Money Vocabulary

Money Vocabulary

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

Jonathan Swift, an Anglo-Irish author and clergyman

What can we do with money? Let’s see some of the most common collocations below.

Money collocations

  • to spend (spent; spent) money on somethingI have spent all my savings on new shoes.
  • to borrow moneyYou could borrow some money from your uncle without paying interest (= money that is charged by a bank or other financial organization for borrowing money).
  • to lend (lent; lent) moneyBanks will only lend money at a high rate of interest.
  • to change money: Where is the nearest currency exchange? I need to change some money.
  • to make/earn moneyShe makes money giving English lessons.
  • to counterfeit [‘kauntəfɪt] moneyHe went to jail for counterfeiting money.
  • to save money (= to lay away money)I save money for a rainy day.
  • to squander [‘skwɔndə] / throw (threw; thrown) away moneyHe squanders money because he doesn’t know what it is like to earn it.
  • to invest money in something: Before investing money in some project, consult a specialist.
  • to deposit [dɪ’pɔzɪt] moneyWe should deposit money in/with a bank.
  • to launder [‘lɔːndə] (= obtain illegally) money: They used to launder money doing some shady deals.

Apart from verb + money collocations, naturally there are many adjective + money ones. Here are some of them:

  • black money – money that is earned illegally, or on which the necessary tax isn’t paid: Black money has been a big issue in the country for many decades.
  • pocket money – an amount of money that parents regularly give to their children to spend as they choose: Giving pocket money to children as young as four or five years helps them start learning about the value of money and money management.
  • mad money – a small sum of money kept for minor expenses, emergencies or impulse purchases: Mad money is a bit of cash set aside for some personal fun.

Money proverbs

Money has been part of people’s life for centuries. It is no wonder that it is a rich source of idioms. Here are some of the most frequently used:

  • Time is money – money is valuable, so do things as fast as possible: We can’t afford to spend so much time on the project. Time is money.
  • Beggars can’t be choosers – you must accept what is offered if you have only one option: I would like to get a better job but beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees – don’t be spendthrift [‘spendθrɪft] (= throwing money away) because you will run out of money: Could you be a little more economical? Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.
  • Easy come, easy go – when money is easily got, it is spent or lost soon: He quickly squandered the money he’d inherited. Easy come, easy go.
  • A fool and his money are soon parted – foolish people don’t think twice before buying something, and so it is easy to sell something to such customers: She invested all her savings in some shady business. No wonder she lost everything. A fool and his money are soon parted.
  • Money talks – rich people or organizations are powerful and so they can achieve whatever they want: He befriended a powerful businessman and soon his own business thrived. Money talks.
  • A penny saved is a penny gained/earned – it’s useful to save money as well as earn it: Let’s not splash out (= spend a lot of money; British English) the rest of our money on this now. We’re a bit hard up (= short of money) now, and a penny saved is a penny gained.

Money idioms

Perhaps, there are even more money idioms than there are money proverbs. Here is our list:

  • To bring home the bacon – to earn money: Now I have a stable job and I am happy to bring home the bacon.
  • Breadwinner – a person supporting a family with their earnings: She is the breadwinner of her family.
  • To go Dutch – to share the cost of something, especially on a date: After her boyfriend suggested going Dutch, she understood a lot about his nature.
  • Cheapskate – a stingy [‘stɪnʤɪ] person: Don’t be such a cheapskate!
  • To make a fast buck – to make money fast and/or without making effort: He made a fast buck investing is the right business.
  • To cost a pretty penny – to be very expensive: This car costs a pretty penny!
  • To get something for peanuts / to cost peanuts – to pay practically no money for something: Pencils cost peanuts these days.
  • To buy something for a song = to get something for peanuts: I bought the tablecloth for a song.
  • To have money to burn – to have a lot of money: He is a successful businessman and they say he has money to burn.
  • To be made of money = to have money to burn: People who are made of money sometimes don’t understand problems of poor people.
  • To tighten one’s belt – to spend less: I need to tighten my belt to pay back my debt.
  • Nest egg – an amount of money which is saved for the future: I had some unforeseen expenses and I had to spend my nest egg.
  • To spend money like water – to squander money: If you keep spending money like water, don’t ask me to lend you some when you have none.
  • As poor as a church mouse – very poor: They are as poor as a church mouse but they say money can’t buy you happiness.
  • To bet on the wrong horse – to support a person/thing that ultimately fails: He bet on the wrong horse and lost a lot of money.
  • To look like a million dollars – to look great: She looks like a million dollars. She must be in love!
  • To make paper – to make money: He makes paper selling used cars.
  • To ride (rode; ridden) the gravy [‘greɪvɪ] train – to make a lot of money: He’s riding the gravy train now but I think it won’t last for too long.
  • From rags to riches – from poverty to wealth: She moved from rags to riches after she had married a rich man.


Click the link here and choose the right word or phrase.

Did you like the article? Check out “Money Vocabulary. Part 2” for lots of handy expressions about money and not only.

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