Learn common, everyday English expressions to talk about wealth, money (or a lack of it!) I'm sharing slang and idioms that will help you to easily express observations and ideas about wealth! 💰
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➖ The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape
➖ Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
➖ I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
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I've got seventeen different English expressions that will help you to talk about wealth. Now that is a tricky English word to pronounce, wealth. It's like well with a ‘th' on the end. Keep an eye on that tongue. Wealth.
Wealth is an abundance of valuable things including but not only including money. And conversations about money can be awkward and uncomfortable but they don't have to be.
We're gonna go through some great expressions today to help you talk about having a lot of money and also a lack of money as well. All the phrases I'm sharing today are used in conversational English. You'll hear them spoken often and you'll read them often in books or in articles about money and wealth and finances.
And an awesome way to hear natural expressions as they're used in context is to listen to audiobooks on Audible. It's even better to grab a physical copy of the book as well so that you can see the words as they're spoken, helps you to recognise the sounds that are used for new words and expressions that you come across and practise using them in context.
Audible offer a free trial so you can get your first book completely free and try it out without stress. If you don't like it, you can just cancel before the end of your first month. If you want to specifically focus on vocabulary to do with wealth and money, I've made some recommendations down in the description box below this topic.
You might have noticed but there are so many different expressions that we use to talk about money and wealth in English. And they can vary quite a bit between countries, we use lots of slang and informal expressions, lots of idioms as well.
When you have lots of money
So we're gonna get started today with some expressions for wealth when you or when someone has a lot of money and a lot of these expressions are really useful when talking about other people's wealth because we don't really talk about our own wealth very often right? It's not really a good idea to talk about your own wealth in English. It sounds kind of pretentious or rude but we love talking about other people's wealth just not our own.
Is that the same in your country as well? Do people talk about how much money they earn or how wealthy they are openly? Or not?
I'm sure you already know that in English when people have lots of money we say that they are rich, right? It's really, really common to say that someone is rich but saying that they're rich or saying that they have a lot of money can sound a little rude or a little have a lot of money can sound a little rude or a little crass, maybe even jealous.
1. (to be) well-off
So a more polite, more acceptable way of saying that someone has a lot of money is to say that they're well-off. So can you hear when I say that quickly, the link between the ‘ll' in well and the ‘o' in off. Well-off.
So this is like an indirect way of saying that someone is doing well financially.
- From the way that Paula's talking about her new boyfriend, it sounds like he's pretty well-off.
2. (to be) loaded
If you're speaking more informally then you can explain that someone has a lot of money by saying they're loaded. They're loaded.
Now this is definitely slang. It's more casual and informal and it's usually used only in spoken English.
- Our new neighbours have three luxury cars parked in their driveway. They must be loaded!
- As soon as I get my tax return, I'll be loaded! (I hope)
3. (to be) filthy rich
So this is quite informal slang, to be filthy rich, which is exactly what it sounds like. To be so rich that it's just absurd, it's a ridiculous amount of wealth, so much wealth.
Now it's not the most polite expression to say to someone's face okay but if you want to say that someone has an insane amount of money, then you can definitely say that they're filthy rich.
- As far as I know, they won the lottery a few years back and they've been filthy rich ever since.
4. (to) rake it in
This expression is less about how much money someone has and instead about how much money someone is making or taking in at that time. So someone who is making a lot of money is raking it in.
- Here in Australia, most cafe and bar staff really love Sunday shifts because they know they're gonna rake it in. They get double per hour on Sundays.
- Since Anna moved from marketing to sales, she's been raking in the money.
5. money to burn
Imagine having money to burn. Someone who's rich and they've got so much money they don't know what to do with it, they've got money to burn. It also can suggest you know that you've got money and you want to spend it.
- I've been saving for this holiday all year. Now that we're here, I've got money to burn.
6. rolling in it (dough)
So to say that someone is ‘rolling in it' is another informal way of saying that someone's got heaps of cash, you know they're loaded, they're rolling in it.
- My friend Evan spent fifteen years working as an investment banker and he's absolutely rolling in it.
Now my American friend tells me that it's really common to hear rolling in the dough in the US. So ‘dough' is sometimes used as informal slang in the US for money. Not usually here in Australia. Actually, if you are curious to learn some extra slang expressions about money, this lesson up here is full of them, go check it out at the end of this lesson.
7. (to) make a killing
I think you've probably heard the English expression that you ‘killed it', meaning that you did something really well. Well this money expression is kind of similar, we say that you make a killing and it means to make lots of money right, to do really well with money.
So it's often used when someone makes a lot of money in a short period of time, could be just in a day or in a month for example. If you sold a lot more than you anticipated, then you could definitely use this expression.
- Dean set up an online shop selling watches and he made a killing during the first week of sales.
And to exaggerate that meaning even further, you can say ‘absolute killing'.
- We made an absolute killing at the school carnival.
8. sitting on a gold mine
Yeah if only we all had one of these to sit on. A gold mine. We use it to say that someone has something valuable or maybe that they're in control of something valuable and it could be an object or a thing, not just money but that thing is worth a lot of money.
- When we found out how much the art collection at my grandmother's house was worth, we realised we were sitting on a gold mine.
When you don't have money
Okay so that was the fun part but now I gotta tell you some expressions about those times when you know we don't have money or enough of it.
But don't worry you're still gonna love these phrases and expressions too. They're just gonna help you to talk about a lack of money, really useful for when you need to explain that you can't afford something.
And you know, for most of us, that's a reality that's life.
9. (to be) short on cash
The most simple and neutral way of saying that you don't have enough money is to say that you are short on cash, you know, when you don't have enough money to do what you want to do.
- I wanted to get her a nice present but I'm short on cash at the moment.
- Can you lend me some money for the week? I'm short on cash.
10. tight (adjective)
So ‘tight' is an adjective that we use to describe someone who doesn't like to spend money or give their money away very freely. And you've got to be careful because it can be kind of offensive. It's the opposite of being generous with your money right?
- Don't expect Mandy to donate. She's too tight.
Actually, I hear my American friends sometimes using ‘tight-fisted' which has a similar meaning. And here in Australia, actually this word, this adjective can be used in a jokey way as well.
- Stop being so tight and come out with us on Friday!
11. (to be) broke
You can also say that you're broke, another casual informal way of saying that you have no money. And when we use this expression, usually it suggests we don't have very much money. Usually we're using it to exaggerate that we're low on cash, rather than saying that we have no money at all.
- I won't come to the concert on Friday. I'm broke right now.
So this means that I can't afford it, I don't have enough money to do that. But broke can be serious and literal as well.
- He got laid off from his job and now his family is completely broke.
And usually by adding that adverb there will help you to know that the meaning is quite literal but you can always just ask and check.
Are you serious? Really?
12. (to be) scraping by
When you have just enough money to survive, you've got to work really hard to get that money and you don't have anything left over at the end. You don't have any savings, then you're just scraping by.
And just like being broke, this expression can be serious and real or it can also be used as an exaggeration amongst your friends to say that you don't really have enough money.
- I feel really sorry for Arthur. Since he lost his job in August, I know that he's just been scraping by.
13. (to) live hand to mouth
And you can express this same idea with this idiom, ‘to live hand to mouth'.
Living hand to mouth means that you just have enough money to survive. So it's a really unfortunate position to be in for anyone. And where ‘scraping by' can be used a little more informally when you're low on money, living hand to mouth is almost always serious really. It's quite literal.
- Many single-parent families in this area are living hand to mouth.
In the last part of this lesson, I've got In the last part of this lesson, I've got four bonus idioms for you to learn and practise with me. They're idioms that didn't really fit into the previous categories, they're just ones for those of you who stayed around until the end. They're not specifically about having or not having money but they are really useful common phrases and expressions about money.
14. (to) break the bank
The first one is ‘to break the bank' and it's used to say that something costs too much, you know or you use all your money for something.
- This car is second hand. It won't break the bank.
- A boat will be fun in summer but I'm almost certain it will break the bank.
15. (to) foot the bill
It's a weird expression but it's used to talk about paying for something. When you hear ‘foot the bill' it really just means pay the bill but usually, it's when the person paying feels like they shouldn't be doing it, you know. This idiom is almost like a bit of a complaint.
- When those customers left without paying, it was the poor waiter who was left to foot the bill for their meal.
- In many cultures, the family of the bride foots the bill for the wedding.
So in both of these examples, by using this expression it suggests that the outcome is a little unfair.
16. money talks
I wonder if you'll all agree with the meaning of this expression when I explain it. It's used to suggest that people with money often have more power so money in most places in the world gives people power and influence right?
Well this expression suggests that you know there's unfairness or inequity there if you have more money. You're more likely to get what you want and you're privileged by your wealth.
So the expression ‘money talks' suggests corruption or bribery of some kind though not necessarily always as serious as that. But you will hear this expression come up talking about politics and situations where the rules and the laws reflect the opinions of people who have lots of money or maybe it's easier for them to avoid following the rules because they've got lots of money.
- Unfortunately in our town, money talks. The wealthiest people who live here are the ones who make all the decisions.
17. money can't buy happiness
And lastly, you may have heard of this one or maybe there's a version of it in your own language so make sure you share it down in the comments with me if you do.
So, of course, we use money to buy things right? But we can't buy happiness. This expression is often used to counter the argument that money can get you everything that you want. It suggests that just because you have money doesn't mean that you're happy.
So this expression is often used to comment or reflect on the things that matter most in life. What do you think? Can money buy happiness? And if not, what does get you more happiness?
So that was seventeen new money and wealth expressions for you. I'm really curious to know which one of these English expressions best applies to you and your situation in life right now.
Are you rolling in it? Are you just scraping by? Let me know down in the comments below.
I hope that you've got to learn a few new expressions today and that you were reminded of some other ways to talk about wealth in English. And you learned how to pronounce wealth, right?
Keep practising with me right here in these lessons. I will you in there.