What Have You Been Doing Wrong All Your Life?

It’s an unnerving experience as an adult. You’re going along, being a good savvy consumer just like you always thought was the right way, only to discover in a flash that you’ve been doing it wrong all along. Has this happened to you recently?

Sound off in the comments.

Hat tips to Cockeyed, Lifehacker and Metafilter who started similar threads.


Edit Your Comment

  1. jason in boston says:

    Dropped fly balls in foul territory. I always thought that a base runner could advance. I got yelled at in keg league softball for this.

    • bball123h says:

      Baseball, they can advance. Softball, depends on the league. Every league I’d been in, runners could advance on a foul fly (if it was caught).

      • RandomHookup says:

        You can’t advance on dropped fly balls in foul territory in baseball — it’s still a foul ball. Caught fly balls, yes. Tag and go.

        • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

          Yep – rule 5.09(e) addresses drop foul balls. Runners must return to their base.

        • bball123h says:

          Wow I read that wrong. I thought he was getting yelled at for dropping fly balls, not for running after it was dropped.


  2. shadow67 says:

    holding the phone wrong???

  3. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    Not looking at the long term consequences of decisions I make critically enough.

    “Think It Through” Should be be a rallying cry for everyone.

  4. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I’ve been attempting to get a good job and make a success out of my life. I’m now quitting my job I thought I would stick with and moving to Michigan to be with my boyfriend. However, I have managed to find a job I think I will enjoy up there BEFORE I said “yes I will move to be with you.”

    It seems weird that my priorities have changed so much. But Life > career sometimes. Weird.

    • cromartie says:

      Wait a minute. You found a job in Michigan? That’s unpossible.

      /I kid. Good luck.

    • sonneillon says:

      He had better be a fantastic man, at least twice as good as me. Because I live with me and I wouldn’t move more than 50 miles to be with me.

    • bigTrue says:

      welcome to the neighborhood. If you have a job, this is an awesome place to live. I’m near Detroit (Royal Oak) and am currently paying 563 a month for a 750 sq ft apartment. Includes heat and water and the facility has a pool.

      As long as you’re employed, it’s fantastic.

    • mrsdeli says:

      Maybe we should all rethink the whole idea that “success” is determined by the career we choose. When we are on our way out do we really think back on our career? I don’t think it matters if you are a ceo or a bag boy, as long as you are happy and are surrounded by people that love you that is all that should matter. I love my job, I am a title examiner. There is really no room for advancement but I have an open schedule and I work without someone looking over my shoulder. I am free, for the most part, to do as I please. If I have an appointment or if I just want to go to the beach, I can. I have friends that own their own business and I make more than they do, but people stil consider them more of a “you made it” story than me. Our career path should not define us! Sorry, too much “99 bananas”.

  5. dcfix says:

    I thought it was “Throw kosh into the wind” instead of “Throw caution to the wind.” Kosh, of course, being something that would blow back into your face, like ashes or something.

    • PunditGuy says:
    • ARP says:

      I have a few of those that I didn’t correct until much (much) later in life. I’m a regular Falstaff.

      “intents and purposes” was “intensive purposes”
      I pronouced it “awry” aw-ree rather than ah-rhy
      I would say “oriented” as ooh-ree-en-TAYT-ed rather than ooh-ree-ent-ed

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Technically, it’s pronounced or-ree-en-ted. :)

      • kalaratri says:

        I did aw-ree too. I read a lot, but I’d never heard the word pronounced.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Here are some that drive me bananas:

        Supposively, instead of supposedly
        “All of the sudden”
        “A whole nother”

        Oh, there is more, but anyway

        • dorianh49 says:

          There ARE more? ;)

        • thesadtomato says:

          Expresso used to annoy the hell out of me, too, but it’s actually an acceptable term for espresso in several countries. In France, for example. Because the coffee is made “expressly” for you.

          • Big Mama Pain says:

            I KNEW someone was going to say that because I have heard this before; however, most people mispronounce it because they think that’s the way it is spelled. I think that’s a weak explanation for it; you could say it was made “especially” for you, also ; )

            • thesadtomato says:

              I know it’s a weak explanation, because you’re right, it is born of ignorance when 99% of people say expresso: but the way I learned it was my old boss was actually French and being the chill guy French (and European folks in general) are we would have coffee or tea from the cafe next door twice a day. And he would say, Tomato, you want an expresso? Being my boss I wasn’t going to correct him, and then I found out that is *was* correct, for him.

              But yeah, everyone else can gets my wrath, just a little less, since I once found out that I was wrong. (And of course, that’s never happened since :^P )

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          Walmarts, one-years-old, and Valentime’s day.

        • dragonfire81 says:

          I have grown to dislike: “supposably”

        • thompson says:

          “a whole nother” is a great lingusitics 101 example of in-fixing (like suffix or prefix, but you know, inside the word… though it might more appropriately be called tmesis). Similar to “un-fraking-believable”.

        • cozynite says:

          Preggers. Drives me crazy and almost makes me stab-by (also, I know not a word).

          Honestly, it’s the lack of grammar and proper punctuation that really gets me. I feel like an old lady sometimes. “Back in my day” and all that.

          Get off my lawn!

      • KillerBee says:

        “Orientated” is a word, too. I always thought that was a Michigan thing, since I only heard it said by those from Michigan. I figured they were just mispronouncing it and it bugged the hell out of me. Then I looked it up one day. Sure enough, it’s a word, and means the same thing as “oriented”.

        Still bugs the hell out of me.

      • KillerBee says:

        “Orientated” is a word, too. I always thought that was a Michigan thing, since I only heard it said by those from Michigan. I figured they were just mispronouncing it and it bugged the hell out of me. Then I looked it up one day. Sure enough, it’s a word, and means the same thing as “oriented”.

        Still bugs the hell out of me.

      • wee_willie says:

        Someone near and dear to me recently told me this is how he pronounced words when reading to himself: “whoa” was “hoo-ah”, “my bad” = “my bag” (very common), and the song by Hall and Oates, “Maneater” was “Band Leader”.

    • LinebackerU says:

      I have a friend who didn’t learn until college that the award is “Pulitzer Prize” and not “Pull-it Surprise”

    • Smashville says:

      A few years ago I got into an argument with a coworker who swore that the north fought the south in the Silver War.

    • Alter_ego says:

      I always thought it was pre-Madonna. Like, she was enough of a musical influence, that music was categorized into pre-Madonna and post-Madonna.

    • Alter_ego says:

      I always thought it was pre-Madonna. Like, she was enough of a musical influence, that music was categorized into pre-Madonna and post-Madonna.

    • retailriter says:

      I am still laughing at this hysterically 15 minutes later… “Throw Kosh to the Wind”, hilarious.

    • Melbelle says:

      I knew someone who used “as a pose” in place of “as opposed” in a paper I was editing for them. I had no idea how to break it to her.

  6. Buckus says:

    Yes, I bought a house in 2005.

    • ARP says:

      Hi, I’m ARP and I bought a house at the peak of the housing boom.

    • BuddhaLite says:


    • cash_da_pibble says:

      Not only did we buy a house, we did zero research on the market or the area, took an option ARM loan and took our loan with Countrywide.

      • burnedout says:

        We got our mortgage at a local bank without asking if they’d hold it, and they sold it to Countrywide two days after we closed. Now BofA has our mortgage and I’m a sad panda.

    • Kevin says:

      Yeah, me too, seems like I’m stuck here for a few decades now.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Buying ours in 2000 was the worst thing we ever did. Selling ours in 2006 was the best thing we ever did. Buying is for some, but not us. It was an albatross around our necks. Living in a nice apartment works perfectly for us. No upkeep, no repair costs, no chance of it going down in value, and we can move if we get sick of it.

    • ellemdee says:

      Late 2002 here. Now I could get a bigger, remodeled house in a nicer neighborhood with a shorter commute for less money. But at least I still have a job, so life could be worse.

    • retailriter says:

      Yes, I always jump too fast and miss the boat. I bought a house and missed out on the $8,000 tax credit and getting a much lower price on the house I bought in the summer of 2008.

    • wee_willie says:

      2006 here. Then came the money we had to pay to have a leach field installed because our house didn’t have one! it had just a tiny bit of gravel at the end of the hose attached to the tank. My neighbors are all scared because the same builder built their houses. Oh, this was after having the roof replaced (we knew this was coming). …heavy sigh…

  7. c!tizen says:

    Wouldn’t you only be able to truly answer this after you’re dead?

  8. Dan O. says:

    Love you consumerist, but Metafileter and Lifehacker did it first. At least link their threads.

    • ARP says:

      It looks like they have. Maybe updated?

      • Ben Popken says:

        They were always there.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Looks like Dan O. can add “read the entire article before commenting” to his list.

        • socritic says:

          w t b rgnl. Bn y shld pst str bt LBrn t. nd tht spll n th glf. whtsthmtt? rn t f thngs t wrt bt?

          • Smashville says:

            I think you mean:

            “w t b rgnl. Bn shld pst str bt LBrn t. nd tht spll n th glf. whtsthmtt? rn t f thngs t wrt bt?”

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              You made me laugh.

            • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

              +1e99. But we shouldn’t hold too much of a grudge on the moderators of this website, shouldn’t we?

              (Or, handily pre-disenvowelled: +199. Bt w shldn’t hld t mch f grdg n th mdrtrs f ths wbst, shldn’t w?)

    • jason in boston says:

      Ben did. I know because I clicked on the lifehacker story before I commented.

    • dorianh49 says:

      Mmmm. Metafilet-o-fish sandwich.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Who cares? Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

  9. Kishi says:

    For years, I thought premise and demise rhymed. This is what happens when you teach yourself vocabulary from books.

    • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

      Oh dear lord. I have a few of these, but my fiance and his friends, many of whom gained enormous vocabularies by playing D&D and reading adult sci-fi from around age eight, are AWFUL about this. The one that comes to mind right off the top of my head is that they pronounce “coup de grace” as if it’s spelled “coup de gras.” I think that they still do it now just because they know I’ll automatically retort “cut of fat” now, but it took a long long time to sink in.

      • PhantomsLady says:

        The students in my high school English class pronounce ambulance as ambleeance and library as liberry. I tried to correct them by replying to liberry is that there is no fruit there. Unfortunately the correction never really sank in.

    • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

      Same problem for the same reason. I butcher word pronunciation all the time, but at least I can spell.

    • jessjj347 says:

      slant rhyme maybe?

    • trentblase says:

      I think it’s interesting that these comments language problems fall generally into two categories:

      1) People who read a lot but don’t know how to correctly pronounce words (you and I fall into this category. I often learn that I’ve been pronouncing words incorrectly in my head because nobody has ever used the word in conversation. Seriously, who says “respite” in conversation and why does it not rhyme with “despite”?)

      2) People who talk a lot and don’t know actual sayings (e.g. “intensive purposes” — if you’ve read almost any written commentary, you would likely learn the correct saying)

      • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

        That doesn’t rhyme? Sheesh.

        I learned about “rhetoric” in college. I could say “rhetorical” correctly but for some reason I pronounced rhetoric as ret-or-ic.

        • RandomHookup says:

          That’s how you pronounce rhetoric — rhet·o·ric [ret-er-ik] — what is your “corrected” pronunciation?

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        I give more of a pass to the readers. No offense to anyone here, but how do you live your whole life and never see some of the phrases people have tossed out here in print?

      • NewsMuncher says:

        I love to use all of my vocabulary (that is appropriate) in conversation. But people seem to feel uncomfortable about it. It’s one way to learn the correct pronunciation. That and browsing dictionaries (especially the online ones that have audio clips of the words). Or having my mac read a word aloud to me. But its still hard to know if what’s in your head is right when you don’t hear the words spoken.

      • BigBadRAM says:

        Wait, respite and demise don’t rhyme!?

      • wonderfibre says:


        respite = reh-spite
        despite = deh-spite

        (I’m English)

    • TheWillow says:

      I thought Odysseus’s wife’s name was pronounced to rhyme with antelope until I was like 12 or 13.

      I also recently learned the words to Madonna’s like a prayer are not “I go down on my knees I want to taste you there” but I think my version is better.

      • Taed says:

        Until I went to college, I didn’t know that “epitome” wasn’t “e-pi-tome” and “paradigm” wasn’t “pa-ra-di-gim”. I knew the spoken words, but somehow thought that they were different words that meant similar things.

    • sea0tter12 says:

      For years when I was younger, I pronounced awry as aw-ree. Also, it took forever for the colonel = kernel thing to click.

    • bwcbwc says:

      Mine was pronouncing misled as mice-uld.

    • nickster says:

      I always thought that “layman’s terms” was actually “lamest terms”. I only found out my mistake when I read it in an article.

  10. dolemite says:

    If I knew the answer to that, I’d be a millionaire and have 3 wives and 6 mistresses.

    • ARP says:

      Then you’d be doing it wrong, just ask Tiger Woods. Then again, I’d trade places with him, even now.

      I think it’s more small things in your life. For Example, I have a friend who still ties his shoes by “bunny ears.”

      • Kman says:

        What’s wrong with tying your shoes bunny ears style? That’s how I do it. It works, right?

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I was taught if I work hard and try my best things will work out.

    They didn’t.

    • AnonyMouse says:

      Seconded. Hard work and perseverance doesn’t really pay off like they tell you. It leads to mediocrity. But at least I can say I have a good work ethic and integrity. It just hasn’t led to all of the glorious things (read: riches) that books/parents told me it would.

  12. aloria says:

    Perhaps offering misguided advice on secure passwords without fully thinking through the attack space?


    Just sayin’.

    • AnonyMouse says:

      It wasn’t misguided as much as just plain horrible. But you’re correct, that should be on their list of things they’ve been doing wrong.

    • TheWillow says:

      It’s weird, I’ve been doing that for years, except instead of using the site name, I use the name of something different I associate with the site (for example, the bank that my bank used to be before it was bought out or something). Seemed like a better idea at the time.

  13. stebu says:

    I should have checked that Meghann was attracted to overweight, 30-something, suburban dads with a minivan before getting that penthouse suite at the Marquis for the week.

    (yeah, i know the Marquis is kind of touristy… but I’m marriott gold. i thought she’d appreciate the savvy point accumulation)

  14. NarcolepticGirl says:

    not recently – but i learned not to cheap out and to get the “gold” warranty when purchasing a car from a dealership.

    I also made a habit of buying tons of cheap clothing from discount stores which all fell apart shortly after. I realized if I spent a little more money, I could wear my clothes longer. I still have issues with that, though.

    When I first started using a laundromat (about 3 years ago), I thought I would need to dry the clothes for 60 minutes or so. Then I realized they become dry after 20 minutes.

    ummm…….nothing else I can think of consumer-related.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I remember your earlier comment on a previous thread degarding a washer and dryer.

      You should really consider getting a W/D rather than using the laudromat. You’d save money in not too long a time.

      Consider you can buy a W/D pair for as little as $700, maybe less if you pick the right time. And the energy usage for these is probably $150/year give or take. That’s including water use, which may be covered by an apartment or HOA fees.

      If you do 2 loads a week, and pay $1.50 a wash and $1.00 a dry, you’re spending $260/year at a laudromat. That’s a savings of $110 a year, and you would recoup the purchase costs in 6 years. Given that washer and dryer would surely last more than 6, you’re saving money. And that’s assuming only 2 loads a week, which is probably a low estimate.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Go to your scratch and dent place and get a front loader. Save even more energy, water, and it treats your clothes better. Plus you can STUFF them and they still run.

  15. cash_da_pibble says:

    well, when I turned 24 and got my first job, I got glasses with my Christmas Bonus Paycheck.
    And I realized how completely blind I was. I cried when I put on my first pair of glasses.
    I am now kicking myself for not getting Glasses earlier-
    I went through ART SCHOOL being 20/50 in my good eye.
    I can only imagine how much I have missed being so short-sighted.

    • Cantras says:

      Our photo editor at work knew her vision was a little off, but “I just got a new contact prescription. You’re all a lot uglier than I thought.”

    • dorianh49 says:

      I got Lasik a couple years ago. What’s up with leaves? Were they always that cool looking?

      • cash_da_pibble says:

        For me it was the moon. I had no idea it had craters that you could actually see with the naked eye. I just thought it was dusty shades of gray from down here.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          brick here. i had no idea it came in little rectangles.

          • DaveWW says:

            9th grade for me… to my classmates “You mean you could actually read the chalkboard all this time??”

            • BigBadRAM says:

              Sadly, the first things I noticed weren’t the beautiful things, it was the ugly “film” on the shower door, etc.

      • lim says:

        Have you looked at your skin lately? It’s so weird!

      • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

        I had no idea you could actually recognize someone’s facial expressions from more than 5 feet away. I kept giving strangers big, goofy smiles, because I got such a kick out of being able to see them smile back.

      • Mechakoopa says:

        I had no idea my cat actually had individual hairs. (I was 8 at the time, this was fascinating to me)

    • dee1313 says:

      For me, buying glasses. My parents used to get them at the eye doctor, which is expesive, but the pair I have now were $30 total (which includes the shipping, anti-reflective coating, etc).


      Its also nice to be able to wear sunglasses without contacts for once, too. It’s just $5 extra for tinting.

      I hate sounding like I’m selling something but this is just a ridiculously good deal.

  16. doodlays says:

    rtd n nln rtcl bsd ff f Rddt hdln tht ws pstd lst nght. Wt mnt…tht ws y gys

  17. izl says:

    Tearing up my credit cards, paying off my car and living on cash only.

  18. PanCake BuTT says:

    I just heard my co-worker tell her mom to, ‘make sure she shaves’. Seems like their going to the beach and their might be some unsightly unshaved areas. She also mentioned ‘….around the..’, but the phone rang in another part of the office and I didn’t catch where. She keeps saying, ‘ugghhhh, ugggghhhh’… I can’t stop laughing as I type.

    Sorry I had to share that moment.. (abs hurt) silent laughing is a *itch.

  19. NarcolepticGirl says:

    also, I like the photo with the article.

  20. guenzo says:

    Until my mid-20’s I thought that the ‘drumstick’-looking part you get when you order chicken wings at a restaurant was the leg of a small chicken. Kind of like veal, I though the chickens were just killed when they were young. It didn’t occur to me that they are part of the wing section.

  21. diasdiem says:

    Peeling bananas. I always just tore them open at the stem, but apparently it’s easier to open them from the other end. All you have to do is pinch the end, and it splits open naturally.

    Also, playing pool. At least, playing pool in bars on coin-op tables. In pool halls where you rent tables by the hour I always play by official BCA rules. Barroom pool players generally don’t, and get really pissy if you deviate from whatever made-up regional rules they’ve always played by that you’re somehow supposed to know.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I don’t understand how you were peeling them wrongly – they have a tab that you pull and it unpeels.. I’m confused as to wtf you were attempting to do.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        You took mine! HAHA!! Oranges, if you peel from the “bottom” rather than the stem part, the peel comes off a lot easier-even monkeys and gorillas peel bananas this way. All you do is pinch the bottom part and the peel practically comes off in one piece.

        • NewsMuncher says:

          I insert my thumb into the ‘navel’ of the orange until I reach the center. I can then pull it into clean sections that way.

      • SissyOPinion says:

        Diasdiem was doing what most people do, cracking the peel at the stem. It’s not always easy to get the peel going that way. Apparently Dias is now peeling it the way my father does – starting at the base and using the stem for a handle (to avoid the yucky insides of the peel).

        As I finished typing the above, I thought “is this what I’ve come to, writing about peeling bannanas?”

      • SenorBob says:

        Diasdiem has discovered the way monkeys peel bananas, which is WAY more efficient than the way people do it. and they ought to know….

  22. diasdiem says:

    Peeling bananas. I always just tore them open at the stem, but apparently it’s easier to open them from the other end. All you have to do is pinch the end, and it splits open naturally.

    Also, playing pool. At least, playing pool in bars on coin-op tables. In pool halls where you rent tables by the hour I always play by official BCA rules. Barroom pool players generally don’t, and get really pissy if you deviate from whatever made-up regional rules they’ve always played by that you’re somehow supposed to know.

  23. NumberSix says:

    I’ve been using semi-weekly and bi-weekly backwards.

    • LandruBek says:

      Yes, differentiating “semi” and “bi” seems tricky to me too. Got to be sure to keep them straight. Boy, was it awkward that time when I asked the guy working at Hollister regarding a shirt about which I was semi-curious . . .

  24. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Rationalizing and buying stuff even though I know I’m being ripped off by the sleazy scam artist./H/H/H/H/H I mean salesman.

  25. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    I’ve been nice to women I’m attracted too and careful not to insult them.

  26. FredKlein says:

    Tried to make a difference.
    Pointed out illogical thing to others.
    Tried to educate those who were ignorant.

  27. Mogbert says:

    I don’t know if this counts, but I’ve recently found I’ve been peeling bananas the hard way most of my life. Wehn cartoons draw banana peels, they show the stem in the center. I had always been trying to peel it from the stem, which was more difficult and wind up bruising it. Then I saw my wife peel one from the “bottom.” It was so much easier, and it left the peels looking like they do in cartoons. I asked her why she never corrected me when she saw I was doing it the hard way. She said she thought both ways were valid, but I think she just enjoyed watching me and being smug.

    • Mogbert says:

      I wanted to point out I typed this before reading diasdiem’s post. Now I don’t feel as bad,

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Apparenty, Oranges doesn’t understand what either of you are talking about, and is getting VERY irate about it. Hopefully my explanation under the other post will be a little more clear to them? I do not think anyone understands what you mean by “tab” anyway, Oranges-do you mean the stem? It isn’t a can of soda we are talking about here…

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          Yes, but he’s referring to the banana as if the opposite end is the stem which has me confused.
          Your other comment also mentions doing this other method to “avoid the insides of the peel” which I also fail to understand.. unless you mean the annoying stringy bits.

          I don’t really understand how you’d open it without using the stem unless you used a knife. I think he’s been eating his bananas too green, that’s the only time I’ve ever had issue cracking one open.

          • Big Mama Pain says:

            Yeah, that’s what I mean, you don’t understand what we’re trying to say. On the other side of the banana, the pointy end that doesn’t have the stem is where it is most efficient to open the banana. You don’t need a knife. You just pinch it, and it neatly splits the whole peel in three parts, rather than having the unsheath it one side at a time with the stem side. Just humor us all and try it, it will blow your mind! I don’t know what other people are talking about, with avoiding the strings, you still get those; but it’s just a surprisingly more efficient way to eat a banana, and it makes for great conversation when someone sees you doing it! And for the record, I wasn’t intentionally trying to break BK’s record with ad blow job references : D

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Again, I don’t understand WTF you mean. Bananas have a tab, you pull it and it unpeels. How is that difficult or hard to comprehend?

      • midnight_raven says:

        I just learned how to peel a banana like this the other day – this video explains it better

  28. Robofish says:

    Making chocolate milke wrong all my life. I always added the chocolate mix first and THEN the milk. Then to my dismay I saw directions on the side of the nesquik box to add the milk first. :(

  29. Randell says:

    The first time I had sex with a woman. Who knew there was more than one place to put it.

  30. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    Martinis… I stir too long, thus watering them down some. But screw it, that’s how I like them!

    • NahWukkers says:

      Keep the gin/vodka in the freezer (it doesn’t freeze), and the vermouth in the fridge – and use more vermouth if you like Martinis weaker. Then you don’t dirty a shaker, and you don’t have to mess around with ice.

  31. sir_eccles says:

    Arguing on the internet, I just shouldn’t bother

  32. FrugalFreak says:

    ???? HUH? WHAT???

  33. WeirdJedi says:

    Recently I’ve been learning all about the consumer world. This would include using banks, debit cards, credit cards, building credit, obtaining loans, making contracts, getting paid, taxes, using generic brands when necessary, and a lot of other things on my long list of how society works.

    I’m still learning, but I fear that my worst mistake was going to college. College was a waste. I didn’t graduate, I have a student loan, and now I’m stuck trying to get one of my first jobs in a market that doesn’t offer them. My circumstances aren’t as bad as many others I hear about, but I still would have liked to take the time machine and see the alternate universe if I didn’t go to college.

    • brinks says:

      I went to a 2 year school, then, 10 years later, finally got my Bachelor’s degree. It was my dream to get out of retail. The career field I was interested in, however, actually paid LESS than my current retail job, at least to start. I stayed in retail for the paycheck…then got fired by a fat, lazy boss who didn’t like being shown up.

      I had to take a lesser-paying job…still in retail…since there are no jobs anywhere else it seems. Now I’m earning spectacularly crappy money and my loans are about to come due.

      Yeah. Not worth it.

  34. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    I thought having roommates in college would be economical. Little did I know that the crazy cheap rent attracts does not in any way make up for the savings.

  35. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I spent most of my life with rolls of foil and Saran wrap popping out of the box when I was trying to tear off a piece of the product.

    It turns out that there are little tabs on the sides of the boxes that you push in to hold to rolls in place.

  36. RogerX says:

    I was almost 30 years old before I learned that you should almost never take your car to a dealership for routine maintenance or repairs.

    Only take your non-exotic car to a dealer for warranty repairs and recalls.

    A trustworthy local shop (trustworthy by word of mouth or cartalk.com, for example) will charge half the rate for labor, charge for what the job actually takes not what the service manual estimates (often 20-50% higher than a skilled mechanic needs), give you OEM-quality replacement parts at a much lower cost, and guarantee his work the same way a dealership will.

  37. Big Mama Pain says:

    When I was younger, I used to make the mistake of waiting until a small car noise or problem would become worse before I would take it in, fearing that if the problem wasn’t obvious, I’d get taken for a ride with additional and unnecessary repairs. Let’s just say I wound up turning minor problems into HUGE ones by waiting. Fear of cost was another reason I would wait; anyway, I can now say that I have a healthy relationship with my mechanic!

  38. Fujikopez says:

    Following societal “rules”.
    Now I question everything about when or what I “should” do.
    I find many things people do make no sense, and people only do them (or do them a certain way) because that is how everyone else does it.
    Wow, this kind of makes me sound like I’m bitter about my teenage years or something, LOL. It really doesn’t have much to do with my social experiences. It mostly pertains to parenting, food, and life in general.

  39. RogerX says:

    Ben, aren’t you going to post about how you posted an urban legend as actual helpful consumer advice, then refused to issue a correction or retraction, thereby hurting the reputation of the site as a place for trustworthy advice?

    Just curious.

    /Talking about the “uses for coke” post

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      How is that an urban legend? It actually is a really good substitute for WD-40, at least. Maybe not the blood, but it will get your bike working quick fast and in a hurry!

  40. sarahfgirl says:

    Letting other people’s opinions affect me. As I come upon my 30s, I’ve learned to stop taking that crap personally. Caring what other people think…I’ve been doing it wrong.

  41. rpm773 says:

    I’ve been eating tuna on toast. All along, it should have been chicken salad on rye.

  42. WontEndWell says:

    I went on the internet.

  43. johnmc says:

    For years I ate what we’re “supposed to eat”, meaning low fat this, whole grain that. Since forgetting all that and removing grains & sugar, I’ve lost around 70lb and feel healthier than ever. Eat real food, not packaged crap.

  44. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    No problems here. I pay cash for all major purchases.. Save up for things I don’t have the money for. Live within my means, carry good health insurance, and research most purchases. I’ve never had major issues with customer service, except with my insurance company recently. It’s all good. It’s taken me a while to end up here, but I’ve learned over the years.

  45. Nytmare says:

    I used to put the stamp as close to the corner as possible, and wrote the address on the right half of the envelope. Eventually realized it’s better to just put the stamp NEAR the corner instead of on it, and also to write the address in the middle. (Yes, I already knew you were unfamiliar with envelopes, thanks for the info.)

    Something that everyone else does wrong is recap their empty plastic bottle before tossing it in the recycle box. Leave the cap off so they can dry out and also be squashed properly. The recycle company doesn’t need a load full of air, thanks, just plastic.

  46. irritated-gooch says:

    I was a Democrat… then a Republican… two halves of my life up to this point completely wasted.

  47. n0th1ng says:

    Check out this LONG thread.

    to contribute, in windows when you need to open a dialog box when you are uploading a file to somewhere else, you don’t need to search with the scroll bar, especially if you have a lot of stuff like pictures. if you know the file name,you just start typing and by magic the filename will appear.

  48. Yo Howdy says:

    I played basketball in Cleveland for many years until I realized that it is cold there and it is Cleveland so I decided to play basketball in Miami.

  49. jesusofcool says:

    I should have gone to school for a lucrative career….not one I thought I’d love or that wouldn’t bother my conscience.

  50. Brent says:

    Buying shit. I’m 43, and I die a little when I think of all the hours wasted over the years working meaningless jobs in order to buy things I did not need. For example, I have a picture of myself when I was about 24, I was on the beach with my boyfriend, and in the pic I’m wearing a Ralph Lauren polo and boat shoes. The clothes aren’t the problem, it’s the time I wasted somewhere earning the money to buy them. I should have worked much less (or not at all), gone barefoot and shirtless, swum in the Gulf of Mexico and refused to be a tool. I should have read Walden like others read the Bible.

  51. brinks says:

    I didn’t know about cntrl+T. I always opened up another browser window.


  52. mac_daddy says:

    I followed my father’s example of trying to live within my means, then suddenly, he drops nearly $1 million on my brother to purchase property in Hawaii for my brother’s Japanese wife. He still thinks I am the unsuccessful son whenever I see my folks. I know I am still doing the right thing but it still grabs at my heart strings that they believe I am never going to amount to anything. C’est la vie.

  53. Carlee says:

    Letting people make comments to me that make me feel bad – I should just agree with them and leave them with no ammunition. Like if someone says “you’re eating a hamburger? They’re so fattening/greasy/etc”, I should just say “I know, right?!” End of conversation. “Oh my god, how could you survive without a car?” “I know, right? The bus takes forever!”.

    Maybe the lesson to be learned is that “I know, right?” is actually a pretty useful psuedo-sentence. I used to hate it (what does it even mean?) but it’s the perfect response to annoying people.

  54. parv says:

    I will be paying deferred interest as I forgot to payoff the all the purchase amount with in promotion period (0% interest for 18 months if paid in full by the end).

    I doubt any pleading would result in concession on the interest to be paid.

  55. parv says:

    I answer the burger question with “Yes. So?”. And, to the car question, I would just state the reality. Thick skin helps I suppose.

  56. JollyJumjuck says:

    I thought that by dealing with people honestly and above-board, they would do the same for me.
    I thought that by having and shwoing integrity, I would be rewarded by karma.
    I thought that by raising social awareness about a topic which negatively affects many people, I would get enough interest that I could at least cover my costs.
    Worst of all, I did not believe in the maxim: “No good deed goes unpunished.”
    Boy oh boy oh boy, did I learn some hard lessons!

    • Burrakkurozu says:

      I felt the same way growing up. I am glad I wasn’t the only one. I am sorry to know that you’ve suffered as much as I have.


      For me, What I’ve been doing wrong all my life is helping people with something they don’t have knowledge on. I thought that it was good to help others and maybe even teach them how to do it themselves later. Bad idea….

      There’s a saying now that reminds me to hide the fact I have knowledge that others don’t so I don’t get taken advantage of anymore: “apple jacks and velcro”.

      Definition: Make the people believe that all there is in the confines of my skull are “apple jacks” and “velcro”.

  57. JANSCHOLL says:

    I am in charge of all the finances in my household, and I was very on top of everything related to that…until my husband’s 401K stopped sending paper statements. Every quarter we got one and I was always aware of its standing. I was then told they were online but since its not my account, I could not get access to see how it was doing. I did have a general ball park however. Plan was hubby would retire at 62, we would not take SS until he was 65 and we would live off savings until then. Or he would get another position. Didn’t happen. Hubby’s company went bankrupt, he retired way too early, his 401K was 30% in his company, and THAT is what he was hiding from me…his dumbness. Because I sold my personal stock in his company when I got the vibes….18 months before it imploded. I just KNEW>>>NOW he prints the statements but holey crap is it almost too late. We are now counting on my stash for the long haul….and hoping to higher powers his pension doesn’t go into the drink if the you know what gets any worse. Ladies-if you are the beneficiary on a pension, retirement fund , life insurance or anything like that, make sure you have access to the statements… you are entitled as far as I can tell. Don’t get the surprise of your life when you least expect it. I can live on what I have stashed for a while, but if a depression hits, it will be gone in a flash

  58. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Actually, being fiscally cautious has served me well. I built a house in late 2004, but kept it on the small side, even though my friends kept telling me I was nuts and should build a big expensive house because real estate values would never go down. It may not be a palace, but I’m still living in it (and I only owe $30k on it).

    That also enabled me to leave a high-stress job that I hated and take a job that I actually like, so even though I make less, I’m a lot happier.

  59. HoJu says:

    Last night I went to an ice cream place at the beach and ordered a root beer float with soft serve. I was told they couldn’t do it but the explanation he gave me was confusing. Not wanting to seem like an idiot I didn’t ask for clarification.
    He poured root beer in a cup and then somehow hung the hard ice cream off the side of the cup so it wasn’t touching the root beer.
    I’ve never ever seen this done. He said something like “put it in carefully or it will be messy.”

    I’ve been drinking root beer floats all my life. I’m not about to let this 15 year old tell me how to make one.
    So I went outside and proceeded to slide the ice cream into the root beer when the thing practically exploded in my hand (a slight exhaggeration)!

    Turns out sometimes 15 year olds can be right. Why hasn’t this happened to be before???

  60. Scrutinizer says:


  61. jmhart says:

    I always thought the signs that read “Bridge Ices Before Road” meant the transition from road to bridge, those first(or last) 3-4 feet of bridge. I always wondered why only that part of the bridge would freeze.

  62. Forty2 says:

    Eating industrial/factory-farmed food believing the lies that it didn’t matter where it came from, and that eating fat makes you fat while eating the toxic USDA Food Pyramid (conveniently loaded with cheap, subsidized grain and soy garbage) makes you lean.

    It’s all bullshit. Since January I have eaten nothing but grass-farmed meat/eggs/dairy, organic fruit and veg, and as much bacon as I can keep down, and lost 40lbs with no exercise. It’s not cheap, but what price health? “You are what you eat” is absolutely true. If you eat industrial garbage loaded with GMO soy, corn, wheat, and sugar/HFCS, you probably look like hell.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I learned that what works for one person might not work for another, and what harms one person might be beneficial to another! Isn’t that something?

  63. P_Smith says:

    What have I learnt over time?

    The fewer things I own or buy, the happier I am. It costs less, I save more, and I’ve realized that I really didn’t need all that “stuff” I used to buy.

    Yet, oddly…

    The fewer things I own or buy, the less people think of me. Some view me as a “failure” because I don’t buy a lot of “stuff” – as if don’t equates to can’t rather than won’t.


  64. ReverendTed says:

    Tying my shoes.
    All hail the Ian knot!

  65. sptsailing says:

    Saving money in U.S. dollars. What a sap. All my savings held hostage and plundered by the politicians and locusts. They simply print whatever they want to spend. There is no way to save and protect wealth from those who control the money.

  66. retailriter says:

    I have always been too trusting and given people the benefit of the doubt when often I shouldn’t. It’s been almost 50 years, but these rose-colored glasses are FINALLY starting to come off.

  67. retailriter says:

    I have been working for over 30 years, and haven’t saved a dime. Now, they’re not matching the 401K anymore at my job, and social security is starting to running out. I’m looking at working until I die if I don’t figure something out.

  68. LastError says:

    Eating a banana.

    Nearly all of us have always eaten them wrong. How so? Watch a monkey or ape eat one. This is their food; we merely snack on it. They, who swing from the trees and live in the forest, know better about how to eat the banana.

    Here’s the secret: When you pull one off the bunch, hold the stem in your hand and open the other end. Peel from the end you do not eat. The little bit we don’t eat will stay attached to the peel and you will be able to eat the entire remaining banana and by holding the stem, you even have a handle. Keeps the hands clean and there is no fruit thrown away.

    It’s so simple and works so well and is so just plain right, yet we all do it wrong.

    Paraphrasing Douglas Adams, humans think we are the most intelligent species on the planet because we have invented money and jobs and wars and cars and computers and airplanes and all these other things, and the apes think they are the most intelligent species because they didn’t invent any of those things.

  69. Joey_Brill says:

    I combed my hair on the ‘wrong’ side. Somebody pointed it out last year and theorized that I learned to comb my own hair using a mirror.

  70. Mundo says:

    I’ve been living close to 4 months now without any cable, landline phone, or internet at home. Initially, as I entered the workforce at 16, I believed in needing a complete bundle (with all of the above) in order to “fit in” with everyone else. After a roommate stopped paying the monthly payments (long story) for the above, I’ve been getting internet at work + at the library, been using a pre-paid cellphone to stay in contact with other people (at a far cheaper rate than the one I got from my bundle), and honestly don’t miss much from TV.

    I guess if I have to sum it up, it’d be my belief in the whole “get a bundle, get everything at a cheaper rate” crap that Time Warner Cable and their ilk advertise so much. At most I’ll be restoring my internet service, but beyond that, I can live life without TV fine, and will find ways to get the most out of a “cheap” phone through services such as Google Voice.

  71. TWSS says:

    Letting fear control how I live my life. I was afraid to be single, so I married someone I didn’t love. I was afraid of being poor again, so I worked lucrative jobs that made me miserable.

    I switched flipped (or maybe it was a midlife crisis, who knows?) and now I’m getting a divorce and starting my own company. I’m certainly saving money on anti-depressants…

  72. dangerp says:

    I thought I was wrong once… Then it turned out I was actually right.

  73. BjornOlafson says:

    Ohhh mine has to be my first major purchase ever. Working for 3 years in a supermarket to save up the $1300 in 1999, to buy a nice new Warwick bass. Well, turns out that the bass was too long for me to play easily, had no fingerboard dots, and is supremely neck heavy (a bad thing, as the bass should remain stable when strapped to you and you take your hands off. A fender jazz does this trick, alarmingly well).

    Long story short, I play this exotic German engineered and built bass for 10 years, then due to an electrical problem, had to switch to a 2003 Mexican Fender Jazz bass my brother bought for $150 used. The Fender has neck problems and dirty pots, and the action is off, but it plays easier and I come off playing better on it. So, I could have saved big money and spent that on other gear. Oh well. I’m too sentimental to sell it, even if it means I can get an even better Jazz bass.