Skimping and splurging (Verbs for spending money)

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by Kate Woodford

Last month I wrote a post on words and phrases used to talk about our money habits. Continuing with the money theme, I’m looking this week at verbs and verb phrases for spending money.

Starting with the verb ‘spend’ itself, we say someone spends a fortune when they spend a lot of money and we talk about a spending spree, meaning a time when someone spends a lot of money on several things:

She’s spent a fortune on private tutors for the girls.

The couple later used the cards to embark on a wild spending spree.

Focusing on providing money, we use the verbs finance, fund and bankroll to say that someone gives the money that is needed for a particular thing:

Who funded the project?

They’re raising funds to finance the campaign.

He bankrolled the whole venture.

Let’s look at verbs for spending a lot of money. If someone squanders a large sum of money, they waste it by spending it on something useless or something that won’t last. The informal verb blow is used in a similar way but emphasizes that someone has spent (and wasted) lots of money doing enjoyable things:

They’ve already squandered millions of taxpayers’ money on the scheme.

Dan was paid on Friday and then blew it all on a big night out.

If you splurge, you spend a lot of money on something indulgent and expensive. This is an informal verb:

Every now and then I’ll splurge on a fancy meal.

Thinking now about controlling what we spend, if you economize, you try to spend less money and if you skimp, you don’t spend enough money on something:

We’re trying to economize on energy use.

Don’t skimp on walking boots – you get what you pay for.

Looking at phrases in this area, a person or company who bears or covers the cost of something pays for it:

The company responsible for an oil spill should bear the cost of the clean-up.

If you pay your way, you pay for yourself rather than allowing someone

else to pay for you:

I paid my way through college by working at the weekends.

When you get the (UK) bill / (US) check in a restaurant, you might offer to pay for another person by saying you will take care of it:

Come on, it’s your birthday – let me take care of this.

My next blog post will focus on idioms relating to money. In the meantime, if you want to remind yourself of some really useful phrasal verbs in this area, please follow this link to a post I wrote on the subject a few years ago:

How much did that set you back? (Money phrasal verbs)

10 thoughts on “Skimping and splurging (Verbs for spending money)

    1. Amparo:

      You may have noticed that “finance” and “fund” have a CALD definition [which is helpful for English language learners like yourself].

      [or is it when Kate and the web managers want to go to a specific definition which is not the first or the literal one?]

      Best wishes in the exam – and I hope you were able to splurge on good preparations and resources.

      And pay your way of course!

      1. Kate Woodford

        Hi Ivan! I’m so glad you found this useful. In response to your question, you’d be more likely to hear ‘He blew it all’ or ‘He blew the whole lot (on something)’. I hope that answers your question. Best wishes.

  1. Wow, this article is so informative, I feel like I just won the lottery of financial vocabulary! Now if only I could win the actual lottery, I could afford to squander, splurge, and embark on a wild spending spree without worrying about economizing or skimping. But I’ll settle for paying my own way and taking care of the bill, thank you very much.

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