10 Famous, and Most Often True, Sayings About Money

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When it comes to money and finances, experts have been touting various gems of wisdom for centuries. Some of these sayings have become so well known that you’ve probably heard them a hundred times. Yet what do they actually mean?

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While they may sound interesting, we actually get to the bottom of 10 famous, and mostly true, sayings about money.

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

Not everyone values things in the same way, as this proverb makes clear. If you’ve ever gone shopping at a second-hand store like Goodwill, you know firsthand how people give away perfectly valuable items that you can then benefit from purchasing. The more wealth people accumulate, the more likely they are to dispose of things that are still in good condition, because they can simply buy new versions whenever they want.

Yet someone living on a tight budget will often reuse an item or buy a used version to stretch their dollars as far as they can go. Therefore, just because someone throws something out, it does not mean it’s lost its value.

Don’t Go Broke Trying To Seem Rich

It’s easy to fall under the illusion that being wealthy is a good idea — especially if you run in a circle of people who are wealthy. Our society elevates millionaires and billionaires to god-like status, and makes most of us feel that we’d be happier if we just had more … more things, more leisure, more money.

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If you spend more money than you have on high-priced items, from clothing and accessories to cars and vacations, all you’ll really end up with is an empty bank account that does little to fill your personal well.

Spending Is Quick; Earning Is Slow

We all know the euphoria of payday, when your checking account feels momentarily fat with cash. And most of us also know the empty feeling that follows when bills come due and that fat account is whittled down to much less.

It takes most people 40 or more hours every week to earn that money, but only seconds to click “buy” and watch your money disappear. That’s a good reminder when you have the urge to spend your hard earned cash; just remember how hard you worked to earn it.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Appearances can be deceiving in many ways, and this proverb suggests we take a closer look before we apply value to something or spend money on it. When it comes to spending your money, remember too that what looks shiny, exciting and necessary at first may actually be a lot of smoke and mirrors.

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Brands and advertisements are designed to make you think you need the things they’re selling, as well — but you very often do not.

A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted

Though the term “fool” is subjective, and frankly a little rude, this proverb suggests that anyone who is careless about their money or their financial decisions is likely to spend it on unnecessary things and wind up broke. A little financial literacy can go a long way toward preventing such situations.

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Never Spend Your Money Before You Have Earned It

At first glance, this proverb might not seem to make sense — how can you spend money you haven’t earned? That is, until you think about such things as credit card debt — Buy Now, Pay Later programs — and it comes into focus.

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A debt counselor probably wrote this proverb, because going into debt is essentially like stealing from your future, unless you know you have the money coming in to pay it off.

A Bargain Isn’t a Bargain Unless It’s Something You Need

If you’ve ever shopped at a wholesale retailer like Costco or Sam’s Club, you know the allure of a great “deal.” A barrel of cereal; a 12-pack of ketchup; a year’s supply of granola bars. These things seem like a great deal, but only if you actually use all of that.

Just because something’s on sale doesn’t make it a great deal. It’s only when you’re saving money on something you already use on a regular basis that a bargain is worth it.

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned

While this proverb might seem to be playing on the obvious, what it means, at essence, is that it’s as useful to save your money as it is to make it in the first place. In other words, just earning money is no guarantee of keeping it. By saving money, you capitalize on your earning power.

A Small Leak Will Sink a Big Ship

Have you ever scoured your bank account and found payments you forgot you were making? Automatic payment renewal has become much more common for everything from magazine subscriptions, streaming entertainment, gym memberships and more. While $10 here or there every month might not seem like a big deal, small amounts add up.

Just like a small leak in a literal ship can eventually lead to its sinking, small payments that you’re not paying attention to can add up to a lot of lost cash. This proverb is attributed to Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac.”

If You Buy What You Don’t Need, You Steal From Yourself

Just like debt is like stealing money from your future, buying unnecessary things is like stealing from yourself because it’s wasting money on items or services that don’t help you in the long run. Setting up a budget and tracking your expenses can keep this from happening.

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About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

 

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