Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

Meaning:

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.”
Synonyms / Related Phrases:
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’ 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.”


Example Sentences

  • 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.

Related Example:

  • We cannot buy that brand new TV right now. I’m not made of money and it’s way too expensive!

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See Also:

Money Sayings

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