English Language Blog

Money, money, money: English expressions related to $ Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 in English Language, English Vocabulary

Image "Money." by Tax Credits on Flickr.com.

Image “Money.” by Tax Credits on Flickr.com.

Money, we all have it and we all want more of it!  Money is a big part of our lives whether we like it or not; and we all have different ways of approaching our use and saving money.  These common English expressions, idioms, and phrases all about money prove this – some people are savers some people are spenders.  Even though most of these expressions don’t have the word “money” in them, they all refer to the use of money. Your challenge today is to pick 3 of the phrases below to memorize and use in conversation over the next week to help build your vocabulary. Get ready, it is time to talk money!

Expression about money:

at all costs – to do something at any expense without importance of money or time

Example: The highest level of security must be maintained at all costs during the President’s visit.


to bet (one’s) bottom dollar – to bet all that you have on something because you are sure it is true or that you will win

Example: I would bet my bottom dollar that the teacher will be late for class again today.


 to break the bank – to use all of one’s money

Example: Buying this new house is going to break the bank, but it will be worth it to have a place of our own.


 to cost a pretty penny – to cost a lot of money

Example: Kate’s new car it is a BMW, it cost a pretty penny to buy.


 to be flat broke – to have absolutely no money at all

Example: I am flat broke, could I borrow some money from you to pay my heating bill?


 to foot the bill – to pay for something; usually when one person pays the whole bill for a group of people

Example: My boss decided to foot the bill for our team lunch today.


to grease (someone’s) palm – to pay a bribe in order to get a special favor

Example: In my country if you want to open a business you have to grease a lot of people’s palms to make that happen in a reasonable amount of time.


 to have money to burn – to have a lot of money; to have more money than is needed

Example: After my friend received his inheritance he had money to burn and was buying all sort of expensive new things.


 to be in the hole – to be in debt

Example: I think my company is too far in the hole to recover, so I am going to start to look for a new job now, before I get laid off.


 to be loaded – to have lots of money

Example: Do you know Tommy? He is loaded. If you want to have a good time you should hang out with him.


 to make a killing – to make a large amount of money

Example: My sister made a killing on the stock market last year.


 money doesn’t grow on trees – money is valuable and shouldn’t be wasted

Example: My dad always tells me “Money doesn’t grow on trees ,” whenever I ask him for money.


 penny-wise and pound foolish – This is an expression that describes a person who is careful with small amounts of money, but careless or wasteful with large amounts of money.

Example: My friend Jane is penny-wise and pound foolish, she has a strict budget for groceries each week, but wastes money buying a new car every year.


 a red cent – a small sum of money

Example: I wouldn’t pay a red cent for my neighbor’s car, it is the worst car I’ve ever seen or heard!


to squirrel away money – to save money over a period of time

Example: My grandmother was able to squirrel away over $1,000 in a year and then she went on a vacation to Florida for the winter.


to tighten (one’s) belt – to use less money than usual

Example: After my wife lost her job we had to tighten our belts and do a better job at saving money.


to be worth its weight in gold – to be very valuable

Example: The picture I have of my grandfather that was taken with my whole family the week before he died, that is worth its weight in gold to me.


Which two of these phrases do you think you will try to use in the next week? You might try and pick two to try and use next week too – this would be a great way to keep building your vocabulary over time.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Dmitry:

    Thank you I learned all thanks to you.