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People Share the Most Expensive Mistake They Ever Made

"To me it wasn't really actual money. So I spent it."
Photo by Alexey Kuzma via Stocksy

There comes a time in all our lives when we mishandle money in such an momentous way, it becomes part of us—a defining feature of our ongoing, precarious performance of adulthood. Sadly, there is little you can do after the fact. Once you've eagerly stuffed those hard-earned bills down the drain, they are gone into the purse of another, and the only thing for it is to remind yourself it could be worse. Or, now I know to treat money with the respect it deserves. The only other thing for it is to hear other peoples' tales of financial fuck-ups. Because solidarity in hopelessness is the ultimate balm in life.


When I was in Iceland I worked out the exchange rate incorrectly and spent $800 on hiking pants instead of $80—and only realised after wearing them.

When I was 17, the bank accidentally put like $6,000 into my account. I went on a huge spending spree with my boyfriend at the time and spent it all in one month. I took my friends out for dinner, bought lots of Ksubi clothes (which were cool at the time), festival tickets for myself and friends, hotel rooms, heaps of takeaway pizza. So much pizza…

Then I forgot all about it—until the police came to my house and told my mum, and she had to pay it back.

The day before I went on holiday I went out to the shops and left my window wide open in my flat in London; 950 dollars' worth of Indian Rupees were stolen, along with two laptops, jewellery, my DSLR camera, and an Xbox.

I lost my passport the day before going on holiday. The emergency passport itself was "only" $350, but then it cost about $1,000 to push our flights back by just five hours.

David, 33
An anthropology degree, then postgrad?

There's the time I bought a brand new car for $20,000 with a bank loan and it turned out to be a lemon—and the car company refused to be of assistance at all, or fix the manufacturer's problem. Add $10,000 on top of that, because every time I took the car to be fixed, the problem came back.

Eventually, there was a class action brought against the car company, which I opted out of in exchange for a new car: an "upgrade" I had to pay extra for.


I once bought a designer leather jacket for $2,500. I was so excited because I'd been dreaming about it for so long. I got it home and realised it was the wrong colour. I was so embarrassed that instead of returning it I just bought another one, in the right colour. I didn't want to admit that I was wrong. I still haven't worn the original jacket but can't seem to sell it.

I know, it's insane.

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When I was in my early twenties, I went to my bank to get a travel card sorted for my trip to America. The guy I sat down with to activate the card made some throwaway comment about needing "emergency finances" in case anything terrible happened. Ten minutes later I was signing off a loan of seven thousand dollars. I'd never had a credit card or anything before, so to me it wasn't really actual money. So I spent it.

That is to say, I spent all fucking seven-thousand dollars of it in like, ten days in America. I don't really regret it because it was probably the most fun I've ever had, but it really fucked up my finances. I only finished paying it off last year.

When I was 12 I travelled to the countryside with my mum. She had the iPhone 3G which was at the time when mobile data was a new tech marvel, and I don't think my parents really knew what it was. Mum called me into our motel room and asked me what the hell I had done, because I'd racked up a $3,500 phone bill.

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She was more in shock than anything else. How does a 12-year-old even get a $3,500 bill!? I think I ended up paying it back with money from my confirmation, but they must have chipped in a fair amount, because I doubt I raked in $3,500 for eating some communion bread.

I got my first ever salary payment and went out and blew the lot on a huge stereo with built-in subs… only to find out it was a monthly pay check, not a weekly one, and I couldn't afford rent.

*Names have been changed.