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Idioms and expressions

working for peanuts: idioms to talk about low pay and lack of money

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.

Be stretched

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.

Flat broke

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.)

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