Penny Wise and Pound Foolish - Live Like a Mensch
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Penny Wise and Pound Foolish


When I was 15 years old, I worked at a local bagel bakery and deli in Pikesville, Maryland, one of Baltimore's most affluent suburbs.  It was a great starter job, as it taught me a lot about irrational behavior.

One of my favorite ridiculous moments came from my first month of employment there.  The price of dairy products had gone up, and the deli was forced to raise the price of butter from $0.10 to $0.15.  Granted, it was a 50% increase in price, but it was still only a nickel more.  An elegant matron dressed in fur from head to toe and wearing diamonds that could easily have put several doctors through medical school came in to order a bagel with butter.

I explained to her about the change in price, pointing to the sign the owner had posted.

The elegant lady curled her lip.

"15 cents for butter!  Why that's outrageous.  I'll eat my bagel dry.  Humpf!"

Part of me wanted to pay for the extra nickel myself.  Part of me wondered if paying attention to five cent changes adds up enough over a lifetime so that you can eventually afford fur coats and diamond jewelry.  But mostly I just wondered if the woman knew how cheap she looked.

Have you ever caught someone acting penny wise and pound foolish?



Gary said:

Of course! I've even done it myself. Seems to me that it happens we we focus just on the price, not the value that we receive for that price. If I get all caught up in solely in thinking about the money I'm not doing frugal living correctly. The goal is to get value for the money I spend. Although personally (at least in this case) I would have sprung for the cream cheese. Can't beat a poppyseed bagel with cream cheese!

November 23, 2011 7:39 AM

Emily Guy Birken said:

Tell me about it!  If I was that concerned about the cost, I'd probably go without the bagel than eat it dry.  Because a dry bagel is the opposite of awesome.

November 23, 2011 9:46 AM

not2late said:

Every time I watch the Couponing show on the television I think about pound wise and penny foolish. Some of these folks have a stock pile of food that will go bad long before they're able to use it up.

Sure, they saved a ton of money buying the items, but what good does it do if you keep it all for yourself and it goes bad before you can use it? All they did was spend money on something they'll never use. Sounds foolish to me.

November 29, 2011 2:04 PM

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