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61

The previous answers are reasonable, but rather polite. British English has a rude, but also rather funny, expression which has much the same meaning: "all fur coat and no knickers". The outside view (fur coat) is fine and expensive, but the wearer of the fur coat can't afford any underwear. The expression isn't very common and perhaps slightly old ...


50

Not an exact match but you might consider keeping up appearances. From dictionary.cambridge.org to ​pretend to be ​happier, less ​poor, etc. than you really are, because you do not ​want ​people to ​know how ​bad ​your ​situation is:


33

Another British expression would be "Kippers and curtains" which corresponds almost directly with the Tamil phrase. The original phrase was probably "kippers and lace curtains" dating from a time when kippers (smoked herrings) were a very cheap foodstuff and lace curtains would have been a rather expensive adornment. It has fallen out of use a little in ...


24

To live in genteel poverty. There are some examples under the entry for genteel in Oxford, The Free dictionary, Meriam Webster. He lived in genteel poverty (= trying to keep the style of a high social class, but with little money). (Oxford Dictionary) An elderly woman living in genteel poverty. (Merriam Webster)


21

In England we sometimes use a similar idiom: meet me in the middle, or meet me halfway, or, equivalently, let's split the difference. They all mean the same, that is, when two parties are negotiating and one wants to sell high and the other buy low, they can agree on a compromise price that's halfway between each of their offers. The Free Dictionary lists ...


18

all flash no cash Urban dictionary definition: People who spend money they do not have.


17

"Hood rich" is really close to what you're looking for, but it typically describes someone who lives in the ghetto. It's likely to be understood only in the US or in US-influenced culture. From http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Hood+Rich (cleaned up): Someone who buys expensive clothes, cars, and eats out at expensive restaurants, but returns ...


15

The U.S. cowboy equivalent might be "The bigger the hat, the smaller the property—or its short-form sibling "all hat, no cattle." The [Yale] Dictionary of Modern Proverbs (2012) has this entry for the longer phrase: The bigger the hat (The wider the brim), the smaller the property (holding, ranch, herd). [First cited occurrence:] 1922 William MacLeod ...


14

Possibly "living beyond your means", which is often used in contexts where people have become accustomed to a certain standard of living, who then lose the means to sustain that standard (e.g. losing a job, getting a divorce, moving out of your parents house).


13

The person who spends everything on their home and has little left for the rest of life might be called house poor: A situation that describes a person who spends a large proportion of his or her total income on home ownership, including mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance and utilities. House poor individuals are short of cash for ...


12

There's an idiom Divide 50-50 To divide something into two equal parts. (The fifty means 50 percent.) Tommy and Billy divided the candy fifty-fifty. The robbers split the money fifty-fifty.


11

I think there is a cultural nuance in your proverb that may be difficult to convey perfectly, but keeping up with the Joneses may suggest the idea of being keen on appearing more (especially richer) than you actually are or may afford to: to have all the same things as other people to avoid looking poor or old-fashioned: Her only concern in ...


10

This reminds me of Proverbs 12:9: Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food. http://biblehub.com/proverbs/12-9.htm


7

Face your demons: If you face your demons, you confront your fears or something that you have been trying hard to avoid. [From UsingEnglish.com] Demon itself is described as "a ​negative ​feeling that ​causes you to ​worry or ​behave ​badly": She had her demons and, ​later in ​life, they ​drove her to ​drink. [From Cambridge Dictionaries ...


6

There's the phrases 'the cobbler's children are the worst shod' and 'the shoemaker's children go barefoot' which have the same sense of good things outside the home, bad things inside, and it's your fault.


5

You could consider saying, "Let's go halves on something". To go halves means: to share the whole amount (of something with another person): 'to go halves on an orange' Note: You should not use "go half on something". It doesn't have the same meaning. You could also consider using "Let's go (or split something) half and half". Half and half means: ...


5

I think most people just call them... audiobooks (or talking books) - a recording of a text being read If you had an ebook (a book that is read on a computer or other electronic device) you probably wouldn't start calling it an "audiobook" just because you happened to have your computer read it out using a software-based text-to-speech app. It strongly ...


4

It's not in widespread use, but in Yorkshire there's a phrase "Ten-bob millionaire" to describe exactly such people: who put on a show of living like millionaires (very rich) in public, but in truth only own/earn a small amount of money. "Ten bob" is an old term for half a pound sterling.


4

It is not an exact match, but you could consider using the idiom house of cards which means: A flimsy structure, arrangement, or situation that is in danger of collapsing or failing: 'The collapse of the rupiah ... has brought down a house of cards in overleveraged conglomerates'. [American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth ...


3

I think to bite the bullet may fit your context: Sl. to accept something difficult and try to live with it. You are just going to have to bite the bullet and make the best of it. Jim bit the bullet and accepted what he knew had to be. (The Free Dictionery)


3

A skilled workman can make anything out of thin air. Not really a proverb but... A skilled workman can MacGyver anything. Make or repair (an object) in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand: He MacGyvered a makeshift jack with a log. He has a shock of short red hair and a pair of rectangular-framed glasses ...


3

I believe I have a possible answer, but it turns the phrase from subduing the inner creature to freeing it and even elevating it: Release your inner honey badger When you release your inner honeybadger, you throw off your self-doubt and concerns about what other people think. This can be extended to doing things that your hesitant, overly-cautious inner ...


2

Perhaps break the back of the beast could fit well for your context. Mostly, Beast refers to large, ferocious animals. If someone breaks the back of the beast, they succeed in overcoming a major difficulty. Source Usage: It took Andy close to two years to finally break the back of the beast and become proficient in Japanese.


2

If you have the ability and talent, you can achieve success with whatever (minimal) resources available at your disposal. If we are permitted to replace ability and talent with resourcefulness, there's also this idiom, which means to make the most of what one has: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. - attributed to Elbert Hubbard by wikipedia ...


2

A wise man will make tools of what comes to hand. It is mentioned as an English proverb in the book The Multicultural Dictionary of Proverbs: Over 20,000 Adages from More Than 120 Languages, Nationalities and Ethnic Groups (by Harold V. Cordry).


2

Ballin' on a budget. As coined by the hip-hop group "Nappy Roots" on their 2002 studio album Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz.


2

even steven Fair; even; equitable More detail on origin a fair distribution of resources, a mutually beneficial trade ...


2

you can't judge a book by its cover You can't tell what something/someone is really like just by looking at it. It might be different from what it looks. If someone says, "You can't judge a book by its cover," he/she advises you not to judge someone or something only by its appearance. People also say, "You can't tell a book by its cover." ...


2

While the phrase has a specific religious connotation (of evil within and virtue without, where the Tamil one might have the exterior virtue of beneficence and the interior vice of waste, but maybe it's not that specific?), the structure of the concept is similar to a whited sepulchre: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like ...


2

Not quite an exact match, but there's the concept of "fake it 'til you make it", which is about cultivating the appearance of what you want to be, even if you have nothing (skills/experience) to back it up. The idea being that people will give you a chance if they think you're qualified. This isn't necessarily about wealth, and it's possible that the ...



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