What is the difference between 'to save money' and 'to spare money' ?

I thought they both meant "(to try) to reduce your costs so that you can be left with more money".


Here is a link to the dictionary. The 5th definiton as a verb is "to use or dispense frugally —used chiefly in the negative". To dispense frugally practically means to try to reduce your costs.

Whomever downvoted this question would be kind enough to make an explanation so that I could correct my mistake and everyone would benefit from it.

  • No, spare money as a verb is not that. Where does spare mean reduce costs? Please go look up the verb.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 19:02
  • 2
    It's right in that dictionary link: to use or dispense frugally —**used chiefly in the negative**. With the meaning of not use or consume something, "spare" is only used in the negative.
    – gotube
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


The sense of 'spare' you mention is hardly ever used in a positive connotation.


To spare no expense. (To spend as much as necessary, regardless of cost.)

He did not spare any money when he designed his new house.

These are sentences that would be immediately understood, but:

He spares money.

Would an awkward and unusual way of saying something. Instead you might say:

He has spare [i.e. surplus/extra] money, which he is saving for a rainy day.


He saves money.

  • Thanks a lot. What would come to your mind if you heard someone saying 'He spares money'? Would you understand what they mean? In what way is it awkward?
    – Xfce4
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 20:19
  • It's awkward 'just because it is'. There's no reason. People simply don't say it in non-negative contexts. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because 'spare' can be used in somewhat contradictory ways. 'Spare change' is 'extra/left over money'. 'To spare change' would be to do something almost opposite ... to avoid 'extra' expense. So, I might understand what somebody means, but I also might be confused about their intent.
    – fred2
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 20:27
  • Some negative constructions simply do not work in a positive context, unless with deliberately humorous intent. As the author Douglas Adams said: "Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
    – fred2
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 20:31
  • Haha okay. As you said sometimes you do not end up with a meaningful sentence when you change it from positive to negative or vice versa. And sometimes they are not exact opposite of each other. I was just trying to get a better understanding of the verb.
    – Xfce4
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 20:55

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