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Is there any metaphoric antonym to “pay check to paycheck living”?

In Japanese we have the word, ‘Kirigirisu zoku’ – people who live like a grasshopper who squanders money and not prepare for winter as against ‘Ari zoku’ – people who live like an ant who works hard and saves money to brace for hardship. This came from Ant and Grasshopper episode of Aesop Fables. But I don’t think “Kirigiris-like” living analogy applies to “paycheck to paycheck” living, because it merely refers to unwise spendthrift life.

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Living paycheck-to-paycheck doesn't necessarily indicate that one is squandering their earnings. – DustinDavis Dec 2 '11 at 23:39

Whenever you ask for the opposite of something, you may get more than you asked for. So there are many opposites to paycheck-to-paycheck.

  • Some people, though they spend little, also earn little. They live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings. Others who spend about the same have more left over to save simply by earning more. You might call these opposite people "comfortable" or "well off" or "financially stable."
  • Some people, we say money burns a hole in their pocket, or it runs through their hands like water. What they get, they spend. They too live paycheck to paycheck. Others who get about the same are able to restrain themselves from spending and so they have some left over to save. You might call these opposite people "thrifty", "frugal", "careful" or "savers."
  • Some people just don't think about the future. They run up debt or live without any buffer for emergency expenses like car repairs just because it didn't occur to them that it might cause trouble. They may live paycheck to paycheck because it seems like the only option. Others have been taught that expenses happen and debts have to be repaid, and so they repay their debts and save up an emergency fund. You might call these opposite people "prudent" or "well-prepared" or "money-savvy."

Lots of options. None of them are metaphoric, but then again neither is paycheck to paycheck. It quite literally means that what comes in goes out again and nothing is saved for a later time. (It's not quite as bad as hand to mouth which means when you come into ownership of some food, you eat it, unable even to wait until mealtime since it's probably been a while since you ate.)

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There's also "living within their means". Still not a metaphor, but slightly more descriptive than, say, "thrifty". – Marthaª Dec 2 '11 at 23:35
This isn't strictly metaphoric either, but a stock phrase one often hears is that a person who isn't rich, but lives comfortably within their means, "never has to worry about where their next meal is coming from". Perhaps that's more of an antonym to "hand to mouth." – alcas Dec 3 '11 at 3:22

I think you have a misunderstanding of what living paycheck to paycheck means. It doesn't mean that you are squandering your money, in fact the sense of it is almost always that of someone that is careful of their money, because they don't have enough. A closely related phrase would be living hand to mouth, where the person is simply getting by, with nothing left over for savings (perhaps not even enough to get by indefinitely). Spendtrift would be more what you are referring to. And frugal for the opposite.

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For synonyms, besides the obvious and already mentioned hand-to-mouth and prodigal, and noun spendthrift, "wasteful, improvident or profligate," for a metaphor consider lilies of the field who "toil not, neither do they spin". The wikipedia article notes, "P.G. Wodehouse humorously uses the phrase "lilies of the field" to refer to the idle rich who do no labour. Other writers such as Edith Wharton and A.M. Klein have also directed the phrase at the rich and idle."

For antonyms, which is what you have asked for, consider thrifty and provident; which however are not particularly metaphoric. Some additional terms are canny, frugal, prudent, sagacious, sensible, sound, sparing, wise. More metaphorically, see the Little Red Hen story. "The story is applied in teaching children the virtues of the work ethic and personal initiative."

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In my mind living paycheck to paycheck means that one is spending the entirety of his income each period, quite often by necessity, and says nothing directly about his financial wisdom.

I believe that independently wealthy is the most appropriate antonym to my understanding of the phrase.

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The word that describes this the best is prodigal, which describes wasteful expenditure. That leads to thinking about the "prodigal son", which is a parable which describes a son who wastes away his inheritance and has to return home to the father.

EDIT: Sorry it looks like my response is more just another equivalent of the grasshopper, rather than an equivalent to "paycheck-to-paycheck". I think I may have misunderstood the question.

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A word which captures a lot of the feel that you're after is miser: someone who is reluctant to spend money. Although it can be used as an antonym to generous person, a primary connotation is the old person who lives on bread and water but is secretly a millionaire.

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oooh, yet another opposite. I like it! – Kate Gregory Dec 2 '11 at 23:29

In Spanish we say "Vivir al día" or "Vivir el día a día", which would translate to something like "To live to the day", "To live daily", "To live day by day" or "To live the day".

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Being "independently wealthy".

The opposite would be to not have to live paycheck to paycheck, i.e. not even have to work for a living. That state of being is "independently wealthy".

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I take paycheck-to-paycheck to mean you are covering basic essentials with no excess left for saving or luxury items.

In economics I seem to recall another term (just can't remember it right now) and the only other definition I can find calls the extra "Economic Income":

Income over and above what covers a person's or company's bare essentials. For example, if, after covering one's rent, food, and other basic expenses, one has a certain amount of money left over, this is one's economic income. One can spend his/her economic income and not endanger one's financial position.


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@Mark Ireland: So what is the antonym of pay-cheque to pay-cheque living? – Matt E. Эллен Dec 6 '11 at 12:16
Yes, I think an antonym is "Economic Income". It's got nothing to do with being frugal or thrifty, or frivolous or miserly. They are characteristics of a person that can apply whether or not you are living paycheck-to-paycheck (or the opposite). Name a multi-millionaire actor. They could be any of these, but would hardly live paycheck-to-paycheck. It's all about having to spend all your income on basics w/o the ability to save. That's paycheck-to-paycheck. When (as I quoted) you have money left over you have Economic Income. That's the antonym: Having economic income. – Mark Ireland Dec 12 '11 at 22:54

protected by RegDwigнt Mar 14 '12 at 10:45

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