With tax day right around the corner, money seems to be on everybody’s minds here in the U.S. And heck, we don’t need tax day in order to think about money! Whether you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth or live hand to mouth, money is central to daily life. In this post, we’re going to explore 12 money idioms with sentences, images, and a practice quiz! Are any of these money-related idioms new to you? Tell us in the comments!
What do you mean by TAX DAY?
Money Idiom 1: BRING HOME THE BACON
This popular idiom has two meanings, but the meanings are very similar. If I say that Reginald brings home the bacon, I might mean that he is successful at something. I might also mean, though, that he earns money for his family to live on. They’re similar because if you’re successful at something, it might give you the opportunity to earn money to support your family.
Personally, I think I would love any man who brought me bacon! 😍 (If my husband is reading this: HINT, HINT!)
What do you mean by HINT, HINT?
Those weren’t the empty promises of a politician. She actually brought home the bacon.
(= She was actually successful at doing what she said she was going to do)
I take care of the kids, and Lee brings home the bacon.
(= Lee supports the family financially)
Money Idiom 2: MONEY IS NO OBJECT
When you say that money is no object, you’re saying that you are willing to spend a lot of money.
Here’s my card, darling. Get whatever you like. Money is no object.
Money Idiom 3: TAKE A BATH
This is one of my favorite expressions related to money! I like it because, unlike so many idioms, its literal meaning does make sense! My grandmother takes baths all the time!
However, this also has an idiomatic meaning in business settings! In a business context, if you take a bath (on something), you lose a lot of money in a business agreement.
We took a bath on the Clark job, but we should make it back and then some with this stadium contract.
Money Idiom 4: WORTH YOUR/ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD
A person who is worth their weight in gold is very useful or valuable. Likewise, something that’s worth its weight in gold is very useful or valuable.
My lawyer is worth her weight in gold. I thought for sure I’d have to do jail time, but she got me out of it on procedural grounds.
The new shovel you got me is worth its weight in gold. It takes a lot of pressure off my back when I’m shoveling the driveway.
Money Idiom 5: IN FOR A PENNY, IN FOR A POUND
In for a penny, in for a pound. This common idiom makes reference to British currency. A penny is a tiny amount of money—it’s not even enough to buy a gumball!—and a pound is worth 100 pence. It’s still not a lot of money, but it’s certainly worth a lot more!
PENCE? I thought it was PENNIES?
We use this idiom to say that since you have started to do something, it is worth spending as much time or money as you need to in order to complete it.
Rick: I know I gave you an estimate of $5,000 for the remodeling work in your basement, but I’ve just discovered a major structural issue. It’s going to double the price of the job.
Frank: You’re kidding. Ah well. In for a penny, in for a pound. Do what you need to do.
Money Idiom 6: A KING’S RANSOM
One of the great things about learning idioms is that you learn other English vocabulary, too! This money idiom contains a fabulous word in English, ransom. A ransom is money that you pay to someone in exchange for a prisoner they’re keeping. If the prisoner is an average person, the ransom wouldn’t be that high. But can you imagine how high the ransom would be if the prisoner were a king?
So, when we say that something cost you a king’s ransom, we mean that it cost you a very large amount of money.
Of course, we love to exaggerate in English! We can use this idiom to refer to something that cost a lot of money. However, we can also use it to refer to paying more for something than we thought was a fair price, even if it’s not a lot of money.
I love living on the water. I paid a king’s ransom for the location, but it was worth every penny. I feel totally connected to nature.
(Here, the speaker really did pay a very large amount of money.)
When I was a kid, you could get a burger for 25 cents. Now, it’ll cost you a king’s ransom!
(Here, the burger doesn’t cost a lot of money. It just costs a lot more than the speaker thinks is a fair price. It’s a lot more than what he used to pay.)
Money Idiom 7: NEST EGG
A nest egg is a sum of money that you save to use in the future.
I’d rather not use our nest egg for something like a new car. Our old beater works just fine for now, and I want to save that money for a house down payment.
What is a BEATER?
Money Idiom 8: BORN WITH A SILVER SPOON IN YOUR MOUTH
If I say that someone was born with a silver spoon in their mouth, I mean they were born into a rich family. We usually use this idiom disapprovingly to imply that the person doesn’t understand the struggles of average people because they’ve had a very easy life, financially speaking.
What does Thomas know about the struggle to make rent each month? Or how much we sacrifice to be able to send our kids to school? He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
MAKE RENT? I thought it was PAY RENT?
Money Idiom 9: LIVE HAND TO MOUTH
Someone who was born with a silver spoon in their mouth probably doesn’t understand what it’s like to live hand to mouth. When you live hand to mouth, you spend all the money you earn on basic needs, such as food, without being able to save any money.
We were living hand to mouth for a few years while we were getting the business off the ground, but that’s all in the past now. We’re finally living our dreams!
Money Idiom 10: COOK THE BOOKS
My parents are both accountants, and when I lived at home, it wasn’t uncommon for me to hear them talking about discovering that someone was cooking the books. They usually said it with a grin, proud of themselves for having discovered it. When someone cooks the books, they falsify the financial records for a company or organization. This is a crime, and people might cook the books for a variety of reasons. They might be embezzling, or they might be committing tax fraud, etc.
EMBEZZLING? What does that mean?
Integrity needs to be the main quality we look for in our next bookkeeper. Our last bookkeeper was cooking the books and managed to embezzle over $100,000 before we caught on.
Money Idiom 11: CASH COW
A cash cow is the part of a business that always makes a profit and that provides money for the rest of the business. A cash cow might be a popular product, or it could even be a superstar performer or athlete who attracts customers more than anyone else on the team.
You think the Patriots wants to trade Tom Brady? Are you kidding?! He’s their cash cow!
We sometimes lose money on the food, but hookah is our cash cow. People love coming here to smoke, and the profit margins on hookah are through the roof.
Money Idiom 12: PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS
This is one of the most popular idioms on this list of money idioms! If you put your money where your mouth is, you show by your actions that you really mean something.
Someone might talk a lot about solving a problem, but if they actually contribute some of their own money towards solving the problem, people understand that they truly care about the issue. This idiom doesn’t only refer to using money to show your sincerity, but that’s where the idea behind the idiom came from.
You talk a lot about sustainability, but I don’t see you making a single change in your own life. Put your money where your mouth is.
Quiz Yourself on These Popular Idioms Related to Money
The time has come, Stepper! Do you know these money idioms, or don’t you?
Take this idiom quiz to test yourself on the money-related vocab in this article! If you get 100%, you can consider yourself a Money Idioms Maven!