There is a phrase in Malay that goes "prepare an umbrella before the rain", meaning one must be prudent and proactive of future challenges by making all the preparations necessary. I would like the English equivalent of such a phrase.

Thanks in advance, and apologies if this has been asked before! (I checked as much as I could)

EDIT: What I'm looking for is the act of preparing a solution to a specified problem before the problem happens. So anticipating rain, one prepares an umbrella.

5 Answers 5


A phrases for preparing in advance for future problems with financial connotations:

Save for a rainy day.

Provide contingency funds for when times are tough. There's no clear answer to when this expression began (some have traced it back to the 16th century), but it's clear that a “rainy day” is the symbol of gloom. The wise course, therefore, is to sock away funds to tide you over when times are tough.


  • This is it! And very close to the Malay idiom too.
    – aish1249
    Feb 7, 2015 at 13:07

Not exactly equivalent but it comes close:

A stitch in time saves nine.

  • This is the closest to what I am looking for, although your answer, much like 'the early bird gets the worm', emphasizes time-saving rather than the act of solving a problem ahead of time.. so not quite accurate. But thanks.
    – aish1249
    Jan 31, 2015 at 21:18
  • It saves stitches, not time
    – ottodidakt
    Feb 2, 2015 at 2:54

I think that hope for the best but prepare for the worst conveys the meaning you are suggesting:

  • Prov. You should have a positive attitude, but make sure you are ready for something much more difficult or demanding than what you might expect.

    • When you study for a major exam, hope for the best but expect the worst. Don't make yourself anxious worrying that it will be too difficult, but review as if you expect the exam to be extremely hard.

Your example from Malay would be well understood in English.

Other examples that come to my mind are not necessarily set phrases (idiom). A good Scout is always prepared (motto of Boy Scouts is "be prepared). Or, since you mentioned challenges, you could use metaphor of mountain climbing; before climbing, you must pack your "gear" (or mention specific equipment)


In the military, it's referred to as the PPPPPP Principle.

Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

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