Idiomatic Ways to Talk about Pay and Salary in English

Understanding idiomatic expressions related to pay and salary can help you sound more natural in English. Here are 20 common idioms and phrasal verbs you can use to talk about your earnings and financial situation.

1. Bring home the bacon

Meaning: Earn money
Example: He works hard to bring home the bacon.

2. Make ends meet

Meaning: Cover expenses
Example: It’s tough to make ends meet on one salary.

3. Pay through the nose

Meaning: Pay a lot
Example: We had to pay through the nose for rent.

4. Tighten one’s belt

Meaning: Spend less
Example: We need to tighten our belts this month.

5. Rolling in dough

Meaning: Very rich
Example: Since the promotion, she’s rolling in dough.

6. Nest egg

Meaning: Savings
Example: They have a nest egg for their retirement.

7. On the breadline

Meaning: Very poor
Example: After the job loss, they were on the breadline.

8. Break the bank

Meaning: Spend all money
Example: Buying that car will break the bank.

9. Rake in the money

Meaning: Earn a lot
Example: Her new business is raking in the money.

10. Bread and butter

Meaning: Main income
Example: Freelancing is his bread and butter.

11. Pay off

Meaning: Repay
Example: He worked hard to pay off his debts.

12. Get by

Meaning: Manage financially
Example: We can get by on his salary.

13. Fork out

Meaning: Pay reluctantly
Example: I had to fork out for the repairs.

14. On a shoestring

Meaning: With little money
Example: They traveled on a shoestring budget.

15. In the red

Meaning: In debt
Example: Their account is always in the red.

16. Cash in on

Meaning: Benefit financially
Example: They cashed in on the property boom.

17. Cut back

Meaning: Reduce spending
Example: We need to cut back on luxuries.

18. Save up

Meaning: Accumulate money
Example: They are saving up for a vacation.

19. Live paycheck to paycheck

Meaning: Spend all earnings
Example: Many people live paycheck to paycheck.

20. Shell out

Meaning: Pay a lot
Example: We had to shell out for the new equipment.

Idiomatic Ways to Talk about Pay and Salary in English

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