Cub fans may yell "give it back"

But it's poor financial advice.  Treat found money the same as earned funds. From Time's Moneyland.

Masters Patron Gives Louis Oosthuizen His Double Eagle Ball Back
Mitchell’s giveback doesn’t come close to having the financial ramifications of the actions by Lopez and Forneris. The Jeter ball might have been worth about $250,000 at auction. Estimates on the McGwire ball reached $1 million. Oosthuizen’s double eagle? Maybe $10,000, says Bob Zafian, co-owner of Green Jacket Auctions, which specializes in golf memorabilia. Golf just doesn’t inspire the same kind of memorabilia frenzy that surrounds baseball, though official green jackets from the Masters and extremely old golf clubs have gone for six figures.

Still, a quick 10 grand isn’t nothing. I first explored this phenomenon of ordinary people giving back to millionaires when Forneris returned the valuable ball to McGwire. And again when Lopez returned the Jeter ball. In both cases, the fans fell victim to something called mental accounting. They put the famous balls in the category of “found money,” which made it easy to part with. It’s a lot like winning at the casino and not caring if you proceed to lose every dime that you had won. It was house money; it was found money; it didn’t hurt to lose it.

Yet money from a windfall like a lottery or inheritance or tax refund—or a souvenir that lands in your lap—spends exactly like money you earned at work. It’s a mistake to mentally account for found money differently. Do you want to retire one day or not? Individuals come across found money all the time—after an installment loan has been paid, when you get a raise, when you’ve paid your last tuition bill. Treat this money as though you worked overtime for it and you’ll think twice about frittering it away.


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