You’ve scrimped and sacrificed and stretched every dollar to put some of your hard-earned money aside in a savings account. That’s a huge accomplishment! You should be commended for doing what many people only dream about — having a pile of money in savings.
However, don’t get too comfortable or you could find yourself blowing it all. Here are five of the worst possible things you can do with your savings.
1. Play the Lottery
Okay, this one was easy. But many people spend the money they could be putting into savings on lottery tickets. Let’s pretend you have $10,000 in savings and caught the $640,000,000 MegaMillions lottery bug. The chances of hitting the big one were 1 in 175,711,536. Buying 10,000 tickets brings your odds of winning down to 1 in 17,571, but it also greatly increased your chances of losing it all! Ouch!
2. Buy a Viatical Settlement
Purchasing the beneficiary position of someone else’s life insurance policy is called a viatical. No income or interest comes from an investment like this and you only receive a payoff when the insured passes away.
This is similar to buying a zero coupon bond with an uncertain maturity date, not to mention it’s a bit on the sleazy side. You could probably do better buying some more traditional investments rather than wringing your hands, hoping to get paid sooner than later in order to make the purchase profitable. Yuck.
3. Purchase a Timeshare
Timeshares are great, but they are horribly expensive! Taking money away from a savings account to purchase a timeshare is like paying a high price to reserve a really nice hotel room and pray that you are able to use it when you’re ready to go on vacation. There are also annual maintenance fees that you are responsible for paying (whether you use the timeshare or not) and there’s no refund if your trip is cancelled due to bad weather, like a hurricane in Vero Beach.
4. Pay Off Your Partner’s Debts
Helping your boyfriend out with his debt problems might sound like a great idea initially. However, you change the structure of the relationship when the person you are dating becomes your debtor.
How would you feel about going on an extravagant trip with your boyfriend after loaning him money to pay off his truck? During the lobster dinner you are thinking “This bum couldn’t afford to pay off his truck, so how is he paying for the caviar?”
Also, studies have shown that asking for a signed agreement stating that he or she will pay you back is tacky. That study was conducted by me and an old girlfriend. Bye bye, money.
5. Help a Nigerian Prince Out
How great would it be to receive a letter from an overseas dignitary that is too embarrassed or has a legal problem where he needs your help to get a huge sum of money out of the country? Promises of sharing a few million dollars with you by allowing him to transfer the funds into your bank account sounds too good to be true. But all it takes is for you to wire him a few thousand dollars to get the process started. Oh, you’ve received a Nigerian letter too? How long have been waiting for the deposit? Patience, Steve, patience.
Don’t Have Savings Without Having a Savings Goal
Seriously, having money in savings is a responsibility. Every dollar should have a mission, something that it is sitting there for like emergencies, a down payment on a house or maybe a vacation to your favorite timeshare location. If savings has no goal, then one day you might find that it has been spent on the worst possible thing.