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Al Jacobs
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A. B. Jacobs is a professional investor with four decades of first-hand involvement in intricate business and investment activities.
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Articles by Al Jacobs 5 Magnificent Ways to Waste Money - Article by Al Jacobs

This is dedicated to those among us whose wealth is so abundant that they need advice on how to dispose of it. In connection with the guidance I’m about to offer, I can claim no original inspiration, as the methods are not novel. I’ll also concede that many individuals without money to burn also practice these spendthrift techniques, though exactly why persons not rolling in dough behave in such a fashion remains a mystery. In any event, stand by for directions on how to spend foolhardily, the better to rid yourself of superfluous riches.

1. The pricey nuptial is just the thing
A simple wedding, where the bride and groom exchange vows in the presence of family and friends, then adjourn to a garden or chapel anteroom for light refreshments, will never do. That’s simply too plebian. What you really want is pizzazz. This means elegant clothing, ostentatious display, a large banquet hall, expensive floral arrangements and party favors, the finest cuisine for no less than 300 guests, a 15-piece band, and all topped off with a 2-week honeymoon to some exotic place in a 4-figure-per-night bridal suite. That’s what tying the knot is all about. And whether the marriage lasts through the season is immaterial. What really counts is blowing the dough in a way that makes everyone envious.

2. Sir Walter Raleigh had it right
It’s unlikely that you understand the economic significance of a daily package of cigarettes over a lifetime—presuming, or course, that the smoke you inhale permits you to live a full lifetime. Fact is, it recently surprised me, for though I once smoked, it dates back to the days of $1.39 per carton. However, I recently discovered my local Rite Aid drug store prices Marlboros at $3.84 a package. Considering the effect of both sales and income taxes, it takes about $6 of earnings to buy a pack. So, I did a bit of math to see what that would grow to if an 18-year-old stuck that amount daily into an IRA account at 7½% until age 65 instead of puffing it away. The result is pretty impressive: $870,000. So for those of you who recognize your obligation to help shore up tax collection efforts, as well as sustain the American tobacco farmer and collateral industry, I call upon you to open your hearts—as well as your lungs and billfolds.

3. The only way to go!
Death is the one event none of us will avoid; no one gets to opt out of that experience. But the final sendoff is another story, with a bevy of choices available. The average cost of a funeral in the United States today, excluding the cemetery expenses, is just over $5,500, of which 42% represents the casket price. However, an increasing number of funerals, currently 28%, incorporate last rites with less expensive cremation, this option up from only 5% three decades ago. An even more economic alternative is through an affiliate of a funeral society, where the recently departed can be cremated and the last remains disposed of for less than $800. Any desired memorial service can easily be postponed until a later date, a mortician’s contrary opinion notwithstanding. Unfortunately, our problem with a dignified low cost funeral is fundamental; we don’t get to spend much. What you really want is a gala celebration, in obvious poor taste, that can set you back tens of thousand of dollars. This, then, allows the deceased to take satisfaction while viewing the festivities from up above—or perhaps from down below.

4. Paying interest is therapeutic
Do you routinely pay your credit card balances promptly and in full, so that you are charged no interest? Inasmuch as some card rates are double digit, you are most likely many dollars to the good. But for those of you who carry unpaid balances over from month to month, you may revel in your credit card company’s undying admiration for you. Were it not for the multitude of persons that pour out untold billions in nondeductible interest on their Visa and MasterCard accounts, many senior banking officials would live far more modest lives. And don’t ignore the boon to this nation’s economy that relies upon perpetual and growing debt by its citizens, propelling us on to greater heights, this in keeping with the recently formulated tradition: Spend your way to prosperity! On this subject nothing more need be said: America is counting on you.

5. The waste of last resort.
Is it possible that, despite your best efforts to rid yourself of unwanted cash, your assets persist? Then efforts must be directed toward the last frontier: the gambling arena. Luckily there’s no shortage of routes you may take to be regally fleeced. Be it Pimlico, Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, or elsewhere, the horses are always running. It’s said that in every race, someone wins. That’s certainly true, though what’s ignored is that the only consistent winner is the pari-mutuel system. But if the nags are not to your liking, there is surely a lottery near you. Currently 29 states and the District of Columbia operate government lotteries, with billions of dollars generated annually. And as expected, the officials operate a sure thing. The income and payouts are regulated to make certain the player loses. And finally, if all else fails, there is the casino. At an earlier time effort was required to respond to the lure of Las Vegas or Atlantic City, but no more. Over half the nation’s states together with several Canadian provinces now host Indian casinos, where roulette wheels, blackjack tables, and slot machines operate around-the-clock to scalp the paleface—and whoever else strays onto the reservation. I‘m afraid it’s too late to circle the wagons, as most of them already have chattel mortgages attached.

This concludes my advice to the over-heeled. Should you detect a slight tongue in cheek quality to anything I’ve said, I’ll understand. For more conventional views on each of these subjects, you’re invited to visit Chapter 3, "The Proof Is in the Prudence," of my book, Nobody’s Fool: A Skeptic’s Guide to Prosperity, available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or ordered by mail from my website at

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Al Jacobs has been a professional investor for nearly four decades. His business experience ranges from real estate, mortgage, and securities investment to appraisal, civil engineering, and the operation of a private trust company. In addition to managing his investments on a day-to-day basis, he is a featured financial columnist for both online and print publications. He is the author of Nobody’s Fool: A Skeptic’s Guide to Prosperity. You may subscribe to his financial Newsletter, "On the Money Trail," at no cost or obligation, by visiting On the Money Trail

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