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Funny Money: 4 Ways Being Dumb with Money Can Pay Off

Piling up massive debts with no intention of repaying them may anger inheritance-craving offspring, but it sure is a way to live it up before your time on earth passes. The phrase “you can’t take it with you” applies to debt just as it does wealth. Sometimes, being an idiot with money just might get you a better deal than being responsible. Let’s count the ways.

Jim Carrey from Dumb & DumberSince you’re filling your head with financial know-how by reading such a wonderful and brainy site as this one, you’re most likely an ant. As you carefully plot out your money future, the grasshoppers are off spending themselves into oblivion without a care, assuming everything will work out OK.

As pragmatic, intelligent ants, it’s easy to look down on foolish, frivolous grasshoppers. But somewhere in the back of our amazing ant brains lurks a creeping fear — that we’re the ones doing it wrong.

In some cases, that fear is well justified. Traipsing through life ignorant of financial pitfalls can occasionally yield results as impressive or even better than those who stick with the smart, responsible plays.

Here are four ways being “dumb” with money can pay off. We don’t recommend trying any of these financial stunts, just sneering in derision at those who manage to pull them off.

Maxing out credit cards, then settling the debt.

Oh, to be young, free of responsibilities and armed with a wallet full of high-limit credit cards. When you’re first introduced to the world of plastic, it’s fascinating to watch merchants hand over goods and services you can’t afford with paper. It seems like free money, and for some it turns out to be.

I’m sure we all know people who have went way, way overboard on credit card debt, then let their balances fester until the institutions they owed were willing to cut them deals, shaving as much as 50 percent off their balances. Sure, the settlers suffer a nasty hit to their credit ratings, but they also wound up getting away with spending as much as tens of thousands of dollars without having to pay it back.

Buying a too-expensive home and squatting.

Taking advantage of the slug-like slowness of the mortgage foreclosure system, those who get in over their heads on pricey homes can be best off just neglecting their mortgage payments entirely. Although squatters may contend with nasty letters or phone calls, most will be able to stay in their houses a year or longer before the eviction squad finally comes to lock them out. In all that time, delinquents can build up a huge savings account with thousands upon thousands in mortgage payments.

Just joking. They’ll just spend the thousands upon thousands on silly stuff.

Staying ignorant of financial news. 

If you ended up listening to financial gurus who breathlessly recommended that you invest in gold, you most likely came to regret that hot tip. Staying on top of hot investment trends can be costly, because investors who pull in the real money anticipate the next big thing rather than following the movements of the herd.

Of course, wrongly anticipating the next big thing, which is amazingly easy to do, also tends to end in shattering your nest egg beyond repair. In many cases, it’s best just to stay ignorant of what’s going on in the world of finance, if only to avoid the temptation of making a huge, uninformed investment risk.

Running up debt so huge you can’t possibly pay it back in your lifetime.

This one is just like the one from three paragraphs ago, except for the whole part about paying back any of the debt. And in juxtaposition as to how the former is best suited for the young, this one is for the oldsters.

Those who have lived long, responsible financial lives can take advantage of the fact that banks trust them. Piling up massive debts with no intention of repaying them may anger inheritance-craving offspring, but it sure is a way to live it up before your time on earth passes. The phrase “you can’t take it with you” applies to debt just as it does wealth.

 What do you think about these “dumb” tips that can pay off?

Published or updated on August 6, 2013

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About Phil Villarreal

Phil Villarreal writes Funny Money weekly for Money Under 30. He lives in Tucson and works for the Arizona Daily Star. He's also an author, blogger and Twitterer.


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  1. brian says:

    I made the credit card debt one (not on purpose, fully) when I was in college.
    I wanted a credit card to buy a pool table on ebay… I needed about $500 total for everything, including freight shipping and some extra niceties.
    Being in college I was paying just a minimum, but saw my credit limit expand up to about $4000 all together.
    After college I was having problems finding a job and the money I was making, I didn’t want to waste on a payment of a credit card that I felt wasn’t going to help improve my life, so I let it sit there and accrue interest and months of non-payment.
    Eventually they contacted me about repayment and offered a deal for about 50% of what I owed if I paid in 1 payment or about 60% if I did it in 2 payments.
    I made one payment, let it hurt my already bad credit score, and got out from under that debt.

  2. Mike says:

    I have actually personally watched squatting scenario you mentioned play out two different times. The plan was they would save the mortgage payment and start over in 9-10 months. There are a few BIG downsides to this. Obviously your creditworthiness is one. That decision will follow them for a long, long time.

  3. I would add investing in lottery tickets to the list. I’ve always liked the term, “a tax on people who can’t do math”. However, somewhere tonight there is an idiot who just become worth millions. So who is the real idiot?

  4. I know someone who declared bankruptcy 3 times after starting and failing at multiple business. He managed to live very well off of the money while in business and the bank kept loaning him money time and time again even after going bust.

    Leverage in one way, shape, or form is usually what is needed to become wealthy very quickly. One form of leveraging may mean taking money from the bank in the way of a loan to invest speculatively in a risky business. As long as the bank keeps giving you money then you can keep living like a king… I would not recommend this lifestyle approach unless you could handle some serious ups and downs

  5. Unfortunately, I know a few people who have made some of these ill-advised money moves. One person that I know ran up debt that was so large (relative to his income) that he had no chance of paying it off, so he defaulted on the debt and moved out-of-the-country. (If he gets sued, the creditors will win because he’ll no-show to his hearing, but he also doesn’t have any assets that can be taken away, so it’ll be a hollow victory.) Unfortunately, though, he can’t really return to the U.S.

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