Saturday, July 22, 2006

Worst Financial Advice Contest

It's almost the end of July, it's hot, and I'm bored. Let's have a contest.

Here's the premise: I want to know the worst financial advice you've ever received, overheard, or had someone else give to someone you know. The farther "out there" it is, the better. The more detailed your story and advice (and any repercussions) are, the better. The advice itself could have been bad ... or the advice mediocre, and the repercussions bad ... or the advice good but the repercussions (perhaps unintended) horrible.

I'll dish out $50 worth of Amazon gift certificates as follows:

  • Prize #1 will be a $25 Amazon certificate which goes to the reader of my choosing — the one who leaves the "worst" (in my estimation) and most ridiculous money-advice story as a comment on this post. If your advice makes me laugh, shake my head, throw my Swingline against the wall, or just plain cringe, you have a good shot. In any case, when it comes to the winning entry, I'm the judge, jury, and cash register.

  • Prize #2 will be a $25 Amazon certificate that goes to a random reader/commenter who leaves his or her best bad-advice story. I'll accumulate all the commenters' names/emails, throw them into a hat, and draw the winner at random. If I happen to draw the same name as the winner of Prize #1, I will redraw, so that one reader cannot win both prizes.

If you have the desire — nay, the guts — to enter this First Ever Money Musings Dream Lifetime Giveaway (they say exaggeration is a key to success with promotions like this) then you need to do two things. First, leave your bad-advice story as a comment on this post. Second, email me at the following address (modification required):

... and let me know which comment is yours, and what email you'd like the prize sent to if you win. This way, I figure, folks can comment anonymously, which is helpful if they don't wish to incriminate friends, relatives, or anyone else who doled out a hearty handful of money stupids. Once the contest is over, I will sell all email addresses to a guy named Rajnoosh. (Well, not really. Since I don't know anyone named Rajnoosh, and I'm too lazy to go find someone named Rajnoosh, I will just delete the emails.)

Personally, I'd like for the bad-advice stories here to be true. Not just stuff made up on the fly. But I am a realist, and I know there's no way I'll be able to verify the bad-advice authenticity. So if you're a good storyteller, and can make me believe you, then knock yourself out, I guess.

Other minutiae:

  • Entries stating that advice from It's Your Money! or IYM: Money Musings is the "worst they've ever heard" will be disqualified. I'm not kidding.

  • Entries stating that advice somehow attributed to David Bach is the "worst they've ever heard" will be given preferential consideration. I'm not kidding.

  • The bad-advice story is the main thing. But I'm a word guy, and I know my pet peeves. So correct grammar / spelling / coherency is a plus.

  • One entry per email address, please.

Entry Deadline: Saturday, July 29, 2006 @ 11:59pm CST.
Winners Announced and Awarded: Sunday, July 30, 2006 ("Worst Financial Advice" Winners)

— Posted by Michael @ 7:18 PM


On the assumption that Kyiosaki's advice that an owner occupied home is a liability and not an asset will get nominated by others (I really have to wonder what he was smoking when he wrote that), I'd like to nominate a financial advisory firm called Barber Asia.

In 2003, Susan Field, a UK citizen living in Hong Kong, sought advice from Barber Asia for a "conservative" investment. Field was an inexperienced investor. Barber Asia selected a fairly unexciting managed fund denominated in pounds sterling. Given Field's desire for a conservative investment and her UK origins, that recomendation was probably reasonable and, if the advice had stopped there, Field would have had her conservative investment, Barber Asia would have had its sales commission and that would have been the end of the story.

It was the rest of the advice that was so appalling. Barber Asia recommended that Field leverage her investment 300%. Worse, the levergae was denominated in Japanese Yen to "take advantage of the lower interest rate". The timing was impeccable as the Japanese currency promptly started appreciating against the pound. A bad mistake was made worse when Barber Asia advised Field to meet the resulting margin calls. Field suffered a loss of over GBP200,000 on a GBP250,000 investment before she eventually closed her position.

Fortunately for Susan Field, she recovered her loss as well as interest and costs after taking Barber Asia to court.

You can read a bit more about it here:


I live in a nice home about a half mile from the beach. I was told by several friends that "seemed" to be wealthy, that the smart play was to risk it all and buy as much or more house than I could stand. They had done so and watched as property values skyrocketed and they greedly gloated about the profits they were reaping. My new wife and I looked at several of these homes up and down the coast. Each time a voice in my head kept finding some reason to wait. My friends ganged up on my wife say how clearly I knew nothing about money or real estate.
We found our first home a simple brick home lovingly built by its only other owner, who had died and whose son sold it to me. Sure it was well centered in my budget and allowed us to live a mere two streets from my friends glam homes, but they kept preaching how much I would lose compared to them.
I remember how they said that I could save money by skipping Flood insurance.
Aug 29th in Gulfport,Ms Katrina pushed the Gulf of Mexico up to my home. We did not flood due to the debris of all the homes destroyed before reaching mine. All of my friends over priced underinsured homes saved mine.
Most have found that thier insurance calls thier loss flood damage and gave some only $10,000 for thier roof but nothing for thier home. They still have mortgages but no home. Even those with flood insurance that maxs out at 200,000 are unable to rebuild due to the new code regulations. So with money in hand they pay off what they can and hope to find a place to live.
I know that I was lucky and please do not think I wish ill on my friends but thier advice that I ignored they believed and followed.
The result is an ongoing bail out by the state and federal government.
I thank anyone who donated or helped. We all were in need. Now I fear that the shortsighted choices of my friends and others means that we will never rebuild properly.


Our car is possibly having it's third recall soon (haven't received official word yet). While talking to my husband about it, I explained what I felt were our options since the dealership that could make the repairs is over two hours away and the repairs could take a few days.

We could drive our car down there and take a mini-vacation and stay overnight. We would both miss work and we've have to board the animals plus pay for our lodging (lowball cost: $250 - assuming I could make up some missed work).

The other option was to take our car down there, rent a car and come back home. Then when the car is ready go pick it up. Still, costly with a rental car (lowball cost: $150).

He looked me straight in the eyes and was very serious when he said he had an idea....

Drive the car to the dealership. Since the car will probably be paid off by then, we should buy a new FJ Cruiser and drive it home. Then, go pick up our other car when it's ready.

Lowball cost: $21,000

I am so glad I handle our money :)


I had a banker once tell me that the best investment for my IRA retirement account would be a variable annuity. Variable annuities are a terrible waste for a tax deferred retirement account. Also, variable annuities have some of the highest "hidden" costs. I'm sure the fat commissin the banker would have received would have been a great financial move for him. However, I simply shook my head head and ran for the doors. If it wasn't for my personal finance reading, I would have lost a ton of money over my lifetime with that terrible advice.


Be simple please and lead a simple life which is very difficult in this compex modern age.If one is able to do that worst will become the best. At times,the market attracts,and the middle class fall prey.Can you stay without a mobile or air conditioner?


Too late for the contest, but I had bought Lockheed-Martin stock (LMT) back in 2000 when it was around 17 per share.

I then told my longtime friend about it, who happens to be a long-time Lockheed employee, and he proceeded to tell me one horror story after another about Lockheed's bungling. I sold right away for a tiny profit.

The stock has pretty much gone nothing but up since then and is now worth $83 per share.

** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
[About Our Liquid Savings Goal]