That Time I Took Investing Advice From a Comedian

We've all made money mistakes.

I know I'm guilty of several that still make me cringe:

A designer clothing habit I couldn't afford.

The year after the stock market crash I stopped investing completely.

Forking over cash for my home warranty.

Anytime I've lent money to friends.

The list goes on.

But one, I've never talked about publicly. And it's definitely my most embarrassing — that time I took investing advice from a professional comedian.

Yup, it's a thing that actually happened.

I was in my early 20s, unwinding in the lobby of a Holiday Inn & Suites somewhere in the Midwest. Illinois or Indiana? I'm not exactly sure.

What's important to know is that it was after midnight. I was finishing some post-show paperwork in the corner of the bar when I overheard a conversation between a couple of comics.

“Look, I'm no financial advisor, but MannKind is going to be huge! How could it not be? Afrezza's really close to FDA approval. The only reason approval's been delayed is because they haven't finished an inspection in their European manufacturing facility.”

My curiosity had officially been piqued.

“My brother's bet his entire Roth IRA on this stock. I'd be funneling every penny I get into that company if I were you.”

So, I joined them at the bar and continued feeding on their MannKind praise as I downed a couple glasses of whiskey.

When I returned to my room, I started poking around in my brokerage account. And sure enough, the stock was priced just as they had said. I was so excited I could barely sleep. And I placed a $500 buy as early as I could the next morning.

Proud of my newfound financial prowess, I immediately called my father to brag about my purchase.

“You took what advice? From whom?” He nearly spit out his oatmeal.

“Whatever. You're just being overly conservative and paranoid,” I insisted.

I'd bet you can predict what happened next.

A few weeks later, it was uncovered MannKind had artificially inflated their stock prices by lying about the status of Afrezza's FDA approval. And the stock plummeted 37%. Plus, they were facing a class-action lawsuit.

Licking my wounds, I sold my MannKind shares at a significant loss. And spooked by the entire situation, I didn't attempt to buy stocks again for at least a couple of years.

My point in sharing this story isn't to bash the collective financial literacy of entertainers. I've worked with artists who've made more than my entire salary in one night! And many artists are incredibly good with money. Or, at least, they are smart enough to hire business managers who are good with money.

What I'm saying is don't get suckered into your co-worker's hot stock tip. Or some up-and-coming pick your rich friend won't stop raving about. They don't know what they're talking about.

Because the truth is, no one can predict exactly what's going to happen in the stock market. Not even the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett.

Readers: Have you ever taken bad investment advice? 

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Discussions — 18 Responses

  • JC October 8, 2015 on 7:12 am

    At least you only put up $500 to learn that lesson. A small price to pay to learn an invaluable lesson. I do have to admit that me and my friends did something similar when we were in college. Got a hot stock tip on some diamond miner that was just about to release information regarding a big find or something along those lines. Well, I’m still working so that clearly didn’t work out as we were led to believe. At least that lesson only cost me $200 or so.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore JC October 11, 2015 on 8:50 pm

      That’s classic, JC! And you’re totally right. A few hundred dollars to learn a valuable lesson is probably money well spent!

      Reply
  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 8, 2015 on 9:57 am

    Well it does make for a good story anyway. 🙂 Personally, the way I see it, you were ballsy, and since you were younger at the time you can take bigger risks. Now yes it didn’t turn out great, but most people would be like
    “uh, stocks? You mean socks?” OK, that would probably be me. 🙂

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 11, 2015 on 8:53 pm

      Definitely a good story! My old co-worker still jokingly brings up MannKind from time to time 🙂

      Reply
  • Tawcan October 8, 2015 on 12:21 pm

    It does provide a good story to tell people I guess. I definitely have taken my shares of bad financial advice from other people, especially when it comes to investing stocks.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Tawcan October 11, 2015 on 8:54 pm

      Totally, Tawcan. Now, I try to put on blinders when I hear random people talking about stock picks. I’ve learned to tune out those kinds of conversations!

      Reply
  • Maggie @ Northern Expenditure October 8, 2015 on 4:11 pm

    True to the good story. And yes, it’s good to learn early on that even professionals have a hard time beating out index funds. I think I could get really addicted to trading individual stocks. It would suck up all of my time and energy and my stress levels would be high. And in the end, I probably wouldn’t end up ahead! Not worth it. It’s a good thing you didn’t throw more at it!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Maggie @ Northern Expenditure October 11, 2015 on 8:59 pm

      Totally agree, Maggie! I can definitely see how addicting investing can be. And I’m a big fan of index funds, as well.

      Reply
  • Steve Miller October 9, 2015 on 4:06 pm

    That was a great $500 lesson. Trust me, I’ve made costlier mistakes. 🙂

    Steve’s latest post: http://www.weretiredearly.com/Blog/2015/10/09/the-american-dream-is-alive-and-well/

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Steve Miller October 11, 2015 on 8:55 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Steve! I guess we’ve all made costly money mistakes.

      Reply
  • Roadmap2Retire October 9, 2015 on 8:45 pm

    That’s quite a story. I think we’ve all been there taking investment and stock picking advice from random sources — but I have to admit that I’ve never heard anyone take one from a comedian?

    Thanks for sharing…I know it takes a lot to share stories like these. Chalk that one up as a lesson

    R2R

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Roadmap2Retire October 11, 2015 on 8:56 pm

      Yup, I’ve never heard of anyone taking stock tips from entertainers either! 🙂

      Reply
  • Jim October 10, 2015 on 8:36 am

    Ouch… I learned early (though my own bad investments!) on that investing is about what happens over the course of 20 years and not 20 days. 🙂

    But it only cost you a little bit and it’s a lesson you can’t internalize just by reading.

    And MannKind sounds more like a human resources company than a biotech co.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Jim October 11, 2015 on 8:57 pm

      You’re right, Jim! A lot of investing lessons can’t be internalized just by reading. Mistakes are costly. But they do still have value!

      Reply
  • fehmeen @ Debt Free Lifestyle October 13, 2015 on 9:37 am

    This story is almost too crazy to believe 😀 But I do get why you did it. There’s that excitement of getting a hot lead that you wish to jump on before others in the market can, and as you rightly pointed out, it’s all a 50-50 guess at best.

    This comedian may not have been the best financial advisor, but Warren Buffet gave away an amusing piece of financial advice that works, ‘be greedy when others are scared, and be scared when others are greedy.’

    So basically, sell when others are still buying, and buy when others are selling.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore fehmeen @ Debt Free Lifestyle October 13, 2015 on 11:30 am

      Pretty crazy, right? I figured if someone was willing to dump 100% of their retirement investments in MannKind, I could experiment with $500. Haha.

      Reply
  • Mel October 14, 2015 on 7:42 am

    Oh man. Comedians rank pretty high on a list of people I’d never go to for financial advice, somewhere right after magicians. ;o) I was definitely burned by the stock market the first time I ever bought something too and it took me like 6 more years to buy another stock.

    Reply
  • How To Make Money - 43 Extreme Ways To Make Money February 15, 2017 on 4:43 am

    […] Don't take investing advice from a comedian. “I've taken investing advice from a comedian. Luckily, I only lost $500 from this ‘hot stock’ tip.” – Kate Dore […]

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