Famous Sayings: #3 — ‘A Fool and His Money Soon Part’

March 27, 2016

A fool and his money soon part.

a fool and his money soon part, spending money, 401K Calculator, money, featured post
Photo credit: 401kcalculator.org via Flickr

Staying on the topic of money…

This is a saying I first heard as a little girl. I was told this by my mother and it was pretty easy to see it play out in real time.


What Is the Origin of This Saying?

My first stop when looking at this saying was the Phrases.org website. There’s a section called The Phrase Finder that is headed by a Gary Martin. While looking for various phrases, I finally decided to search for this one and found that this site serves as good referencing material.

On the page in question, I was lead to a reference. An Olde English book of rhymes, Five Hendreth Pointes of Good Hubandrie (1573) by Thomas Tusser, is apparently the oldest known source of the saying. A certain passage can be found in Chapter 10 (“Good husbandlie lessons), at Verse (or line?) 11:

Sonne, think not they monie purse bottom to burn,
but keepe it for profite, to serue thine owne turn:
A foole and his monie be soon at debate,
which after with sorrow repents him too late.

Luckily, I was able to find an online record of the actual text. There are two ways to view the source on Internet Archive: The full text on a page or the little reader they have. The latter is better. The passage can be found on page 19. On page 238, there is a translation that takes the form of the saying as we normally know it.

Ultimately, the Bishop John Bridges is given credit for coining the phrase as we know it today, although it has been altered. He wrote A Defence of the Government Established in the Church of England for Ecclesiastical Matters (1587), in which this quote is found:

If they pay a penie or two pence more for the reddinesse of them..let them looke to that, a foole and his money is soone parted.

Methinks he was inspired by the earlier work.


What Does It Mean?

It’s quite clear what it means. Someone who isn’t a wise spender will tend to waste their money and quickly. It applies to men and women. We may all know someone like this and we may have moments like this.


Does It Hold Much Meaning Today?

Of course it does. There’s a time to spend and a time to save. However, some people are irresponsible with their personal finances. Some people gamble away their paychecks and others refuse to budget their money and run short within days of cashing their checks. You tell them this proverb and they might get mad.

(Sorry if I just pissed off a few people. ^^’ )

While I might like to splurge every now and then, I really love to save my money. I had that habit since I was young and it was exciting to see the money I got from my allowance just grow and grow. Now, I will only make big purchases based on need and availability, but I will buy some new music when I can. I will splurge on occasion but I hate to part with money. And it’s good to have it in case of an emergency.

By the way, Gary Martin runs a Facebook page based on famous sayings and idioms. I don’t know if I would frequent it. I want to come by these sayings on my own and work out what I know about them first, then do the research.

Also: Today (March 27) is my birthday. (Don’t ask.)

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3 thoughts on “Famous Sayings: #3 — ‘A Fool and His Money Soon Part’

  1. Hiya…I found your blog through Blogging Meetup.

    My beloved Mother should have written a book of sayings too. Instead she borrowed a ton of them. This one you’ve quoted today was one of her favorites. There was a time when people were a lot more frugal.

    That’s why many older people from a few generations back can retire, and most importantly pay for their next moves into nursing facilities, huge medical bills and such. Their children don’t have to be so liable. They can travel, and enjoy their senior years.

    I still save myself. I decided if I have the moxey to spend, I can also have the moxey to save.

    Liked by 1 person

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