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In German, we have a saying "Hin und her macht Taschen leer" meaning that doing lots of (investment) transactions means large accumulated fees.

A rough (almost literal) translation would be "[Investing] back and forth empties your pockets".

Is there any English idiom or saying like this?

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    We understand the concept but I know of no direct saying that is the same as this. A related saying in English: "Lawsuits only make the lawyers rich". – Andrew Dec 28 '16 at 19:21
  • Is this a finance term in German? Only finance? – Lambie Dec 28 '16 at 19:50
  • @Lambie: I think so - I've never heard it other than refering to order fees for investments. In other contexts I'd use "management by potato: 'rin in die Kartoffeln, raus aus den Kartoffeln" – cbeleites Dec 28 '16 at 19:57
  • @cbeleites in the computer world we say (or used to say) "GIGO: Garbage in, Garbage out." Not quite the same as "Potato management". – Andrew Dec 28 '16 at 20:46
  • Or like the W.C. Fields movie, "Never give a sucker an even break" – Lambie Dec 28 '16 at 21:01
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I know of no such saying in English; but we do have a colloquial term for a broker's rapidly turning over a client's investments in order to generate transaction fees: churning, which is not only unethical but illegal.

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The closest I can think of, but it's not an idiom is

There's a reason they're called "brokers", the commissions will make you broke!

meaning because a commission is paid to the broker for each trade, they are the ones who allays get paid (and bear no risk). Commissions (and possible taxes) are a certain cost.

  • I think this is not quite what I'm looking for: I's read yours as warning to keep away from all dealings with brokers, whereas I'm looking for something that warns not to do short term trading - somewhat implying that long term investing is the way to go. – cbeleites Dec 28 '16 at 20:02

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