• Daniel Bullock

Save Money With These 14 English Money Idioms

Has anyone ever told you that if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves? That idiom means if we are careful with small purchases and spending habits, we will be financially safe in the long term. In today’s tutorial, we will talk about idioms related to money, finance, being poor or low-paid, and losing money. Boost your English vocabulary with these phrases. It will pay to learn them!

pennies, pounds, piggy bank, saving money
If your job is low-paid, take some financial advice


  1. Idioms and Phrases for saving money

  2. Bank idioms that are handy to know

  3. Idioms about price. They won’t cost you much time!

  4. Idioms about pay: Studying these will pay off for your English

  5. 6 Losing money quotes: Learn from these to save pennies and pounds

  6. Feeling low-paid? Check out these 6 poor idioms

  7. What does "spend a penny" mean?

  8. Table of idioms about money with meanings you can bank on!

Idioms and Phrases for saving money

To improve our spoken English - either for a Native English speaker or for a non-native learner, it is beneficial to use idiomatic expressions in our speech. Using idioms or phrasal verbs helps us to sound more natural and concise in our speech. Make sure the idioms are used correctly and in the right context, however, otherwise it can have the opposite effect! That’s why it is important to have a decent understanding of both the idiom and the type of sentence in which is it used. Here, you will find the meanings of 14 money-related idioms, along with example sentences so that you can clearly see the context.

Bank idioms that are handy to know-and you can take that to the bank!

financial idioms , advice, banking, HSBC, Barclays, London Skyline, Canary Wharf towers, pounds sterling, dollars, euro, currency market, stock exchange
Take that financial advice to the bank!

In this section, we will uncover some financial idioms with meanings, whether you are just thinking about saving a few pennies or looking to sign the deal of a lifetime and make bank! Let’s find out about banking and financial expressions in English.

Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves

This means that if we are careful with our routine, small purchases, in the long run, we will get more capital (capital means money). Basically, we will be able to save or make money in the long term, if we are careful every day. This expression is British English. Here is an example sentence for this idiom:

Janet finally managed to buy a car after years of careful saving. It just goes to show that if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves!

To make bank

The idiom means to make a lot of money. Good job! It is a very casual English expression. Let’s look at this phrase in a sentence:

Pablo really made bank this year, everyone in the office is so envious of him.

To bank on

infographic, credit card, online banking, asset management, clipart for finance and investment
I"m not sure we can bank on our investments. We will have to wait and see how the market pans out.

This phrase means to base your hopes or confidence on something. For instance, we can “bank on” a reliable person to always help us. Its origins come from the finance sector, so it makes sense that we would also use this term in business English. To “bank on” a company means that we can expect they will be trustworthy and reliable, probably in the long term. When we make investments, we want to choose companies that we can bank on. Here are some examples of this idiom in a sentence:

A: Can we trust Jack with the new client?

B: Oh yes. You can bank on him. I don’t know why you’d even question his ability. His track record is flawless.

A: I’d like to make some investments in order to generate passive income. Any ideas?

B: Yes. I’d put some cash into this car manufacturer. You can absolutely bank on them.

Idioms about price. They won’t cost you much time!

To be priced out of the market.

This means that property has become too expensive for people. It is often said that when areas become “gentrified” the original homeowners end up becoming priced out of the area. They have to move to cheaper housing, usually in a less convenient location. Here is an example of this idiom in a sentence.

Max and Janet got priced out of the market in east London. They had to move all the way to Margate and commute into the city from there.

A set price

sea, blue, warm, water, package holiday to the mediterranean
Our package holiday to Spain was sold at a set price

This idiom might be useful for people interested in saving money (like most of us!). It means that the product on sale has a fixed price, which will not change, at least right now. How do you buy at a certain, fixed price? You look for products which advertise a “set price”. Common examples of these would be mobile phone contracts. It is usually better to buy a contract that has a set monthly fee, otherwise, if you exceed the number of calls or data usage, you may be charged a lot of money. Here is an example of “a set price” in a sentence:

Michael and Paula are delighted. They booked their summer holiday to Majorca at a set price. They were worried about having to pay extras, but luckily it was all-inclusive.

Idioms about pay: Studying these will pay off for your English

To pay off

This pricey idiomatic expression means to “yield returns”. In simple terms, the effort you put into something brings you benefits. Pay off also has several other different meanings, which Mirriam Webster explains nicely. Here is an example of "pay off" in a sentence:

Henry's hard work has paid off. He got a great result on the IELTS test.

To pay through the nose (for something)

This very English expression means that you paid an excessive amount of money for something. Basically, it describes something which is too expensive or costly. Here is an example of paying through the nose in a sentence. Bear in mind this is a casual English phrase and not used much in formal or business situations.

I paid through the nose for that antique chair. Most people think it was a waste, but I love the design!

6 Losing money quotes: Learn from these to save pennies and pounds

gold markets, losing money quotes, warren buffet, financial idioms, well-paid
I hope you don't lose money on the gold markets

1. Quote from Warren Buffet:

Rule No 1: Never lose money. Rule No 2: Never forget rule No 1.

2. Quote from Robert Kiyosaki:

The greatest cause of human financial struggle is the fear of losing money.

3. Quote from Jonathan Swift:

A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.

4. Quote from Dave Ramsay:

You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.

5. Quote from Winston Churchill:

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

6. Quote from Simon Sinek:

We can make up for lost money, but we can't make up for lost time.

Feeling low-paid? Check out these 6 poor idioms

I can not even spend a penny. empty wallet, money problems
I can't even spend a penny, my wallet is empty. My job is too low-paid.

Find out some idioms to use to discuss the topic of being poor or low-paid. Whether we ourselves are poor, people we know, or whole countries, we can use these 6 idioms to describe the situation.

1. Low paid

When we are low-paid it means we receive a low salary, or our income is sporadic or uncertain. Many entry-level jobs are low-paid. Employees hope that with enough time and effort, they can get higher levels of pay. Here is an example sentence so you can get a clearer context:

When Martin started working at the carmaker, he was pretty low-paid. Now, after 15 years, he commands a high salary.

2. In need

poorest continent in the world, low-paid work, beautiful savannah
Although Africa is extremely beautful, it is also very poor in many parts. There are lots of chidren in need.

This idiom is used to describe people who require help due to being really poor. Here is an example of this in a sentence:

There are many children in need across the world. Particularly in Africa.

3. On the breadline

This idiom means that someone is at the level to be considered poor. It is a figurative expression: the person or group has to wait in line for bread to be given out as charity. It comes from British English. Here is an example of “on the breadline” in a sentence:

Millions of people are living on the breadline now, due to the economic recession.

4. He’s broke

This idiom means he doesn’t have enough money - he is poor. Here is an example of “broke” in a sentence:

He’s broke. He needs to find a new job very soon, otherwise, he will lose his house.

5. Out of funds

This expression describes the time when we have zero money. It is also used in business English to talk about corporations that have run into financial trouble. Here is an example sentence for out of funds:

Tracey and Tina spent about 11 months backpacking around Asia, before running out of funds. Now they are back home.

6. Down on luck

unhappy man clipart, down on his luck, losing money, out of pocket, poor
Charley is feeling down on his luck at the moment. He needs a pay rise!

This phrase can easily be used to talk about being poor. We need to use the appropriate pronoun in order to make it sound natural. Usually, we use: my, his, her, their, and I. For instance: I am down on my luck. Here is another example sentence with down on luck:

He has been down on his luck for a while. Hopefully, his new business will succeed.

What does "spend a penny" mean?

This is a funny British English expression. Quite often with British English, we find that things are not said directly, but rather a euphemism is used, to make it sound more polite. Here is an example of the phrase “spend a penny” in a sentence:

You should spend a penny before taking this long car journey.

Table of idioms about money with meanings you can bank on!

This table of idioms and definitions will be especially useful for students of English who are at an intermediate to advanced level. If these words are too confusing, or you are a beginner, I'd suggest researching the words in a dictionary. If you would like more information on English idioms and how to use them to make sentences and conversations, why not check out some of our other tutorials here at Daniels English Club? Continuing the idiomatic theme of this post, 25 idioms about summer is also a good read.

​Idioms related to money

Meaning of the expression

​Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

If you take good care of small expenses and do not waste money, you will save in the long run.

To make bank

To generate lots of money. Super!

To bank on

To rely on something or someone.

To be priced out of the market.

Housing or real estate has become unaffordable.

A set price

The price of something is fixed. For example a buffet, a phone contract, or a package tour.

To pay off

To get rewarded for your hard work. Often accompanied with the word “finally”.

To pay through the nose (for something).

To pay an unreasonably high price for something.

In need

A very poor person, or requiring help.

On the breadline

Living at the poverty level.

He's broke

He is out of money, or can’t afford to buy much.

Out of funds

To have no money.

​Down on luck

To be experiencing a time of bad luck.

Spend a penny

Used as a euphemism when going to urinate.

Low paid

Receiving a small or insufficient income, relative to others.