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I've heard the phrase "don't spend it [money] all in one store" a number of times, virtually always in a joking manner. Where did it originate from and has it always been said as a joke?

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I've usually heard it as “don't spend it all in one place,” which may help you track down more information. This Ngram suggests that the phrase became common around the Great Depression, and most of the early citations I could find seemed to be sarcastic. –  Bradd Szonye Jul 25 '13 at 9:20
The version I've heard most (in BrE) is "don't spend it all at once", again often used sarcastically in cases where someone has received a small amount of money. –  DavidR Jul 25 '13 at 13:28

2 Answers 2

Google books says that the term originates from here's a ha'penny. The definition it gives for this is:

"A joking phrase that accompanies the gift of a small amount of money to someone, usually a child."

The origin and reasoning for this phrase can be seen in lots of different situations. Quite possibly one of the earliest examples of a situation that would of provoked this statement is the Prodigal Son.

The prodigal son runs off and spends all of his inheritance in a very short amount of time (all at once) and then is left with nothing. This results in him going back to his fathers house and falling on his mercy. Something not deemed desirable. Again lending itself to the saying "don't spend it all at once or in one place."

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"Don't spend it all in one place." occurs in the film version of Duddy Kravitz when someone tips him. He's telling Duddy to be careful with his money, I guess. Is it a translation of a Yiddish expression since I do associate with what Jewish people in North America say?

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