Penny wise, pound foolish

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Old sayings are just that – old. They’ve been around a long time for good reason. There’s a lot of truth in them. Let me shed light on one to illustrate my point.

Take, for instance, the saying “Penny wise, but pound foolish.” The true meaning came to light when all the bulbs in our house were replaced by yours truly.

Yep, with the switch to those new CFL bulbs, we’re gonna save a bunch – money that can go towards a much needed summer vacation. That would be the penny wise part.

Unfortunately, CFL bulbs put out about as much light as a candle. Having a bunch of dim lights throughout the house just to save a little money – well, that’s the foolish part.
For additional savings towards our vacation, we’ve decided to cut back on eating out. And by we, I really mean me.

Last week I made a list, went to the grocery story, and if it was “Buy one, get one free!” I did. Didn’t matter if we needed it or I’d never even heard of the brand. If it was “Two for One!” into the cart it went. Buying a cartful of groceries and only paying for half is really penny wise.

Once home, I stacked all the great deals in the bottom of the pantry. But first I had to clean out the great grocery deals someone stored there years ago. Getting great two for one deal on groceries and storing them until the expiration date has long passed – well, that’s the foolish part.

Nowadays new cars cost a small fortune. Having to pay a car note each month used to keep me up at night. My car’s 8 years old – almost as old as some of that food in the bottom of the pantry. Not having a car note each month, now that’s certainly being penny wise.

Last month, my 8-year-old car was in the shop getting repaired twice. The Wife’s 6-year-old car was in the shop once. Driving paid off cars with high mileage not to have a car note, but always having to get them repaired – The Wife says that’s just foolish.

Next time one of them needs a repair, a new car will be in our driveway — whether we have enough pennies or not.

The price of organically grown vegetables has gone through the roof. It’s only penny wise to grow your own. This year, I’m proud to say, The Wife and I are enjoying an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables from our new square foot garden, all organically grown. Now that’s really has been penny wise.

Unfortunately, the garden has produced so much produce, we can’t eat it all. Most of it is given away to our neighbors. Spending a bunch of money building a square foot garden to grow organic vegetables, only to give most of them away – well that’s just charity. Doing charitable things and being a good neighbor is never foolish.

And finally, in these tough economic times it’s important to save where you can – especially on that monthly electric bill. During the hot, high humid days of summer here in Georgia, it’s penny wise to set air-conditioning during the day at 78, and at night bump it up even a little higher when you go to sleep.

An important note to all my readers out there: secretly bumping up the thermostat before The Wife goes to bed just to save a few pennies is really not a good idea. When she’s so hot she can’t go to sleep – well, that’s not just foolish. It’s downright dumb.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for over 26 years and a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is saferick@bellsouth.net. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]

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