Money doesn’t grow on trees is a common expression that means money is a limited resource and is not easily acquired, so it shouldn’t be spent in a careless manner.
‘Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees’ Origin
It takes years for trees to go from a tiny seed to a completely grown tree. This process can actually take a decade or more. Eventually, though, it will become big, strong, and produce many leaves. In fact, depending on their size, trees can have thousands of leaves growing on its branches! And if it’s a fruit tree, it can produce a whole bunch of food when the season is right. The point? Both the leaves and the fruit that the tree produces are plentiful and freely available. All a person has to do is go out and take what they need and more will grow back later. Convenient!
However, as this proverb points out, money does not grow on trees. So if someone runs out of money, they can’t simply walk to their backyard and pick dollar bills off the branch of a tree. Indeed, money has to be earned through hard work. And even when one has money, they have to be careful with how they spend it because it’s a limited resource.
Anyways, how old is this expression? Compared to other phrases, this one doesn’t look that old. The earliest I’ve seen it in print is near the end of the 19th century. For example, it appears in the Statesville Landmark newspaper from 1891:
“Money doesn’t grow on trees here yet.”
- We’ve been eating out a lot lately and this has taken a toll on our wallets. As the saying goes, money doesn’t grow on trees, so we will have to start eating more at home.
- We cannot buy that brand new TV right now. I’m not made of money and it’s way too expensive!
This phrase is on our list of money sayings. If you want to see more like it, give that page a look.