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10 crazy money blunders of 2011

The year that just ended had more than its fair share of well-publicized episodes of financial ineptitude.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 4, 2012 12:19PM

This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.


Len Penzo dot Com on MSN MoneyAs 2012 begins, it's time for the second annual Penner Awards, my celebration of 10 of the previous year's most dumbfounding displays of numismatical naivete and financial ineptitude.


So why am I giving out such a dubiously prestigious award? First, I've made plenty of stupid money mistakes myself over the years. Second, if not me, who? Besides, nobody seemed to quibble after I passed out the 2010 Penner Awards.


OK, enough babble, folks. Let's give out some Penners!


1. Fool if you think it's over.

Recipient: Kobe Bryant.
Background: If the reports that claim Kobe didn't get a prenup before marrying his soon-to-be ex-wife are true, then the Los Angeles Lakers superstar could be on the hook for at least $75 million -- plus additional spousal support payments for the rest of his life. I know.
The bottom line: You can bet this never would have happened if Kobe had married Kim Kardashian.


2. Maybe they should have picked another planet?

Recipient: The guy at Disney Studios who green-lit "Mars Needs Moms."
Background: Disney budgeted $150 million for this 2011 film based upon the children's book about a boy who sets out to save his mom after she gets abducted by Martians. Since being released on March 11, the film has managed to take in only $39 million, making "Mars Needs Moms" the box-office flop of the year -- and the fifth biggest ever, after adjusting for inflation.
The bottom line: Don't count on a "Mars Needs Moms" ride being offered at Disneyland anytime soon.


3. Well, it's the thought that counts.

Recipients: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Background: In April Congress finally passed a budget with great fanfare, heralding a relatively meager $38 billion in spending cuts. Upon closer scrutiny, however, the Congressional Budget Office found that the actual savings amounted to only $352 million. To put that in perspective, that's equivalent to a household with a $50,000 budget cutting annual expenditures by about $5.
The bottom line: On the bright side, they say a journey of a thousand miles always starts with a single step.


4. Bake me another cupcake, cupcake.

Recipient: Rachel Brown.
Background: The baker from Berkshire, England, lost more than $19,000 -- her profits for the entire year -- after she was forced to make 102,000 cupcakes, thanks to a poorly planned "75% off" Groupon deal that went awry. "Without doubt, it was my worst ever business decision," Brown told the BBC. One can only hope so.
The bottom line: I'm not going to sugarcoat it; by any measure, $19,000 is a lot of dough. Even for a baker.


5. The high price of a little "us" time.

Recipient: Jimmy McMillan.
Background: The New York man who ran for governor on the Rent is Too Damn High ticket may end up getting evicted from his rent-controlled Manhattan apartment because he temporarily stopped living there so his adult son could enjoy a little privacy. But why would McMillan risk forfeiting his $872 monthly rent-controlled apartment in a neighborhood where flats can reportedly fetch three times that amount? Mr. McMillan's reply: "I want a grandkid."
The bottom line: With privacy apparently in such short supply, perhaps adoption would have been a more financially savvy option.


6. This is a stickup! (No, really.)

Recipient: Richard James Verone.
Background: The North Carolina man surrendered to police after allegedly robbing a bank for $1. After demanding the lone dollar from a teller, Verone sat himself down on the bank's sofa until police arrived. Why would anyone do that, you ask? To get free health care in prison, of course. Explained Verone: "I'm sort of a logical person, and that was my logic." Makes sense to me.
The bottom line: Obviously, prison health care is a lot better than logic would otherwise suggest. Post continues below.

7. Death and (refunded) taxes.

Recipient: IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman.
Background: A lawsuit filed by the federal government this year disclosed that the IRS was tricked into paying out $12.1 million in fraudulent tax refund claims to 5,108 dead people in 2009 and 2010. Yes, the same IRS that never misses a chance to tell the living they've underreported their income by $1.63.
The bottom line: To paraphrase Will Rogers, this is just more proof that the IRS has made more liars out of Americans than golf.


8. That turned out to be one very expensive suit.

Recipient: An unnamed Illinois man.
Background: An 80-year-old man contributed more than he intended to a Goodwill store in Moline, Ill., after belatedly realizing he had left $13,000 in the pocket of a suit he donated. Although he's offering a $1,000 reward, the money has not been recovered.
The bottom line: Apparently, there are still people out there who have never heard of banks.


9. And you thought losing your lease on life was bad.

Recipients: Spanish cemetery owners.
Background: A cemetery in Zaragoza, Spain, has been threatening evictions of its dead for nonpayment of burial site rent. Rather than sell them outright, many Spanish cemeteries -- get this -- now only lease grave sites for periods of five or 49 years. Genius. According to the city's planning manager, "We're not doing it to make money or empty graves but rather to improve management." Right.
The bottom line: In Spain, apparently there's no such thing as a final resting place.


10. That's the ticket! (Or not.)

Recipient: An unidentified person who plays the Georgia Lottery.
Background: Somebody walked into the Pilot Travel Center in Tallapoosa, Ga., and bought a Powerball ticket that correctly matched all six numbers picked in the June 29 drawing. Unfortunately, the prize wasn't claimed within the mandated 180-day window, and so, on Dec. 26, the winning ticket -- and the $77 million grand prize -- unceremoniously expired.
The bottom line: Now you know the elusive answer to the question: What's the only thingdumber than playing the lottery?


More on Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:

Jan 4, 2012 4:43PM

I am happy for Kobe. Now he knows what it is like to get raped.  Maybe he can hook up with Kim K.  They are a perfect couple.  "KKK " He has basketball skills, which she likes. He is the right color.  Kobe is attracked to greedy whores because they make up their own reality.   They are both so shallow they can swim together with all the other glamorous bottom feeders.

Jan 4, 2012 4:17PM

In regards to Kobe's situation

If his ex actually receives $75MM there's absolutely no reason why he should ALSO have to pay spousal support. That's just plane greedy & ridiculous. A divorce should not be used as some sort of womans revenge or punishment right. If there was no money exchange then yes she should get support & maybe the house & car but $75MM,??? Women do you really know how much money that is??? C'mon!!! And we wonder why the OJ & Peterson thing happened.

Jan 4, 2012 6:42PM

If a partner cheats, their scorned partner deserves half.  Seriously, if I didn't want to be with my husband, I'd get a divorce first before sleeping with someone else.  With Kobe, he never learned, and cheated multiple times, and I think that she deserves the life she was used to prior to his deceit.  I believe it should go the other way around, too.  If a woman cheats, the hubby gets half of what she makes, but she should get NOTHING of what he makes.  Cheaters are lowlifes.

Good for Vanessa Bryant.My advice,get as much as you can and build a life & career for yourself & your children.Not to late to a High College Education.And think a MILLION TIMES before you marry again.You should choose only the BEST for you.
Jan 4, 2012 8:10PM
You forgot to mention Peyton Manning's contract.
Jan 4, 2012 5:52PM
I don't care how you get your money.  As long as you get as much as you can, more power to you.
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