Hi everyone, in this video, I’m going to introduce some idioms that are related to money.
And the first one is probably the most common of all, money doesn’t grow on trees. And this just means that money is scarce, and therefore very valuable. I mean, if money grew on trees, if you needed money, you could get as much as you wanted just by walking outside the door and picking it off the trees that are there, and then it wouldn’t be valuable any more. So money doesn’t grow on trees. We say this in times where we’re being asked to spend money for something that we can’t afford or that is just too much money.
So for example, let’s say your husband, you’re a woman and your husband wants to go on a vacation and stay in a five-star hotel, and you tell your husband, man, hey, you know, money doesn’t grow on trees, we can’t afford that.
Or let’s say your child wants you, they see something in the toy store that’s very expensive, and you weren’t even going there to buy anything, you might say, look honey, we can’t buy that, your birthday was last week. You had some very nice presents for your birthday. Money doesn’t grow on trees. We can’t just spend it for anything we want at any time.
I often say this to my children when they leave the lights on. Or in the winter if they leave the heater on in a room that they’re not in anymore, I’ll say, hey could you please turn off the lights? Could you please turn off the heater? Money doesn’t grow on trees you know, like this. So that’s a very useful expression that you should use whenever you see money being wasted or if someone’s asking you to spend money when it’s not actually necessary.
Okay, another idiom that is useful is rolling in the dough. Rolling in the dough, it just means earning a lot of money. As you may know, dough is another word for money, and if you’re rolling in it, imagine yourself rolling around in big piles of money. You’re rolling in the dough, you’re making lots of money.
I know a guy who for many, many years struggled to earn enough money and then he wrote a book that became very popular. It eventually rose up in the Amazon sales and he started selling almost a million copies, he was rolling in the dough, he was rolling in the dough, he had lots and lots of money.
Another person, Susan, she started a website three or four years ago and she built it up, and Apple bought it. They’re very interested, they took it over, they bought it, she got paid millions of dollars, now she’s rolling in the dough. Like this. So anybody who’s got lots of money, they’re rolling it in. Sometimes we say they’re rolling it in.
Rolling it in. Or they’re rolling in it. That’s another way to say it. Yeah, he’s rolling in it. He’s got lots of money. Like this.
Okay, now if you’re the opposite of that, like many people are, you’re not rolling in the dough. In fact, you’re quite strapped, or strapped for cash. So to be strapped means you’re really, really low on money.
My friend Jem, he wanted to go to the concert with us last week, but he had to decline because he’s strapped for cash this month. And if you’re strapped for cash, you might approach a friend and say, hey, I’m really strapped right now, can I borrow 20 bucks? Can I borrow $20? I’ll pay you back next week. I’m just low on cash right now, I’m strapped for cash.
Okay, here’s another one. In a family, there’s generally one person who is the breadwinner, and this is the person who brings home the bacon. That’s a traditional family. Usually it was the husband, the man of the house, the father, who brought home the bacon. And that just means it’s the person who earns the money outside the house to provide for the family. Nowadays things are changing so much.
Sometimes women bring home the bacon, or both the man and the woman bring home the bacon. And in some cultures, they live in big extended families and many people are bringing home the bacon, so it just depends. But anyway, this means to provide money for a family.
Why is it called bacon? Well there are many different theories of that. One of them is that in the 12th century, an English church promised a side of bacon to any man who could show that he was doing very good behavior in his marriage. Also in the 1500s, at the county fairs back in England, there was a greased pig contest where they greased a pig and you had to try to catch it, and anyone that was able to catch it could keep that pig, and bring home the bacon. And bacon was very valuable in those days, in terms of its cost and its availability. It was not as easy to come by, and so if you were a family and you had bacon to serve your friends and family, it means you were well to do. You had enough money to afford it, and so it eventually became synonymous with earning some kind of living to put food on the table of your family.
Bringing home the bacon. Who brings home the bacon in your house?
Okay, another term that is related to money, especially controlling money is to hold the purse strings. To hold the purse strings, what does this mean? It means to be in charge of what money is spent on. So first of all, a purse is a bag, and generally you carry things like money, your wallet, personal belongings, valuables inside of a purse.
And these days, purse is generally associated with a bag that a female carries. It has a string on it that you can pull, a drawstring that will close the top of it. So if you’re in control of that purse string, you’re in control of opening and closing the purse, and therefore you’re in charge of what money comes in and out.
So who holds the purse strings in your household? It’s very interesting, it’s a very oldfashioned expression. It’s not used as much these days. I don’t hear it that often, but it’s interesting here in Japan, traditionally, the man, the husband brought home the bacon, but it was the wife that controlled the purse strings. So he would give the money to the wife, the wife would keep the money and then decide how it was spent. And she would give the husband a monthly allowance or a weekly allowance to spend on going out with his friends, or doing whatever he wants. Depending on how nice or how good he was, that amount may change according to his behavior and his relationship with his wife. That’s very interesting, the wives traditionally controlled the purse strings while the men brought home the bacon.
Who holds the purse strings in your household? And who holds the purse strings at your company or at your job? Usually there is a department that controls the money, or maybe it’s one person if it’s a small enough company.
Okay, now some people don’t do well with saving money, and as soon as they get any money, they spend all of it quickly. And if you’re one of those people, you have a hole in your pocket. So to have a hole in your pocket means to spend money very quickly without much thought. Some may say foolishly. Perhaps you know someone like this. They just get money, they spend it, and they never have any money so they’re always asking for money. And when they have it, they spend it quickly.
Another way to say this is to blow money. You can blow money by spending it quickly in a wasteful way, sometimes on useless things, things that are not necessary. You can blow money quickly.
Like for example, Tina, my friend Tina, she got paid recently, she doesn’t have any money left, and that was just a few days ago. She blew it all. She went out with her friends, she spent it on clothing and food and it was all gone quickly and she didn’t have enough to pay her rent. She blew money.
Maybe some people, they win a million dollars in the lottery, but they blow it all within one year, because they don’t know how to manage their money. They spend it on things they don’t actually need. Instead of investing it wisely, they blow it. Don’t blow your money. It might be fun to blow money, or blow through a savings account, or blow through a checking account, but to blow it, yeah, you’re not gonna have any, quickly. You have holes in your pockets.
Now sometimes, this is a more neutral meaning, those are kind of negative ways to talk about spending money. Another way is to splurge. And to splurge is different than blowing your money. To splurge means to spend a lot of money quickly, but in sort of a lavish kind of way, but in a calculated way. You’re doing it because you feel that you can afford it, and the pleasure it gives you is something that you can actually afford. But it’s more money than you usually spend.
So for example, in my family, we usually will go out to eat maybe I don’t know, once a week or once every other week. Let’s say two or three times a month my family goes out to eat. But we never go to expensive restaurants, we usually go to local, very reasonably priced restaurants so we don’t spend that much money. But once a year on my wife’s and my anniversary, on our wedding anniversary, we splurge. We decide, okay, this is a special day, we’re going to splurge. We’re going to spend a lot more money than we normally do on dinner, and go out to a really nice French restaurant, or a really nice Japanese restaurant and enjoy, enjoy our fortune and our wedding anniversary and splurge a little bit. Splurge, spend more money in kind of a lavish way. So it’s fun to do that, you just can’t do it very often because then you will be blowing your money, like this. So there’s a difference there between blowing your money and splurging.
Now some people, unfortunately in this world, are not as fortunate and they’re very poor. And if you’re very, very poor we can say you are dirt poor. Dirt poor. Why do we say dirt poor? Well it comes from people not even being able to afford a proper shelter with a floor, and they live in dirt floors, and therefore they’re constantly in contact with the dirt, so their feet are dirty, maybe their clothes and their body are kind of dirty, they’re dirt poor. That’s a way of saying very, very poor.
There’s a family that lives on the south side of town and they live in a very small shack. They don’t have any money, they’re dirt poor. There’s some homeless people living under the bridge here in downtown, and they’re dirt poor. They have nothing.
They have nothing except a blanket to keep warm at night.
Now you might hear the term piss poor. Piss poor means even poorer than dirt poor, like super poor. It’s not a really nice, actually neither term is very nice. But if you hear piss poor, it has a very interesting origin. Way back in the 1500s in England, some very poor families would have a pot that they would, ‘piss’ is another word for urine. To urinate is to piss. And so the family members would piss in this pot, they would urinate in the pot. And then when the pot was full, one of the family members would take it to the local tannery where they tan animal skins, and they would use the urine to tan the skins, so they would pay a very small amount of money for a bucket of urine which they would use in the tanning process. And so if you were so poor that you had to sell your own urine to get by, you were piss poor.
And if we say that person doesn’t have a pot to piss in, which you also hear.
They’re so poor they don’t even have a pot to piss in, it means you can’t even afford the pot to collect the urine that you can sell to make the money. So yeah, those are terms you’ll hear. Piss poor, dirt poor, so poor he doesn’t have a pot to piss in. So that’s the opposite of being flush with cash, or being loaded, is the direct opposite.
A few more. One is to live from hand to mouth. To live from hand to mouth. It means earning just enough to buy your food and your shelter. You’re living from hand to your mouth. Everything you do for work is going straight to your mouth to eat. You’re also probably poor or you’re at the lower end of the economics scale, and you just can’t afford the basic luxuries of life. You just have to worry about your food and your shelter. There are lots of people on planet Earth living hand to mouth.
They’re not able to save money. They’re just living hand to mouth. They’re poor.
And then other people struggle to make ends meet. That’s the final idiom here. To make ends meet. What does that mean? Well if you imagine the end of something, and the other end of it, you’re just struggling to put them together. And you can think of it as the end of the month and the beginning of the next month, you’re trying to just make those come together. It means to just earn enough to pay for your basic expenses that you need to keep your life and your lifestyle going.
There are different levels of this. Some people, they actually earn a good salary, but they struggle to make ends meet because they live above their means. So any person that lives above their means, they’re borrowing money, they don’t have enough cash coming in they’re struggling to make ends meet. It doesn’t mean that they’re poor. They could be, but it doesn’t mean that you’re poor. You’re just trying to maintain your lifestyle, and sometimes it’s difficult to make those ends meet. Very often single mothers have to work two jobs and they struggle to put food on the table of their children, they’re struggling to make ends meet.
My cousin has to work three jobs to make ends meet. He’s got like, four children, his wife cannot work because of a medical condition she has, and so he really struggles to make ends meet each month. He has to work three jobs.
So, that brings us to the end of this video on idioms related to money. I hope you’ve found some of those useful.