27 Money Idioms with Meaning and Examples

Money idioms are a fascinating aspect of the English language. They are expressions that use money-related terms to convey a message or idea. For example, “break the bank” means something costs too much money, or to use all of one’s money. Another example is “bring home the bacon,” which means to earn a living or provide for one’s family.

Money idioms are not only fun to use but also provide insight into cultural attitudes toward money and wealth. They reflect how people view money, whether it is as a means of survival, a measure of success, or a source of happiness. Learning money idioms can help you better understand the English language and the culture behind it. It can also make you sound more fluent and natural when speaking or writing in English.

Money Idioms

Money Idioms

What Are Money Idioms?

Money idioms are expressions or phrases used in everyday conversation that relate to finances, wealth, and money. They are commonly used by native speakers and can be confusing for non-native speakers to understand, as they often have a figurative meaning that is not immediately obvious from the words themselves.

Money idioms can be used to describe various financial situations, such as earning, spending, saving, and losing money, as well as one’s general financial state. They are often used to add color and humor to conversations about money, and can help to convey complex ideas in a simple and concise way.

Origins of Money Idioms

Money idioms have been around for centuries and are used in various cultures and languages. They are an essential part of our daily conversations and have become a way to express our thoughts about money in a witty and humorous manner.

One of the earliest recorded money idioms is “to pay through the nose,” which originated in Ireland in the 9th century. This idiom came about because the Irish government imposed a tax on the nose of every person in the country, and those who refused to pay were punished by having their noses slit.

List of Money Idioms

As we all know, idioms are phrases that have a figurative meaning, which is different from the literal meaning of the words. In this section, we will be discussing some of the most commonly used money idioms along with their meanings.

Here is a table that lists some of the popular money idioms and their meanings with examples:

Idiom Meaning and Example
Cash cow A scheme or business operation that provides a steady and dependable source of income
“Our new product has become a cash cow for the company.”
Break the bank To spend all of one’s money on something
“I can’t afford to buy that new car. It would break the bank.”
Penny pincher A person who is unwilling to spend money
“My grandfather is a penny pincher and never spends money unnecessarily.”
Money talks Money has the power to influence people and decisions
Money talks, so you should be prepared to negotiate a better salary.”
Tighten one’s belt To reduce one’s spending
“We need to tighten our belts and cut back on expenses this month.”
Pay through the nose To pay an exorbitant amount of money
“She wanted the designer dress so badly that she was willing to pay through the nose for it.”
Cost an arm and a leg To be extremely expensive
“I would love to travel to Paris, but it would cost me an arm and a leg.”
Cry all the way to the bank To lament or complain while simultaneously making a profit or benefiting financially
“Even though he lost the bet, he still cried all the way to the bank.”
Cut corners To do something in the easiest, quickest, or cheapest way, often compromising quality or rules
“We had to cut corners to finish the project on time.”
Hit the jackpot To have great success or receive a sudden windfall, often unexpectedly
“I hit the jackpot when I found that rare coin at the flea market.”
Put all your eggs in one basket To risk everything on a single opportunity or plan
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to investing.”
Tighten your belt To reduce spending or live more frugally
“Since his pay cut, he’s had to tighten his belt, cooking at home instead of dining out.”
Bring home the bacon To earn a living or to provide for your family
“I work long hours to bring home the bacon for my family.”
Bread and butter To one’s main source of income or livelihood
“Teaching is my bread and butter, but I also enjoy writing on the side.”
Money doesn’t grow on trees Money is not easily acquired and should be spent wisely
“I would love to go on a shopping spree, but money doesn’t grow on trees.”
Foot the bill To pay for something, typically something expensive or costly
“The parents decided to foot the bill for their daughter’s wedding.”
Money to burn To have more money than one needs, often implies a willingness to spend it frivolously
“He bought another luxury car, just because he has money to burn.”
Money doesn’t grow on trees Money is not easily acquired and should be spent wisely
“I would love to go on a shopping spree, but money doesn’t grow on trees.”
For peanuts For a very small amount of money, or very cheaply
“He bought that vintage car for peanuts and later sold it for a huge profit.”
Cut your losses To stop an activity that is not profitable and thereby stop the amount of money or time being lost
“After realizing the business was not going to pick up, she decided to cut her losses and move on.”
As sound as a dollar Very secure or stable financially
“Even during the economic crisis, his investments remained as sound as a dollar.”
Cash-and-carry A system of wholesale trading whereby goods are paid for in full at the time of purchase
“The warehouse operates on a cash-and-carry basis, so we’ll need to pay for the stock upfront.”
Cash in on (something) To take advantage of or benefit from an opportunity, especially for financial gain.
“She managed to cash in on the early investment by selling her shares when the market peaked.”
Be made of money To be very wealthy
“Don’t ask me to buy you a new phone; I’m not made of money!”
Make a killing To earn a lot of money in a short time and with little effort.
“He made a killing in the stock market and retired at the age of 40.”
Get a run for one’s money To receive good value or enjoyment from something for the money spent; to be challenged by someone
“The underdog team really gave the champions a run for their money in the finals.”
Pinch pennies To be very careful with money and spend it sparingly.
“Ever since the pay cut, we’ve had to pinch pennies to make ends meet.”

Common Money Idioms

Break the Bank

When it comes to spending money, we all want to make sure that we’re not breaking the bank. This idiom means that we don’t want to spend more money than we can afford.

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For example, if we’re planning a vacation, we might look for options that won’t break the bank. This could mean looking for discounts or choosing a more affordable destination.

Another way to use this idiom is to describe something that is very expensive. For instance, we might say that a new car model breaks the bank if it costs more than we can afford.

Here are some more examples of how we can use this idiom:

  • “I want to buy a new computer, but I don’t want to break the bank.”
  • “We’re planning a wedding, but we’re trying not to break the bank.”
  • “I found a great deal on a vacation package that won’t break the bank.”

Bring Home the Bacon

The expression “bringing home the bacon” refers to the act of making money to sustain oneself or one’s family. This phrase has historical origins and has been in use for many years, tracing back to Great Britain. Specifically, there’s a tradition in Great Dunmow, a town in Essex, where a couple that remained happily married for a year and a day would receive a side of bacon, a practice that began in the 14th century and continues even in modern times.

Nowadays, bringing home the bacon is a common phrase used to describe earning a living. It is often used to describe the primary breadwinner in a family. For example, “My husband brings home the bacon while I stay home with the kids.”

There are many ways to bring home the bacon, from working a full-time job to starting your own business. It is important to find a way to earn money that is fulfilling and sustainable. It’s also important to remember that bringing home the bacon is not just about earning money, but also about providing for our loved ones and creating a stable future for ourselves.

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Bread and Butter

One of the most common money idioms is “bread and butter.” This phrase is often used to describe the basic necessities of life. It can refer to a person’s primary source of income or the things that are essential for their survival.

The idiom “bread and butter” is also used to describe something that is essential or fundamental. In other words, it is something that is necessary for survival. This can include things like food, shelter, and clothing. Without these basic necessities, a person would not be able to survive.

Money Talks

This phrase is often used to describe the idea that those with money have more power and influence in society.

Unfortunately, this can sometimes be true. Wealthy individuals often receive special treatment and have more opportunities available to them. For example, they may have access to better healthcare, education, and job opportunities.

However, it’s important to remember that money isn’t everything. While it can provide opportunities, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee happiness or success. In fact, many people who are wealthy still struggle with personal issues and challenges.

It’s also important to remember that there are many things that money can’t buy. For example, it can’t buy love, happiness, or true friendship. These things are priceless and can only be earned through genuine connections with others.

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

This phrase is used to remind people that money is not easily obtained and that it requires hard work and effort to earn it.

We all know that money is an essential part of our lives. We need it to buy food, pay bills, and enjoy our leisure time. However, it is easy to forget that money is not an infinite resource and that we need to be careful with how we spend it.

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When we say “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” we are reminding ourselves and others that we need to be responsible with our finances. We need to work hard to earn money and be mindful of how we spend it.

This idiom is often used by parents when their children ask for expensive items or when they spend money frivolously. It is a gentle reminder that money is not an unlimited resource and that we need to be careful with how we spend it.

Cost an Arm and a Leg

“Costs an arm and a leg” is used to describe a situation where the cost of something is so high that it feels like we are giving up a part of our body to pay for it.

This idiom can be used in a variety of situations, from buying a house or a car to paying for a college education. For example, “I really want to buy that new car, but it costs an arm and a leg.”

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase “cost an arm and a leg” means “to be extremely expensive.” It is a colloquial expression and is not meant to be taken literally.

Here are some examples of how this idiom is used in sentences:

  • “I would love to take a trip to Europe, but it would cost us an arm and a leg.”
  • “I’m thinking about buying a new laptop, but I don’t want it to cost an arm and a leg.”
  • “My son wants to go to a private university, but it would cost us an arm and a leg to pay for his tuition.”

Last Updated on November 27, 2023

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