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In my home language - Urdu, there is an idiom “Charaney key bandar ku baraney ki rassi”. This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone buys a monkey for one dollar, but he spends four dollars on a piece of rope to tie it. Basically, this is not a wise thing to do.

Could you please help me with an equivalent idiom in English?

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  • Can you give a literal translation of the Urdu?
    – Mick
    Jan 28 '17 at 3:52
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    dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/… “'be penny-wise and pound-foolish' in British English [now old-fashioned] ...to be extremely careful about small amounts of money and not careful enough about larger amounts of money." Although the $1 monkey and $4 rope is more amusing and a better idiom, in my opinion. :-) Jan 28 '17 at 4:09
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    Can you provide the meaning or a better description of the idiom? Not a literal translation or description of it. When and why is it used?
    – Em.
    Jan 28 '17 at 4:15
  • Perhaps "throwing good money after bad"? That is used to describe a situation in which a person has made a foolish investment and then spends additional money on it without any real hope of improving the original mistake. Jan 28 '17 at 4:20
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    I'm tempted to suggest "free as in puppy" but it's not a well known expression outside of the free software community. Jan 28 '17 at 5:21
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maybe you are looking for the idiom: A white elephant

a possession entailing great expense out of proportion to its usefulness or value to the owner:

When he bought the mansion he didn't know it was going to be such a white elephant.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/white-elephant

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  • While this might be correct, I suspect the idiom might have lost it's meaning in some dialects. When I hear the idiom "white elephant", I think of "an item you don't necessarily want", not "an item that causes more expense than it is worth". May 20 at 21:08
  • @MathewAlden I agree with you, although that might also be due to "white elephant" gift exchanges.
    – sharur
    May 20 at 21:10
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In English, you might

Throw out the baby with the bathwater.

or

Shoot yourself in the foot.

or

Spit into the wind.

Some advice would be

Don't buy any wooden nickels.

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    While these are common idioms, they don't match the requirement of spending more on necessary tools than on the item.
    – Chenmunka
    May 5 '17 at 17:38
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    I agree with Chenmunka. This doesn't answer my question. May 7 '17 at 4:57
  • Fair enough. I suppose I was focusing on the "basic" spec of "unwise thing to do" based on skewed priority. I don't think we're very hip to this concept in America, where Hewlett Packard sells $20 printers and $80 ink cartridges.
    – Brian
    Jun 1 '17 at 19:56

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