This is a link to a chart of my money going down the drain.
I got a letter from the brokerage UBS. I'd been getting these letters for a while but always ignored them because I knew what they were about: my old New York Times Co. employee stock purchase account. I only put money into it a few times about five years ago, then stopped because the stock sucked and even with the discount I got on shares they always ended up underwater (worth less than I was paying for them).
Problem is I never dumped the shares and forgot I had them, until this week. Anybody wanna guess how shares of newspaper companies have done since November, 2004? If you answered by farting or picking your nose, you're right. The 39 shares I owned were worth $41.06 apiece, for a total of $1,601.34, the day they were purchased. It was a good deal then because I only paid $34.90 a share; I saved more than $300 off their market value.
But the stock was only worth $5.53 a share as of this morning, meaning I've lost more than a grand by forgetting I owned them and thus forgetting to sell them before the losses were too heavy. (Click here to see its current value).
Anyway, you don't need to be a stock market genius to get the point: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR MONEY!!! That means whether you own individual stocks like in this case, of if you have a 401(k), which you shouldn't be actively trading in but should at least make sure you have the right asset allocation for the age that you plan to retire at. Even if you're just trying to get on a budget and pay down some debt, staying organized and keeping track of every dollar you spend is the difference between success and failure.