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Getting out of Debt

6 Foolish Items Real People Have Purchased

4 Minute Read

In honor of April Fool’s Day, we thought we would flip the script.

We could write some silly piece where we trick you and say, “Credit cards are okay after all.” But that would just be a terrible thing to do, even as an April Fool’s joke.

Instead, we thought it would be interesting to look at some real-life foolish money decisions that people have made. These are actual, real expenses, not some hoax or April Fool’s joke.

Seriously. We’re not kidding. People spent a lot of money on the following stuff:

$376,000 for a sheep.

So there’s this sheep. It cost $376,000. $376,000 will buy you a very nice house. It’s a sheep. This sheep, which goes by the name Deveronvale Perfection, was bought by a breeder in 2009. No word yet on how busy Mr. Sheep has been, but we’re calling this one a baaaaaaaad investment. 

$47 for a cup of coffee.

No joke. One guy bought this $47 cup of Joe from Starbucks for his birthday. It included 48 espresso shots, soy milk, vanilla bean, two bananas, protein powder, caramel drizzle, strawberry puree and Frappuccino chips. According to The Los Angeles Times, Starbucks actually picked up the tab since it was the guy’s birthday. So while it might have been foolish to drink this concoction, at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

$172 million for the movie Waterworld.

Think about this for a second: What good things could you do with $172 million? Well, back in the 90s, someone thought it would be a grand idea to make a $172 million movie starring Kevin Costner. In the U.S., Waterworld only made $88 million at the box office. That’s what you call a box office bomb. We’re guessing a $172 million movie starring a wooden cutout of Kevin Costner would’ve made more money—and had better acting—than Waterworld. 

$140 million for a Jackson Pollock painting.

Have you ever seen Jackson Pollock’s painting called “No. 5, 1948”? If not, stop what you’re doing right now and google it. We’ll wait for you. Waiting … waiting … waiting …. Okay, you’re back. Now, can you believe that painting sold at a 2006 auction for $140 million? Right now, somewhere within a five-mile radius from where you sit, a 3-year-old in a preschool is creating something similar to that painting. Go find him. Buy it from him for $5. Can you imagine the return on investment?

$16 million on a domain name.

No kidding. In 2009, sold for a cool $16 mil. To date, that’s the highest-recorded domain sale. Domain names work like real estate on the internet, so they’re only worth what you’re willing to pay for them. And apparently, the company who operates the site—which provides insurance quotes—thought it was worth $16 million. Was it a foolish purchase? You’ll have to ask them.

$500,000 for Thomas Jefferson’s wine.

Okay, so no one ever bought one of Jefferson’s wines for that much. But, in 1989, a collector in New York who owned a bottle of Chateau Margaux 1787 claimed it was worth half a million. Sadly, he never got to find out—that’s because when he took the bottle to a Margaux dinner at the Four Seasons, a waiter accidently knocked it over and broke it. We’re guessing the collector did cry over spilled wine. But, on the bright side, insurers paid out $225,000.

Now, after reading those examples, you’re probably thinking one of two things: First, how could someone spend so much money on that? Or second, what’s wrong with spending that much money if you have it?

And both of those thoughts are right! These purchases are only foolish if the buyer doesn’t truly have the financial stability to make the purchase. In other words, someone worth a few billion dollars can buy a Jackson Pollock painting without breaking a sweat.

These are extravagant examples, of course. But the principles are the same whether you make $10,000 a year or $10 billion a year: Don’t buy what you can’t afford. No matter how you spin it, that’s just foolish.

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