From Dumb to Dumber: 14 of the Biggest Money Wasters of All Time


Throughout the centuries, there have been many extravagant purchases and investments made by people with the means to do so. 

But often, these purchases can end up being a complete waste of money. 

From doomed business ventures and misguided land acquisitions to technological tools that never quite lived up to their hype, history is littered with misspent dollars. 

Today, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest wastes of money humankind has ever seen! 

Whether it’s from royal extravagance or an ambitious misstep, you’re sure to be amazed (and slightly horrified) as we explore how well-intended investments throughout history wound up costing notable figures huge sums in wasted funds. 

So buckle in; it’s time for a crash course in overspending on grandiose endeavors that waste money and resources.

#1. Prohibition in the United States

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When it comes to wasted money, few things compare to Prohibition. 

This ill-fated attempt at banning alcohol consumption, which ran from 1920 through 1933, cost the U.S. government an estimated $11 billion dollars!

Beyond the financial costs, there were also substantial social impacts as organized crime rose to fill the demand for smuggled liquor, as well as increased instances of corruption.

It’s no wonder that the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition and brought back legal liquor consumption in America!

#2. Berlin Airport

Portrait of two successful businessmen using laptop and working while enjoying first class flight in plane copy space
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Berlin Airport was a project that cost German taxpayers over €5 billion. 

The airport was scheduled to open in 2011 but due to issues with its design and management, it remained closed until 2020.

The fiasco surrounding the creation of Berlin Airport has gone down in history as one of the most notable examples of financial mismanagement.

#3. The Concorde

Concorde airplane as representation of generic supersonic plane, symbol of the future of the passenger aviation
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The Concorde was a supersonic passenger jet that was supposed to revolutionize air travel. Still, it turned out to be a colossal waste of money.

The plane cost over $1 billion to develop, and technical problems and safety concerns plagued it throughout its lifetime. It was eventually retired in 2003 after only 27 years of service.

#4. The Iraq War

Town near Palmyra in Syria
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The Iraq War was another costly and controversial conflict many believe was a waste of money. It was a controversial conflict that began in 2003 and lasted nearly a decade.

The war cost the United States over $2 trillion, equivalent to over $4 trillion today, yet ultimately failed to achieve its objectives. Despite the enormous cost, the war could not accomplish many goals. Iraq remains a deeply divided and unstable country.

#5. The Great Wall of China

Woman at great wall of China
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The Great Wall of China is one of the world’s most impressive engineering feats, but it was also a massive waste of money.

A contributor notes the wall cost the Chinese government an estimated $18 billion to build, equivalent to over $360 billion today.

Despite its massive size and expense, the division failed to prevent many invasions and conflicts over the centuries.

#6. The Titanic

Titanic. Picture of a titanic pencil. The Titanic sails in the ocean.
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The Titanic was one of the most luxurious and expensive ships of its time, and it was also one of the biggest wastes of money in human history.

The ship cost $7.5 million to build, equivalent to over $400 million today. When it sank on its maiden voyage, it took with it the lives of over 1,500 people.

#7. The Vietnam War

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The Vietnam War was a costly and unpopular conflict lasting over a decade. The US spent an estimated $168 billion on the war (equivalent to over $1 trillion in today’s dollars), ultimately ending in a stalemate.

Someone remarks that the Vietnam War was “a massive waste of money, effort and lives.” Over 58,000 Americans and countless Vietnamese civilians and soldiers were lost in the war.

#8. The Fyre Festival

MIAMI, FLORIDA / UNITED STATES - MARCH 30, 2019: Ultra Music Festival at the Miami Marine Stadium in Virginia Key, Florida.
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The Fyre Festival was supposed to be a luxurious music festival in the Bahamas but was a complete disaster.

Attendees paid thousands of dollars for tickets and accommodations, only to arrive to find that they had poorly organized the festival and it lacked necessities like food and water.

#9. The Spanish Armada

Sunrise in Puerto de Santiago city, Tenerife, Canary island, Spain
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In 1588, King Philip II of Spain sent ships to invade England. The Spanish Armada was the largest fleet ever assembled at the time, but the English Navy ultimately defeated it.

They estimated the cost of the failed invasion to be around 130 million ducats or roughly $8 billion at today’s rates.

#10. Revel Casino

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Atlantic City, NJ was a hot bed for gambling and some porting events for years.

But then the city fell on hard times and was struggling to survive.

But in the early 2000s, hope was revitalized with the Revel Casino, which was supposed to turn the city’s fortune around.

It cost $2.4 billion to build and opened in 2012.

Sadly, it was a complete disaster. Three years later, after never turning a profit, it was sold for $82 million.

#11. The F-35 Fighter Jet

Lockheed Martin F-35 of the United States Air Force seen during its display at RAF Fairford, Gloustershire, UK. Taken on 15th July 2018 at the RIAT.
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The F-35 fighter jet is one of the most expensive weapons systems in history, with an estimated cost of over $1.5 trillion.

Despite its enormous price tag, technical problems and delays have plagued the plane. Many experts question whether it’s worth the cost.

While some of these projects may have seemed like good ideas, they ended up on this list. It’s a reminder that even the most well-intentioned endeavors can be costly failures.

#12. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi

Sochi, Russia - February 15, 2014: The Olympic Torch erection with the burning flame in the Olympic Park was the main venue of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Beautiful scenic sunset landscape
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The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, were one of the most expensive Olympic Games in history, with a price tag of over $50 billion.

Many of the facilities built for the games were never used again, and the cost of hosting the event contributed to Russia’s current economic woes.

#13. Pruitt-Igoe Housing Projects

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The city of St Louis had a grand plan to replace the city slums with higher quality housing and better neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the plan was abandoned after 20 years and $36 million dollars because the high costs and crime rates essentially kept it a slum all along.

#14. The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository

Nuclear power plant
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The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, was a proposed nuclear waste storage facility estimated to cost over $90 billion to build.

However, after years of controversy and legal challenges, they canceled the project in 2010.

61 Fun Money Facts You Didn’t Know

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Did you know there are places you can pay for things using a special local currency? Do you know why some coins have ridges on the sides? Discover over 60 fun money facts that you didn’t know.


15 Gas Hacks For Free Gas

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You’ve probably wished you could get free gasoline, but thought that was impossible. But the reality is, it isn’t impossible.

There are many free gas hacks you can use to save money on fuel ups. Here are 15 ways to lower the cost of gasoline, and in effect, get free gas.


Binge Worthy Movies And Documentaries About Money

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Do you enjoy movies and documentaries? If so, here are the best ones that are related to money.

All of them will keep your attention from start to finish, and who knows, you might actually learn something too!


How To Get Free Money

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The idea of free money sounds like it can’t be true. But it actually is.

There are many ways you can get free money, from playing games, to watching videos, and more.

Here are the best ways you can get free money without having to work for it.


Cash Stuffing Budget

cash stuffing envelope budget
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Cash stuffing is a trendy budgeting method that makes better use of the envelope system.

By using cash, you not only avoid debt, but you have greater control over how you spend money.

Find out why so many people have fallen in love with it.


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