It’s all about the money! After all, money makes the world go round, right? The English language has a vast number of idioms and expressions related to money and they appear frequently in everyday conversation. Money talks, and if you want to talk about money in English, check out these money expressions and sayings.
45 Must Know Money Expressions
Ready to INVEST in your English knowledge? Here are 45 money expressions and sayings:
A day late and a dollar short
The expression “A day late and a dollar short” is used to describe a situation where someone is too late to take advantage of an opportunity or act on something, and even if they were on time, they would still not have been able to benefit due to their lack of resources or preparation. It conveys a sense of regret or frustration about missing out on something important or valuable.
Example: “He wanted to invest in the stock market, but by the time he decided, it was a day late and a dollar short.”
A fool and his money are soon parted
This is used to warn against making unwise financial decisions and implies that foolish or careless people tend to lose their money quickly. If someone makes a reckless investment and loses their money, others might say, “Well, a fool and his money are soon parted.”
Example: “He invested all his savings into a dubious scheme, and as they say, a fool and his money are soon parted.”
A penny saved is a penny earned
“A penny saved is a penny earned” is an old proverb that conveys the importance of saving money and being frugal. It suggests that money saved through careful spending and financial prudence is equivalent to money earned through work or income. In other words, money not spent is essentially money earned, as it remains in your possession and can be used for future needs or investments.
Example: “My grandma always taught me that a penny saved is a penny earned, and she was a great saver.”
“Ballpark figure” is a commonly used expression to describe an approximate or rough estimate of a quantity, number, or value. When someone provides a “ballpark figure,” they are giving an educated guess or a general approximation rather than a precise or exact amount.
It is often expressed in monetary terms and can be used in various contexts, such as business, finance, negotiations, and everyday conversations where an estimate or rough calculation is sufficient.
Example: “When asked about the cost of renovating their home, the contractor provided a ballpark figure of $20,000 to $25,000, depending on the specific materials and design choices.”
Bet your bottom dollar
To “bet your bottom dollar” is to be absolutely sure or confident about something, to the point of being willing to wager all of your money on it. It’s used to express strong belief or certainty.
Example: If someone is confident they will win a bet, they might say, “You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll come out on top.”
Break the bank
“Break the bank” suggests going beyond your usual budget or financial means to make a purchase or engage in a costly venture. It conveys the idea of spending a substantial amount of money, possibly draining your savings and risking financial stability, in pursuit of a desire or goal.
The expression is often used in casual conversations, particularly when talking about expensive purchases, investments, or financial decisions. It can be used positively to describe someone’s willingness to invest in something significant, or it can be used negatively to criticize excessive spending or irresponsible financial behavior.
Example: “I broke the bank on this holiday, but it’ll be worth it.”
Bring home the bacon
Before you start thinking about going to the shops to buy some bacon for some bacon sandwiches, think again. This is not what it means!
“Bring home the bacon” means to earn a living or provide financial support for one’s family. It is often used to describe someone who is the primary breadwinner or responsible for earning money to support their household.
Example: “I work hard every day to bring home the bacon and provide for my family.”
Burning a hole in your pocket
“Burning a hole in your pocket” is used to describe the feeling of wanting to spend money immediately after receiving it. This saying is commonly used to describe the behavior of someone who is eager to spend money impulsively or extravagantly, especially when they come into possession of money through a windfall, gift, or paycheck.
Example: “This bonus is burning a hole in my pocket; I want to buy something nice right away.”
A cash cow is a business, product, or venture that generates a consistent and significant income or profit.
This expression is therefore used to describe something that brings in a lot of money regularly.
Example: “The company’s flagship product has been a real cash cow, driving most of their profits.”
Cost an arm and a leg
To “cost an arm and a leg” is an idiomatic expression used to describe something that is extremely expensive or costs a significant amount of money. It suggests that the price of the item or service is so high that it feels as if you would have to pay a substantial, even exaggerated, price, such as losing a limb, to acquire it. Don’t worry though, this is metaphorical rather than physical!
It is often used when describing exorbitant prices for goods or services.
Example: “That watch costs an arm and a leg; I can’t afford it.”
Do something at all costs
Want to do something at all costs? This means you aim to accomplish a goal or task regardless of the cost, challenges, or sacrifices involved. It is generally used to emphasize determination and persistence.
Example: A coach might motivate their team by saying, “We need to win this match at all costs, even if it means playing extra time.”
Easy come, easy go
“Easy come, easy go” conveys the idea that things acquired or gained easily are often lost or spent just as easily. It suggests that when something is obtained without much effort or struggle, it may not be valued as much, and it can be lost or wasted more readily.
The expression is used to caution against being careless with money or taking financial gains for granted. Essentially, it means that money or wealth that is acquired easily can be spent or lost just as quickly.
Example: If someone receives an unexpected bonus and quickly spends it all, they might remark, “Easy come, easy go; I should have saved some of it.”
“Easy money” is an expression that refers to money that is earned or obtained with little effort, skill, or risk. It suggests that acquiring this money requires minimal work or investment and is often associated with making money quickly or without significant challenges.
Example: “He thought online gambling would be easy money, but he ended up losing more than he won.”
Feel like a million dollars
To feel like a million dollars is to feel exceptionally good or confident about yourself. This expression can be used to describe great satisfaction or happiness.
Example: After receiving compliments on her performance, a singer might say, “I feel like a million dollars tonight!”
“Filthy rich” is used to describe someone who is extremely wealthy, often to the point of being excessively rich or having an abundance of money.
Example: “The CEO of the company is filthy rich, with multiple luxurious homes and yachts.”
“Go Dutch” is an English expression (even though it says Dutch!) that means that each person in a group pays for themselves. It is often used when individuals or a group of friends decide to divide the bill for a meal, activity, or other shared expenses, rather than having one person pay for everything or splitting the bill equally.
Example: Sarah and John went out for dinner at a fancy restaurant. When the bill arrived, Sarah suggested, “Let’s go Dutch on this one; it’s easier and fairer for both of us.” They agreed, and each of them paid for their own meal and drinks.
In the red
“In the red” is a financial term that describes a negative financial situation, indicating that a person, business, or organization has more expenses or liabilities than assets or revenues. It means that the entity’s financial position is negative, and they owe more money than they currently have. In other words, they are in debt or have financial difficulties.
Example: If a company is losing money, it could be said, “The business has been in the red for the past few quarters, and they need to make some changes.”
The expression can also be used in non-financial contexts in situations where there is a shortage, deficit, or negative balance in various aspects of life or activities.
Example: “The team had been working tirelessly for days on the project, and their energy levels were in the red.”
Money can’t buy happiness
“Money can’t buy happiness” is a saying that expresses the idea that material wealth and possessions do not guarantee genuine happiness or contentment in life. It suggests that true happiness comes from experiences, relationships, and inner fulfillment rather than from materialistic pursuits.
It also implies that while money can provide comfort and convenience, it cannot fulfill deeper emotional and psychological needs that contribute to genuine happiness. Would you agree with this?
Example: “He may be rich, but money can’t buy happiness; he still struggles with loneliness and personal issues.”
Money can’t buy love
The saying “money can’t buy love” emphasizes that love and emotional connections are based on deeper emotional bonds, shared experiences, and genuine feelings, rather than material possessions or financial transactions. It serves as a reminder that true love and meaningful connections cannot be bought or sold.
It is commonly used to caution against the notion that you can purchase affection or relationships by offering money or expensive gifts.
Example: “He tried showering her with expensive gifts, but he soon realized that money can’t buy love.”
Money doesn’t buy class
“Money doesn’t buy class” is an idiom that suggests having wealth or financial resources does not automatically make a person classy, sophisticated, or refined.
No matter how wealthy someone may be, their manners, conduct, and behavior are not solely determined by their financial status; they are qualities that come from personal values and upbringing.
Example: “The new millionaire lacks sophistication; they say money doesn’t buy class.”
Money doesn’t grow on trees
“Money doesn’t grow on trees” is used to convey the idea that money is not readily available or easily obtained. It suggests that acquiring money requires effort, work, or financial responsibility, rather than being something that can be effortlessly plucked like fruit from a tree. Instead, you must work hard to earn it.
The saying is used to remind others to be mindful of their spending and not take money for granted.
Example: When a child asked for an expensive toy, the parents gently explained, “We understand you want the toy, but money doesn’t grow on trees. You need to save up for it or wait for a special occasion.”
Money is the root of all evil
This expression suggests that the pursuit of wealth or excessive desire for money can lead to immoral or harmful actions. It is often used to highlight the negative impact of greed and materialism on individuals and society.
Example: “Some argue that money is the root of all evil, as it can lead people to act unethically in pursuit of wealth.”
Money makes the world go round
“Money makes the world go round” suggests that money is a driving force behind many aspects of life and society. It implies that financial considerations play a crucial role in influencing various decisions, opportunities, and actions on a global scale. In other words, money makes things happen!
Example: “In the modern world, money makes the world go round, influencing politics, business, and even personal relationships.”
Do you think that financial power and wealth can influence or achieve things that other factors cannot? Well, the expression “money talks” conveys the idea that money has a persuasive or influential power in various situations. It suggests that financial resources can be used to gain advantages, sway decisions, or achieve certain outcomes, even in circumstances where other factors may not be as influential.
Example: In politics, someone might say, “In this campaign, money talks, and candidates with more funding have a better chance of winning.”
Money talks, wealth whispers
“Money talks, wealth whispers” is an expression that highlights the difference between flaunting your wealth and maintaining a sense of discretion or understated elegance. It suggests that people who are truly wealthy and financially secure don’t feel the need to show off their riches or draw attention to their wealth.
Example: “She’s incredibly wealthy, but you won’t see her showing it off; money talks, wealth whispers.”
Money to burn
Have you got money to burn? If you do then you have a surplus of money that you can spend extravagantly or wastefully. Although this certainly isn’t advisable!
Example: “After winning the lottery, he had money to burn, and he indulged in luxury vacations and expensive gifts.”
More money than sense
“More money than sense” is used to describe someone who has a lot of money but lacks common sense or good judgment when it comes to managing their wealth or making decisions. It suggests that the person may be prone to making foolish or wasteful choices with their money due to their lack of practicality or financial intelligence.
Example: “He bought a million-dollar yacht even though he lives in a landlocked city; he’s got more money than sense.”
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” is a famous quote from William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet.” It is often used as a piece of advice to caution against borrowing or lending money, suggesting that it is best to avoid getting involved in financial transactions with others.
It emphasizes the importance of financial independence and self-reliance.
Example: When discussing financial matters with his children, a father told them, “Remember, neither a borrower nor a lender be. It’s better to be self-sufficient and avoid financial entanglements with others.”
On a shoestring
“On a shoestring” is an expression that means to do something with a very limited budget or with minimal financial resources. It suggests that the person or organization is operating with tight financial constraints and is finding ways to accomplish their goals or projects with limited funds.
It can be applied to various situations, such as running a business, organizing an event, or managing personal finances.
Example: “After saving up for months, Chris embarked on a backpacking trip traveling across Europe on a shoestring budget.”
On the house
When something is “on the house” it is being provided for free, usually by a business or establishment as a gesture of goodwill. You’ll commonly encounter this expression in restaurants or bars when the owner offers complimentary food or drink to customers.
Example: “Drinks are on the house tonight, courtesy of the manager.”
Pay your dues
To “pay your dues” means to fulfill your obligations, especially in the context of earning a position or achieving success through hard work, effort, or sacrifice. It suggests that before receiving certain benefits, recognition, or rewards, an individual must go through a period of dedication and prove themselves worthy.
This phrase is often used in career-related discussions to emphasize the importance of gaining experience and proving oneself.
Example: A mentor might advise a young professional, “You need to pay your dues and put in the effort to advance in your career.”
Are you a person who is excessively frugal or stingy with your money? If you are, you may be a penny pincher!
This phrase is used to describe individuals who are very cautious about spending money and always look for ways to save.
Example: “My friend is a real penny pincher; she never eats out and always looks for the best deals.”
Put your money where your mouth is
One of the most common money expressions, to put your money where your mouth is means to take action or back up your statements and beliefs with real commitments, especially financial ones.
This expression is used when challenging someone to prove something through concrete actions.
Example: If someone claims they can achieve a certain goal, others might say, “If you’re so confident, put your money where your mouth is and prove it.”
Rob Peter to pay Paul
If you “rob Peter to pay Paul”, you solve one financial problem by creating another, often by borrowing from one source to pay another debt. So, you pay off one debt only to incur another.
This phrase is used when someone attempts to resolve a financial issue but ends up with a new problem as a result.
Example: If someone takes out a loan to pay off a credit card, they might end up in a cycle of debt, and people would say, “It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul; it’s not a sustainable solution.”
Rolling in dough
If you are “rolling in dough” you are someone who is very wealthy or financially prosperous. The expression suggests that the person has an abundance of money and is used to describe someone who is financially well-off.
Example: If talking about a successful entrepreneur, you might say, “Ever since she sold her startup, she’s been rolling in dough.
Saving for a rainy day
“Saving for a rainy day” is an idiom used to express the idea of setting aside money or resources for future needs or unexpected emergencies. It suggests that it is wise to save or reserve funds during times of plenty or financial stability to be prepared for challenging times or unforeseen circumstances in the future.
“Saving for a rainy day” is often used in discussions about personal finance, budgeting, and responsible money management. It is a metaphorical way of describing the act of building up a financial cushion or safety net for unexpected events or financial setbacks.
Example: “I believe in saving for a rainy day. You never know when unexpected expenses might come up, and having some savings gives me peace of mind.”
Sitting on your cash
“Sitting on your cash” refers to the act of holding onto your cash or keeping it idle, without investing it or putting it to productive use. It implies that the person is keeping their money in a non-productive state, such as keeping it in a savings account with minimal interest or not using it for investments that could potentially generate returns.
It is often used to advise individuals or entities to consider putting their money to work, either through investment, spending, or other financial strategies,
Example: “You’ve been sitting on your cash for a while now. It’s time to explore investment options that align with your financial goals and risk tolerance.”
Split the bill
“Split the bill” means to divide the total cost of an expense equally among the people involved. It is commonly used when a group of individuals, such as friends, colleagues, or family members, share a meal, activity, or other costs, and each person pays their portion of the total amount.
Example: After the meal, Dave suggested; “Let’s split the bill evenly, so everyone pays their share.”
Swimming in money
Remember Scrooge McDuck? “Swimming in money” is used to describe someone who has an abundance of wealth or money. The phrase emphasizes the idea that the person is so rich that they are metaphorically “swimming” in a sea of money.
It is often used in informal contexts to describe individuals, celebrities, or wealthy entrepreneurs who have amassed vast fortunes or financial success.
Example: After selling his successful tech startup, John became a billionaire. His friend jokingly said, “Wow, John, you’re swimming in money now! You can afford anything you want!”
To make a killing
“To make a killing” is an expression that means to achieve a significant financial gain or profit, often through a successful investment, business deal, or financial opportunity. It implies that the individual or entity has made an exceptionally large profit, usually in a short period, leading to substantial financial success.
Example: “After investing in a startup company that became highly successful, Jane made a killing on her investment. She was able to earn ten times her initial investment amount.”
To make ends meet
“To make ends meet” is an expression that implies you’re making just enough money to live on. It suggests that you can meet your basic needs, such as housing, food, utilities, and other essential costs.
However, the expression is more commonly used if you’re finding it hard to cover your basic expenses. In this context, you might be struggling to make enough money “to make ends meet”.
Example: “Sarah had to make adjustments to her budget and reduce her expenses to make ends meet.”
Throw money down the drain
The expression “throw money down the drain” is used to describe wasting money on something that provides little or no value or benefit. It implies that the money spent is essentially lost or wasted, similar to pouring it down a drain where it cannot be recovered.
Example: “Spending so much on those extravagant parties is just throwing money down the drain.”
Tighten your belt
“Tighten your belt” is an idiom that means to reduce one’s spending or live more frugally in response to financial challenges or difficult economic circumstances. It suggests that a person should cut back on expenses and be more conservative with their finances to adapt to a situation where their finances are reduced.
Example: If a family experiences a reduction in income, they might say, “During tough times, we have to tighten our belts and cut down on non-essential expenses.”
Time is money
“Time is money” is one of the most widely used money expressions and conveys the idea that time is a valuable resource, just like money, and should be used wisely and efficiently. It suggests that wasting time is akin to wasting money and that making the most of one’s time is essential for productivity and success.
This phrase is often used by businesses in productivity contexts to emphasize the importance of not wasting time.
Example: A manager might tell their team, “Let’s work efficiently and meet the deadline; time is money.”
Two can live as cheaply as one
The expression “two can live cheaply as one” suggests that when two people share living expenses and household costs, they can save money and live more economically compared to living separately as individuals. In other words, sharing expenses, such as rent, utilities, and groceries, with someone else can make living more affordable.
This expression is often used to highlight the financial benefits of living with a roommate or a partner.
Example: If two friends decide to rent an apartment together, they might say, “Renting together makes sense; two can live as cheaply as one.”