Penny Wise And Pound Foolish Meaning

(idiomatic) Prudent and thrifty with small amounts of money, but wasteful and profligate with large amounts.

Example: 1942, Harry Elmer Barnes, Society in Transition: Problems of a Changing Age‎, page 122:
  In the past our government has nowhere been more penny wise and pound foolish than in connection with its expenditures for conservation.