Financial decisions are tough — and if you’re not careful, you can really land yourself in a hole with just a few wrong moves.
U/BasalTripod9684 recently asked the people of Reddit, “What’s the worst financial decision you’ve seen someone make?” Read up and take notes so you can avoid the same mistakes:
1.“When I didn’t buy Apple stock in the 1980s.”
2.“They applied for a $5,000 loan that didn’t get accepted quickly enough, so they applied for another $5,000 loan. Both got accepted, and they ended up gambling it all.”
3.“They bought a TV on Black Friday instead of fixing their leaking roof.”
4.“A friend of mine who is very bad with money bought a water filtration system from a door-to-door salesman. He has to pay something like $300 a month for it, but he was stoked because it came with a free set of pots and pans. Fast-forward a year, and his girlfriend has broken up with him and 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, but he’s still paying for it because he’s on a multi-year contract. (We have great water quality in my area.)”
5.“A guy in my fraternity got $30,000 for an undisclosed reason, and he bet it all on the Yankees winning one game. They lost.”
6.“They ran up credit card debt requiring bankruptcy. Once they were able to build credit again, seven years later, they proceeded to run up a massive amount of debt again — but they couldn’t go bankrupt again, so they used ‘debt consolidation.’ The debt didn’t come from sudden expenses. They just needed to buy things to feel better.”
7.“A coworker worked every second of overtime he could for several years to save up for a house. When he applied for the house loan, he based his mortgage payment on all of the overtime he had been working. I tried to tell him that wasn’t a good idea, but he didn’t want to hear it. He ended up divorced a few years later because his wife got tired of him always working.”
8.“A dude who owned a small convenience store in our town spent, like, $20,000 on fidget spinners. He was posting for, like, a year begging people to buy them, because he was about to lose his business and his marriage was falling apart because of it.”
9.“He put everything in his girlfriend’s name to hide his assets because of what he owed the IRS. The girlfriend sold his business, cashed out his accounts, and ran.”
10.“My supervisor took out a loan against their 401k to pay their rent because their ‘credit cards were maxed.’ Two weeks later, they bought a brand new $60,000 Lincoln with basically nothing down because her daughter just had a baby, ‘and I need a bigger car for that.'”
11.“My brother’s ex fell for a Craigslist scam. She found a motorcycle, and the guy ‘needed money upfront to pay bills’ before she even saw it. We told her, ‘Don’t do it, it’s a scam.’ She said she already sent $1,000. Of course, he was never available to show her the bike, and we found out from my brother after they broke up she actually continued sending him money in hopes of getting the motorcycle. I think she was out $3,000 by the end.”
12.“My (awful) aunt was the trustee for my grandparents’ estate. When they passed, she decided to sell their house to a random realtor who put a leaflet on the door — TO the realtor, directly. It wasn’t put on the market, and the aunt rejected a matching offer by me after I argued hard to actually list the house and have people bid on it. The realtor slapped a new coat of paint on it and sold it a couple of months later for literally a million dollars more than she bought it for.”
13.“My former sister-in-law had a thriving medical practice. She got so stressed that she joined Scientology and started taking their classes. She opened up five or six credit cards without telling my brother, maxed the cards out with hundreds of thousands in cash withdrawals, and gave it to them.”
14.“My cousin spent 100% of her inheritance and took out a lien on her home to buy a second home in the mountains. The thing is, the house was being pushed over by a mountain — and they thought they could fix it. Every door jam was crooked, and the doors wouldn’t shut. They were trying to use I-beams to ‘stop the mountain from pushing on the home.’ Fast-forward six months, and they asked me for $50,000 to help, and I declined. Fast-forward a year, and the home collapsed, and they owe over $300,000 for a home that doesn’t exist, and if they don’t make the payments, they will lose their original home, because they used it as collateral and could not get insurance on the second home. Total money lost: $700,000.”
15.“They cashed in their 401k to have a cocaine party.”
16.“My brother and his wife were in massive debt, didn’t work high-paying jobs, and could no longer afford their two-bedroom apartment while trying to pay off the debt. They moved back home, into our parents’ basement. A week before they moved in, they built a computer, and a year after that, they consciously decided to try to get pregnant while still living in the basement and without improving their financial state whatsoever.”
17.“Someone I know took a loan to order a pizza.”
18.“Had a coworker with five kids who could all go to USC for free once he had worked there for 15 years, even if he quit. He quit at 14 1/2 years for a job that barely paid more than he made at USC. He cost all five kids a free education at a top school because he couldn’t wait six more months.”
19.“My maternal grandmother bought an apartment complex to avoid capital gains when she sold her large house. The apartment complex was in the red and needed a lot of repairs. She hired my father to do them and be the on-site manager. The place started making money. My mom, who was divorced from my dad, was mad that my grandma bought it in the first place, and then she was mad because grandma hired my dad — then, she was proved wrong, because it was making money. After my mom pressured her for years, my grandma finally sold it. The complex is in a high-market area and is now worth millions. My mom made a poor financial decision based on petty spite.”
Have your own stories? See you in the comments!
These entries have been edited for length and clarity.