Expressions for low pay:
A measly pay
A meager salary
A paltry wage
Working for peanuts
Working for chicken feed
Idioms for not having enough money:
Be short of
I was short of money, so I had to borrow some from George.
Strapped for cash
He sold the painting at an auction when he was strapped for cash a few years ago.
Running out of
You must get a job soon; we are running out of cash.
With hundred of refugees coming in after the war, the city resources are stretched.
Tighten your belt
The program lost funding when the government tightened its belt with the onset of recession.
Feel the pinch
After my father suddenly lost his job and we had to live on my mother’s paltry school teacher’s salary, we started to feel the pinch.
I was homeless, flat broke, and did not even have money for a proper meal.
On a shoe string
He started his business on a shoe string but is now very successful.
A popular saying: If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
(If you pay very less, you will only get low-skilled or unqualified people to work for you.)