Uk Finance Lingo-10 Money Idioms Brits Actually Use Ep 676

A young man throwing paper money into the air. 10 Must-Know Money Idioms: Decode British expressions like In the red or Break the bank and use them like a local!

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 3841 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 20 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 12.2 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

The Ins And Outs Of British English Money Idioms

Hey, English Learners! Ready to unlock the mystery of British money idioms? Forget about hitting language barriers— Adept English has got you covered with another great #englishlesson that's jam-packed with value. 🇬🇧

Why You Can't Afford to Miss This Lesson:

  • 🎯 Speak Like a Local: Learn 10 British idioms around money, from "In the red" to "A money pit". Don't just blend in, stand out!
  • 🤑 Common Use, Not Slang: These aren't your everyday phrases; these idioms frequently appear in newspapers and formal English.
  • 🌍 Universality Factor: Discover if these idioms have a counterpart in your own language!
  • 🤓 Rich Context: Dive deep into each idiom's historical background and current use—no more guesswork!
  • 🔄 Speak & Understand: Our method focuses on listening and repetition to make you conversational.

✔Lesson transcript:

Saving is a fine thing. Especially when your parents have done it for you.
⭐ Winston Churchill

Did you know the phrases 'In the red' and 'In the black' come from an era before computers? Discover why bankers used red and black ink in ledgers! Have you ever wondered why people say 'Break the bank'? Learn how this phrase traces its roots to the world of casinos and gambling!

Want to learn how to talk about money like a native English speaker? Stay tuned until the end, and you'll discover a phrase that perfectly describes something that just keeps draining your money. Trust me, you don't want to miss this!

💬 Speak Like a Native: Learn expressions you might read in British newspapers or hear in formal English.

Don't tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money, and I'll tell you what they are.
⭐ James W. Frick

👉 Don't just dream about speaking English fluently, make it a reality! Adept English's 500 Most Common Words Course is your fast-track ticket to fluency.

More About This Lesson

Ready to talk about money like a true Brit? Our latest English lesson dives into popular British money idioms like 'in the red,' 'break the bank,' and 'deep pockets.' Get ready to understand not just the words but also the culture and mindset behind them. This is your ticket to sounding more like a local and less like a textbook!

Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.
⭐ Will Rogers

Things you will learn listening to this English idioms and phrases lesson:

  1. Introduction of Money Idioms: Grasping idioms adds cultural context and natural flair to conversations.
  2. Explanation of "In the Red/Black": Vital for understanding financial conversations, common in daily life.
  3. "Break the Bank" Phrase: Teaches nuanced expression for affordability, broadening vocabulary.
  4. "I'm Broke" Explanation: Offers a straightforward way to express financial constraints.
  5. "Rolling in It": Teaches an expression for wealth, enriching descriptive language.
  6. "Worth a Fortune": Adds another term for indicating wealth, useful in diverse scenarios.
  7. "Pay Through the Nose": Introduces a phrase for high-cost items, valuable in daily transactions.
  8. "Deep Pockets": Gives a term for wealth, useful in business and personal contexts.
  9. "Tight with Money": Introduces an expression for frugality or stinginess, common in social settings.
  10. "Spendthrift": Teaches a term for financial recklessness, broadening financial vocabulary.
  11. "Money Pit": Adds a phrase for describing financial traps, valuable for property discussions.
  12. Real-world Examples: Makes idioms easier to grasp by relating them to familiar situations.
  13. Repeated Listening Advice: Encourages repetition for better retention, essential for fluency.

Benefits of our listen & learn approach to learning

  • Boost Your Fluency: Learn idioms that are key to sounding like a native speaker.
  • Cultural Insight: Gain a deeper understanding of British culture and mindset.
  • Everyday Use: These idioms aren't just for fun—they're used daily in both casual chats and formal talks.
  • Beat the Fears: Worried about slang, limited vocabulary, or making mistakes? We've got your back with clear examples and tests.

Understanding English idioms doesn't just add vocabulary; it deepens your grasp of British culture, enabling more nuanced and effective communication. It's crucial to delve into these expressions, guided by everyday examples, to learn the real-world language that will boost your English fluency.

  1. Overcome Fears: Whether you fear misunderstanding idioms or using the wrong phrase, our lesson helps you face these challenges head-on.
  2. Practicality: These idioms are part of daily British life; knowing them opens up new doors for you.
  3. Cultural Nuances: Learn the 'why' behind the 'what' and connect with British people on a deeper level.
A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some.
⭐ Joe Moore

So, what are you waiting for? Don't just learn English—master it! Push that play button now and dive into a lesson that's worth its weight in gold. Visit to discover a treasure trove of resources that will take your English from 'Who said what now?' to 'I've got this!' in no time.

Questions You Might Have...

Dive into this lesson like a treasure hunter plunging into the depths of a sunken British galleon. Each idiom about money you master—be it "in the red" or "deep pockets"—is a gem you add to your linguistic treasure chest. Uncover the richness of financial conversations and elevate your English fluency to new heights!

  1. What Does "In the Red" or "In the Black" Mean? "In the red" and "in the black" are terms commonly used in British financial conversations, often relating to bank accounts. If you're "in the black," your account balance is positive—you've got money. On the flip side, "in the red" means you're overdrawn; you owe money to the bank. Understanding these idioms can add richness to your grasp of financial English.
  2. What Does "To Break the Bank" Mean? The phrase "to break the bank" originates from the world of casinos and gambling. When you say something "won't break the bank," you're suggesting that it's affordable. Knowing this idiom lets you speak fluently about expenditures without causing confusion.
  3. What Does "I'm Broke" Indicate? Saying "I'm broke" in British English signifies that you have no money. It's a way of explaining your financial situation straightforwardly. The term is also used for businesses that have "gone broke," meaning they have ceased trading. Comprehending this phrase helps you better navigate social and economic dialogues.
  4. What Does "Rolling in It" Mean? When someone says you're "rolling in it," they're pointing out that you're wealthy. This colourful expression paints a vivid picture of affluence, making it easier to discuss financial status in an engaging manner. It can spice up your conversations about wealth and success in British English.
  5. What is a "Money Pit"? Calling something a "money pit" indicates that it's a source of ongoing financial loss. If you say, "That car is a real money pit," you mean that it constantly needs repairs and is draining your finances. This term is especially useful for discussing investments or purchases that didn't pay off.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Idioms: Phrases that have a meaning different from the individual words. For example, "break the bank" doesn't mean literally breaking a bank but spending too much money.
  • Dosh: Slang for money.
  • Tenner: Slang for a ten-pound note.
  • Overdrawn: Owing the bank money, having a negative account balance.
  • Ledgers: Books used for keeping financial accounts.
  • Exorbitant: Extremely high in price.
  • Frugal: Being careful with money, not wasting it.
  • Thrifty: Similar to frugal; being careful with spending money.
  • Spendthrift: A person who spends money carelessly, without thinking.
  • Money Pit: Something that continually requires a lot of money, often for repairs or maintenance.

Most Frequently Used Words:


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Transcript: UK Finance Lingo-10 Money Idioms Brits Actually Use

Hi there. Are you curious about idioms and phrases related to money? Let's dive into some today. We touched briefly on slang words for money in podcast 674 when I was explaining the word ‘dosh’ and what we mean when we say ‘a fiver’ or ‘a tenner’. But British people also use lots of idioms around money - so let’s demystify some of these today. So these phrases aren’t slang, they're idioms that you can use even in formal English.

The lack of money is the root of all evil.
⭐ Mark Twain

They’re phrases that you might read in a newspaper or that someone might use in a formal English context. And they’re all in common use. I’ll give you 10 of these phrases. So these are valuable real-world expressions and I’ll give you the context in which they are used, while at the same time, giving you a little flavour of British culture.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

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OK. So how familiar are you with these phrases and idioms? Test yourself and see how many you already know! And maybe you say the same thing in your language - sometimes that happens!

In the black and in the red

  1. Picture this: it's the end of the month and you're sitting down to look at your bank statement - that’s a digital or paper printed copy of all your transactions on your bank account for the month. And it’ll show your overall ‘balance’ - that’s BALANCE. That means ‘the total in your account’. If you hear someone say that their account is "in the black," that's fantastic! It means that they've got more money than debts. On the other hand, if you hear "Oh no! My account is in the red!" whoops that means that they owe the bank money. So ‘in the black’ and ‘in the red’ - these phrases actually come from the old way of doing accounting, pre-computers, when accountants used books called ‘ledgers’, LEDGERS. ‘Ledgers’ to record accounts in. So positive amounts were written in black ink, and negative amounts were written in red ink. Of course, it’s not done like that any more - computers are almost always used for accounting these days, but we retain the phrase. And sometimes we say it of businesses or companies too - they’re ‘in the black’ or ‘in the red’, meaning they’re profitable or not profitable.


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’To break the bank’

  1. What about the phrase ‘to break the bank’. An example ‘If we were to buy new curtains, I don’t think it’s going to break the bank’. Or you’re eyeing a new pair of shoes, but you're worried they're too expensive. Relax! The chances are, ‘it won't break the bank.’ We tend to use this phrase in the negative, saying that something ‘won’t break the bank’. What we mean by this phrase is that ‘it’s affordable. The cost isn’t serious enough to worry about. Apparently this phrase comes from the world of casinos and gambling originally. If someone wins more money than the casino can actually pay out, it would be said that they’d ‘broken the bank’. I think that casinos nowadays make sure, really sure that this doesn’t happen. This phrase ‘to break the bank’ makes me think of that currency trader, Nick Leeson, whose rogue trading quite literally ‘broke Barings bank’ in 1995. But we usually use this phrase ‘It won’t break the bank’ to mean that something isn’t expensive, it’s affordable. We should go ahead and buy it.

’To be broke’ or ‘to go broke’

  1. What do you say if you have no money or very little money? You might be saying this as a way of telling someone you don’t want to go out, or go on holiday or buy tickets for something - you can’t afford it. You might say ‘I’m broke’, that’s BROKE. You can also use this of businesses too, though we usually talk of businesses ‘going broke’. So we use it of businesses with the verb ‘to go’. For example, ‘Lots of high street businesses went broke during in the pandemic.’ This means they ‘went out of business’, they stopped trading. Or ‘I’m broke. I have no money until I’m paid at the end of the month’. If you’re noticing that this word ‘broke’ sounds like a grammatical error, you would be right. The past participle of the verb ‘to break’ is ‘broken’. ‘Broke’, BROKE therefore has a very specific meaning here. So if a business ‘goes broke’, it means it ‘ceased trading’ or if a person says ‘I’m broke’, it means they have no money. Another way of saying this of a person might be to say ‘I’m skint’, SKINT. You wouldn’t use ‘skint’ of a business though.

’To be rolling in it’

  1. Another phrase I used in podcast 674 - I said ‘rolling in it’. There are variations of this one. We might say ‘Rolling in money’ - or just ‘rolling in it’ and we mean here generally that someone is wealthy, they have a lot of money. So this is the opposite of ‘broke’ or skint’. In my head, it’s like that scene from numerous films, where the heroes or the bad guys, the villains have either robbed a bank or have just won the jackpot at the casino - and they’re literally on a bed in a hotel room, rolling around in $50 bills! So that’s ‘rolling in it’. It means you have ‘plenty money’.

’To be worth a fortune’

  1. Another way to express this, particularly if someone is due to inherit money from their family - we might say ‘they’re worth a fortune’. The word ‘fortune’, FORTUNE can refer to luck, especially when we say ‘good fortune’. And we use the adjective ‘fortunate’ to mean ‘lucky’. But the noun ‘a fortune’ is usually referring to a large amount of money. So ‘to be rolling in it’ or ‘to be worth a fortune’ are both ways of saying that someone ‘has a lot of money’. You can be ‘worth a fortune’ too, through inheritance or through money that you’ve earned in your own life too.

’To pay through the nose’

  1. What about if we say ‘Oh, he paid through the nose for his car’? So this is the verb ‘to pay through the nose’. What we mean by this? We mean that the price paid was too high. Too much money was paid, if you ‘pay through the nose’ for something. This is one of those phrases whose origin is unknown. There are various theories as to how this phrase came about, ‘to pay through the nose’, but none seem very convincing and the real origins are lost in time. Whatever the origin, you can imagine that ‘paying through your nose’ would be very painful! A good adjective to describe a very high price in English - not just ‘expensive’, but ‘exorbitant’ - that’s EXORBITANT. You might say, for example ‘London property rental prices are exorbitant at the moment!’ ‘If you’re paying rent in London, you’re paying through the nose for your accommodation’. This is true!

’To have deep pockets’

  1. What if you hear someone say ‘Ooh, he’s got deep pockets’? Do you think that they’re saying the person has money or they don’t have money? Well, the answer is - if you’ve ‘got deep pockets’, it means you’ve got money. So wealthy people or successful companies might be said to ‘have deep pockets’. So a ‘pocket’, POCKET is where you keep your change, in your clothing. You might put your keys in your pocket. Deep pockets? Well, you might say ‘You have to have deep pockets to run for president in America’. That would be an understatement! Or what about this headline from the newspaper, the Glasgow Times, talking about a restaurant in the city - ‘Glasgow restaurant restoration will take someone with deep pockets’. That means that it’s going to be expensive to do the restoration of the restaurant.

’To be tight’

  1. If someone doesn’t like to spend money, even when it’s necessary or it would be a good idea, we say that ‘they’re tight with their money’ or just plain ‘tight’ - that’s TIGHT. So there are a lot of words in English, which mean that you are careful with your money - ‘careful’ is quite acceptable. We might also say that someone’s ‘frugal’, FRUGAL or ‘thrifty’, THRIFTY. Both of these words are quite positive and I think they describe my younger daughter’s way of spending money - she’s a student, at university and is very good at stretching out the bit of money she has to cover her bills. ‘Frugal’ and ‘thrifty’. But if you say that someone is ‘tight’ - this tends to mean that it’s more of a fault in your character. They’re mean - they don’t pay when it’s their turn. They’re ‘a bit tight’. They don’t spend enough.

Crack The Code 👂 Of Everyday British Conversation

’To be spendthrift’

  1. The opposite of ‘tight’ or ‘frugal’ or ‘thrifty’? Well, if you call someone ‘a spendthrift’ - that’s SPENDTHRIFT, that means a person who can’t help but spend money, whether they have it or not. Money just ‘runs through their fingers’. ‘A spendthrift’ is extravagant or careless with their money. Someone who is ‘a spendthrift’ may not see a problem with taking out lots of credit cards and spending them all to the limit. For most people, there’s an uncomfortable feeling if they spend too much - but someone who is ‘a spendthrift’ may not feel this way. And it can be a big problem.

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’To be a money pit’

  1. What do we mean if we say that something is ‘a money pit’? Is that a positive or a negative thing? Well, we use this expression where we believe something is going to be an endless source of financial expense or financial loss. ‘That car I bought last year? It turned out to be a real money pit!’ That means that the person was forever having to take the car to the garage and pay for repairs. Or ‘I’m worried that this very old house that you are intent on buying will be a money pit’. Imagine it just like a bit pit - or a ‘hole in the ground’ - and you’re going to just go and throw your money into it? That’s ‘a money pit’. I’ve attached an article from the Reader’s Digest called ‘17 Signs a House could be a Money Pit’.


OK, so that’s quite a lot of expressions to remember. Did you know many of them before we started? Listen to this podcast a number of times until you understand it all - and until you can remember the meaning of each of these expressions.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at



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