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Nothing is cheap which is superfluous, for what one does need, is dear a penny

Posted by Marta on February 01, 2002

Hi everybody!
Pleased to meet you. I'm a Spanish free-lance translator and I'm just happy that I've found you ;-)
I hope you can help me with this sentence:
"Nothing is cheap which is superfluous, for what one does need, is dear at a penny".
I think I've understood its meaning (perhaps: superfluous things are always expensive; necessary things are not). But I wonder if it is a phrase used in specific situations and even if I have undestood it correctly.
Thanks in advance.
MARTA