Common English Idioms About Money

by | Last updated Dec 14, 2023 | English Learning

Discussing money in English? Check out useful Idioms About Money.Money is a subject that impacts everyone’s daily existence to some extent. Therefore, it’s understandable that money idioms and expressions are firmly rooted in the English language. In this blog post, we’ll examine 12 well-known English money idioms, unraveling their origins and meanings. Whether you’re a non-native English speaker seeking to enhance your language skills or a native speaker intrigued by the origins of these idioms, this post is tailored for you. Let’s delve into the captivating realm of English money idioms!

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Money idioms in English

1. Go Dutch

The phrase “go Dutch” signifies that individuals cover their own expenses, typically in a restaurant setting. This term is commonly employed when a couple is on a date.

For example: You paid for dinner last Saturday. This time let’s go Dutch, okay?

2. Gravy train

This financial expression pertains to employment and implies that an individual earns a substantial income without putting in much effort or hard work.

For example: Lucky Tim! His job is a real gravy train.

3. Money to burn

When an individual possesses more money than necessary, allowing them to purchase nonessential or extravagant items, it is expressed as having “money to burn.”

For example: Mr. Brown bought a new Ferrari last week. He’s got money to burn.

4. Tighten your belt

This financial expression describes a contrasting scenario to the previous idiom. When an individual has insufficient money to sustain their living expenses, they must “tighten their belt.” In essence, this means cutting expenses, living with less money, reducing food intake (symbolized by “tightening the belt” as a person might get thinner), and making financial adjustments.

For example: We were both laid off, so it looks like we’ll have to tighten our belts until we find work.

5. Balance the books

Our initial financial idiom is a term from accounting that signifies “settling accounts at the conclusion of an accounting period by reconciling the totals of both debit and credit sides, ultimately determining the profit or loss incurred during that period.”

For example: “Mary works in the accounting department, and at the end of every month she has to balance the books.”

6. Bring home the bacon

This English expression denotes “earning sufficient income to provide for one’s family.”

For example: Mary stays home and takes care of the children, and her husband John brings home the bacon.

7. Nest egg

I believe a lot of us possess, or have had, a nest egg. This phrase pertains to money set aside for a specific occasion or for retirement.

For example: I’ve been saving money for many years so I’ll have a nice nest egg when I retire.

8. Cook the books

This expression is utilized to characterize an unscrupulous accountant or bookkeeper. It signifies “manipulating information in accounting or financial records.”

For example: Steve was fired when the board of directors found out he was cooking the books.

9. Golden handshake

This idiomatic phrase indicates that an employee, typically in upper management, is either laid off or opts for early retirement and receives a substantial amount of money as severance pay.

For example: The MPI Company gave 50 of its employees the golden handshake last week.

10. Cheapskate

This financial idiom is employed to characterize an individual who is frugal, someone not inclined to be generous with their money, and who avoids spending it willingly.

For example: Bill is such a cheapskate

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11. Money doesn’t grow on trees

Numerous parents use this phrase when their children request them to make purchases or consistently spend money. It conveys the idea that money is not limitless, emphasizing the notion that not everyone has an inexhaustible supply of funds. (Another idiom for individuals born into wealth is “born with a silver spoon in their mouth.”)

For example: “Mum, I want all these computer games. Please, buy them for me!” “Calm down, Paul, money doesn’t grow on trees. I can buy only one of them, so decide which one you want.”

To sum up, money idioms and expressions play a crucial role in the English language, enhancing our communication skills when understood. In this blog post, we delved into 12 widely-used money idioms, unraveling their origins and meanings. Ranging from ‘break the bank’ to ‘tighten your belt,’ these idioms provide an intriguing glimpse into the historical and cultural aspects of finance in English-speaking regions. The next time you encounter one of these idioms, you can impress others with your understanding of its origin and significance.

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