Learning the Value of Money from My Cuban Grandfather

The cheapest way to pay for something is with money. ~ Max Muñoz

Guest blog post by Sofía Muñoz, Guarisco Group Social Media Strategist.


Cubans love their sayings. Growing up in a Cuban-American household, I can attest to the seemingly endless parade of aphorisms, often offered loudly and accompanied with vigorous finger-wagging. My grandfather in particular took his role as repository of Cuban wisdom seriously, dispensing phrases with alacrity; one of my favorites is “the cheapest way to pay for something is with money”, and unlike the maxim about the sleeping shrimp, it’s one that has actually proved helpful, both in my professional and personal life.

The first time I truly experienced the truth of my abuelo’s famous saying was while on vacation in Spain. Being a cash-strapped student, I was eager to save in any way, and consequently asked an acquaintance if I could stay at his house during my visit. I eagerly calculated all the money I would be saving, not realizing that my acquaintance lived about an hour outside of the city limits. What I “saved” in lodging I paid in steep transportation costs, compounded by the hefty citation I received for purchasing the wrong type of train ticket. My efforts at saving money had resulted in wasted time and wasted money, a headache that I could have avoided if I had merely booked a room in a centrally located hostel.

Though our tendency might be to save money at all costs, it is worth it to carefully examine whether our “saving” might actually cost more in the longer term. If you’re not paying for something with money, you’re paying for it with something else: time, opportunity costs, peace of mind. Hiring your eager but amateur cousin as your wedding photographer might save money, but will definitely cost you peace of mind and photo quality. Purchasing cheap running shoes may initially spare your wallet, but may cause injury and hundreds of dollars in doctor’s bills.

At the heart of my abuelo’s saying is the importance to assess the true cost of a product or service, and a reminder that money, more than time or peace of mind, is often the most cost-effective way of acquiring it.

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