That's just a snippet of the great financial stories from the 12-page special section on "Women & Wealth" in the February issue of Town & Country.
My Reality Check: I can't relate to the size of the losses experienced by some Town & Country readers, but if I chop off a few zeroes, I can relate to the process. For instance, one reader regrets running through a $50,000 inheritance by spending "on inconsequential things." Likewise, about 10 years ago, we received $5,000 when an older relative passed away. We didn't waste all of the money, but I don't remember how any of it was spent. I wish we had just invested the entire sum.
Here are other major financial confessions from T&C readers.
- Overreacting to stock market turbulence: After stock prices dramatically fell in 1989, one reader quickly unloaded a large portion of her investment portfolio. She was terrified that the securities would quickly become worthless. The Lesson: She realized that if she had thought and waited, she would have realized that her portfolio -- a collection of "sound investments" -- would have bounced back. "I would have been much better off," she told T&C. I've also made rapid-fire decisions that I have later regretted. Panic rarely produces smart long-term moves.
- Fashion slave: A trendy closet can exact a hefty penalty, especially when a shopper heavily invests in expensive trends. "I've had to give more out-of-date clothing to charity than I want to admit," one reader confessed. The Lesson: Buy classic clothing. Don't heavily invest in flavor-of-the-month trends. If you have to buy trendy stuff, shop at deep discount stores.
- Retail Therapy: "Using retail therapy to entertain myself during my forties, instead of applying focus and discipline with my earnings." -- T&C reader. Don't get me started on this topic.
- Delayed retirement planning: "Not understanding in my twenties to invest in my own future.....I started when I was 33. Big Mistake!"-- T&C reader.
- Star-struck by a well-known broker: One reader was overly impressed by an investment adviser from a high-profile firm. Feeling star-struck, she let herself be led into a risky money market account that was created by that firm. The account was touted as a high-returning investment vehicle. The reader lost 50 percent of her assets in that account. The Lesson: "[I] have never followed the financial advice of a supposedly licensed adviser again. I do my own research and invest in known, solid mutual funds with a long history of results."--T&C reader
- Delegating inheritance decisions: One woman failed to take "an active role" in handling her inheritance. The Lesson: "After two lawsuits, I prevailed but lost a lot of innocence, time and the ability to trust the 'good intentions' of family." --T&C reader.
The other major mistakes related to women who invested too much faith in the investment decisions made by the men in their lives, including ex-husbands. More about that in a later post.