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Try this

Posted by The Fallen on February 01, 2002

In Reply to: 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

Hmmm... it'd make a little more sense if you viewed the words "cheap" and "dear" in the context of waste and value respectively. I know this is exaggerating the meaning a little, but it may well help with the translation of the phrase - so to paraphrase a little, it'd become:-

No matter how much something is priced at, if you don't need it, then it's a waste of money. And no matter how cheap something may seem, if it's what you need, then it's priceless.

I think that about captures it. I can't think of an exact English proverb that captures this neatly unfortunately. I hope this helps.