Before I started this blog, I had no idea what “a penny wise or a pound foolish meant.” I was looking for a Bajan catch phrase and my boyfriend made the suggestion. He told me that it was a term his grandmother used a lot and it stuck with him.
What does it mean? I asked many people and received many different explanations which all said the same thing: you can be careful with small amounts of money but careless with large amounts of money. Sounds cool right?
A Penny Wise or a Pound Foolish
To dig even further with this phrase, I went to Go English which gave excellent examples to explain it. It then summed up the examples by saying that ” people sometimes worry about spending small amounts of money; then they carelessly spend much larger amounts.”
I also found an excellent article entitled 10 Examples of How You Can Be Penny Wise, Pound Foolish on Consumerism Commentary which gives wonderful examples of being a penny wise, or a pound foolish. My favourites in the ten examples are:
- Receiving the 15% discount for opening a store credit card, but paying the balance off slowly, adding interest fees (and possibly late fees).
- Haggling for lower prices at a garage sale, but buying a new car to put in your own garage.
Another article on The Financial Literates, A Penny-Wise Consumer – A Pound-Foolish Investor, defines the saying as, “making decisions with small amounts of money (pennies) that end up making bad sense for affecting larger amounts of money.” The article goes on to offer advice as well as examples of people who are headed down the pound-foolish path.
Have I ever been pound foolish? Of course. But thanks to keeping an eye on a budget and over-analysing my finances (which is not always a good thing), I’d like to think that I’m on the penny-wise street.I tend to throw all kinds of possibilities in the mix and weigh the pros and cons of choosing a particular option over another.
Sometimes all that’s needed is a good dose of common sense. But if you’re not sure, keep reading Odd Cents, which is really just a lovely collection of odd sense.