I am wondering if there's an idiom that means that you are making barely enough money to live. Sometimes, I want to tell my co-workers that I am having a hard time with money, but I don't know how to say it well. Is there an idiom for that?

2 Answers 2


There are many:

They are barely scraping by.

They are barely getting by.

They eke out a life for themselves.

They are barely making ends meet.

They are living hand-to-mouth.

Related, colorful expressions for any trying circumstance:

They are hanging on by their fingernails.

They manage to keep going by the skin of their teeth.

They are living on a wing and a prayer.

Plus many others. I'll add more as I think of them.

  • 1
    Excellent list. I'd say that scraping by, getting by, and making ends meet are the most common I've seen/heard used. Commented May 1, 2019 at 18:30
  • 1
    Living hand-to-mouth.
    – Lorel C.
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 23:22
  • 2
    Living paycheck to paycheck, which means, in addition to barely making enough money, that you have little or no savings and need your next paycheck to pay the bills.
    – windblade
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 2:00

The one I know is to be hard up.

According to Cambridge Dictionary:

hard up (adjective) - having very little money: We're a bit hard up at the moment so we're not thinking about holidays.

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