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Money Idioms

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Money: we never seem to have enough of it. Here are some common idioms that English speakers use which are related to it.

To Make a Quick Buck

To make money quickly and easily. It is often used for making money in a dishonest way. A buck is a slang word for a US dollar.

'People today would rather make a quick buck than work hard and save.'

On a Shoestring

To do something cheaply when you have a very small amount of money or a limited budget.

'I went travelling around Europe on a shoestring. I stayed in the cheapest hotels and ate at the cheapest places.'

To be Strapped for Cash

To be strapped for cash means that you have very little money at the present time.

'I'd love to go with you, but I can't afford it. I'm really strapped for cash at the moment.'

To be in the Red

We use this expression to mean being overdrawn at the bank. Your bank account is in the red. Traditionally the bank sends you a letter using red print as a warning that your account is in the negative/ minus (-).

'When I'm in the red my bank makes me pay extra charges as a punishment.'

Burn a Hole in your Pocket

Money is burning a hole in your pocket when you have some 'extra' money and you really want to spend it. The action of spending is usually more important than what you buy.

'The money I got from my parents on my birthday is burning a hole in my pocket! I just can't learn to save money.'

To Tighten your Belt

We tighten our belts when we need to be careful about how much we spend. This is used when an economic situation becomes difficult and we do not have much money. We are saying that we are going to try and spend less than we have been doing.

'I'll have to tighten my belt until I find a new job. I can't spend as much as I used to.'

To Shell Out

To shell out means to pay for something when we don't want to.

'I had to shell out $500 to get my car fixed.'


Link: Body Idioms

  • I would come, but I'm a little ___ for cash.

  • I got a letter from the bank saying that I'm in the ___.

  • He will do anything to make a quick ___.

  • The money I got for my birthday is burning a ___ in my pocket.