The BBBB Zone: The Big Budget-Busting Bonehead Zone

You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. It’s a journey into a land of overspending. Your next stop: the BBBB Zone!

– (With apologies to Rod Serling)

Even the most frugal people have some area(s) where they tend to overspend. They just can’t help it and neither can you or me. It is unfortunately just a part of our human nature that we have some sort of weak spot and that means we can’t easily control the acts of excessive spending on some damn thing or another. For most of us, it’s limited and only slightly out of control, but for some people, it’s not. It’s money they spend that they either don’t have or will never have and yet they simply can’t prevent themselves from entering into the BBBB ZONE: The Big Budget-Busting Bonehead Zone!

We all have areas of overspending that lead us to the Big Budget-Busting Bonehead Zone. But it is possible to escape!

What Are You Telling Me Here?

Just about every well-intentioned personal finance writer will tell you that in order to be successful with your money and your spending, the very first thing you need to do (once you have an income) is to make a budget. Of course that makes absolute sense. When you have a budget you understand where your money comes from and where it’s going and you are allocating that money to real needs and requirements. The problem with that is that what you “require” may not be a good thing. If you’re spending money on illegal drugs because you “need” them due to an addiction issue, you can budget for them all day long and you aren’t exactly making any kind of good decision there. And that is besides the health and legal issues.

Budgeting is not just keeping a scorecard. I do that when I watch a baseball game and guess what? It doesn’t have any effect of the outcome of the game. All it does is tell me what happened and when and where. It doesn’t explain the “why” and it never will. The “why” is when in a game, the manager of the team decides to make decisions that matter and you have to make those important decisions when you make and manage a budget, too! Not just in the beginning, or in the middle, or in the end of the budget (or game—like in the 9th inning in baseball), but all of the time. That’s because when you don’t, overspending spirals out of control and eventually negates all of the smart moves you have made before that happens.

Your BBBB Moves May Just Be Your Big Weaknesses

My weakness is baseball memorabilia, and my wife’s is being a “snacker” (i.e. she loves her cookies, crackers, dips and chips)! I’ll have more on that later.

These are our weak spots for sure and they’re the kind of weaknesses that there are practically no logical cures for! In my case, I waste money on photos, baseballs, magazines, and cards that I just buy and then file away someplace in a box or drawer. While I have cut back on doing it from as much as I did in my “prime”, I still do it and I still have tons of memorabilia that I am positive have very little value except to another BBBB Zone victim out there! And he’s out there somewhere.

Whenever I am out anywhere, if I see some old baseball-related thing, I immediately have to find out about it and eventually consider and often actually buy it. Talk about an unplanned and off-the-rail expense! You see, even though I know it’s wrong, I still have immediate and uncontrollable urges to do it. The common sense, well planned, and ultra-budget-conscious Gary has little control here. If you don’t believe me, simply open just about any drawer in my office or closet and you’ll see the evidence! I keep saying someday I will sell all of it or give it away to rid myself of it but…I just can’t do it.

Sorry Darling But “The Cookie Monster Lives”

It’s really important that you identify your BBBB – Big Budget-Busting Bonehead Zone behaviors and that you can come up with ways to beat them. Let me say it this way. The BBBB Zone is a very dangerous place to live in and it can and will ruin your health and life!

When it comes to my wife Suzanne, well she definitely has a “budget buster” up her sleeve, or should I say in her mouth! She cannot control her snacking habit and not only is it a budget buster, but it isn’t healthy. I have some sympathy because I also am guilty of snacking and at times I binge without thinking. But I do not do the buying here. I am more of a “sneaky snacker”, carefully stealing some of the goodies that are in the kitchen cabinets and consuming massive quantities before my dear wife can even sniff them. Then, of course, she must replace them and the cycle of budget-busting hell continues.

The Dollars Do Add Up

I am not kidding when I say that we spend a small fortune on snack items every month and make the trip especially to the grocery just to do it. Did I say we? I meant she! I’m innocent as to the actual buying here; please make a note of that! There’s a rumor going around our area that the Stop and Shop wants to know if they should place any special snack orders just for us!

While we don’t have an overspending problem in the general food category, we do have one in the snack department! That’s something we work on and oops, have to go to the gym and work off, too!

I know it may be shortening our lives with this kind of Bonehead move, but when I say the word shortening I can’t help but think of Nabisco’s Lorna Doones and now I want some! Do you think it is wrong to be a snacking glutton?

Lorna Doone shortbread cookies

We All Waste Our Money, It’s Well Documented

You may not see cookie snacking or baseball card buying as a big deal (I swear it is!), but it’s true that even though Americans are really good at a lot of things, that unfortunately includes wasting money. In fact, Americans waste $165 billion annually on food just by tossing out what they don’t get to eat, according to the National Resources Defense Council. They also do a good job of purchasing items they don’t really need, too. And that’s the kind of thing we do by buying the stuff we want and don’t need, even if we think we do!

All Americans find a lot of ways to waste their money. If we’re not buying lottery tickets, feeding half of our paychecks into slot machines at the nearest casino, or being clothes horses or shoe junkies, we’re finding other ways to avoid saving, or at the very least, spending responsibly. Is it that difficult to become disciplined in managing your money and putting together and sticking to a budgeting plan? It really must be or how else can you ever explain why it is so difficult to become a self-sufficient adult?

Final Thoughts

Even when we have financial footpaths laid out right in front of us to follow, we still find ways to waste cash until sometimes we’re left waiting for the next payday. Of course, this isn’t everyone’s financial situation. But for a good number of Americans, wasting their money and then waiting for the next paycheck is reality. Getting yourself out of that cycle is difficult and may not be as simple minded as just avoiding things like baseball memorabilia or avoiding the cracker and cookie aisles in the supermarket!

A way out of that is when we’re encouraged to find sound financial footing by making wiser decisions with our money, however little it may be. What’s an easy way to start? Budget and always consider that first when spending. This is hard for most people and requires a lot of discipline. But you can do it.

We have to face it; we all do spend more than we should on certain things that are our weaknesses. The most difficult part of all is figuring out where and when we spend the most on things we don’t really need. Once we face that, we can begin to leave the BBBB Zone forever!

What are your BBBB Zone disasters? How long have you been in the BBBB Zone? What are you doing to stop these behaviors? What are the ways you have used to try to stop wasting money and have you ever really thought about this as your problem?

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