When Have You Played the Financial Fool?

It’s the day after April Fool’s Day, but a family emergency prevented me from posting this on the actual day of fools so I’m posting it anyway. This is all about the times I’ve been a financial fool. Some of them are doozies.

Not Selling a Stock When I Knew I Should
This one goes all the way back to 1999 and the days of the tech bubble. There was also a bubble in genome stocks. One day I realized my stock had increased 988% from the purchase price. If I’d sold that day, I would have earned $12,000. Instead, I decided to wait one more to get it to a nice 1000% increase. Then I would sell. My intuition was screaming at me to sell, but I didn’t listen. That very night after the markets closed, President Clinton gave a speech that made it sound like he was reversing gene patent law. He wasn’t, but the bubble popped. I wound up selling it at a 300% gain, which isn’t bad, but nowhere near what it could have been. I was a greedy fool, plain and simple.

Being Talked Into Buying Something I Didn’t Need
This was a recent frugal failure and I’ve blogged about it before. When I bought my sofabed, I was talked into buying not only sofabed sheets (which are weird and impossible to fold), but fabric protection. I wasted $170 (plus tax) for no good reason! Definitely foolish.

Being Too Honest
My first job was with a television show where I was paid $6 an hour. Rather than pad my hours, I was 100% honest. I was also 100% honest with my mileage, even though I was entitled to $100 a week in mileage and driving was part of my job. After about a month, the studio accountant spoke to my supervisor, who came to me and told me that I needed to mark at least 12 hours per day on my timecard and make sure I got the full $100 in mileage. I barely made enough to live on, and I could have earned far more that first month if I’d known more about the studio system. I’m a very honest person, but that’s not how Hollywood works. We were paid so low because we were expected to lie.

Spending Too Much on Brake Service
The first time I needed to get my brake pads replaced, I went to Midas and was completely scammed. They told me all sorts of things were wrong with the brakes. I wound up spending $400 on unnecessary work. To make matters worse, the brake pads they installed squealed terribly. I returned twice to have this corrected, and they said it was normal. I visited another Midas franchise about the squealing and they tried to tell me that my calipers needed to be replaced. They could do the work that day for $800. A deal, they said. I didn’t believe them and went to Goodyear – my first time there. Nope, the calipers were just fine. I also had the squealing pads replaced at Goodyear. The new ones didn’t squeal. Incidentally, I did end up having the calipers replaced about two years later, but Goodyear took me under the car to show me the torn boot and caliper damage.

I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t been extremely financially foolish, but losing $12,000 out of pure greed is certainly a hard lesson to learn. When have you played the financial fool?

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