Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees


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.

Example: Sarah was out shopping with her mother and an expensive phone caught her eye, so she asked: “Can you buy this for me?” Her mother responded: “You already have a functional phone. Besides, money does not grow on trees, you know.”

1. I’m not made of money

Illustration of the saying money does not grow on trees.
Plant a penny in the ground and a money tree will grow! I’m kidding, of course. Don’t do that.

“Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees” – Its Origin

From a tiny seed to a fully grown tree, this process can take years, perhaps even a decade or longer to complete. Eventually, though, the tree will grow big and strong and it will produce many leaves. In fact, depending on its size, a tree can have thousands of leaves growing on its branches! And if it’s a fruit tree, it can also produce a bunch of food as well in the right season. The point? 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 want and more will grow back later. Simple and convenient!

However, as this proverb points out, money does not grow on trees. So if someone runs out of cash, they cannot simply go out to their backyard and pull dollar bills off the branch of a tree. No, money is not acquired so easily; a person has to work hard for it. And even when a person has money, they have to be careful with how they spend it because it is a limited resource.

Anyway, 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.”

Example Sentences

  • We’ve been eating out several times a week and this has taken a toll on our wallets. As the saying goes, money doesn’t grow on trees, so we’re gonna have to start eating at home more often.

Similar Example:

  • Having a brand new TV would be nice, but it’s way too expensive; I’m not made of money.

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See Also:

Money Sayings

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