"A penny saved is a penny earned” is often falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), but forms of the saying date to the 1600s. “A penny saved is ridiculous” is a modern jocular twist on the saying, cited in print since at least 1963.
Another variation of the old proverb is “A penny saved is a Congressional oversight.”
Wiktionary: a penny saved is a penny earned
a penny saved is a penny earned
1. A maxim for thrift that says that money not spent may be spent later, or may earn interest in the meantime
The Phrase Finder
A penny saved is a penny earned
It is as useful to save money that you already have as it is to earn more.
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 current format of the phrase began, with the ‘gained’ usage, soon afterwards; for example, this piece from Thomas Fuller’s, The history of the worthies of England, circa 1661:
By the same proportion that a penny saved is a penny gained, the preserver of books is a Mate for the Compiler of them.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
a penny saved is a penny gained and variants.
a1633 G. Herbert Outlandish Prov. (1640) sig. C3, A penny spar’d is twice got.
1660 J. Howell Lexicon Tetraglotton: Ital. Prov. 8 A peny saved is twice gained.
a1661 T. Fuller Worthies (1662) Hunts. 51 By the same proportion that a penny saved is a penny gained, the preserver of books is a Mate for the Compiler of them.
1695 E. Ravenscroft Canterbury Guests ii. iv. 17 This I did to prevent expences, for‥A penny sav’d, is a penny got.
A Penny Saved, Is Ridiculous Bumper Sticker
A Penny Saved is Ridiculous Shirt
26 January 1963, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), sec. 1, pg. 12, cols. 6-7:
Let us hope that Benjamin Franklin can at least be salvaged as a work of art. So far there has been no great effort to salvage him as a philosopher.
His “A penny saved is a penny earned,” once held in such universal respect, has become “A penny saved is ridiculous.”
LOUIS R. OTTO JR.
The Power of Positive Pessimism:
Proverbs for our times
By Howard Kandel
Los Angeles, CA: Price/Stern/Sloan
A penny saved is ridiculous.
5 September 1972, Lubbock (TX) Avalanche-Journal, pg. 12C, col. 5 classified ad:
A PENNY SAVED IS RIDICULOUS!
LET THE “BUSY WOMEN” AT
EDWARDS & ABERNATHIE
SAVE YOU DOLLARS
20 May 1975, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), “Las Vegas Beats Recession’s Stacked Deck” by George F. Will, pg. A23:
And in an age of high inflation, you don’t have to be Ben Franklin to know that a penny saved is ridiculous and is less fun than a penny gambled.
1,001 logical laws, accurate axioms, profound principles, trusty truisms, homey homilies, colorful corollaries, quotable quotes, and rambunctious ruminations for all walks of life
By John Peers and Gordon Bennett
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
A penny saved is ridiculous.
Google News Archive
24 November 1979, Ludington (MI) Daily News, “case’s column,” pg. 4, col. 2:
Some of the old proverbs don’t make much sense today. Nowadays a penny saved is ridiculous.
New York City • Banking/Finance/Insurance • (1) Comments • Monday, March 19, 2012 • Permalink
A penny saved is a tax-free penny earned.
(Robert C. Freeman, 1974)