Money expressions and idioms


bet one’s bottom dollar:  make a bet one can’t lose
You can bet your bottom dollar that she’ll be late.

break even:  neither win nor lose money
If we sell that gold coin now, we can break even.

bring home the bacon:  earn money to support the family
She’s the one who brings home the bacon in that family.

cash in:  to change into cash by exchanging or selling something
He decided to cash in and sold his company for five million dollars.

chip in:  contribute with others to buy something
All the employees chipped in on a retirement gift for George.

clean up:  win or make a lot of money
He took his tow truck out on the road during that last snow storm and just cleaned up.

foot the bill:  pay
Who’s going to foot the bill if the truck breaks down?

get caught short:  be in a situation where one doesn’t have enough money
If we don’t want to get caught short, we should start saving now.

grease one’s palm:  give someone money for special treatment
If we want to get into the club, we have to grease the doorman’s palm.

have sticky fingers:  steal money
I told you not to hire him because he had sticky fingers.

hit the jackpot:  win a great deal of money
The first time they bought a lottery ticket, they hit the jackpot.

keep the books (in a company):  record the money earned and spent (by the company)
His daughter keeps the books for the company.

lay out more money:  spend more money
The contractor said we have to lay out more money to fix the cracks in the basement.

live high off the hog:  own the best that money can buy
She sold her company last year, and now they’re living high off the hog.

live on a shoestring:  living on a tight budget with no extra money to spend
Since she left her parent’s house, she’s been living on a shoestring.

lose one’s shirt:  lose all one’s money
He invested all his money in a real estate scheme and lost his shirt.

make a bundle:  make a lot of money
If we sell this idea to an investor, I’m sure we can make a bundle.

make a fast buck:  make money quickly
Everybody wants to make a fast buck, but it’s extremely hard to do.

make a killing:  make a very good investment that pays well
He bought Microsoft stock in 1984 and made a killing.

make ends meet:  have just enough money for expenses
He had to get a second job to make ends meet.

make money hand over fist:  earn large amounts of money
They created an app that finds the cheapest gas, and now they’re making money hand over fist.

pay an arm and a leg (for something):  spend more than one can afford
I hear she paid an arm and a leg for her new teeth.

pay through the nose:  pay too much
If you pay the minimum on your credit card each month, you’ll pay through the nose.

pick up the tab:  pay the bill for everyone
He invited everyone to come celebrate with him, and he picked up the tab for everything.

rake in the cash:  make a lot of money
As soon as they opened the doors of their restaurant, they started to rake in the cash.

scrape together:  manage to get
The young couple were able to scrape together a down payment on a condo.

set one back:  cost
How much did that new car set you back?

shell out:  spend
You have to shell out some money and replace the glasses you broke.

splurge:  spend too much money
After he got a raise at work, he started to splurge.

strike it rich:  make a lot of money quickly
Lots of people hope to strike it rich by creating the next popular app.

take a beating:  lose a lot of money
He took a beating in the stock market last year.

tighten one’s belt:  stop spending money except for necessities
Since your parents stopped supporting you, you need to tighten your belt.

won’t break the bank:  is something one can afford to buy
I can buy that laptop.  It won’t break the bank.


a cheapskate:  a person who doesn’t like to spend money at all
That man never leaves a tip when he eats here.  He’s a cheapskate.

a deadbeat:  a person who doesn’t pay what they owe
His father is a deadbeat that he hasn’t seen in years.

a handout:  free gift from family or friends
Every Christmas my sister comes home looking for a handout.

a penny pincher:  a person who is very careful with their spending
Her mother has always been a penny pincher.

a windfall:  a lot of money
They received a windfall when her father died.

chicken feed:  very little money
He returns cans and bottles for chicken feed.

cold hard cash:  real money in bills and coins
I won’t accept a cheque.  I want cold hard cash.

money to burn:  money one doesn’t need
You guys can go to Las Vegas if you want, but I don’t have any money to burn.

nest egg:  savings of money for the future
They decided never to spend their nest egg.

one’s two cents worth:  one’s opinion
After everyone had said their two cents worth, the president made her decision.

Adjectives / prepositional phrases:

at all cost:  without thinking of the price
They need to fix that roof at all cost.

back on one’s feet:  in good financial health
I want to help him get back on his feet.

down and out:  feeling sad because of having no money
He’s been down and out since he lost his job.

flat broke:  without any money at all
To tell you the truth, I’m flat broke.

from hand to mouth:  having just enough money for the basic things
The family down the street is living from hand to mouth.

hard up for cash:  needing money
My brother lost his job last month, and he’s hard up for cash.

in the hole:  owing money
I’m in the hole for about ten thousand dollars.

in the red:  losing more money than making
The company has been in the red for the last ten months.

loaded:  rich
The man she met is tall, handsome and loaded.

on the house:  free
To celebrate our one-year anniversary, for the next ten minutes drinks are on the house.;

strapped for cash:  without any money
Can you lend me a hundred dollars?  I’m a little strapped for cash at the moment.


I feel like a million dollars:  I feel happy
I think I’ve finally met the right person, and I feel like a million dollars.

money is no object:  it doesn’t matter how expensive it is, one can buy it
I want the very best.  Money is no object.

money was burning a hole in one’s pocket:  one wanted to spend money quickly
The money from my grandparents was burning a hole in my pocket, so I spent it.

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