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Idioms Exercises: Idioms about Money

Fill in the blanks to form an idiom about money. The idioms used in this exercise are listed after the practice activity. It may be a good idea to study the list of idioms before trying the exercise.

Also see the Idioms Builder for practice with hundreds of idioms (including the idioms in this exercise).



Idioms about Money

Idioms for talking about tough financial situations/ poverty

go broke
To go broke means to lose all of one’s money.
tighten one’s belt
To tighten one’s belt means to spend less and have a lower standard of living.
down and out
Someone down and out is extremely impoverished.
from hand to mouth
If someone is living from hand to mouth, their salary immediately gets spent on basic necessities with little left over.
strapped for cash
Someone strapped for cash doesn’t have money to spend at the moment.
don’t/doesn’t have two nickels to rub together
Someone who doesn’t have two nickels to rub together is very poor.
lose one’s shirt
To lose one’s shirt means to lose a lot of money on a deal, transaction, investment, etc.
pinch pennies (noun form is penny pincher)
Someone who pinches pennies is extremely thrifty or frugal.
get back on one’s feet
To get back on one’s feet means to recover, usually from a tough financial situation.
in the hole
To be in the hole means to be in debt. We usually use this idiom with an amount of money. (Ex. We’re $5,000 in the hole already.)


Idioms for talking about good financial situations/wealth

well off
Someone well off is fairly wealthy.
strike it rich
To strike it rich means to suddenly become wealthy.
make a killing
To make a killing means to make a lot of money on a deal, transaction, business, etc.
deep pockets
To have deep pockets means to be rich.
born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
To be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth means to be born wealthy and privileged.


Idioms for talking about payments

pick up the tab
To pick up the tab means to pay for something.
foot the bill
To foot the bill means to pay for something.
set (someone) back
To set someone back means to cost someone. (Ex. How much did your new car set you back?)
cough up the money (cough it up)
To cough up the money means to reluctantly pay for something.
pay through the nose
To pay through the nose means to pay an excessive amount for something.
cost an arm and a leg
Something that costs an arm and a leg is very expensive.
pay top dollar
To pay top dollar means to pay a lot of money.
break the bank
To break the bank means to spend too much money on something. We often use this idiom with “not” or “without.” (We’re looking for a solution that won’t break the bank, for example.)


Idioms for talking about profit and loss

in the black
In the black means making a profit.
in the red
In the red means not making a profit.
break even
To break even means to neither operate at a profit or loss — income equals expenses.


Idioms for talking about corruption and dishonesty

rip someone off (noun form is a rip off)
To rip someone off means to take advantage of someone in a financial transaction.
slush fund
A slush fund is money allotted for unofficial, corrupt, or illegal transactions.
buyer beware
We say buyer beware to communicate that the buyer is responsible for verifying the quality of goods.
grease someone’s palm
To grease someone’s palm means to pay someone a bribe.
pay someone off
To pay someone off means to pay someone a bribe.


Idioms for talking about financially providing for people

bring home the bacon
To bring home the bacon means to be the primary provider in the family.
make an honest living
To make an honest living means to make money by having a legitimate job and working hard at it.
make a living
To make a living means to make enough money to support oneself.
make ends meet
To make ends meet means to make enough to pay for one’s expenses and not go into debt.


Other idioms for talking about money

going rate
The going rate is the price that people normally pay for something.
out of pocket expenses
Out of pocket expenses are expenses that will not be reimbursed by one’s employer or organization.
bang for your buck
Bang for your buck means value for money.
get your money’s worth
To get your money’s worth means to get good value for what you pay.
more money than sense
We say someone has more money than sense when someone wastes money on something expensive.
ballpark figure/number
A ballpark figure/number is a very inexact estimate.
nest egg
A nest egg is money saved up for the future.
throw money at something
To throw money at something means to spend a lot of money trying to fix something without having a real plan.
cold, hard cash
Cold, hard cash means money in the form of bills or coins (as opposed to a credit card payment, a check, etc.).
nickel and dime someone (to death)
To nickel and dime someone means to charge small amounts for various things which add up to a real expense.
the almighty dollar
We use the expression the almighty dollar to communicate that making money is more important than anything else.
for peanuts
If something is sold for peanuts, it is sold at a price much lower than what it is worth.
worth its weight in gold
If something is worth its weight in gold, it is very valuable.
jack up the price
To jack up the price means to increase the price of something.
live within one’s means
To live within one’s means means to not spend more money than one has.

Also see the Idioms Builder for practice with hundreds of idioms (including the idioms in this exercise).