Some people just don't understand the value of a dollar. You don't have to be rich to be a wasteful spender—anyone can fall victim to greed, regardless of their financial status. People from around the world took to the internet to share the most outrageous waste of money they've ever witnessed. From big companies making cost-ineffective decisions to individuals splurging on completely useless items, these stories demonstrate exactly how not to be with your money. Hopefully, after reading these, you'll think smarter about your spending habits.
Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!
#1 A True Boat Owner
The three separate occasions where my dad bought a boat, neglected to use it for years, sold it, then bought a different boat like the next year. It actually makes sense, though. You know what they say: the two happiest days of a boat owner's life are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. My dad was a true boat owner.
#2 Stingy On Laptops
Around 2001, my wife worked for a national company, and her team was split between east and west coast. There was no working from home or laptops. Desktops were standard for them. If someone needed to work from home, they had a single laptop they could use—one for the whole team. So, if that laptop was in NC, and someone in CA needed to work from home, they had to box it up, ship it (with full insurance, rush shipping, and a few days notice) to the other coast.
#3 Read And Learn
My company recently switched to a new operating system and rather than have a few people come to train our office, they planned to send everyone (around 200 people) to from the east coast to the west coast for a week for training. They did about half before realizing that wasn't cost-effective. And since they're such a great company, their solution after that was to stop training everyone and just give them books to read.
#4 Mixed Priorities
The company I last worked for before changing jobs would often fly in professionals from other cities or countries. Every one of them got their own private executive SUV (usually a Denali, Escalade, or equivalent) paid for by the company. You're talking people all arriving on the same flight and going to the same hotel. So instead of paying $200 for one SUV to take four people, they'd pay $800 for four SUVs to each take one person each.
The company prioritized treating the travelers so highly they'd do stupid stuff like that... but giving employees a raise was always a huge hassle. It's like, give Cheryl who always works late an extra couple grand for cripes sake! But no, every traveler getting their own SUV is way more important.
A girl I went to high school with applied to Harvard. She spelled it "Harvord" multiple times in her essay and paid the $75 application fee. Waste of money.
#6 Room Of Chalk
The head of the math department at my high school bought about ten pallets of chalk, then retired the next year. The new head of the math department decided to switch out all the chalkboards for dry erase boards. They weren't allowed to throw out the chalk, nor could they share it with the other departments who still used chalkboards. They had a room full of chalk for at least seven or eight years that no one was allowed to use.
#7 Fireball Machine
I knew a guy who bought a device from a magic website that made it look like you shot fireballs out of your hand. The thing cost $200 and everyone around him said it was stupid. This may be autobiographical.
#8 Societal Pressures
Definitely not the biggest sum of money, but spent for a really stupid reason. I bought a $300 bottle of scotch 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. So now I own an unopened and very expensive bottle of single malt because of my social anxiety.
#9 Pricey Cheese
I had a friend buy a pound of cheese at a very upscale cheese store because he tried a tiny bit and thought, "What the heck, I'm on vacation, I'll splurge!"... There were no prices on anything, and the stuff ended up costing him $200! He was too embarrassed to say he made a mistake. Side note: it was freaking delicious! But not $200 delicious.
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#10 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 we guesstimated as $300k in chips. He sat and played blackjack by himself. We watched for about 45 minutes and he had already lost over $150k... He 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.
My previous job was at a satellite location that ran mostly on their own (technically, it was a separate company of seven people). The president of the company met someone online, got catfished hard and sent them $20K from the business. THEN THEY DID IT AGAIN TWO YEARS LATER.
#12 It's Never That Bad
When I going through a bad breakup years ago, I was crying to an attorney friend of mine. He told me to stop whining, as one of his clients was getting a divorce because their wife gave their life savings—$500k—to a Nigerian spammer. My response was that I was surprised it wasn't a murder trial!
#13 Scratch And Hopefully Win
At a donut shop—some guy had cash and kept buying scratchers. He went through about $400 then finally stopped and said something about having to pay rent.
#14 Field Trip Money
A guy used to come into the store I worked at, buy something small, and get like, $20 cashback with it. One day, he said something about how his kid needed money for a field trip and he laughed. Then, he turned around and spent it on the scratch-offs. I just hope he was trying to cover for himself and not actually spending his kid's field trip money.
#15 Dreams Bigger Than The Wallet
I owned a sailboat once. It was given to me by someone who used it for one summer and then let it sit in his yard for four years.
I had huge plans for it, but I slowly realized how much it would cost to get it back in the water. So I sold it a couple of years later. It never left my yard. I bought a motorcycle with the money, which ended up needing a lot more work than I thought. That's been sitting in my garage for about a year and a half. My dreams are often bigger than my wallet can support.
#16 Celebrated Too Early
My job used to have something to do with warehouse logistics and whatnot. A new manager came in, and his first project was an order of about half a million dollars worth of pallet. These weren't wooden pallets, but plastic molded ones specifically made to fit the forklifts that we were using. The order had to be made overseas and brought in by freight. They had to be exact measurements, of course, to fit the forklifts.
He started bragging that my sales department made all the money "for him to spend." A few months later, the pallets arrived and none of them fit the forklifts in our warehouse... Except for one. Turns out, he measured only one of the forklifts for these pallets. That one forklift was part of a unique, non-standard system used for minor moves. Faced with a warehouse of half a million bucks worth of plastic pallets that wouldn't work with our standard forklifts, the guy was swiftly asked to resign. But yeah, now we use wood pallets.
#17 Inevitable Turnover
I work for Amazon's logistical team. They're currently spending thousands of dollars sending people to CDL school so we can move freight between sites. However, they're not giving out bonuses, raises or any kind of incentive. So everyone's just leaving immediately after to better-paying jobs. It's hilariously stupid.
I had a client who borrowed money at 6% interest-only fixed for 5 years, to invest in five-year term deposit offering 2.3% because he was told he should have investments in term deposits when nearing retirement.
#19 Raising Interest
I just recently found out my girlfriend's dad took out a nonfixed loan for $180K about 4 years ago using his house as collateral. Now he's complaining that they want to raise his interest rate again... like they have done every year since he took out the loan.
#20 An Expensive One-Up
I have a friend who will book vacations to countries that other coworker book trips to just so he can say he’s been there first.
#21 Paying For Free Water
Although not a big sum of money, my friend once borrowed my other friend's money so he could order a soda at Boston Market. He then went to the soda machine and proceeded to fill his cup up with water. For those who don’t know, in the United States, you can order a water cup from any restaurant or food chain for free.
#22 Bathing In Perrier
I know someone who captains yachts for the ultra-rich. Like, the kind you rent and they cost $100,000 a day to rent. If you're super-rich and want to take a luxury yacht across the ocean or from NYC to Bermuda, hire this company. One person demanded a supply of Perrier (or some other kind of water like that) large enough for herself to bathe in daily on such a trip. She didn't want to use "regular" water for this. It just blew my mind when I heard that.
#23 There's People That Are Dying
Not sure the amount of money, but it was a lot of bacon. I once worked for a warehouse primarily focused on food storage services. A client company was storing some pre-cooked bacon for use in some product they were planning to release. They decided not to release said product and ordered all of the bacon we were storing to be destroyed. We loaded multiple trucks with close to 150,000 lbs of perfectly edible bacon and they all got tossed in a landfill. It was the saddest day of my life while working there. Before anyone asks, there was an auditor from the client there making sure all of the pallets of bacon were loaded onto the trucks and that none "fell off."
#24 Value Of A Dollar: Unknown
I worked with a guy years ago as his manager, we'll call him Kevin. Kevin had a gray, 1987 Chevy Celebrity that he had bought for $300, which he customized with 18" rims that he had bought for $800 used (and likely stolen) and $500 worth of audio equipment (also likely stolen).
He decided one day that he should put under-car lights on his $300, 1987 Chevy Celebrity. He spent $400 on a fancy set of lights and another $200 to have them installed. Under-car lights happened to be illegal in our state but you could usually get away with them if you weren't stupid. Kevin was stupid.
He decided to show off his $300, 1987 Chevy Celebrity with it's $800 rims, $500 audio system and $400 under-car lights, which weren't particularly legal in our state. He concluded that the best place to do so was the local carnival, sponsored by and held outside of the local police station.
Kevin pulled up to the carnival in his $300, 1987 Chevy Celebrity, slowed down on his $800, 18" rims and turned on his $400 under-car lights and $500 audio system. Not 100 feet into showing off for the ladies one of the police officers, of which there were many, decided to show off the lights on his 2002 Chevy Impala.
He was given a ticket for $180 but told that if he had the lights removed and showed up to his court date then the ticket would likely be dropped. Returning to the shop at which he'd purchased the lights for $400, Kevin paid another $100 to have them professionally removed, which he then earned back by selling the $400 set of lights to the very shop for that $100 that he'd just handed them, having only gotten to use them the one time.
After removing and ridding himself of the lights that had caused so much drama to Kevin and his $300, 1987 Chevy Celebrity, he decided to celebrate by trying to drag race a Mustang on the way home. He wrecked and totaled the car but walked away unscathed.
Thus was the end of the $300, 1987 Chevy Celebrity with it's $800 rims, $500 audio system and $400 under-car lights. Since the car had been totaled, Kevin never got the chance to prove to the magistrate that the lights had been removed and still had to pay the $180 fine.
#25 I Can't Afford It, But Sure
My friend bought a new fully stocked car he couldn’t afford on his salary. He said it was okay because he was getting another job that would pay better wages. Only thing is, he hasn’t taken the exam to get his license for the job yet.
#26 New Servers Gone To Waste
The company I work for invested $1 million into a new framework for servers and databases, let it sit unused for 6 years and then migrated a very poorly tested environment onto it when it was two years until EOL, basically forcing themselves to start looking for a replacement right after migration.
#27 An Unused Gift
One of our sister companies decommissioned a printing press that was identical to one we were using. It was given to us to store in a warehouse so we could scavenge it for parts as needed. Parts for older presses can range from $500 for little things to several hundred thousand for larger assemblies, so this was a great gift for us.
Our maintenance supervisor (he’d been with the company for about a year) decided to show management how good he was at cost-saving, so in an effort to save warehousing costs on “useless parts” he told the warehouse to scrap the whole thing.
Even if it cost $15K a year to warehouse it, we’ve needed about 20 times that amount in ordered parts now that could have come off that old machine.
#28 For The Beanie Babies
When I was a kid, Beanie Babies were all the rage. McDonald's had some dumb toy agreement with them, but they would only give them out in Happy Meals. An old woman in my small town ordered 100 happy meals at a time just for the toys. Apparently she would freeze the meals and eat them for months. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit just typing this.
#29 Out With The Old
My rich uncles bought a luxury 'sport' boat. Something went wrong with the rudder that you use for waterskiing. They were so disgusted that after paying thousands for the repair, they got a whole new one, selling the old one for nothing.
#30 Reverse Psychology Backfire
I worked at a high-end footwear factory, making pairs of leather shoes that retail at $500 a pair. The owner was a self-styled anarcho-capitalist and he had some entertaining ideas about how to run a business. He had some notion that his staff would work harder if we were afraid of bankruptcy, so he stopped buying leather. I don't know how these things were connected.
Naturally, we could not make more shoes. We told customers that the wait would be longer than ever for their shoes. Sales stopped, orders stopped, and I swept the floor 10 times a day. He refused to buy leather for three months while keeping all of us 'working,' paying our wages with his own credit because he was mad at someone who told him that his strategy was idiotic. The company was bought out by another old-boys-club 'entrepreneur' jerk after the owner ran out of money.
#31 Apple Distinguished Schools
My school is one of the few schools to be part of the Apple Distinguished Schools. Everyone in middle school and high school got their own MacBook Air. Everyone from kindergarten to middle school got iPads. Meanwhile, our Art Department head pays for everything himself because he loves art and does it for the students. My class donated the money we got from fundraisers that we would've used to throw a party after our graduation ceremony to our school departments that were in need.
I just bought a 17$ plain burger at a concert venue. Sometime before, I also bought a $12 Philly cheesesteak at the Kentucky Derby. It was grade D beef topped with nacho cheese on a hot dog bun. I was young, tipsy, and dumb, so it was good until it was gone, and ever since then, I've just been salty about it.
I had a friend who was in his late 20s and lived with his parents. The dude worked a part-time job and said he was saving money for something big. We all assumed he meant like moving out or a trip out of the country or something. No. He ended up buying a $750 pair of SNEAKERS and then put them in a display case. I haven’t spoken to him in about a year.
#34 Gothic Restoration
Parishioners spent years raising several million dollars to restore their large, aging Gothic church. No sooner was the extensive restoration complete but what plans were announced by the diocese to close the building and merge the parish with another. All those donations, fund-raisers, and tireless efforts right down the drain—and thus far the only potential buyer for the church is considering turning it into a combination nightclub, restaurant and banquet facility.
#35 Fraudulent Luxury
A family friend of ours splurged his money on several cars. When I say several, trust me... They are in hundreds of thousands. I've been to his garage once when he threw a huge party. His garage had several Rolls Royces, several Bentleys, several BMWs, several Audis, several Lamborghinis, and several Porsches.
I thought wow, this dude must be rich as heck... until I found out later in the news that he defrauded a bunch of banks. His debts were amounting to 15 times the amount of his value of his whole and his businesses. He was thrown in jail. He's out now I think.
#36 Firework Enthusiasts
My significant other's family dropped $5,000 on fireworks for the 4th of July. They do this every year. It blows my freaking mind. They are wealthy which means $5,000 is probably pocket change for them. It's just different school of thought. I grew up living in a tent level of poor so to think what my family could have done with that amount of money EVERY year is what boggled my mind.
#37 Daddy's Money
I worked at a phone store and this guy had just lost his iPhone X in a river. The guy had insurance on the phone and had a $250 option to use it and get a phone the next day. He said he needed a phone now and ended up paying the $850 he still owed on his phone plus signing a new agreement to get another iPhone X. We make a commission off the phones, but I was looking out in his best interest that doing the insurance would make the most sense but then scoffed and said it's only $800. He was the epitome of "I live off daddy's money." Him acting like $800 is nothing is the most pretentious thing I've ever seen.
#38 Spare Food For The Band?
I work as a freelance musician and often stand in for wedding bands; have worked at lots of weddings where clearly the families have crazy money. One thing I always see at the fancier events without fail is a TON of amazing, fully prepared food and expensive drink being tipped or 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 tip away enough food to feed the wedding party (often of 200+ people) another two times over.
It's particularly annoying when the band is served cold chips as their 'evening meal' because, "We couldn't stretch the budget, sorry!" On a more positive note, one of the funniest things I've ever seen was a drummer successfully sneak out of a catering tent, having liberated a whole wheel of cheese that night.
#39 Gambling Vices
Once I was at this cheap-looking casino with a friend of mine. In this casino, there was a round roulette table with six seats to sit and play on. As we were sitting at this particular table, some guy took three seats for himself and kept gambling the maximum amount of money on these 3 seats EVERY GAME. This guy lost everything of course and went complete berserk after a while. Security had to drag him out of the casino because he was fighting the machines while screaming like a maniac. Poor guy probably lost everything that day. I still sometimes wonder how he's doing nowadays.
#40 Big Disney Spenders
I'm a VIP tour guide at Walt Disney World. Each guide costs $600 per hour and charging starts when you ask us to meet you, whether you're there or not. A family booked two of us multiple days in a row and wouldn't show up until typically two to three hours into being charged. $7,000+ overall paid for tour time they didn't use. They didn't care at all.
#41 Far From Zero Waste
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 set a high standard of how the produce should look. If I didn't cull it correctly, he would write me up. He came in one to three times a week, so I couldn't get away with not doing what he asked. When I looked at weekly reports of the shrink, produce amounted for about 100 to 200 dollars. I asked him if I could donate the produce we throw out, and his response was: "That's theft." I was so glad when this place went out of business.
#42 Useless Gift Card Hack
I had a friend that thought a good way to save money would be to buy gift cards for places he didn't like. When he actually needed cash he would transfer them for about 60% value. Idiot.
#43 Scents For A Lotta Cents
I work at a car dealership as an apprentice mechanic. Now, I've seen many examples of people wasting their money, be it car parts, dumb accessories, or whatever—the list goes on. But there was this one guy that would spend literally $75 on a car freshener, and he bragged about it, constantly.
He'd call himself "elite" because he bought these $75 pieces of scented cardboard. I don't know what went through his mind every time he'd buy one of them.
#44 Consolation Prize
I saw an acquaintance let pride get the better of him. He spent $300 on a carnival game that he never ended up being able to win. I think I had something to do with it because I won the game moments before and he was watching. For some reason, in high school, I would win that game every single time I saw it. I think he thought he could do it too. He got a consolation doll.
#45 Fortnite 4 Lyfe
My roommate plays Fortnite and buys every single skin that comes out. Every. One.