20 money idioms you need to make your writing worth its weight in gold

By Edmund Ho

We've got a wealth of phrases you can use in everyday speech

By Edmund Ho |

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Time is money, people!

A dime a dozen

Meaning: very common and of little or no value
Use it: DVD players used to be a dime a dozen, but most people now  stream their films on the internet.

Penny for your thoughts

Meaning: something you say when you want to know what another person is thinking
Use it: “Penny for your thoughts?” asked Bob, after John sat in silence for  several minutes.

Rags to riches

Meaning: a situation when someone who was poor becomes rich
Use it: Simeon’s rags-to-riches story inspired other people  to work hard at school.

Pass the buck

Meaning: to shift responsibility for something to  another person
Use it: Officials have been passing the buck about the oil spill  for two months, and the people are still waiting for an answer.

Time is money

Meaning: time is precious and limited, and should be treated  as if you were spending money
Use it: We should hire an extra intern to speed up the booking process, after all, time is money.

Gravy train

Meaning: a job that pays well but doesn’t require much work
Use it: “All those who think they’re riding the gravy train will be fired, immediately,” shouted the boss.

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Golden handshake

Meaning: a pay-off usually for when a long-serving employee leaves a company
Use it: Tony’s golden handshake, after working at the company for 50 years,  was in the six figures.

Right on the money

Meaning: exactly right or correct
Use it: The quiz show contestant’s guess was right on the money, and she  ended up winning HK$100,000.

Money down the drain

Meaning: a waste of money
Use it: “Paying HK$100 for a disposable umbrella is just money down the drain,” said Vivian.


Give someone a run for their money

Meaning: to be as good at something as someone who is known for being very good at it
Use it: Natalie’s skill at the pinball machine gave veteran players  a run for their money.

Hush money

Meaning: money you give to someone to keep them quiet
Use it: The police officers were paid hush money so  they would not report the crime to their bosses.

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Money doesn’t grow on trees

Meaning: money has to be earned and that it’s not easy to get
Use it: “The most important thing in business is to learn that money doesn’t  grow on trees; you have to really work hard to earn it,” said the investor.

Cash in one’s chips

Meaning: to give up; to accept your losses and withdraw
Use it: After 50 years at the firm, he’s finally decided to cash  in his chips.

King’s ransom

Meaning: a large sum of money
Use it: “HK$50,000 for a watch?! That’s a  king’s ransom!” exclaimed the student.

Penny pincher

Meaning: someone who doesn’t like to spend money.
Use it: Penny-pinching is a good trait to have – most of the time.

Put in one’s two cents

Meaning: to express one’s opinion
Use it: “We will have a discussion session after the presentation, so that everyone can put in their two cents on the matter,” said the CEO.

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Live hand to mouth

Meaning: having hardly enough food or money to live on
Use it: “The number of families who live hand to mouth has increased  in recent years,” said the researcher.

Worth one’s weight in gold

Meaning: very valuable
Use it: An umbrella in a rainstorm is worth its weight in gold.

In for a penny, in for a pound

Meaning: if you’re going to do something, it’s worth using extra effort or resources to do it right
Use it: “My mother once told me that if I was in for a penny, I might as well be in for a pound,” said the multimillionaire who invested all her money into her own company.

A cash cow

Meaning: something that provides a steady income
Use it: “Disney is busy milking the cash cow that is the Star Wars cinematic universe; they’ve just released another wave of action figures.”

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