People Who Lost Their Life Savings In Really Dumb Ways

They say money isn't everything, but if you like stuff like food and clothing and shelter, it's pretty darn important. The point in your life when you can finally start building up your savings is a great moment. Financial security takes a huge load off your mind, allowing you to enjoy life more.

But disasters can strike at any time. And when you lose your life savings, it can literally kill you. One study found that losing 75 percent of your nest egg in middle age makes you 50 percent more likely to die in the next 20 years. So losing your life savings is no laughing matter.

That's why we don't want to make fun of these people. Some of them lost their money in tragic ways, some in bizarre accidents, and, okay, some of them just made some very dumb decisions. But really they are to be pitied and hopefully we can all at least learn from their mistakes.

Man loses $2,600 life savings on carnival games, wins giant banana

Thirty-year-old Henry Gribbohm really wanted an Xbox Kinect. And in 2013, he thought he had found the perfect way to get one cheap: simply win the Tubs of Fun game at his local carnival. At the time, Kinects retailed for about $100. Gribbohm would discover that, like most fun fair games, this one was a lot harder than it looked. Time says soon he was out $300. Rather than cut his losses, he decided to throw more money at the problem. He went home, got his entire life savings of $2,300, and came back to get that damn Xbox.

Gribbohm told a reporter that he just wanted his kids to have a good time, but he also got "caught up in the whole 'I've got to win my money back'" thing. Instead he would lose a total of $2,600 and walk away with nothing. The next day he returned to the carnival to complain, saying the game had to be rigged. To make him go away, they gave him $600 back and a giant Rastafarian stuffed banana.

But this tale has a happy ending. According to CBS News, when Gribbohm's story went viral, CollegeHumor agreed to buy the banana from him for $2,600. They even said they would throw in the much-desired Xbox if their post got enough Facebook likes. It did, and Gribbohm planned to responsibly use the money to set up a college fund for his kids and made a donation to charity.

Woman lost her $1.3 million lottery win to ex-husband

It's everyone's dream to win big in the lottery. And according to the LA Times, in 1996 it would happen for Denise Rossi when she scooped $1.3 million in the California Lottery. But very quickly, she started rethinking big things in her life, things like her 25-year marriage. Eleven days after she got her windfall, she asked her husband, Thomas, for a divorce. And she conveniently forgot to tell him, or anyone else, about the money.

California is a community property state, meaning any money made during a marriage is typically split 50-50 between the spouses. This includes lottery winnings. That means Denise was violating a lot of laws when she hid it. Thomas was shocked. They had never had any major problems and were so close that they shared a toothbrush, even thought that's disgusting. He had no idea why his wife had suddenly left him.

Two years after they broke up, Thomas got a piece of mail addressed to Denise that outed her big win. He went straight to court. There Denise admitted she didn't want her husband "getting his hands" on the money. She claimed she'd been unhappy for a long time and needed a way out. The judge determined she had acted out of fraud or malice and awarded the entire lotto win to Thomas. Denise's attorney admitted that if she had just been honest in the beginning, she might have been able to keep the money. At the very least, she'd have kept half.

Child finds family's $4,000, spends it on candy

If you had good parents, they probably didn't let you have that much candy. Of course, as an adult you know this was so they didn't have to spend thousands fixing your rotten teeth. But at the time it felt like a human rights violation.

So when a 9-year-old Ukrainian boy found an unexpected bit of cash in 2012, he knew just what he wanted to do with it: buy all the candy. The only problem was, the money he found was his family's life savings. All $4,000 of it that had been hidden underneath the couch, according to Complex.

This kid was disturbingly smart. The money was in mixed currencies, which meant to use it he had to have it converted into Ukrainian hryvnia. Since banks don't usually deal with children, he enlisted the help of an adult who was reportedly mentally disabled. In exchange, he gave him a cut of the money. Over the course of his fall break from school, the kid used the money to buy lots of candy. Since even the most determined child can't eat $4,000 worth of sweets in a few weeks, he selflessly shared with his friends.

Then his dad came home one day and noticed the cash was missing. The boy admitted what he had done and they went to the police to try and get their money back. That was impossible, and the kid was probably grounded for life.

Woman loses $35,000 she kept in freezer

These days the image of storing your money in the freezer is a funny stereotype. It might have made sense at one point, when banks were less reliable and giant ceramic or metal freezers were fireproof. But these days, plastic fridges will absolutely melt in a blaze and even the most inept burglar is going to check the ice tray for your cash. But amazingly, people do it anyway.

One of them was Renee Reese. According to Vice, Reese had her $35,000 life savings in the house because her multiple sclerosis made it hard to go to the bank often. And of all the places she could hide it, she picked the freezer because of that rumor it would survive a fire.

Then she decided to replace her fridge-freezer combo. At first, this was fine. Reese remembered to take the money out of her old freezer and then stuck it in the brand new one Costco delivered. But the doors on the new one were a little wonky, so she called the store to have it replaced. Costco came to swap out the defective fridge-freezer, and that was when the disaster happened. This time, Reese hadn't taken out the cash.

She immediately filed a police report and called Costco. They still had the wonky unit, but when they checked, to absolutely no one's surprise, the money was gone. Reese accused the company of insufficient background checks and hiring "rapists or pedophiles" who probably stole her money.

Couple sells everything to buy boat, boat sinks

Like so many people, Tanner Broadwell and Nikki Walsh dreamed of quitting the rat race, of leaving it all behind and really enjoying life. Unlike most people, they actually did it. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the young couple planned for two years, saving their money and selling everything they owned. In 2018, they spent $5,000 on a 49-year-old boat and another $5,000 fixing it up.

There was just one tiny problem: Neither of them knew how to sail. Broadwell's father had to help get it to Florida. Once there they spent some time stocking up on provisions. Finally, they were ready to set sail and start their new life.

Then it all went horribly wrong. Without the guy who actually knew about boats helping them, they were screwed. On the second day it was dark and foggy, and they hit something. Their boat sank, and they "lost everything in a matter of 20 minutes." Well, not quite everything. They managed to grab $90 and their dog. But Broadwell didn't even have a shirt on.

They depended on friends and family to get by for a while, but said they were "not going to give up" and would get another boat. To do this they set up a GoFundMe, which amazingly raised over $16,000. But it wouldn't be totally necessary, because a good Samaritan sold them an even better boat for just $1. Not everyone was so nice; they also got messages that they should have drowned.

Woman throws out mattress with $1 million stuffed inside

An Israeli woman had managed to save up a whopping $1 million. That is the kind of money that will see you into a happy retirement. And, as the Guardian points out, in 2009 she was probably feeling pretty smug about the fact that she kept all that cash in her mattress, since the world banking system had just collapsed. But it would be the worst decision of her life.

Her daughter was just trying to do a nice thing. Anat, whose last name was withheld, decided her mother's mattress was way too old (and probably lumpy, what with all the money in it) so she bought her a new one as a surprise. And to be extra nice, she disposed of the old one. Her mother, probably screaming at a level only dogs could hear, told her what a big mistake she had made. Anat immediately ran off to get the mattress back, but the garbage men had already come and gone.

A newspaper published a picture of Anat desperately looking through a landfill for the mattress. She had already tried many others and come up empty. Because she appeared "totally desperate" some of the staff started helping her. Of course, this gave other people ideas and guards had to be posted to keep treasure seekers away. It doesn't appear the money was ever found.

In the end, the mother was incredibly understanding, saying, "People have to take everything in proportion and thank God for the good and the bad."

Man donates suit with $13,000 in the pocket

Warning: This one is extra sad. Sometime in 2011, an 80-year-old man did a nice thing and donated a suit to Goodwill. What he hadn't realized was that his $13,000 life savings was in the pocket. The man, who the San Diego Union-Tribune said wanted to stay anonymous, called the store in a panic. He had been using the money to pay for the medical expenses of his wife, who had cancer.

The charity did everything they could. Volunteers scoured the donated clothes, thousands and thousands of pieces. Complicating matters was the fact that the man didn't know when he had donated the suit, and they didn't know if it might have been stored in their giant warehouse or sold already. The organization said it wasn't unusual for people to leave money in donated clothes, but it was usually a couple bucks. Even then, they said buyers would often return it and they would try and get the money back to the rightful owner. But no one turned in the $13k.

Once the story got out, people called nonstop wanting to help the man. Offers of donations came in from around the world. But the man's daughter released a statement on behalf of him and their family saying that while they were very thankful and "overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity" that his "wishes [were] to respectfully decline any donations of any kind." While they offered a $1,000 reward for anyone who found and returned the $13,000, it doesn't appear that ever happened.

Man spends $140,000 telling everyone the world is ending

There was a lot of talk about the Maya predicting the world was going to end on December 21, 2012. But according to the New York Post, Robert Fitzpatrick had studied the Bible and he knew the world was actually going to end exactly 19 months before that, on May 21, 2011. And he had to get the message out to the people. Or at least New Yorkers.

The 60-year-old Staten Island resident was so sure of his prediction that he spent his entire $140,000 life savings on advertisements telling residents to repent because the end was nigh. He bought 1,000 subway-car placards, and thousands more ads in bus kiosks. (Apparently, if you didn't use public transport you were going to be screwed.) They all warned "Global Earthquake: The Greatest Ever! Judgment Day May 21, 2011."

That's because God was going to send a "giant earthquake" that would "render the earth uninhabitable" according to Fitzpatrick. He even knew it would start at 6 p.m. But then he also said Judgment Day would "surprise people," which seems to contradict that.

Fitzpatrick based his ideas on another doomsday predictor, Harold Camping, who said the world would end on September 6, 1994. Obviously, he was wrong, but Fitzpatrick said he didn't want to think about that. Plus, in a self-published book on the topic Fitzpatrick said when it came to his prediction, the Bible offered "proof that cannot be dismissed." May 22 must have come as a shock.

Family invests $100,000 in Beanie Babies

If you were old enough for the Beanie Baby craze in the 1990s, you might understand the Robinson family a little bit. But if you missed it, they're going to seem like loons.

Starting in 1993 and lasting for a few years, the world went absolutely insane for Beanie Babies. The $5.95 tiny stuffed animals were adorable. They were also so popular that getting your hands on some of them was difficult. The amount people were willing to pay for rare ones was insane. So, according to Business Insider, the Robinson family decided to literally invest all their $100,000 savings in them. Their goal was to sell them at the height of the craze and pay for their five kids' college educations.

For a while, they "let the dolls rule their lives." They ended up with tens of thousands of Beanie Babies, all neatly catalogued and preserved. In a short documentary one of the sons made in 2009 called "Bankrupted by Beanies," the father, Chris, says it's like "admitting to a drug addiction." He knew in advance the schedules of when new toys would be released and had an "inside source" about which ones would be worth the most.

For some reason, they never got around to selling them, and then the bubble burst. The Beanies are now virtually worthless, but they still hope the craze will return someday.

Man buys gold rings that turn out to be brass

Justin Kayola thought he had made a great find, according to the Portsmouth News
. An online auction was selling eight men's rings and he got them for just £678.99. It was all his life savings, but it was going to be a great speculation. The price of gold in 2016 was insane and these chunky rings were shiny, yellow, and all marked 18k.

He went to go pawn them and get a return on his investment, when he was told the disastrous news. All the rings were fake. They were just worthless brass. He tried other pawn shops and they all said the same thing. And they encouraged him to go to the police. The only problem was, the police were the ones who sold them to him.

The auction was for items the cops had seized and were selling to make some cash of their own to go toward charitable causes. And Kayola had been so blinded by the shininess, he hadn't paid enough attention to the other descriptions in the auction. The rings had been clearly described not as gold but having a "yellow metal finish" and that while they were marked 18k, that had not been verified.

Kayola complained and asked that at least part of the sale be refunded. But everyone else involved, the cops, the auction website, even a pawnbroker who was asked, all agreed that the sale had been completely fair, and Kayola was out of luck. He didn't get any of his money back.