Money Idioms Explained
Idioms are a fascinating aspect of language. An “idiom" is an expression that can’t be understood literally, as the words have different meanings when used together than when used separately. Idioms exist in many languages and are vital to cultural heritage and linguistic richness. This article will explore the world of money idioms and how you can use these common phrases in conversation.
Money is an essential part of our lives, so it’s no surprise that we frequently use idioms to describe situations that involve finances. These idioms often reflect cultural attitudes (like greed, satisfaction, or frustration) toward money and wealth.
Below is a list of 81 money idioms, including examples of how they can appear in everyday conversations.
Money-saving idioms can describe various strategies, attitudes, and behaviors related to financial planning and budgeting. They often convey the importance of being frugal and prudent with money to achieve financial stability and security. They also highlight the challenges, sacrifices, and potential rewards of saving money. Whether cutting corners, tightening one's belt, or putting money aside for a rainy day, saving money is a smart strategy. The phrases below can provide useful language and inspiration for anyone attempting to save.
To reduce expenses.
Example: We need to cut back on our spending if we want to save up for our vacation.
Tighten your belt
To reduce spending and live more frugally.
Example: We're tightening our belts this month so we can save some extra money for our home renovation.
To save money for a specific purpose or for the future.
Example: I've been squirreling away some extra money every month to save up for a down payment on a new car.
Rainy day fund
Money that is saved for unexpected expenses or emergencies.
Example: I always make sure to have a rainy day fund just in case something unexpected happens.
Being extremely careful with money and not wanting to spend it unnecessarily.
Example: My grandmother is always penny-pinching, even though she has plenty of money saved up.
A person who is excessively frugal or stingy with their money.
Example: My uncle is such a tightwad, he won't even buy himself a cup of coffee when we go out.
To keep money hidden away, often in a secret location.
Example: He stashed cash in a coffee can under his bed for emergencies.
Keep a tight grip on one's purse strings
To be very careful with money and not spend it unnecessarily.
Example: After losing his job, he kept a tight grip on his purse strings to make sure he could pay his bills.
Scrimp and save
To live very frugally in order to save money.
Example: We've been scrimping and saving for years so we can finally afford to retire.
Money doesn't grow on trees
A reminder that money is a limited resource and should be spent wisely.
Example: You can't just buy whatever you want, money doesn't grow on trees you know!
Count your pennies
To be very careful with money and make sure every penny is accounted for.
Example: I've been counting my pennies since I lost my job; I can't afford to waste any money right now.
Save your pennies for a rainy day
To save money instead of spending it all.
Example: I always tell my kids to save their pennies for a rainy day, because you never know when you might need some extra money.
To find ways to save money by reducing expenses.
Example: We've had to cut corners this month because our car needed a major repair.
Make ends meet
To have enough money to cover all expenses.
Example: It's hard to make ends meet when you're living paycheck to paycheck.
Live below your means
To live a lifestyle that is less expensive than what you can afford, in order to save money.
Example: We live below our means so we can have money for retirement.
Stretch your dollar
To make the most out of your money by finding good deals and bargains.
Example: I always try to stretch my dollar when I'm shopping by using coupons and finding bargains.
Pennywise and pound foolish
To be overly concerned with small details or costs and miss the bigger picture.
Example: He was pennywise and pound foolish when he invested in a cheaper product that ended up costing him more in the long run.
Idioms for spending money often focus on the enjoyment and benefits as well as the risks and drawbacks associated with spending. These expressions also emphasize the significance of being prudent with one's expenses and of recognizing the dangers of excessive spending and debt. Anyone looking to manage their finances and make smart purchasing decisions might learn a thing or two from expressions such as watch your wallet, cash on the barrelhead, and put your money where your mouth is.
Watch your wallet
To be careful with your spending so you don't overspend.
Example: I always watch my wallet when I go shopping – I don't want to spend more than I can afford.
Blow your money
To spend all your money quickly and carelessly.
Example: He blew his money on a new car and now can't pay his rent.
Break the bank
To spend all your money or exceed your budget.
Example: I broke the bank last time I went shopping and will need to make up for it by saving extra money next month.
To spend money, especially a large amount of money.
Example: I had to shell out a lot of money to repair my car.
To pay for something unwillingly or with difficulty.
Example: He had to fork over a large sum of money to cover the damages.
Spending a lot of money in a short period of time.
Example: She went on a spending spree during the holiday season.
Live beyond one's means
To spend more money than one can afford.
Example: He was living beyond his means by buying expensive clothes and frequently eating out.
Put your money where your mouth is
To support your words with action or money.
Example: If you think this project is worth it, then put your money where your mouth is and invest in it.
Throw money (at something)
To try to solve a problem by spending a lot of money on it.
Example: The company threw money at the project, but it still failed.
Shop till you drop
To shop for a long time until you're exhausted.
Example: She shopped till she dropped and spent the whole day at the mall, buying something from nearly every store!
Burn a hole in your pocket
To have money that you feel compelled to spend quickly.
Example: The bonus he received was burning a hole in his pocket, so he immediately spent it on a new gadget.
Spare no expense
To spend as much money as needed without worrying about the amount.
Example: The bride's parents spared no expense for her dream wedding.
Cash on the barrelhead
To pay cash (paper currency/coins) for something immediately at the time and place of the transaction.
Example: The store only accepts cash on the barrelhead, so be prepared.
Put a dent in your wallet
To spend a lot of money on something.
Example: The vacation put a dent in our wallet, but it was worth it.
Go through money like water
To spend money quickly and carelessly.
Example: He goes through money like water, which is why he's always broke.
Drop a bundle
To lose a lot of money.
Example: He dropped a bundle on the stock market last year.
People with money tend to hold a considerable amount of power and influence.
Example: Money talks, and unfortunately, it often speaks louder than ethics or morality.
Foot the bill
To pay for something.
Example: I love going out to dinner with Peter because he always foots the bill.
Have money to burn
To have a lot of money that you can spend carelessly.
Example: He has money to burn, which is why he bought a yacht even though he doesn't know how to sail.
Put it on the plastic
To pay for something with a credit card.
Example: He put the hotel room on the plastic, but now he's struggling to pay off his credit card balance.
Pay through the nose
To pay a high price for something.
Example: I had to pay through the nose for those concert tickets.
To cost an arm and a leg
Something that is expensive.
Example: That car cost me an arm and a leg, so I plan to take great care of it over the years.
Idioms for earning money describe strategies, skills, and qualities that can help people generate income and accumulate wealth. These expressions often convey that making money requires hard work, creativity, determination, and the ability to seize opportunities and take calculated risks. They also highlight the potential benefits of entrepreneurship, investing, and other forms of income generation. Bringing home the bacon, striking it rich, and making a killing are examples of ways to describe making money. These phrases, along with the others below, can be used in conversation about increasing income and achieving financial success.
Bring home the bacon
To earn a living for one's family.
Example: My dad has been working hard for years to bring home the bacon.
Rake in the dough
To earn a lot of money.
Example: The concert promoter raked in the dough from ticket sales.
Make a killing
To earn a large amount of money in a short period of time, often with little effort.
Example: They made a killing when they sold their house at exactly the right time.
A reliable source of income.
Example: The family business has been a cash cow for generations.
The person who earns most of the money in a household.
Example: With her husband out of work, she became the breadwinner for her family.
Put bread on the table
To earn enough money to provide for one's family.
Example: He works hard to put bread on the table for his family.
Scratch out a living
To earn enough money to survive, but not thrive.
Example: The farmer managed to scratch out a living from the poor soil.
Sell like hotcakes
To sell large quantities of something quickly.
Example: Our handmade soaps are selling like hotcakes.
Feather one's nest
To earn money for oneself, especially in a dishonest or unjust way.
Example: The politician was accused of feathering his own nest with public funds.
Living from hand to mouth
To live with just enough money to meet basic needs.
Example: After losing his job, he was forced to live from hand to mouth for a while.
Hit pay dirt
To find success or profit unexpectedly.
Example: After years of struggling, he finally hit pay dirt with his new business idea.
Strike it rich
To suddenly become very wealthy.
Example: The lottery winner struck it rich with a single, winning ticket.
A wealthy and influential person, often with political connections.
Example: The fat cats in Washington DC often get their way.
Sweat for your bread
To work hard for your money.
Example: He's not afraid to sweat for his bread and works long hours to support his family.
Idioms are often used to describe various forms of investing, including the stock market, real estate, and business. These expressions often convey the risks and rewards associated with investing and the need for caution and strategic decision-making when engaging in this activity. Commonly used sayings include put all your eggs in one basket, ride the wave, and cut your losses. Understanding these phrases might help individuals navigate the investing world.
Hedge your bets
To minimize risk by taking actions to protect against potential losses.
Example: I'm going to hedge my bets by investing in both stocks and bonds.
Ride the wave
To take advantage of a trend or market movement in order to make money.
Example: I'm going to ride the wave of the cryptocurrency market.
Strike while the iron is hot
To take advantage of a good opportunity while it's still available.
Example: I'm going to invest in this startup now because the industry is growing rapidly; I’m going to strike while the iron is hot.
Play the long game
To invest with the expectation of long-term gains, rather than short-term profits.
Example: I'm not worried about the market fluctuations in the short term because I'm playing the long game with my investments.
Put all your eggs in one basket
To invest all your money into one thing, which can be risky.
Example: I wouldn't recommend putting all your eggs in one basket by investing all your savings into a single stock.
Bet the farm
To risk everything you have on a single investment.
Example: He bet the farm on his business idea, and it paid off in the end.
Go all in
To commit all your resources and energy into something, such as an investment.
Example: I'm going all in on this new startup because I believe it has the potential for huge returns.
Follow the herd
To invest based on what others are doing, rather than doing your own research and analysis.
Example: I don't want to follow the herd and invest in what's popular right now; I want to find investments that are undervalued and have strong potential.
Take a flyer
To take a risk on an investment with little information or analysis.
Example: I took a flyer on this new company because I believe in the founder's vision and passion.
Buy low, sell high
A common investment strategy of buying stocks or assets when they’re undervalued and selling them when they’re overvalued.
Example: I'm going to buy low and sell high – I’ll buy this stock while it's less expensive and sell it when it reaches its peak value.
Cut your losses
To sell an investment that is losing value in order to minimize losses.
Example: I had to cut my losses and sell my stocks when the market took a downturn.
Invest in yourself
To spend money on education, training, or personal development in order to increase your earning potential.
Example: I'm going to invest in myself by taking courses to improve my skills and knowledge.
To increase your investment in something, often despite previous losses or risks.
Example: Despite some setbacks, I'm going to double down on my investment in this startup because I believe in its potential.
Buy the rumor, sell the news
A strategy of buying a stock or asset based on rumors or speculation and then selling it once the news becomes public.
Example: I try to stay ahead of the market to make quick profits - I buy the rumor that a new product was coming out and sell my shares after the product launch.
Many idioms describe giving money to a charitable cause or someone in need. These expressions emphasize the importance of generosity, kindness, and empathy toward others. Many phrases highlight the idea that giving can bring about positive change, which can be beneficial for both the recipient and the giver. Donating money idioms are used in various contexts, such as encouraging others to give or expressing appreciation for someone who has donated. Overall, these phrases serve as a reminder that we have the power to make a positive impact on the world by giving to those in need.
To donate money to a charity or organization as a way of showing appreciation for what they’ve done.
Example: After the hospital saved his daughter's life, he wanted to give back by making a generous donation.
Open up one's wallet
To spend a lot of money on something or donate generously.
Example: She opened up her wallet and gave a big donation to the animal shelter.
A little goes a long way
Even a small donation can have a significant impact.
Example: Every dollar counts, and a little goes a long way in helping this organization achieve its goals.
Give till it hurts
To donate so much money that it causes financial pain or hardship.
Example: She gave till it hurt to help fund cancer research.
Charity begins at home
Before you can help others, you must first take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Example: She wanted to help the homeless, but her parents reminded her that charity begins at home – she should take care of her own needs first.
Make a difference
To contribute to a cause in a way that has a positive impact.
Example: Even a small donation can make a difference in the fight against hunger.
Pay it forward
To perform a good deed for someone with the hope that they will do the same for others in the future.
Example: After receiving a scholarship for college, she decided to pay it forward by creating a scholarship for someone else in need.
Give a helping hand
To offer assistance or support to those in need.
Example: She always gives a helping hand to those who need it, whether it's volunteering at a food bank or donating money to a charity.
Spread the wealth
To share one's wealth with others or to donate money to multiple causes.
Example: He decided to spread the wealth and donate money to several charities instead of just one.
Give a hand up, not a handout
To provide assistance that empowers someone to improve their situation rather than just giving them something.
Example: Instead of just giving money to the homeless, the organization provides job training and housing assistance to give them a hand up, not a handout.
Retirement idioms often describe saving and investing money throughout life to ensure a comfortable retirement. These phrases often emphasize the importance of being financially prepared for retirement and the benefits of early planning and wise investments. They may also touch on enjoying one's golden years without financial stress or worry. These phrases are often used to discuss retirement planning and financial management with family, friends, and financial advisors.
A sum of money that is saved for a specific future use (often retirement).
Example: He's been diligently saving for years and has built up a sizable nest egg.
Enjoy the fruits of one's labor
To reap the rewards of one's hard work.
Example: After years of working hard and saving diligently, he's finally able to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Set for life
Having enough money to live comfortably.
Example: Thanks to her diligent saving and investing, she's set for life and able to enjoy her golden years.
Wealthy or financially comfortable.
Example: After a successful career, he's well-heeled and able to enjoy a luxurious retirement.