Good life tip: ‘A penny now, a pound later’


By Cherie Lowe

All of my life I’ve used the expression, “a penny now, a pound later” — a phrase that I was taught meant that you could spend a little bit right now or you could end up spending a whole lot later.

In my younger years, it meant do the homework, studying or chores now so you don’t end up with a heap of problems in a week’s time.

You’ve also got the pithy statement, “penny wise and pound foolish.” Similar in meaning, the original explanation was of a person who did everything possible to save on small items but at the detriment of long-term greater goals.

Translation: going cheap doesn’t always equal the best bet for your bottom line. Sure, you could buy the cheapest product in the store, but that small cost-cutting measure could cost you in the long run.

A number of products are worth investing in now to truly keep your budget as fit as a fiddle. These products may cost you a few dollars on the front end, but yield years of use and overall decreased spending.

Reusable water bottle

Collectively, Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles per year. While everyone might get in a pinch occasionally and purchase a bottle of water here or there, you can save money not to mention space in the landfills if you purchase a reusable bottle and refill it.

I own a glass Ello water bottle that I purchased for $14.99 at Target more than three years ago. It’s been filled and refilled way more than 15 times and I’m sure I’ll still be using it for years to come. I’ve been encouraged at the number of places that are installing refilling stations designed especially for this type of bottle.

Durable shoes

Three years ago, I sat in the podiatrist’s office and asked if I had “old lady foot.” The very wise physician replied “I did not say that, at all.” You shouldn’t cheap out on shoes. You need something with proper structure and construction that will last. You’ll not only save yourself the added expense of visiting the doctor but potential pain.

I found a style and brand of shoe that works for me and I rarely wear anything else. Whenever I see this particular shoe go on sale below $30, I purchase a pair even if I don’t need them right now. I know I’ll be wearing them for years to come.

Snacks for work

There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard in the middle of the day without a plan for lunch at work. In a perfect world, we pack leftovers the night before or a wholesome lunch the morning of the workday. Spoiler alert: none of us live in a perfect world.

Keeping your desk or workspace stocked with non-perishable and filling foods might seem an unnecessary expense. However, the trip through the drive thru or a purchase from the vending machine could end up costing you five to 10 times the amount of your much more affordable and healthy stash.

Professional development

So here’s an area where I definitely struggle. There are so many great free online tools available to professions of every variety. You probably want to consider investing in your career annually.

Whether it’s a conference or an online class, paying for the experience heightens the odds that you’ll actually do the exercises and follow through on setting aside time to further your skill set. Not only can you improve upon your current job by becoming more effective, you also prove to future employers that you are constantly updating and developing your career.

In the end, you can increase your job satisfaction, nail that promotion and raise, or maybe even land a much higher paying gig.

A drying rack

I’ve made no bones about laundry ranking at the bottom of my list of favorite chores. However, you can save money and your wardrobe by hanging clothes instead of running them through the dryer.

If you don’t already have a clothes line installed somewhere in your home, you may want to consider purchasing a drying rack. Your clothes will better retain their shape and color, lasting longer. And your electric bill will decrease from lack of running the dryer.

A reliable vehicle

While we were slaying $127K in debt, we drove the cars we could pay the least amount of money for and not have a payment. This meant our vehicles had a bit of ahemcharm. Working windows and doors were a luxury. In the short term, this did save us quite a bit of money. But we saved up money in our emergency fund regularly, because we knew these vehicles required a bit more TLC than your average ride.

After paying off debt, we’ve purchased two more reliable, affordable vehicles. We still invest in regular maintenance (remember that penny now, pound later expression?). You don’t have to purchase a top of the line model, but you do need something that safely delivers you to and from work on a regular basis. Buying the cheapest car possible could cost you a pretty penny to maintain.

Think through your budget and discover ways to save later by spending now.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to