How not to be Penny wise and Pound foolish - understanding six instances

There are some instances in life where we become rather tight on spending money. The consequences could be disastrous. Whether it is saving money or spending money, we need very good rational approaches. Six instances are described in this article, based on real life observations. These are clearly Penny wise and pound foolish instances.


As a rule, the heart has a reason that reason can only reason. Each individual differs so much on thought patterns, expenditure patterns and so on. Nevertheless, we need certain least common denominators in our life. There are absolutely essential expenditures. We cannot be Penny wise and pound foolish in seven instances. They are a) Care of the pregnant wife b) Care of infants c) Education of children and development of their special talents d) Need to spend for purest drinking water e) Health of all adults including preventive health expenditures e) Limited tours at least once in a year and f) Religious expenses.

It is commonly observed that we do blunder after blunder in such matters. The discussion here is to examine why such expenditures are assets and not liabilities. It should be noted that some essential expenditures are never expenditures. They save a lot of money that otherwise gets spent. In each of the aforesaid instances, people spend more than what they think they save. We will examine each instance in some detail.

Care of the pregnant wife

Some husbands are very stingy in consulting the best of allopathy doctors. Regular check-up of blood pressure and other parameters is a must and this cannot be done in ordinary clinics where the nurses do most of the check-up. The expert opinion of the doctor is never taken.

Similarly, when the learned grandmothers suggest the best food supplements based on their rich experience, the man hesitates to spend the extra money on buying such supplements that come with some good cost. Yes. They are somewhat costly. However, the health of the child are also factors that need to be taken into account. When the children who are born are not healthy, they suffer from so many ailments and these ailments are often attributed to the lack of care during pregnancy. This turns out to be a perfect case of "penny-wise, pound foolish". Similarly, when the child is about to be born unless the Government hospital has very good nurses and the mother is otherwise healthy, it is absolutely risky to get the woman admitted in such hospitals. Even if the delivery costs some forty thousand rupees in a good private hospital with world-class facilities, it is worth the money, as the child and the mother will be safe. In several cases, when the man is stingy on such essential expenditure, it leads to further complications in terms of the entire family getting angry, unwanted exchange of words and so on. The girl always nurses a grievance that she was let down.

Care of infants

This is another big instance. If one needs to spend on say, Johnson&Johnson products, so be it. The child needs to be happy, the child needs to feel safe and active. The child needs to appreciate that he or she is cared for. Psychology does have a huge amount of research that indicates that children who are cared for in the first three years of their birth show signs of far better emotional engagement than others when they grow up.

Likewise, it is very essential that parents follow the advice of qualified and experienced doctors and the elders in the matters related to food intake of infants after they are one year old. Vitamin supplements are somewhat costly. However, this expenditure is a very essential expenditure as brain development takes place before the age of five. Some stupid parents try to economize on such essential expenditures. They only regret later that their decisions were all totally wrong. Such children end up not studying well, not able to concentrate well and so on, in their later years. It is hence essential to understand and appreciate that the expenditure at this stage is vital indeed.

For local visits to the doctor, it is stupid to travel by a two-wheeler, with the child held on one hand and the other on the vehicle, even when the man negotiates the horrible traffic on the roads. Most accidents happen when the balance is lost. Very serious head injuries to the child have happened in such cases. What was sought to be saved for travel by auto or even an Ola taxi, was just a few hundred rupees. The medical expenditure that runs into several thousand is one classic example of a Penny wise, pound foolish

Yes, accidents happen rarely. Apart from this, the child is also exposed to huge noise pollution and air pollution. This leads to other diseases too. Hence, it is always advisable to be more prudent in such matters and act accordingly.

Education of children and development of special talents

It is becoming clear day after day, that the best coaching for the IIT JEE and the NEET examinations, as well as those that lead to careers in law and so on, are available only in the cities and the metros. Hence, this expenditure becomes unavoidable for most parents. They need to somehow manage these expenditures. Those in regular employment have the option of opting for personal loans that are now available aplenty. Since the amounts would be deducted from the salary, the pinch is not huge. When there is a little extra income, one can quickly liquidate such loans too.

Likewise, it is wise to invest in special talent development in Carnatic or Hindustani music and so on, when the child has a natural inclination for it. This is not an expenditure. One normally gets back the investment and the individual is also happy. More so, when he or she, gets a break as a playback singer in movies. This is a big break for any middle-class person and a very lucrative one too. The recognition that comes along with the money is massive. Likewise, learning Hindi, at least for the spoken language skills, dancing, painting and so on, are life skills. If the child has a natural inclination for these, it is wise to just allow the child to develop these on a very serious basis. everyday. If the shifting of the family to the metro is needed, so be it. This has become a new reality. The expenditure is always an investment.

Not spending money on such essential skill-building would amount to Penny wise pound foolish behavior.

Need to spend for purest drinking water

In most urban or even semi-urban families, the "can" water is seen as the safest water that can be consumed, even without boiling. This is an absolutely irrational argument and practice. It has been proved time and again, that such "can" water is always impure. The weekly visits to the doctor and expenditure running into at least two thousand rupees per month can be easily avoided with a one-time expenditure of around Rs.20,000 for a good RO and UV water filter, a yearly expenditure of just Rs. 5000 for changing the membrane. Divide this by 365., and you get around Rs. 14 per day. This is a ridiculous expenditure even for a lower middle family, where at least two adults would be employed in one way or the other. This is the best drinking water that can be safely used for drinking and cooking purposes. There are a good number of reputed brands available in the market.

Yet, this advice is never taken seriously by many families. Once again, a typical example of pennywise, pound foolish behavior. This expenditure is meant to safeguard one's health. It should never be

Health expenditures

When one grows up, health insurance with a good service provider is a must. Even at the age of 25. Apart from this essential expenditure, in the form of premium, it is also essential that one has to not only spend a little money on things like training in a gym or at least take good food supplements if there is some recurring ailment.

If a person is a diabetic, the need for more care is even more obvious. Any stingy behavior can only cause a major upset and the huge expenditures can be easily avoided. Being penny wise and pound foolish can take many forms. For example, the various types of organic food supplements with proven medical benefits can also help. The expenditures, which are somewhat costly are very essential. We should never avoid such expenditures.

Limited tours at least once in a year

The month of May is one occasion when it is very essential that the entire family goes on a small outing. Those who cannot stay at Ooty during summer, for example, can easily stay at Coimbatore, which itself is a lovely city, and travel every day by bus to Ooty. A four-day trip will not cost the moon. Such expenditures are a must. In many families, the wife and children nurse a big grievance that they have never gone to such places. The man is always guilty of Penny wise pound foolish behavior.

Religious expenses

This is another expenditure that is always avoided. The family's base and moorings on religion and community practices are totally lost when the money is never spent. Yearly visits to some temples do teach the children good values. Every religion has its own method. In Hinduism, it is wise to go to so many temples and keep the children glued to good values. Avoiding this expenditure is absolutely foolish.


We live only once. Certain expenditures are compulsory expenditures. These are investements. If we understand the scope of whatever has been described above, we will be more careful in terms of spending for such essential investments.

There are more instances of Penny wise pound foolish behaviors. Only six have been discussed above.


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