Top 11 Money Mistakes That Make Me Crazy!

I don’t mess around with platitudes and greetings. I prefer to cut right to the chase and show that I truly care about someone by helping them. I’m just not that good at saying so. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no recluse, I truly care about people I don’t even know, and regularly help complete strangers, but my personality just doesn’t lend itself to a whole lot of socializing in the process.

Also, while I’m not prone to thinking a negative thought about someone without a good reason, there are a few things that really set me on edge. Money mistakes—some of which I’ve made myself—really bother me. The ones that make my list are rooted in impulsivity or lack of self-discipline, which are items on my short-list of things I won’t bail friends out for.

Consider yourself warned… don’t complain to me that you have money problems if you’re currently doing anything on this list. I just won’t be sympathetic. For sympathies, try DebtKid, he’s nicer than me.

Here’s my list. I’d love to hear from readers if you have any to add.

1. “Ghetto Wheels”: Don’t put $2,000 wheels on a $500 car. First, you can’t afford them. Second, they’ll get stolen. I’m going to make a sub-category here for any kind of fancy wheels on mini-vans and station wagons. What are you trying to say with the fancy wheels? I’ll tell you what I hear “I’m impulsive and I like shiny things.” I’m all for fancy wheels when you can afford them (not in debt, not behind on taxes or other essentials), but make sure your ride is worthy of them.

Image from Benzworld.org

Image from Benzworld.org

2. “Ink”: If you didn’t pay your taxes or you’re behind in your credit card payments, or receiving public assistance, but you got a new tattoo, don’t tell me. You’ll get an earful from me—and I don’t mean another piercing.

3. Eating/Drinking out: I’ve been out to dinner with friends and had their bar tabs reach more than my mortgage payment. I never add myself to a tab. I pay cash for my food and drinks. And if you just ordered your third $9 margarita, I really don’t want to hear about your money problems—even if you’re funny when you’re blitzed.

4. Money-making schemes: A little part of me dies when broke people fall for money-making schemes like “order this software” and “buy this tape system” and multilevel-marketing programs. Starting a new “independent representative” business is a great idea if you have money. If you’re broke and in debt, it’s a bad time to start a new business. Please don’t. It breaks my heart and I’m not tactful enough to plead that don’t without hurting your feelings.

5. Rent-To-Own anything: If you’re on a payment plan for your 56” flat-screen, well, all I can say is please don’t breed.

6. Spoiled Children. Children can be ruined with stuff. You’ll impart a sense of entitlement into their psyche that is not a blessing. It will be an albatross they can’t shake off. They don’t learn respect for their things. I have a soft spot here for parents because I know that we all want to give our children everything. We just have to be the grown-ups in the equation and know when they have “enough.” It’s for their own good. Just remember, you’ll be able to spoil all you want when your kids grow up properly and provide you with grandchildren.

7. Car leases: You’re not taking advantage of the auto industry. You’ve not somehow found a new trick to work the system. You’re getting financially raked over the coals.

8. Using home equity to pay off credit cards: Why would you convert an unsecured debt to be a debt secured by your home? Also, why take a short-term debt and stretch it over 30 years? When asked if gravity was the most powerful force in the universe, Albert Einstein (a pretty smart guy) replied “no, the most powerful force is certainly compounding interest.”

9. Lottery tickets: Lottery tickets (and other gambling) are not an investment scheme. You are not entitled to win after 30 years of faithfully buying a ticket every Friday. Don’t plan on winning it. And for heaven’s sake, if you’re buying tickets, don’t tell me about your money problems. Would you have money problems if you could get back every dollar you’ve ever spent gambling?
10. Smoking. Cigarettes, medical expenses, taxes, etc. This habit is too expensive for the broke. Buy yourself some really spectacular cigars when you celebrate your freedom from debt. Champagne too. Why not? Please note that I get twice as cranky about people who are using illicit substances while complaining about their lack of funds. If you can afford your drugs, you can afford your bills. Furthermore, you’re flirting with legal and financial disaster for the consequences of those actions, so stop it!

11. Entitlement Vacations: You don’t deserve a break simply because of the stress of being broke. I understand that being broke (or even on a budget) is sometimes not fun. But hey, be a grown-up. With some self-discipline and hard work it won’t last forever.  Don’t even think about busting out the plastic right now to hit the beach and then complaining to me about your money troubles when you get back . I’ll be irritated for your mistake and jealous of your tan.

Dear readers, what do you think? Anything I should add or remove from the list?  Be sure to know I’m not going to accost a stranger on the street for their expensive wheels or smoking habit.  I’ve just found that I’m not able to muster sympathies when a friend comes to me complaining about their financial difficulties

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  • http://thezencapitalist.com The Zen Capitalist

    #1: In the San Francisco Bay Area, we call those cars “Scrapers”. In fact, it’s so big that it’s spreading to the bicycle scene. They call themselves “Scraper Bikes”.

    #4: I’m with you on that one. IT HURTS and it KILLS ME SOFTLY. I especially hate it when it’s a good friend of mine that is suckered into the scam, pyramid scheme or whatever you want to call it. Their minds become so diluted with illusions of grandeur that they fail to see that the people that fed them the info got in early or are trying to make up for their losses by recruiting another sucker.

    #6: The worst part of being spoiled as a child is that you don’t grow up humble and down to earth.

    Thanks for writing this.

    Zen

  • http://www.thepennywisefamily.com jessica

    Thanks Zen, I was afraid people would be afraid of me after this virtual chewing out, but I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    I’m also glad to know that there’s a term for those pimped-up-crap-cars. I like “scrappers.” That’s a funny name.

    :)

  • http://downturnliving.com Tracy

    Wow…at one time or another, I think I did most of those things, well not the tats, or the big car wheels, but probably something else just as stupid. I’m one of the lucky ones with a great job that had no excuse for my debt but my own choices. Having seen the light, now I see the scams in every sales pitch about using credit, like the fuel cards from Citi that I blogged about last night.

    Great Post!
    Tracy

  • Edwin

    Lets not forget to mention the expensive stereo systems along with other arbitrary upgrades. Those are all top notch except I disagree with car leases, those certainly don’t belong next to pyramid schemes and lottery tickets.

  • imho

    Wow. Great post. All I can add is:
    Amen Sister!

  • http://www.financialsamurai.com Financial Samurai

    Jessica, you really don’t like “spinners”? Come on, those wheels are so bling bling cool!

  • Rat Killer

    Don’t even talk to me if you’re not rollin’ on dubs!

  • http://calendarbudget.com Eric Poulin

    Entitlement vacations drive me nuts too. I used to counsel people when they had money problems when I helped run a church… people would come in asking for financial assistance and then I’d find out they were going on a vacation! What?? You mean you have the gall to ask for money and then go on a vacation? I don’t care how stressed you are… deal with reality and change your habits. I’m left thinking “no wonder they got into financial trouble thinking that way”.

  • Stacy

    Right on! Especially the vacations! In law school most lived off of loans, fine, but not cheaply – they all went to Vegas for Spring break & now complain that their student loan repayments are too high. Hubby worked 2 jobs & I worked one; we’re not paying for a short trip for the next 10 years!

  • Craig

    I never understood the whole pimp the ride thing, that boggles me. I disagree with eating/drinking out. It’s about the experience. Everyday would be bad but it’s nice every now and then to go to a quality restaurant and have the nice experience.

  • Jeff

    When I go out for drinks I bring a flask filled with my favorite vodka and order club sodas all night…..my friends have tabs of $100+…my tab runs out to be $5 per filled flask of absolute mandarin that lasts me all night…my friends have no idea im doing this

  • Emily

    Jessica,

    This is fantastic! I think this about someone at least once or twice a week, and it’s so frustrating when people give me the whole “must be nice” when I’ve saved 6-8 months for a vacation. I have so many friends/co-workers with money problems yet they live a much more lavish lifestyle then I could ever imagine.. *sigh*

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one to feel this way. Preach on sister!

  • http://3monthsforward.blogspot.com Laura

    Hahaha! Your post made me laugh so hard! I completely agree with you… despite the amount of traveling I do! Hmmm, it’s not entitled… it’s saved up for, paid in cash for and enjoyed!

  • Lollie

    The best wheels are the golden 30 inch RENTED wheels.

    I shudder every time I pass by the store called “Rent N Roll.”

    Nice post, I enjoyed it! :-)

  • http://www.thepennywisefamily.com jessica

    Lollie, we see TV commercials for rental wheels… they usually also sell USED TIRES too… Oh the shame!!! You’re right.. it’s appalling.

  • http://www.thepennywisefamily.com jessica

    Laura, if you’re paying cash for travel you’re not on my “naughty list!” Live it up, and I’ll respond with righteous envy, ’cause I’m still too broke for a vacation. :) Congrats, and way to go. Get a tan for me and the rest of your broke friends while you’re out there. :)

  • http://dullstar.diaryland.com Morgan

    I hope you’re tipping your bartenders as though you ordered a drink drink ($1 per, minimum). You’re putting their job at risk, and it’s the same amount of work for them with no extra pay.

  • http://www.creditcardchaser.com Credit Card Chaser

    Haha this is the best article that I have read so far today. #1 is a classic pet peeve of mine.

  • JFW

    agreed

  • HANGINTHERE

    GREAT ARTICLE!

  • mamma

    You nailed it boy !
    We are broke because all the reason you mentioned! # 3, #6, #8 #9 and #11
    (restaurants, spoiling, lottery and gambling, paying debt with 2cnd mortage and vacations we can not afford!)
    Bless you, and thanks.

  • http://www.moneyfunk.net Money Funk

    Gotta love #1! I can relate because I see it all to often in my neck of the woods – a crappy car with expensive rims and tires. WHY? What is it about the tires being worth more than the car. Definitely a problem there! ;)

  • http://www.gatherlittlebylittle.com Mike @ Gather Little by Little

    I would add:
    - going down south (or financing your vacation) with your credit cards

    - spending 3 times your budget on Christmas gift (welcome to the January credit card statement blues….)

  • http://www.singleguymoney.com Single Guy Money

    Man, all of those are some good ones. I especially hate to see a car with expensive rims and the car is not worth it. Actually, even if it is an expensive car, I don’t like em. I hear radio commercials for a company here in Atlanta that will allow you to “rent” your wheels. Talk about a ripoff!!

  • http://money-cake.com Patrick

    Very interesting list! Then people wonder why they are always broke!

  • http://www.lenpenzo.com Len Penzo

    I loved this post, Jessica! Well done!

    Here’s another one for you… Opulent weddings/receptions. It makes me sick every time I see a younger couple just starting out blow extravagant sums of money on an event that usually lasts less than a day. Even if the parents pay for it, I think the majority of that money would be much better applied to something that will help both the bride and groom over the long term – like a down payment on a first home, for example.

    Best,

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com

  • http://www.thepennywisefamily.com jessica

    Well put! I have a lot of trouble with great big-to-do weddings. I had a semi-big-to-do wedding, and if I had it to do over, I’d have gone to Vegas or something. Too much energy spent on the wedding and not enough on the marriage IMHO! (For what it’s worth, we’re still happily married now seven years).

    I’d also like to add to the list any pets a person cannot afford to properly care for. (I’ve seen a few instances recently that brought this to mind… )

  • http://www.thepennywisefamily.com jessica

    OK, I was out running errands and saw two things that made me laugh out loud. 1st A Kia Rio with custom wheels painted to exactly match the paint job. (Which obviously cost more than the car) and B: Dogs wearing clothes to walk in the rain.

    The day I’m laundering my dog’s clothes…. You’ve got to be kidding me.

  • Ashley

    This is an AMAZING article, I wish there was a “SHARE” key here-
    I’d post this all over the 100 million military wives pages I know on FB.

    They are all stuck in problems: 10,6,5,4,3,2 & 1 … Sooooo irritating to listen to them talk about their money problems. UGH!

    The money pyrimad thing is sooo true, there are about 70% of the wives on base or around base that do stupid at home businesses and “photography” its annoying. They aren’t making any money for goodness sake!