A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

Meaning of A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned”

A penny saved is a penny earned is a well-known proverb. It means it is crucial to saving money whenever possible. This idiomatic expression emphasizes the importance of saving money because it is always wise to keep something for an emergency. This saying has many variants. According to its origin, in the past, it was used as “a penny saved is a penny got or gained.” However, in every modification saving money is focused because when we need money, it is there to be spent.

Furthermore, “A penny saved is a penny earned” is a maxim which confirms the idea that when the person puts money in the bank or invests in policies, it as good as extra income because this will help him/her use the saved amount during difficult times.

Origin of “A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned”

The spirit of this idiomatic expression has been found with variations in many written scripts. The first record of a similar phrase was tracked back in 1533 in John Heywood’s book Of Gentleness and Nobility.

“A penny spar’d is twice got” is a slightly different version of the current phrase. It was found in a book named Outlandish Proverbs which compiled by George Herbert and published in 1633.

This saying was used in the passage of a book The History of The Worthies of England: Volume 2 written by Thomas Fuller which was published in 1661. The passage found in this book is: “John Yong was a monk in Ramsey Abbey at the dissolution thereof. Now, by the same proportion that a penny saved is a penny gained, the preserver of books is a mate for the compiled of them. Learned Leland looks on this Yong as a benefactor to posterity, in that he saved many Hebrew books of the noble library of Ramsey.

Another version of this saying has been found in an English drama, Canterbury Guests, or, a Bargain Broken: A Comedy written by the famous dramatist, Edward Ravenscroft which was published in 1695. The following written record of this saying has been taken from second act and the fourth scene of the play; “This I did to prevent expenses, for a penny sav’d, is a penny got.”

Later in the 19th century, the saying has been used in the novel, Bleak House by a famous novelist, Charles Dickens. It was published in 1853.  It goes, “I saved five pounds out of the brickmaker’s affair…It’s a very good thing to save one, let me tell you: a penny saved, is a penny got!”

The current version of this phrase is usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin and the first time he used this idiom in a 1900 edition of his book, Poor Richard’s Almanack.

Examples in Literature


A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned by Jan Siebold

“A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned” is the title of one of her stories which illustrates the happenings relevant to it in narrator’s life. Its subtitle is “How I Bought My Deluxe Colored Pencil Set.”. The story is about a schoolboy whose pocket allowance is withheld by his parents, and now determined, he is trying to collect the money to buy a colored pencil set which he likes the most. Luckily, after a struggle of three weeks’ collection, he gets the money he needs. Through the actions of the main character, the story describes the importance of saving money and helping children to take responsibility for their behavior.

Example #2

Penny Saved by Neale S. Godfrey

Neale S. Godfrey is one of the popular writers, who writes lifelong lessons for teens. She has already penned down Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, and this is her second book. She has tried to teach the basic concepts of values and essential social skills necessary for teenagers. She has stated that healthy self-esteem, decision making skill, and self-discipline are important social skills that prepare students responsible, honest, and cooperative. All these things could be taught to the children through money, how to spend it, how to use it, when to use it, and how to save it. She has rather linked the financial side of teaching to socially valued skills. Half of the saying has been used in its title to point out the importance of saving money and using it at the right time.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “A penny saved is a penny earned and a penny earned is a saved penny.” This sentence shows the example of antimetabole as the phrase has been reversed, but the meanings have stated the same.

Example #2: “William received $50 from his aunt as a birthday present. When his friend asked what is he going to do, he replied, “I’ll put it in the bank, a penny saved is a penny earned. That’s what my grandpa says.”

Example #3: “A saved penny is as good as a newly earned penny.” The phrase means the currency is always useful even after years.

Example #4: “It’s difficult to tell this generation that ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’. They love to spend money on gadgets and hate saving.”

Example #5: “I took a month’s break and went on a holiday, thanks to the saying that stuck with me, ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ I am financially doing well. That’s really important and it should be taught in schools.