Proverbs and Sayings on Money [With Meaning and Example]

Proverbs and sayings are popular nuggets of wisdom, often in circulation for centuries and even millenniums. This post contains proverbs and sayings on money, divided under seven categories.

If you’re looking for more proverbs and sayings, you can find plenty of them in the resource below. It contains proverbs on topics such as life, family, friends, love, health, happiness, money, hard work, time, time management, teamwork, leadership, business, education & learning, and more.

1. Money is influential

A rich man’s joke is always funny.

People agree with and flatter rich people to be in good books with them.

Example: The rich kid in my college was always surrounded by classmates who were overzealous to flatter him and keep him in good humour. A rich man’s joke is always funny.

Everyone loves a lord.

Everyone wants to associate with a person of higher social or economic status. Don’t we?

Example: Tom: This guy seems to be ingratiating with every rich and popular guy here. Jerry: Yes, he is, but why single him out. Everyone loves a lord.

Money talks.

Money can influence, make things happen.

Example: When he got into legal trouble, he hired the best lawyers and escaped the penalty. Money does talk.

Money is power.

Money can get you most things, including some level of happiness. Moneyed people attract influential circle. Need we say more.

Example: Her new-found wealth is attracting new ‘friends’ every day. Who says money isn’t power?

Money makes the mare go.

Similar to the last one

Opportunity makes a thief.

If the opportunity is too tempting, anyone can become a thief.

Example: Turn the pages of history, and you’ll find that tallest names have fallen to unethical money. Opportunity can certainly make a thief.

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The dog wags his tail not for you, but for your bread.

A Portuguese proverb. If you’re rich, remember that many around you are there because of your money and not for you.

Example: I thought I had plenty of friends in college because of my multi-faceted personality. But after our family’s fortunes swung for worse, most friends disappeared. Then I realized that the dog wags his tail not for you, but for your bread.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

He who finances a venture has the right to make important decisions with respect to that venture.

Example: The investors made most of the critical decisions in my friend’s coffee business. After all, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

2. Moneyless

Who depends on another man’s table often dines late.

An Italian proverb. If you depend on others for money and other resources, the day is not far when you’ll get step-brotherly treatment.

Example: My friend, who was jobless and was staying with his brother’s family then, wasn’t sometimes invited to exclusive events in the city. Who depends on another man’s table often dines late.

Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

It’s good to have money as cushion for bad times. You never know when an unexpected need might arise.

Example: My friend had to run from pillar to post to raise funds for his father’s medical emergency as he didn’t have enough savings. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Better a steady dime than a rare dollar.

Habits and predictability make our lives easy. Have you worked in a job where your hours (leaving time, at least) varied randomly? If you’ve to leave at 3 PM one day, 5 PM another day, and 10 PM another day? Most will rather prefer leaving at 6 PM every day even if they’ve to work more hours overall. Same applies with money. A small but steady amount is preferable over a larger, though rare, payoff.

Example: I landed a contract last month with a good payoff, but it’ll last just a year, and then I’ll have to search for another. Better a steady dime than a rare dollar.

From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.

The first generation works hard to establish a business and create wealth, the second generation runs the business, and the third ruins it and brings it back to nought. (‘Shirtsleeves’ is used to describe people who work hard.)

Example: Several family businesses have bitten dust because of unwillingness of subsequent generations to adapt to changed market realities. From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.

From clogs to clogs is only three generations.

Similar to the last one

A moneyless man goes fast through the market.

A poor person doesn’t have the luxury to shop around excess. He goes straight for the bare necessities and hence finishes his shopping quickly.

Example: During my struggling days, I used to do my grocery quickly, keeping an eye on the budget. Being a moneyless man, I used to go fast through the market.

He that hath no silver in his purse should have silk in his tongue.

A person who depends on others for financial or other assistance cannot offend them by speaking impolitely.

Example: You’ve to be at your most polite behavior when communicating with clients, making sure they’re not offended in any way. After all, our Company exists because of them. He that hath no silver in his purse should have silk in his tongue.

Another day, another dollar.

The proverb refers to the daily grind, often soul-crushing, most of us go through at the workplace. This usually leads to dissatisfaction and people start looking for another job.

Example: Tom: How was your work today? Jerry: Nothing eventful. Another day, another dollar.

Don’t empty the water jar until the rain falls.

A Filipino proverb. Don’t quit your source of income before you’ve secured the next one.

Example: After getting an average review in his Annual Performance Appraisal, my friend left the organization without landing another job, and then he struggled to get another for several months. Don’t empty the water jar until the rain falls.

A hungry wolf is fixed to no place.

Just as a hungry wolf will move from place to place to find food, a person with limited means will hop from job to job for a better pay cheque.

Example: Some people hop from one job to the other just for the pay cheque. A hungry wolf is fixed to no place.

3. Savings and debt

There are two mantras to financial freedom: save and avoid debt.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

Saving money is as good as earning money: the net result is money in hand.

Example: Tom: How did you manage to own a house despite such a modest income? Jerry: I saved regularly. A penny saved is a penny earned.

Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

If you save small amounts regularly, you’ll have large sum in due course.

Example: My father saved $500 every month for several years, which enabled him to buy a house. He looked after the pennies and pounds looked after themselves.

Money begets money.

You can invest the money you have to earn more money.

Example: Financial institutions such as banks and pension funds invest the deposits they receive and earn money on them. Money begets money.

Get what you can and keep what you have; that’s the way to get rich.

A Scottish proverb. Earn and save. That’s the way to get rich.

Example: He can lead such a lifestyle because he gets what he can and keeps what he has. That’s the way to get rich.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Don’t put your savings in just 1-2 financial instruments. In other words, diversify.

Example: More than 50 percent of Tom’s savings were in shares of just one Company. When it tanked, he lost significant portion of his savings. It’s rightly said, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Stretch your arm no further than your sleeve will reach.

Don’t live a lifestyle that overextends your means and hence forces you to live on credit.

Example: My friend expends more than his income can afford. His lifestyle will soon come crashing down once his credit sources run dry, and they eventually will. One should stretch his arm no further than his sleeve will reach.

Interest on debt grows without rain.

Plants need sunshine and water (or rain) to grow, but interest doesn’t need any favourable conditions to grow. It only needs a debt.

Example: No way I can take another debt to finance the car. I already have significant outstanding debt, and I know very well that interest on debt grows without rain.

Money is a good servant but a bad master.

If you’ve money and if you can put it to good use, then it’s a good servant. But if you owe others money, it’ll control you and affect you adversely.

Example: I can’t quit my job despite my strong disliking for it because I’m still repaying two loans. It’s rightly said that money is a good servant but a bad master.

He is rich who owes nothing.

A French proverb. Some people may look rich outwardly, but, in reality, are neck deep in debt and other obligations. If you’re free of obligations – financial and others – then you’re truly rich.

Example: I don’t have significant outstanding debt, and therefore I consider myself to be better off than some of my friends who earn far more but are deep in debt. He is rich who owes nothing.

Pay as you go and nothing you’ll owe.

If you pay as and when you buy, you’ll not get into debt.

Example: I resist buying unless I’ve cash surplus to pay. Pay as you go and nothing you’ll owe.

Out of debt, out of danger.

If you’re out of debt, you’re out of clutches of the creditor. In some parts of the world, money lenders in rural areas charge exorbitant interest rates (40+ percent per annum) and usurp landholding and other assets of the debtor in case of default.

Example: The Company sold some of its assets and raised some equity money to repay significant part of the outstanding debt. The promoters can breathe easy now as they saved the Company. Out of debt, out of danger.

4. Freebies and cheats

The only free cheese is in the mousetrap.

A Russian proverb. There rarely are completely free offers; they come attached with hooks. So, beware of such offers.

Example: The film actor got a 4-day stay at heavy discount at a premium hotel in Maldives, but later they used her pictures to promote the hotel. The only free cheese is in the mousetrap.

If you’re not paying, you’re the product.

It’s an internet version of the previous proverb. You can surf social media and access variety of information on websites for free, but it comes at the expense of your privacy (ads shown, etc.).

Example: I get such attractive discounts on this website, but I’m sure they’re making money off me in some or the other way. After all, if you’re not paying, you’re the product.

Many go out for wool and come home shorn themselves.

Many try to make a fortune through investment and other means but end up losing even the money or resources they invested.

Example: Taken in by the promise of high returns, many invested in the multi-level-marketing scheme. Within a year the company shut down, and the investors lost their money. Many go out for wool and come home shorn themselves.

The bait hides the hook.

The hook catches the fish but, in the first place, it’s the bait that brings the fish to the hook. So, beware of an overly attractive offer. It may just be a bait to catch you.

Example: After I joined the weight-loss program that promised reduction of 10 kgs in a month, I was offered gym membership, supplements, and what not. Weight reduction was just the bait, and it hid the hook.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If an offer seems too attractive to believe, then it’s most likely fraudulent.

Example: Ten percent return per month! Not possible. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

5. Bargains

He who does not ask will never get a bargain.

A French proverb. Many times, there aren’t any bargains on offer, but you can get one if you ask. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Example: My friend got a 10 percent discount on the leather jacket he bought, but I didn’t get any on the same jacket because I didn’t ask. He who does not ask will never get a bargain.

Good bargains empty the purse.

Good bargains can be tempting and entice people into buying more than required, most of which can even go unused.

Example: I bought three trousers and four shirts for 30 percent discount even though I don’t need them. Good bargains indeed empty the purse.

If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.

Something cheap will be of suspect quality and will trouble you later in the form of higher maintenance and/ or poor performance.

Example: I bought the air conditioner at quite an attractive price, but it’s running a high electricity bill because it’s not very efficient, and it also requires more maintenance. If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.

If you buy quality, you only cry once.

Conversely, high quality product or service is likely to set you back (in terms of high price) only once.

Example: I bought a five-star efficient air conditioner at a hefty price, but it’s all worth it as it’s quite efficient and hasn’t broken down in a long time. If you buy quality, you only cry once.

6. But money is not everything

The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have.

A Yiddish proverb. Chasing wealth is a never-ending game. It rarely stops at a particular level, and the chasers don’t have enough time and peace of mind to enjoy what they’ve accumulated. Better are those who enjoy what they have.

Example: Many executives have most things money can buy, but they’re a stressed lot due to constant pressure of keeping up with their targets. The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have.

Abundance, like want, ruins many.

A Romanian proverb. Too much money can lead to vices and bad habits, which ruin people.

Example: The tycoon’s son was found unconscious in a luxury hotel. Reports suggest that he had an overdose of drugs. Abundance, like want, ruins many.

A happy heart is better than a full purse.

What’s the use of money if you’re unhappy despite loads of it? Happiness is better than plenty. A 2010 study at Princeton University points that happiness increases with money but only till basic needs are met. After that, money matters much less.

Example: My cousin is a multi-millionaire, but he is super-busy and stressed, with little time to spend time with his family. I guess a happy heart is better than a full purse.

Money cannot buy happiness.

More money doesn’t translate into more happiness. Don’t we read instances of rich and famous being unhappy and depressed, and even committing suicide?

Example: Yesterday, media carried another report of celebrity depression. Money, clearly, cannot buy happiness.

Never marry for money, but marry where money is.

It’s fine to consider money when choosing a spouse, but that shouldn’t be sole or even paramount consideration.

Example: It’s not uncommon to see people marry for wealth, merrily assuming that other things can be adjusted, but divorce isn’t too far in such cases. Never marry for money, but marry where money is.

Shrouds have no pockets.

We arrived in this world without anything, and we’ll leave without anything. We can’t carry anything to our next lives.

Example: What will you do with all the money you’re accumulating at the cost of a peaceful, happy life? As far as I know, shrouds have no pockets.

The best things in life are free.

You don’t need money to enjoy friendship, love, fresh air, water, night sky, and other bounties of nature.

Example: While jogging through the lush green city forest and relishing the clean air, I thought, “The best things in life are free.

7. Others

Time is money, and it is difficult for one to use money to get time.

You can use time to earn money, but you cannot use money to get back lost time.

Example: Don’t while away your time. You’ll repent it few years down the road. Time is money, and it is difficult for one to use money to get time.

Make hay while the sun shines.

Take advantage of a favorable situation and prosper as much as you can. You never know when the tide turns again.

Example: Most firms increased their production of PPE kit during the pandemic to make hay while the sun shone.

Penny wise, pound foolish.

To save a small amount, some risk a far bigger amount.

Example: My friend bought an expensive car but didn’t insure it to save some money, risking his car. Surely a case of penny wise, pound foolish.

Money has no smell.

Irrespective of source, money has the same value.

Example: My friend gets at least some of his income from not-so-honorable source, but it seems not to affect him as it still pays his bills. Money, after all, has no smell.

Easy come, easy go.

Money you get easily goes away easily.

Example: I splurged $1,000 I won at the casino within days. Easy come, easy go.

Money is root of all evil.

Evil acts can eventually be traced back to someone’s excessive desire for material things.

Example: It’s common to see quarrels, court battles, and even crime in matters of inheritance. Money is root of all evil.

Money, like manure, does no good till it is spread.

Manure improves crop yield when it is spread on a field. Similarly, money benefits people and society when it is spread and invested in different causes (profit or non-profit).

Example: Government is sitting on billions of dollars of corpus arising from unclaimed employee provident fund and other funds. The corpus, like manure, is not doing any good.

The more you get, the more you want.

Pursuit of wealth is insatiable: More money you get, more you want. Such pursuit can lead people on a path where they’re constantly exerting and relegating important things in life to money and fame.

Example: At workplace, people often get in the maddening, never-ending race of promotion, perks, raise, and influence. The more you get, the more you want.

Much would have more.

Similar to the last one

It is better to be born lucky than rich.

If you’re lucky, you can get rich. But if you’re rich and not lucky, you may lose your wealth.

Example: Seeing my friend lose his significant riches, I think it is better to be born lucky than rich.

If you don’t speculate, you can’t accumulate.

If you don’t take risk, you can’t accumulate wealth.

Example: You’ll unlikely become wealthy in your ‘steady’ job. You need to speculate to accumulate.

He who doesn’t risk never gets to drink champagne.

A Russian proverb. One needs to take risk to land the big prize.

Example: I finally took the leap of faith and started my own work. After initial hiccups, I’m doing much better, both in terms of income and independence, than in my last job. He who doesn’t risk never gets to drink champagne.

The purse of the patient protracts the disease.

If you’ve deep pockets, the service provider may stretch the service period to extract more money from you. For example, if the patient is wealthy, the hospital may prolong the treatment and milk him longer.

Example: The Company’s legal case, for some or the other reason, has been stretching in the court. Maybe the lawyer has self-interest in this. I think it’s the case of purse of the patient protracting the disease.

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Anil Yadav

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