Hi, guys! How are you? How about boosting your fluency in English when talking about money, easy money? Let’s have a look at the words and best expressions to talk about banking, earning your living, and managing your money, money, money!
1. Get Started with Banking
Okay, you’ve found a place to live and a job that will pay the bills. As all the money comes rolling in, you’ll need a safe place to save it. A bank account is important for establishing a credit rating, too. You’ll also need an account if you want a direct deposit from your employer. It’s easy to open a bank account, and the people at the bank will be happy to help. (Of course, they will; they’ll be holding your money!) Speaking to a representative at the bank is a good idea because there are so many types of accounts.
Do you want to share a joint account with someone in your family? Would you prefer a checking account, so that you can pay for things by check? Do you want a savings account to put aside extra money? You can usually earn a little more interest with a CD, which is short for a “certificate of deposit.”
To open an account, you’ll need to provide ID and proof of your address. (You got that apartment just in time!) Here’s another time when you need to watch for hidden fees. Some accounts may require you to maintain a minimum balance. If the funds in the account fall below a certain level, you may have to pay a monthly fee. Some “free checking” accounts can be very expensive!
Most banks offer free use of their ATMs, but be careful of the double whammy! If you use a different bank’s ATM, that bank may charge a fee, and your bank may charge another fee. (Are you doing the math with me? That’s two fees!)
If your account is overdrawn—you guessed it—a fee! If you bounce a check—say it with me—a fee! I guess there’s a reason banks have enough money to name so many sports arenas . . . The convenience of having a bank account makes it worthwhile to learn about all the options. Most bank cards can be used at stores (so you don’t have to carry cash), and you can even get cash back from your purchase.
Many banks have drive-thru banking, so you don’t even have to get out of your car. Hmm . . . drive thru the bank, and then head to the burger drive-thru for lunch? Lots of Americans love online banking, so you can have fun paying those bills 24-7, even in your PJs!
LIA: I finally did it. I opened a bank account yesterday.
ALAN: It’s about time! Didn’t you hate carrying all that cash around?
LIA: Yeah, it was a hassle. And I want to establish a credit rating, too. Besides, with all the ATMs around, it’s easy to get cash if I want some.
ALAN: Was it easy to open an account?
LIA: It sure was! I guess they’re happy to get my money, ha, ha. Just make sure you have ID with you and proof of residence.
ALAN: Were the people nice?
LIA: Yeah, they were pretty friendly. I felt very comfortable asking questions.
ALAN: So now that you have a bank account, I guess you’ll be buying a new car?
LIA: Don’t get carried away! I’ll be happy if I can pay the electric bill!
Banking is big business. Check around. Different banks may offer different interest rates to get your business. There are also Internet-only banks that are sometimes a good deal
24-7: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; always open
ATM: Automated Teller Machine
balance: the amount of money in your account
bounce a check: write a check when there isn’t enough money in the account
cash back: with certain bank cards, you can pay and get extra money back from your account at a store
CD: Certificate of Deposit
checking: an account that comes with checks to pay for things
direct deposit: system that allows your company to put your pay right into your bank account
double whammy: two problems at the same time
funds: money, usually in an account get
carried away: get too excited
good deal: a plan with many advantages
hassle: a problem; a complicated situation; a “headache”
interest: the amount of money the bank pays you to hold your account funds
it’s about time: we’ve waited a long time for this!
joint account: an account that more than one person can access (use)
minimum: the least amount
overdrawn: you have taken out more money than you actually have in the account
PJs: PaJamas (night clothes)
put aside: save
representative: someone who works for the company, whose job it is to help you
residence: where you live
stash: put away for future us
Was is pronounced differently, depending on the stress. Unstressed, it sounds like wuz and is connected to the words around it: Wuz it easy to open an account? (unstressed) In its stressed form, it sounds like woz: It sure woz. (stressed)
2. Making big bucks!
Place to live? Check! New job? Check! And now for the best part: the paycheck! The long lines at the bank’s drivethru will tell you that Friday is the traditional payday. But you can outsmart the people in line. Most companies offer direct deposit of paychecks. This means that your money is automatically transferred into your bank account on payday. Direct deposit has many advantages, but the best one is that you don’t have to wait in line to cash your check. Yay! (You’ve probably noticed that Americans don’t like to wait.) It also gives you extra time for yourself; you don’t have to add a trip to the bank to your list of errands.
Now that you’re bringing home the bacon, you know that American money takes some getting used to. The bills look very similar in size and color. The change comes in a lot of denominations.
You also need to learn the many common slang words that refer to money. Moolah, dough, bread, cabbage, and lettuce are not referring to a meal, but to the money that buys the meal! The slang descriptions of money may leave you thinking you’re learning a third language! One dollar bills are often called singles. Occasionally, a five-dollar bill is called a fin and a ten dollar bill is a ten-spot. The real fun, however, comes with the big bills.
A C-note is a one hundred dollar bill. (We’d like several of those, please. ) Although some money nicknames seem to make no sense, this one is logical: the Roman numeral for 100 is C. American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin has made it into the slang world, too. A one hundred dollar bill (featuring Franklin’s picture) is also called a Benjamin. How are your math skills? Ten Benjamins equal a grand. We love those Gs. That’s a lot of smackers!
LIA: I really love my new job! It feels great to be bringing home the bacon!
ALAN: No kidding. Payday is my favorite day. Too bad it only comes twice a month.
LIA: Don’t you get paid every week?
ALAN: No, twice a month. In fact, I think most companies do payroll twice a month; usually on the 15th and the 30th.
LIA: Hey, I think you’re right. But I have direct deposit, so all I care about is that when I pay a bill, there’s money in the bank! And I’m saving for a car, so I like that the money is already in the bank.
ALAN: Wow—a car? Won’t that cost a fortune?
LIA: You’re not kidding. I was looking at used cars, and even they cost at least 5K. It’s crazy!
ALAN: Speaking of crazy . . . I’m still trying to figure out the crazy change here. I know that four quarters equal a dollar. But did you ever notice that a nickel is bigger than a dime? Does that make sense to you?
LIA: Ha! Now that you mention it, a penny is bigger than a dime, too.
ALAN: I learned an interesting fact the other day. Did you know it costs more to make a penny at the mint than it’s worth? Crazy!
LIA: I guess it’s fun to think about change, but I’m glad my paycheck is in big bills!
At stores, many people don’t even bother to take their change if it’s only a few pennies. Some stores have a small cup near the cash register where customers can put their pennies. Other customers are welcome to take pennies from the cup if they need them for their purchase.
“Keep the change” is a way of telling a waiter that the change from the restaurant bill is the tip.
big bills: large denominations of money
big bucks: a lot of money
bills: paper money
bringing home the bacon: earning a salary
cabbage, lettuce: green leafy vegetables; also, slang for money
cash your check: get real money for the company check
change: coins; also, the money you get back when you pay with a big bill
check: done; completed; a mark on a list to indicate you have finished a task
C-note: a one hundred dollar bill
dime: ten cents
fortune: a really high price; a lot of money
grand: a thousand dollars
K: one thousand
line: a queue; people standing in turn
make no sense: not seem logical
mint: the place where money is made
nickel: five cents
no kidding: another way to say I agree
outsmart: be more clever than payday: the day your employer pays you for your work
payroll: the money to be paid to employees
penny: one cent
quarter: twenty-five cents smackers: money
speaking of: while we’re talking about the subject
take some getting used to: need to become accustomed to
More fun with idiomatic expressions
have money to burn: have a lot of extra money Since she got her new job, she spends like she has money to burn!
pay through the nose: pay a lot for something You’ll pay through the nose if you go to that fancy new restaurant.
break the bank: be so expensive that it costs almost all you have Karen searched the Internet to find a vacation that wouldn’t break the bank.
feel/look like a million bucks: feel/look great When Lily’s boss loved her project, she felt like a million bucks. So she bought a new dress, and she looked like a million bucks.
make a mint: make a lot of money The kids made a mint selling lemonade on a hot day.
Hope now you can express yourself with confidence when talking about money in different everyday situations! Go on learning about the Use of English and about passing your First Certificate Exam with flying colors!