“Money doesn’t grow on trees”

“Money doesn’t grow on trees”


“My father would primarily say that as I got older and would want money. He was very frugal with his money and sometimes he was oddly cheap. Well, you have to put it into context. He grew up in the depression so he was very tight with his money. The oddly cheap, everything, he was so cheap, I remember when he would say when you go to the bathroom, use only two squares of toilet paper. When I was um … when I would have to do back to school shopping he would give me $50 for all of my school shopping. He would give me $20 to buy one pair of jeans. He had no idea how much clothes cost or how important they were to girls. He wasn’t really in touch with reality or how much things cost. He thought one pair of shoes was enough. I had one pair of topsiders, and I didn’t get another pair until that one was falling apart. My mom was sick … when she would talk, she would try to say, use the two squares, turn off all of the lights, use little paper towels. This is why I go over board in the other direction. Another thing, when I would eat a bowl of cereal, and there would be milk in the bottom of the bowl, he would make me drink the milk.”


Have you ever said it?

“Probably to you and Michael [my brother]. I don’t think I’m oddly stingy.”


What do you see as the significance of this saying?

“There is a finite amount of money in the household. So organic.”



This proverb represents the informant’s family’s careful practices with money. It makes sense that the informant’s father was the one to primarily use this proverb, because he grew up poor during the depression. However, the informant says that to her, this proverb represented his stinginess. She complains that he went overboard with the meaning of this proverb, and that her father did not understand the reality of how much things cost or why she wanted things. Through the informant’s story of this proverb, we can see that it sometimes put her at odds with her parents and that she chose to raise her children in a different way.