The phrase, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is a confusing one for some, but it doesn’t have to be confusing. In this article we are going to look at the phrase, break it down and find out for ourselves if a “penny saved really is a penny earned.”
A penny saved is a penny “twice got”
According to the website The Phrase Finder, the origins of the phrase, “A penny saved is a penny earned” began far before Benjamin Franklin spoke the phrase.
In fact, “The original form of this proverb used ‘got’ or ‘gained’ instead of ‘earned’. That is recorded as early as the 17th century, in George Herbert’s Outlandish Proverbs, circa 1633: ‘A penny spar’d is twice got.'”
The idea of this was that if you didn’t spend the penny (or any amount) then you had the penny twice. I’m not very good at math, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. If I keep the penny, I still have the same amount. But the thinking is certainly nice.
Actually, I believe the thought is that you had the penny and since you didn’t spend the penny, you have it again or still. Any way you look at it, you still have it!
Later versions of the phrase changed to “A penny saved is a penny got,” and the current version spoken by Franklin, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Some attribute this to Franklin because his image was stamped on the front side of the “cent” piece at the time. On the back side was the phrase, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” But does it really make “cents” (sense) to save money?
Reasons to save money
Many of us save a lot of pennies. I have a jar with about $10 of pennies in it. That isn’t a lot, but it sure is heavy! It is however 1000 pennies! My granddaughter—who is six—thinks this is a huge amount of money. When she sees the jar, she says, “We are rich, GG!”
When I see her excitement, it is hard for me to tell her that we are not “rich” and that this really isn’t much money at all.
We have been teaching her how to do simple chores so that she can earn some money to put in her piggy bank. She likes to save the money, but is having some difficulty yet understanding the value of money and the value of saving it.
That got me thinking, “Do I really understand the value of saving money? Does it really pay to save money?”
Personally, I think it is essential to save money, not just for a “rainy day,” but for purchases you will want to make in the future including:
- college for the young ones or even yourself
- a good used car (new ones are nice, but a used one is typically a better purchase and retain their value longer than it takes to drive off the lot)
- a “new-to-you” house
- a new computer to work from home (this isn’t just a pipe dream for many people. More and more companies are offering this option, although they are known to provide the computer to the at-home worker)
- a new computer to run your own work-from-home business. You can click here to see how I am making my work from home business a reality.
- vacation or holiday away
It is also important to save for the “rainy days.” A rainy day might include:
- an unforeseen injury or other life event that keeps you from working. It is recommended that we have an emergency fund of at least 3-9 months of living expenses saved. Depending on your spending, that could mean saving $15,000 or more.
- It is also a good idea to keep an easy to access “emergency fund” for smaller purchase of items that come up unexpectedly like purchasing a new tire. A great deal at the mall is not considered an emergency! This fund should always have about $1000 in it.
Does it really pay to save money?
So, does it really pay to save money?
What I mean by this is does any saving’s mechanism “pay” enough of a return to make saving money in a financial institute or other formal saving’s accounts worthwhile or should you just keep the money in a jar at home.
For the most part, keeping money in an insured account is certainly safer than keeping it in your mattress, but interest rates have been so low on general saving’s accounts that many people don’t bother with them.
According to a report from Bank of America, here are some ways to save for different purposes:
“If you’re saving for short-term goals, consider using these FDIC-insured deposit accounts:
- Savings account
- Certificate of deposit (CD), which locks in your money for a fixed period at a rate that is typically higher than saving’s accounts
For long-term goals consider:
- FDIC-insured individual retirement accounts (IRAs), which are tax-efficient saving’s accounts
- Securities, such as stocks or mutual funds. These investment products are available through investment accounts with a broker-dealer. Remember that securities are not insured by the FDIC, are not deposits or other obligations of a bank and are not guaranteed by a bank. They are subject to investment risks, including the possible loss of your principal.”
There are varying rates for all of these saving’s methods and I recommend shopping around for the best rate. Many banks are “fighting” for your business, so checking with different banks and credit unions can pay off better than just sticking with one institute.
Is saving a penny a way to “earn” money?
It can pay off in limited dividends through interest rates, but sometimes investing money in yourself can also be a form of “earnings.”
I have spent several pennies on “personal growth” items including books and magazines which I have found quite helpful in changing not only my attitude about money, but about myself, too.
My most recent investment in myself was a training course to learn how to create an online class.
I also buy a lot of books, many of them at second-hand stores or garage sales or Kindle! I am all about saving money on items as much as possible, so I do a lot of my shopping that way.
There are hundreds, probably even thousands of books on the market about saving money or personal growth or any other topic you can think of. I certainly don’t recommend buying all of them. Purchase a few that look fitting for your goals and go from there.
There are also hundreds of websites on these topics, too. Find a couple of good ones that are updated frequently and follow them. You shouldn’t have to spend a huge amount of money to invest in yourself.
I have been working for almost a year on building my own at-home business. You can click here to find out my favorite way to build a work-at-home business.
I believe that spending a few pennies on myself is worth the investment in me.
So, really, is a penny saved a penny earned?
I certainly believe it is. But I also believe that investment in yourself is a way to “earn” a significant return on that “penny.” If you have questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact me at: email@example.com.
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About the author
Karin Nauber, “G.G.” is a professional journalist who has worked in the newspaper business for the past 27 years. She is also a grandmother who, along with her spouse, is raising one of their granddaughters. G.G. has seven grandchildren with whom she enjoys spending as much time as possible. She began this website with the hope of people of all ages find ways to save and earn money and get out from under debt. If you would like to contact her, please do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org.