Sometimes what amuses me is just a little bit silly. Or scary. Or just plain odd. I’m not sure which category this story falls into, but it was definitely amusing.

It’s about an amateur stuntman who thinks about swimming up to an alligator who is sunning himself on some rocks. Fortunately, the guy isn’t hurt, just scared out of his mind when the gator leaps toward him. Because it ends well, maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here (other than the obvious “LET SLEEPING GATORS LIE” message that shouldn’t have to actually be spelled out for anyone!) We all have things in our life that are “alligators,” either things that we do that we know aren’t exactly the smartest decisions or things that lurk (like a “normal” alligator) near us ready for us to make a mistake so that they can pounce on us.

I’ve talked to a few people lately and we’ve talked about the concept of “financial alligators.” Here are some things that we may KNOW aren’t the best ideas, yet we do them anyway and just hope for the best (just like the guy who swam up to the alligator!) And we expect different results???

• Going out to eat more than staying home to cook is a huge issue for a lot of people that I’ve talked to recently. They KNOW how expensive going to dinner frequently can be. Yet, they still do it. Even if they are having some budget difficulties, it’s something that they enjoy and don’t want to give up. They feel like they’re sacrificing in other areas of life (cutting back on shopping for other items, cutting out the premium cable channels, driving a car an extra 2-3 years more than their normal car ownership pattern, etc.) so they should have some kind of reward/pleasure in their life. If done in moderation, that’s not a problem. But, for too many it becomes a “must” and a significant line item in their budget (if they have a budget!)

• Buying a new car every 2-3 years might have made sense 50 years ago when a car wasn’t built to last as long as today’s cars are built to last, although I’m not sure it was ever a great strategy. Yes, the new car smell is nice! But, it can get expensive. I know people who sell their car rather than go out and get new brakes and tires. That’s their “sell signal” with their vehicles. Cars aren’t exactly appreciating in value (with very rare/collectible cars being the exception), so minimize the amount of money that you spend on them. No matter how awesome it is today, 5 years from now it will be worth a fraction of what it costs right now.

• Buying the latest gadgets is another one. Every time Apple unveils a new product, there are lines around the corner with people wanting to own the newest and most updated version of whatever product it is. Usually, just a few months later, that same product can be purchased at a significant discount. And, when the iWhatever 9 comes out, the iWhatever8 is available at pennies on the dollar. If you’re comfortable with being one version behind “the cool kids,” you can save a lot of money on your tech purchases.

If you have any “financial alligators” in your life, I’d love to see you add them in the comments area below. The crazy guy in the video should have known better than to annoy an alligator. I’m not sure there are many kids in preschool who wouldn’t know that, especially if they’ve ever watched Animal Planet! Armed with what we might all consider some very basic information, this guy tempted fate with his alligator and was able to walk away unscathed. Can you say the same thing about your budget and your alligators???