bread board 2

It’s Harder Paying for Bread that has Already Been Eaten

When I first thought about writing this post I was convinced that the saying ‘It’s harder paying for bread that’s already been eaten’ is an old Chinese proverb (mainly because my mum has spent half of her life telling me it is). After a quick Google search though I’m not sure that’s strictly the case, if it’s not then I’m sorry and I’ll be having words with my mum about that! :-)

The fact that it might not be a Chinese proverb though doesn’t diminish from the powerful meaning of the saying, and for the purpose of this article I’m going to cling on to the hope that it is a Chinese proverb and refer to it as such.

Consumer credit has engulfed the lives of many, almost to the point where the thought of paying for a large ticket item in cash is unheard of. Most people live in debt, spending huge amounts of their hard earned cash on interest payments to wealthy organisations. Whilst interest payments are a major problem with credit purchases, the extra money paid out in interest is not the only downside to buying things on credit as our ‘Chinese proverb’ implies.


When you purchase a new item of clothing, a new television, mobile phone or even a new car, the first few weeks of owning the item are exciting. You want to wear the item every day, marvel at the screen quality, download every available app or drive the length and breadth of the country. After a couple of weeks though the excitement tends to diminish.

Suddenly we are confronted with the fact that a new style, season or trend has come into fashion, that technology has advanced or that a new model of car is in the pipeline. We quickly become dissatisfied with the item that we own and want something ‘better’.

Although I have my own personal qualms with this train of thought, it doesn’t pose a problem if the items we have purchased have been paid for with cash in the bank. If you can afford to keep chopping and changing, updating and upgrading then that’s fine, if you can afford it. The problem comes when you find yourself paying out large amounts of money every month for items that you don’t even want anymore, perhaps don’t even use and also can’t afford.

Hunger is a Daily Occurrence

This is where our proverb comes into play, ‘It’s harder paying for bread that has already been eaten’. Yes when you first bought the ‘bread’ you were hungry, you desired it, you had to have it and oh how you enjoyed it! Hunger isn’t a one off occurrence though, we get hungry every day. If you purchased your ‘bread’ on credit, the chances are that the next time you become hungry you will still be paying for the cost of yesterday’s bread, meaning you can now only afford half a loaf.

It doesn’t take long for the novelty of a new purchase to wear off. If you pay for your purchases in cash, then you’ll enjoy the novelty while it lasts and you can get on with your life on a sound financial footing until you can next afford to satisfy your hunger. If you buy on credit however, once the novelty has worn off you will be trapped paying for a product that no longer interests or excites you and because you’re also paying out extra in interest, you’ll be less equipped to satisfy your hunger in the future. So next time you’re considering a consumer credit purchase, take a moment to consider our old Chinese proverb (at least I hope it is), ‘It is harder paying for bread that has already been eaten’.

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7 Responses to It’s Harder Paying for Bread that has Already Been Eaten

  1. Wow, Mr. Bulldog. Powerful post. I think we often don’t think about consumer debt this way, and we should. We currently pay out over $500 a month for stuff that we mostly don’t even remember what it was. It sucks, and we can’t wait to only spend money on stuff for now instead of stuff we bought long ago. Thanks for the inspiration, Mr. Bulldog!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Doing Your Due Diligence Before Purchasing Life or Critical Illness InsuranceMy Profile

  2. Insightful post Adam! Further evidence of our lack to look ahead and make decisions based off of what’s best for our future. We use credit ourselves, though mainly to get the rewards points. We pay it off every month and would not do so if we did not know where the money is coming from.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Things That Make me Pull My Hair OutMy Profile

    • Thanks John. Yeah I’m certainly not against using cards to get the benefits, it’s when they’re being used to fund a lifestyle we can’t afford that problems arise.

  3. Pauline says:

    Agreed. At least with a mortgage you still enjoy the house on a daily basis. But charging groceries or restaurants on credit, it just gets annoying to pay for it months after the occurrence. Even for a car I buy cash, just so I am free to total it without having to pay afterwards.
    Pauline recently posted..Complicated European holiday arrangementsMy Profile

  4. Justin says:

    Great post! At first I didn’t get it. But after reading the article it makes sense and it’s so true. Especially if you put a restaurant meal on credit and are still paying it off two months down the road. There’s a good chance that you can’t even remember what you ordered.
    Justin recently posted..Early Retirement:Truths and MythsMy Profile

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