champagne on a beer budget

Someone who likes expensive things that they cannot afford has champagne taste on a beer budget.
“Eve borrows money to buy expensive designer clothes – champagne taste on a beer budget!”

cheek by jowl

When people are cheek by jowl, they are crammed uncomfortably close together.
“The refugees are living cheek by jowl in a temporary camp.”

keep up appearances

A person who keeps up appearances maintains an outward show of prosperity or well-being in order to hide their difficulties from others.
“He continued to keep up appearances even when business was bad.”

keep up with the Joneses

Someone who tries to keep up with the Joneses tries to have the same possessions or social achievements as someone else.
“First the Browns moved their children to an expensive school. Now the Smiths have done the same. It’s silly how some people feel they have to keep up with the Joneses!”

keep the wolf from the door

In order to keep the wolf from the door, you need to have enough money to buy food and other essentials.
“My grandparents earned barely enough money to keep the wolf from the door.”

live beyond means

If someone lives beyond their means, they spend more money than they earn or can afford.
“The cost of living was so much higher in New York that he was soon living beyond his means.”

live from hand to mouth

If you live from hand to mouth, you don’t have any money to save because whatever you earn is spent on food and other essentials.
“Most families in that area live from hand to mouth.”

live high off the hog

Someone who lives high off the hog has a lot of money and a very comfortable lifestyle.
“Now he’s wealthy and living high off the hog.”

live in clover

Someone who lives in clover has enough money to lead a very comfortable life.
“I dream of making an enormous amount of money and living in clover for the rest of my life!”

live in an ivory tower

A person who lives in an ivory tower has a lifestyle that preserves them from the problems and difficulties experienced by others so that they are out of touch with the realities of life..
“You’re completely out of touch – it’s time to come out of your ivory tower and see what’s going on in the real world!”

live on the breadline

People who live on the breadline have a very low income or barely enough money to survive.
“Due to the recent crisis, there are more people on the breadline than ever before.”

live on the edge

The lifestyle of people who live on the edge involves dangerous or risky activities.
“Extreme sportsmen or gamblers are examples of people who live on the edge.”

live out of suitcase

Someone who lives of a suitcase travels a lot, moving from place to place, and is therefore restricted to the contents of their suitcase.
“Sarah’s job involves so much travelling that she lives out of a suitcase.”

live the life of riley

A person who lives the life of Riley has a comfortable and enjoyable life, without having to make much effort.
“He married a millionaire, and since then he’s been living the life of Riley!”

make the best of things

If you make the best of things, you accept the situation and do what  you can in spite of the difficulties or disadvantages.
“The apartment was badly located, but the rent was low, so they decided to make the best of things.”

make ends meet

If you find it difficult to pay for your everyday needs because you have very little money, it is hard for you to make ends meet.
“Anne’s salary is so low that she finds hard to make ends meet.”

make exhibition of oneself

When someone behaves in such a foolish way in public that they look ridiculous, they make an exhibition of themselves.
“Get down off the table Fred! You’re making an exhibition of yourself!”

(a) new lease of life

A person who has a new lease of life has a chance to live longer or have a better lifestyle with greater enjoyment.
“Moving closer to his children has given George a new lease of life.”

(the) school of hard knocks

Someone who goes through the school of hard knocks learns through the positive and negative experiences of life rather than through a formal classroom education.
“He never went to college but the school of hard knocks made him a shrewd businessman.”

(the) seamy side of life

This expression refers to the most unpleasant, disreputable or sordid aspects of life that we normally do not see (just as the stitched seams of clothes are generally not seen).
“Social workers really see the seamy side of life.”

on one’s uppers

Someone who is on their uppers has very little money or not enough to cover their needs.
“Because he was clearly on his uppers when he was hired, he was given an advance in salary.”

weal and woe

The expression weal and woe refers to the good and bad times, the joys and sorrows, or prosperity and misfortune.
“We all get our share of weal and woe in life.”