Idiom:  tighten one's belt

Cartoon businessman who's holding dollar bills in his hand and pulling the belt on his trousers really tight to depict the idiom

Meaning

Look at the picture and try to guess the meaning of the idiom 'tighten one's belt.'   

tighten one's belt:  to spend less than usual in order to save money.


Notes:

Belts have holes that are used to make the belt tighter (or looser) around the waist. In difficult times people who had very little money were not able to buy as much food as usual and therefore they lost weight. Thus, they had to tighten the belt in order to keep their pants from falling down.


Examples

  • I have a feeling my son will be tightening his belt this semester since we decided to give him a strict allowance rather then sending him money every time he asked.
  • We had to tighten our belts when my husband lost his job. 
  • I've decided to move to a warmer place so I'm going to tighten my belt over the next year and save as much money as possible before I leave.
  • We tried tightening our belts for several months but we can't continue like this—I'm going to have to get a part-time job.
  • It wasn't as hard as we thought to tighten our belts—we're saving $600 a month alone just by eating dinner at home.
  • If you want to pay off your debts you'll have to get a better job or tighten your belt—we're not helping you out again.
  • I've been tightening my belt for a year and I've just paid off one credit card—only four more to go.
  • Everyone in town is tightening their belts after the factory closed.
  • tightened my belt by doing my own nails, coloring my hair myself and making my own coffee at home.
  • We tighten our belts every January and February to pay off our Christmas gift purchases.
  • When I saw my parents couldn't tighten their belts any further I got a part-time job at a restaurant and my parents are so grateful for the extra $700 I give them each month.
  • We had to tighten our belts after my wife left her job but it's worth it to have her home with our baby.
  • I'm not raising your allowance again—either tighten your belt or get a job!
  • When I was a student I really had to tighten my belt—I ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and spaghetti with pasta sauce.

Synonyms

  • pinch pennies
  • cut back

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› Idiom: tighten one's belt