Here are some examples of idioms and expressions that you will sometimes hear when people are talking about financial issues.
- Ballpark figure – a guess about how much something will cost that could be more or less, but will be close.
Examples: Anadarko Petroleum Company is asking its financial department for a ballpark figure of what it would cost to build a new refinery in Algeria.
- Crunch the numbers – to perform financial calculations
Example: Devon Energy is planning to invest in new equipment for off-shore drilling. The Vice-President has asked the Financial Department to crunch the numbers so that they can include the equipment in their 2017 budget.
- In the red – when expenses are higher than company revenues
Example: For the past six months, our expenses have been higher than our income and now the company is in the red.
- In the black – when revenues are higher than expenses
Example: Our first quarter sales were great! We will be in the black for all of 2016.
- Break-even – when revenue equals expenses; a company doesn’t lose money and doesn’t make money.
Example: When Ben and Jerry first began their ice cream company, they broke even for the first two years.
- A Pretty penny – a high price
Example: The new warehouse purchased last year close to the ship channel cost the Hess Corporation a pretty penny.
- Nickel and dime someone – making a company pay for small expenses
Example: I don’t think we should sign the contract to do business with our client. They are nickel and diming us over every small detail. We won’t make any money from this deal.
- Break one’s budget – to cost more than one can afford to pay
Example: The cost of investing in Peru at this time will break our budget. We will have to wait until 2018.
- To get more bang for the buck – more return on one’s money, more value for an investment
Example: If we use the vendor from Norway, we will get more bang for our buck.
- Back -of-the-envelope calculations – approximate calculations done quickly
Example: Based on back-of-the-envelope calculations, Royal Dutch Shell should be able to build four new off-shore drilling rigs in 2018.
Students, practice using these idioms and expressions so that you will become more fluent in American English. Good luck!
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