雞同鴨講──放完假大出血？是時候「tighten your belt」了！｜A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
After the excitement of Christmas, the New Year and Chinese New Year, I wouldn’t be surprised if your bank account has taken a hit after splurging on Christmas presents, an outfit for a New Year’s Eve shindig and innumerable handouts of cash-stuffed lai see (unless of course, you were lucky to be on the receiving end).
I suppose that after the excitement of holiday after holiday, it’s back to the humdrum of reality and re-evaluating your finances before the next costly celebration; better get saving to treat your other half on Valentine’s Day.
In the spirit of being frugal, here are some handy expressions related to finances and saving money.
Now that you’ve spent a considerable amount of your paycheque on gifts and all that, I suppose it would be fitting to say that it’s time to “tighten your belt”, which simply means economising your spending. Apparently, it comes from the Great Depression era when those who were living “below the breadline” (an idiom to describe poverty) couldn’t afford food and had to tighten their belts to stop their trousers from falling down. The former can be applied in everyday life; hopefully you won’t have to use the latter expression to define your circumstances!
Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “money doesn’t grow on trees”? It’s a pretty illustrative figure of speech to say that money is a finite resource and should be treasured. Usually, children will hear it from their parents when they’re asking for something expensive, like an expensive toy or extra money outside of their weekly allowance.
If you’re the type to squirrel away money, then you’ve been “saving for a rainy day”, which means you’ve put aside money for the future or for an emergency. However, if you’re not a savvy saver and more of a “big spender” (this one is pretty self-explanatory), then you risk “breaking the bank” and falling into financial ruin. This expression originates from the rare event in which a gambler wins more money than the house in a single hand. However, it can be applied to everyday living and in a variety of ways.
For example, if you’ve got your eye on something that is a little bit out of your budget but won’t necessarily harm your expenditure, you can say to yourself that it “won’t break the bank” and can justify buying it.
Before we round up today’s column, a few more synonyms and idioms related to being financially prudent that you can use. There’s “penny pinching”, “cheapskate” and “tight fisted”, all of which are used to describe someone who doesn’t like to spend a lot of money. However, these terms are synonymous with being stingy, which is a negative way to describe someone who saves money; picture Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.
If you want to compliment someone for being careful with their spending, you can describe them as frugal and thrifty, two terms I’ve used interchangeably so far, and use idioms like, “get along on a shoestring” and “living within one’s means”.
I bet your bottom dollar that you’ll find a way to slide in these new sayings you’ve learnt today; all the best and see you next week.
若然你在禮物之類的事情上花了不少工資，是時候要「tighten your belt」，節省開支了。這句話顯然是來自大蕭條時期，活在「below the breadline」（形容貧窮的別稱）的人們，由於負擔不了食物，為免褲子從瘦弱的身軀掉下，只好把褲頭帶索緊。「Tighten your belt」可用在日常生活中使用，至於「below the breadline」，希望大家不需以此來定義你的情況吧！
也許你聽過這句說話：「money doesn’t grow on trees」。這句相當形象化的短語，意指金錢是有限的資源，我們應該珍惜。通常小孩要求昂貴的東西，例如玩具或額外零用錢時，便會從家長口中聽到這句話了。
如果你是有存錢習慣的人，「saving for a rainy day」可是句適合形容你的短語，它代表為著未來或緊急情況存錢。但相反，若你並非精明的理財專家，甚至是個「大花筒」的話，便要承受「breaking the bank」的風險，陷入破產危機。這句話據說來自賭博時，賭徒比莊家贏取更多金錢的稀有情況，但當然它也可應用在日常處境中。譬如說，你想買某項稍微超出預算、但對收支平衡不會太有大影響的物品，便可對自己說這樣做「won’t break the bank」，說服自己買下心頭好。
專欄完結之前，再多舉幾個與穩健財政習慣有關的同義詞和習語吧！「Penny pinching」、「cheapskate」和「tight fisted」，都形容某人不怎麼花錢。不過，它們都是「吝嗇」的同義詞，負面地形容某人儉財，例如狄更斯小說《A Christmas Carol》中的主角Ebenezer Scrooge就是最佳人版。
至於想稱讚別人花錢精打細算，可用「frugal」和「thrifty」這兩個意思相通的詞語，「get along on a shoestring」或「living within one’s means」也有同樣意思。