My Mistakes

MyMoneyBlog is hosting a “Reverse Carnival.” It will be a compilation of other bloggers’ money mistakes. Here are mine:

  • In around 1996, I bought AIC Advantage Fund (a financial sector fund) based on its stellar past performance. The fund did well for a little while more, then tanked. By 2000 I because frustrated with its poor performance and sold, when really I should have bought more.
  • After the AIC fiasco, I transferred my cash from the sale of my AIC Advantage Fund to TD Bank. I wanted to start an RRSP and I was also determined to learn from my mistake with AIC Advantage Fund and diversify. I ended up over diversifying. By 2005 I had several large cap Canadian TD mutual funds, replicating the performance of an index fund but with the 2% MER. Things were not much different when it came to my US, International, and fixed income holdings.
  • I bought shares in a small company I worked for called EXI Wireless in around 2000. I bought shares when they were about $1 each. The stock ended up falling slowly over the next few years to around $0.50, and then ended up rising again. A few years later the stock was over $1.34. That’s not a bad return. Anyways I had sold when it was down around $0.65, so I lost on the deal. I bought the stock for no good reason and I sold it for no good reason.
  • Bought TD Science & Technology Fund during the tech bubble. Sold it post-bubble.
  • In 1999, my grandma, her husband, some of her friends, and I started an investment club. The club was doomed from the start. We had big aspirations of buying the next Nortel or the next Cisco, or Lucent, etc… You get the picture. Between 1999 and 2002 we bought (in approximately chronological order): 360 Networks, Nortel, Lucent, Nokia, Patheon, more Nortel, Harrah’s, more Nortel, Global Crossing. All of our stocks lost money except for Harrah’s which we sold after making 20 or 30% on our investment in only 6 months. 360 Networks and Global Crossing both filed for bankruptcy if I remember correctly and their stock became worthless.
  • Stupid purchases: zoom and wide-angle camera lenses which I never use ($100), Garmin GPS running watch which I barely used and eventually broke when I accidentally went swimming with it in my pocket ($120), several books on programming which I have never opened. These were all impulsive purchases made on credit by the way.
  • Brought traveller’s cheques to Mexico in $20 USD denominations, not realized that I would have to sign each one individually (huge pain in the ass when you have to sign 20 of them to get $400 cash), that it can be challenging to find a place to cash them, and that finding an ATM in Mexico (even in Tulum) isn’t that hard. I also got screwed on the exchange twice. Once to go from CAD to USD and again to go from USD to MXN.
  • Ate out for lunch almost every day since 1997.
  • Got rid of my 1986 Toyota Tercel before moving away to grad school for 2 years for far less than it was worth. Should have kept in the the parents driveway.
  • Thought it was actually possible to beat the house in blackjack with just the right technique!

For more, see the Canadian Capitalist’s mistakes, MyMoneyBlog’s mistakes, Hazzard’s mistakes, or Madame X’s mistakes.

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2 Responses to “My Mistakes”


  • It is actually possible to beat the house in blackjack with just the right technique. The problem is that you need a whole team of people and a mountain of cash. There was a book written about a team out of MIT that did this. They ended up getting banned from most of the American casinos but they had a pretty good run while they did it.

    A little more detail here, and there is a book, Bringing Down the House as well as a documentary (which is where I found out the details of this) called Breaking Vegas.

    It is an interesting story and I personally believe that it is totally possible but you need to treat it as a business and remove as much emotion from the process as possible (hmm, sort of sounds like the stock market ;) ).

  • That’s true. Card counting is a sure way to beat the house. Although I wasn’t using card counting. I thought I could win just by following the basic strategy and always quitting while I was ahead. For example if you start with $20, quit as soon as you get to $40. The trouble was that in the end you will go from $20 to $0 more more times than you will be able to get from $20 to $40. It was pretty stupid…

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