A Really Dumb Financial Move

Not all ATMs are the same!

Wouldn’t it be great to be just about perfect? Well, not that I ever had any wacky illusions of that, but if anyone ever thought I was totally sound when it came to all money moves, a recent mistake would clearly disprove that.

We’ve all been there. You know, the times when we feel like a fool for making a dumb financial move.

Here’s what I did.  Two weeks ago, I was in a major hurry to get someplace in the evening. I was leaving the city, and was headed out of town. Thus, while I often like public transpiration instead of driving, I did have to drive that day and parked my car in an out of the way lot. This place cost $15 for an “earlybird” rate, as long as you got out by 6pm. It was a deal, compared to the garages in this area of Downtown Chicago which typically charge between $30 to $40 to park during the working day. Yes, it’s not cheap here in the Windy City!

Anyway, I rushed to the lot and asked to pay. The guy immediately told me “Cash only”, which was corroborated by a sign at the booth. Okay, I suppose I missed that sign in the morning when I got there.  So I had to tell him that I needed cash, and that I’d be right back after I found an ATM. He said fine, but I realized that I needed to rush back so that I wasn’t charged the full price.

I went a few blocks to a location I knew would have ATMs, and went to the first one I saw. It wasn’t for my bank, but at this point I didn’t care. I just needed to get the cash, get to the car, and leave.  So I withdrew money, and agreed when I saw the prompt on the screen that notified me that the bank would charge me a $3 fee in addition to whatever fee my bank charged.  I can’t stand ATM fees, but figured that this was a rare exception and that I didn’t have a choice in this situation anyway.

So, I withdrew the money, and turned to my left and started to walk away. As I did, I froze.

Right in front of me – literally, right there before me – was an ATM from my bank.

It instantly hit me that in my rush to just find the first ATM and get money right away, I never bothered to even glance around to notice the other ATM that was there.  After paying the 2 fees, I just wasted $6 right there. For no reason whatsoever, other than carelessness.  I mean, the no-fee machine from my own bank was basically right next to the other machine.

Now can you see how I felt like I made a dumb financial move? There is no rationalizing this away.

Well, when we make mistakes we should try to learn from them. Two quick takeaways for me were:

  • Pay attention.  If I would have seen the sign in the morning that noted “cash only” , I might have been able to get the money ahead of time. By not having my head in the game at that time, I cost myself a few bucks.
  • Manage time well.  If I would have planned my time better, even by a few minutes, I wouldn’t have been rushed and prone to making a careless move.

Of course we all know that we should pay attention and manage time well, but sometimes we need a reminder to do the basic things.  This was a $6 reminder!

My Questions for You

Have you ever made any really silly, dumb financial moves like this one?

What were the circumstances, and why did it happen?

Did you learn any applicable lessons from the experience?


  1. says

    In the grand scheme of things it is only $6. I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself…

    The dumb financial move we’ve made lately is that we don’t keep exceptional track of our bills that come by mail – you know we simply expect them to arrive and we send the check out the next day. Well, apparently we never received our trash bill and they charged us a $8 late fee. If we would have remembered that we hadn’t paid it yet we could have avoided it.

    • Squirrelers says

      Work Save Live – I suppose that with our lives busy, we’re at risk for having mistakes happen. Maybe that’s another take away, we’re too busy!

  2. says

    I’m starting to think I should have opted to continue dental insurance coverage after I quit my job. I have medical, but I declined dental. I figured I’d just self insure. Now I’m scared I may need a crown on one of my molars. The cost is like $1,300! I’m kicking myself.

    Your financial mistake is fairly minor. You’re only out of $6.00.

    • Squirrelers says

      Shwanda – Oh, I agree that this was minor. Just crazy that the other machine was NEXT to the machine I used, but somehow missed it! Just gave away money for no reason. But yes, it’s no big deal. Medical/Dental type of expenses…that’s a different deal. Best of luck, from someone who’s spent enough money on root canal last year.

  3. says

    Ahh! I have soo done this. My most recent dumb financial blunder was forgetting about a cheque , pushing my account into overdraft which sucked overdraft fees out of it!

    • Squirrelers says

      Daisy – most of us make these blunders even on rare occasions I suppose. When they bother us, it’s a good sign that we care!

    • Squirrelers says

      Kurt – you’re right, haste can make waste. And yes, it was a small price to pay to be reminded of that lesson. But the parking itself….no small cost!

  4. says

    Back in January I forgot to record a check I wrote and spent more than was in my account. Thankfully I have a line of credit that kicks in automatically to prevent a bounce, but I felt like an idiot for a week. I hadn’t bounced a check in years.

  5. says

    Oh, I’ve made plenty of dumb mistakes. I would have been irritated at that one — had I actually noticed the second machine afterward 😉

    • Squirrelers says

      Jackie – well, maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss as it’s been said – not seeing that machine afterward might have had it’s benefits.

  6. says

    With the $6, it was still cheaper than paying full price at the lot, right? Loop parking lots don’t mess around with the early bird time limits. A second or two late and it’s full price.

    • Squirrelers says

      JP – yeah, some lots there can be hardcore with charging people. This one seems reasonable, luckily – I’ve had to park there again since. But it’s not cheap to park in Downtown Chicago!

  7. Squirrelers says

    Impulse Save – I’ll be more careful, no doubt. And yes, it’s no big deal in the big picture. Just want to avoid the big mistakes!

  8. says

    Everybody makes a “dumb” financial move at least once in our lives. In your case, you may be thinking you overspent $6 for the parking fee. But come to think of it, you still saved from the discounted rate you received so it was not a dumb move after all.

    • Squirrelers says

      Cherleen – true, we do make dumb moves, all of us. In this case, it wasn’t $6 overspent on parking actually but really $6 overspent on ATM fees when my bank’s machine was literally right next to it and I didn’t even see it!

    • Squirrelers says

      Barbara – I know what you mean about letting them go. Regardless of how I came off in this post, I actually do a decent job of letting such things go. Learn, apply the knowledge, and move on. What else can one do, right?

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