treat really worth it?
55. Wasteful weddings
I work as a freelance musician and often work weddings. Some families have crazy money, and burn through it like it’s nothing.
One thing I always see at fancier events without fail is a ton of amazing, fully prepared food and expensive drinks being thrown away at the end of the night.
When I asked about it once, I was told by one of the staff that a lot of catering companies are trained to prepare enough of every menu option so that if everyone orders the same thing, they have enough.
What happens in reality is they make enough food to feed the wedding party (often comprised of 200+ people) another two times over.
It’s particularly annoying when the band are served cold fries as their “evening meal” because "we couldn't stretch the budget, sorry."
56. Quitting while ahead
An old friend of mine (we'll call him Friend A) was in a rough place.
He had a job but couldn't really afford to get out of the slump he was in (living paycheck to paycheck), so my other friend (Friend B) who owned a house offered to let him stay for free for a few months.
All Friend A had to do was pay the internet bill ($70 per month). Easy enough, right?
Well Friend A decided that since he no longer had expenses, he would just quit his job and play Friend B's Xbox all day long and join a band.
Lo and behold, Friend A ran out of money eventually. Now he owed Friend B the internet bill and simply couldn't pay it. Instead of getting a job, Friend A stole Friend B's Xbox and pawned it, then used the money to pay Friend B the internet bill.
We don't talk to Friend A anymore.
57. Walking on sunshine
I work at a five star beach resort in our luxury gift shop.
One day, a rich 30-something-year-old mom comes in around 10 a.m. to buy sunglasses.
$500 Prada shades? No big deal. These people have money coming out of their ears, so I think nothing of it and ring up her purchase. She comes in ten minutes later.
She's lost the glasses in the ocean, so she buys another pair. She loses that pair, then complains that we won't give her the third pair for free.
So she pays for the third pair, and finally didn't come back.
This all happened before 3 p.m. $1,500 dollars spent on sunglasses in five hours.
58. Questioning you on savings
When you let a friend know how much you have saved and they ask why you aren't spending more. BECUASE IF I SPENT IT I WOULDN'T HAVE ANY SAVED.
Recently got an argument with a friend about that.
They accidently saw my bank statement. My fault, I forgot to put it away before they came to my to my friend.
Since they discovered what I have in savings, they're always going back to it whenever I find something too expensive.
59. High roller
In Las Vegas in 2000, at the Bellagio, I watched a guy walk up to a high roller blackjack table.
He was being followed by a security guard and some guy in a suit carrying what I estimated to be at least $300,000 in chips.
He sat and played blackjack by himself.
My wife and I sat and watched him for about 45 minutes. He had been there for an hour and already lost over $150,000.
Never once showed any emotion.
No clue who the guy was, he was dressed like a stereotypical grandpa in jean shorts, a polo shirt and white New Balance tennis shoes.
60. Not cooking at home
I work at the bank. Literally 95% of people's expenses comes from food and eating out.
Now that doesn't mean someone is necessarily financially illiterate. But by simply making their own food and getting a coffee machine, most people can save a large portion of their paychecks.
Also having a credit card that offers no rewards. There's so many with no annual fee.
61. That’s not so neat
It's definitely not the biggest sum of money ever lost, but I spent and wasted my money for a really silly reason.
I bought a $300 bottle of Scotch whisky when I meant to buy the $60 version from the same distillery (the boxes looked nearly identical).
When the cashier told me the price, I realized my mistake, but she and everyone behind me in line seemed really impressed that I was buying something so expensive.
I grudgingly handed her my credit card and walked out with my purchase.
So, now I own an unopened and very expensive bottle of single malt because of my social anxiety.
62. Loans are not free money
Tried to go to college. I thought loans were basically free money, so I took out four separate loans at three different colleges.
Dropped out in first year.
63. A well-traveled laptop
This may not be the biggest waste, but it certainly is the weirdest one.
Around 2001, my wife worked for a national company, and her team was split between East Coast and West Coast.
There was no working from home on laptops.
Desktops were standard for them. If someone needed to work from home, they had a single laptop they could use. For the whole team.
So, if that laptop was in North Carolina, and someone in California needed to work from home, they had to box it up and ship it (with full insurance, rush shipping and a few days notice) to the other coast.
64. A house that costs more to maintain than to live in
Buying a house during the peak of the real estate boom. At the time, conventional wisdom was that you couldn't go wrong owning property.
The real estate market crashed shortly before I was forced to move across the state for work and I ended up owing far more on the house than I could sell it for.
Lived in the house for three years and either rented or maintained it as a second residence for ten more years before I could get out from under the property.
I ended up spending more money maintaining that dump than it was ever worth to begin with.
65. Lost his appetite
I was an assistant manager at a grocery store and you wouldn't believe how much produce I threw out because it wasn't "pretty enough."
The district manager had crazy high standards for how the produce should look. If I didn't cull it correctly, he would write me up.
He came in three times a week, so I couldn't get away with not doing what he asked.
When I looked at our weekly waste reports, produce accounted for about $100-$200 dollars a week.
I asked him if I could donate the produce we throw out, but his response was, "That's theft."
I was so glad when this place went out of business.
66. Friends don't let friends make this mistake
Getting my friend's car in my name. That's an extra $5,000 debt, 100 points off my credit score and a repossession on my record for the next 10 years.
I don't care who they are or how much you trust them. Don't ever, EVER put your credit on the line for someone else.
67. Don’t toy around
My biggest financial mistake was spending tons of money on baby toys.
I think lots of parents can learn from my mistake.
You spend hundreds on certain flashy, expensive gifts that just sit unused in the corner, and then your kids end up playing with that trinket you picked up from the dollar store.
I know it's a bit cliché, but my experience so far is that kids often just want to play with the cardboard box, so to speak.
You don't need to spend hundreds on a 1-3-year-old in terms of toys and games. Just get them a few nice toys and save the money for something more important.
68. They should teach this stuff in school
I had a fairly sizable inheritance waiting for me when I turned 18.
It was $70,000, after student loans.
I should have invested that, stuck $40,000 in some index funds and cashed out as I went through the rest.
Instead it just sat in a bank account accruing minimal interest. I've been living off it for the past few years.
I haven't wasted it at all, I live a typical frugal student lifestyle and still have $20,000 left.
Don’t get me wrong, I realize that is an amazing position to be in for a recent grad starting a career, but I wasted the potential the money had.
69. Those golden handcuffs
Years ago, I quit a commodities brokerage job at an enormous global commodities trading house for a brokerage job at an old European investment bank.
While my old job was making me miserable and draining my soul, the commodities firm ended up turning my old division into the largest macro commodities hedge fund in the world.
If only I'd stuck it out for another year or two.
My former colleagues went on to make their personal fortunes as global macro hedge fund traders, while I was still stuck at a dusty old bank.
I'm doing fine now, but sometimes I have to resist the urge to kick myself.
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70. Location, location
Moved into a house that was four times as much as renting an apartment, just because we wanted a shorter commute.