Craig’s Chronicle of Recent Dumb Financial Mistakes & Life Lessons

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Disclaimer: This post will use the word ‘dumb’ a lot.  If you don’t like the word, then I suggest you don’t read this post.  :)

My list of dumb things I’ve done has been growing at a rate faster than I’d care to admit.

Being dumb is expensive.

I just hope the rest of 2013 isn’t as expensive as the first few months.

For all my comrades in dumbness, I dedicate this post to you so you’ll know that, as Michael Jackson would say, you are not alone.

Craig’s Dumb Decisions in the Last Two Months

1.  Entering into Papua New Guinea on a Visa that would expire before my departure

Total Cost: Should be $1,500, but a church graciously agreed to cover that expense.

I’ve already written about how I was refused departure from PNG for what turned out to be six long days.

Aside from the emotional cost, I also had to pay for a week worth of meals (money I gave to my host family to help cover my expenses) and money to help cover transportation costs across town as I tried to resolve my departure issue.  Finally, I had to buy all new plane tickets from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to Denver, Colorado.

Fortunately, I’m blessed to have a very loving and caring church that helps oversee my work in Papua New Guinea.  When I got home, they lovingly agreed to cover all my extra trip expenses.

2.  Misspelling my name on a Permanent Resident Card application form

Total Cost: A possible $485 mistake, but it might be $0

The day I got back from Papua New Guinea, I received my new US Permanent Resident card.  Unfortunately, my name was spelled “Crai” instead of “Craig”.

I called and was told that if I could prove it was their mistake they would fix it for free, and if it was my mistake, I’d need to pay the filing fee of $485 again.  I cringed when I first paid the $485, and the idea of paying it again made me so frustrated at myself.  I checked the original forms, and I had indeed neglected to type a “g” at the end of my name.  However, when I was asked to review the documentation, I called to let them know my name was misspelled.

I wrote them a letter where I noted the reference number they gave me when I called to tell them the name was misspelled.  I did recently receive a notice of action, and it has a total balance listed as $0.

I think I’ve convinced them that it was their fault (since I did notify them of the error), and there won’t be another $485 charge.

That would have been a costly “g” on my name.  It might have just cost me less to legally change my name to “Crai”.

3.  Sitting at the wrong gate at the DFW Airport

Total Cost: $0, thanks to an unexpected announcement

8 days after I got back from the PNG fiasco, I flew down to Fort Worth for a Transforming Your Financial Diet Workshop.  I was supposed to be gone for one night.

That night my three year old prayed, “Dear God, help daddy to be gone for only one night like he said, not lots of extra nights like when he was in Papua New Guinea.”

Unfortunately, my flight Saturday night was cancelled due to weather, so I was rebooked early Sunday morning.  Sunday morning at about 6:30 a.m. I sat by gate C37.  After a few minutes of waiting, there as an announcement saying that anyone flying to Denver should come to C31.  I checked my boarding pass, and sure enough, I was scheduled to leave from C31 –  not C37.  When I walked down to C31, the gate area was empty because everyone had already boarded the plane.  I thanked the gate agent for doing an announcement (throughout the terminal).  She said the only reason she did it was because they had already cancelled the next two flights to Denver and they thought there might be folks who had arrived earlier for later flights.  I just barely made it on the flight, but had I missed it, I would have spent at least another eight hours in the DFW airport.

3.  Lost a $100 gift card at Sam’s Club

Total Cost: $100

This weekend, we went to Sam’s Club, and I pulled a $100 Walmart gift card out of my safe.  However, by the time I was done shopping, my $100 gift card was nowhere to be found.

When we got out of the van, my wife even offered to take the gift card. (She’s known to be a little more responsible than me.)  I told her I could handle the responsibility of carrying a gift card in my pocket.  Obviously, I can’t.

Life Lessons Learned

1.  Dumb can’t be 100% avoided.  I’d like to be able to claim perfection, but I can’t.  I try to live with wisdom, but folly sometimes dictates my actions.  We all make dumb mistakes.  We need to be able to forgive ourselves – even when the situation was caused by such a small mistake (or big one).

2.  Fix Dumb when possible, and move on whenever possible. When I lost the gift card, I retraced my steps back through the store.  In the end, I didn’t find it.  I had done whatever I could to remedy the problem, but didn’t.  It’s time to move on.  Many times when you make a dumb choice there won’t be an opportunity to go back and correct it.  The focus needs to be on how you can fix it, resolve it, or avoid it going forward.

3.  Marry someone who knows how dumb you are.  My favorite phrase when I was stuck in PNG was, “You shouldn’t have entered on that Visa.”  It drove me crazy because I KNEW THAT, but I wanted to know how to fix the mistake I made.  Even though I’ve made all these dumb choices, my wife has not opted to rub it in or accuse me of any form of malice.  She knows her husband can sometimes be dumb, so she’s been extremely supportive through everything.

4. Be patient with other peoples’ dumb mistakes.  People around me also do dumb things.  That’s part of being human.  If people have to put up with my dumbness, then the least I can do is endure the dumbness that others display.

How do you respond to dumb mistakes?  Have you made any lately?  What life lessons did you learn?


  1. says

    Yikes, that’s a pretty hefty combination of bad luck and probably some lacking in attention to detail. Hopefully this will lead you to start being a little more paranoid about all those little things and your luck will turn as well.

  2. Ted Calvert says

    Part of my ministry is helping “heart” people put in place processes and concepts into their ministry that “head” people do more naturally. A phrase I often use is “God seldom protects you from your stupidity or lack of knowledge”. Logically God should look at our heart, including seeing when our time and money is genuinely dedicated to Him, and protect His loses. My only conclusion at this stage is that He has given His body a variety of gifts and we are meant to be “community” enough to learn from, or be supported enough by, others; to avoid some mistakes. In the meantime husbands keep following the advice of Genesis 1:12 and listen to your wife.

  3. Michelle says

    Oh yes, a few just recently: 1) I like to give my tithe with a money order then it doesn’t even land in my checking account and can be given just as easily as a check. I got out of the car after having filled out the “pay to” parts, etc. When I got in the church, I couldn’t find the thing anywhere. I retraced my steps and didn’t find it. I called Moneygram and applied for the $15 reiussue fee, but about the time I was going to send it, the money order had been deposited by the church.
    2) I visited with a friend before Christmas and left my bag of snacks not knowing my travel cash was in the bag. He sent a money order but sent it registered mail so while I thought it was lost in the mail, it actually showed up but my work spent a good bit of time looking for the envelope it was mailed in.
    3) I am given a clothing allowance for work and I dreaded the shopping but had to use it. I had seen the receipt for shoes ($85) just a few days before the turn in date but now could not find it anywhere. I spent a lot of time looking for that receipt but fortunately, the shoe store was able to print a copy for me.
    This is from a very organized, (normally) grand mom!
    Now if you want to talk about dumb money decisions, then that’s another post! Years and experience do wonders to remedy that!

    • says

      Thanks for reminding me that I’m not the only one that has ever made a mistake. Sorry for the situations that you’ve dealt with, but it’s always good to know that we’re not alone.

  4. Bill says

    I use stupid instead of dumb. No difference really. Anyway, I have a term that I call “stupid-proofing.” That is, I think about situations in which I’ve made mistakes in the past and try to prevent future occurrences by taking steps of prevention that can’t be missed.

    I put materials that I will need to take along with me in a place where I must practically trip over them to forget them. I put checks that I receive in my checkbook as soon as I remove them from the envelope. I set a variety of reminders and then heed them. I thank others for reminding me, even if I had not forgotten. (But still some “stupid” gets through!)

  5. Gabe says

    Although, it would have been a fun story to explain why you had changed your name, legally, to Crai. :)
    I’ve done stupid things that have cost me upwards of $3,000+ (just ask my wife about the Bronco with a lift kit). Mostly those decisions come from impusivness. But I too, despite all the training to the contrary, demonstrate a high level of no attention to detail from time to time.

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