Days of plenty, nothing’s eves (in Portuguese dias de muito, vésperas de nada) means your days of plenty are eves of days of nothing, i.e. you alternate between splashing out and hardship, usually because you spend excessively when you have money. The saying is used as a comment on, or warning against this.

I’ve looked into this other question, which focus on wasting time or money and regretting it later. I wonder whether there is any saying that more closely conveys the idea of alternating between relative luxury and belt tightening. While the situations you use days of plenty, nothing’s eves to comment on may involve wasting money, it is not necessarily so. Take the following examples (fill the blank with a suitable saying):

They splash out as soon as they get their paycheck, and then they can hardly afford bare necessities for the rest of the month. You know, ____________

The city council spent nearly all its culture budget on free concerts in the first four months of the year, and now there won’t be any more significant events this year. You know, ____________

Especially in the second example, the city council and many among the public may think the money was well spent. But others, while agreeing the events were worth the money, would prefer the events more evenly spaced out throughout the year, and use the proverb to criticize the council’s policy.

You can off course use the saying to criticize waste of money:

He inherited quite a lot of money from his parents, but he’s frittered it all away, and now he doesn’t even have a house of his own. You know, _________________

  • 2
    Possible duplicate: Idiom request for wasting time or money
    – Yay
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 20:15
  • 1
    I was also thinking along the lines of the ant and grasshopper, and the linked possible duplicate already mentions it.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 20:22
  • You can't have your cake and eat it - once eaten, keeping possession of the cake is no longer possible, seeing that it is in your stomach (and no longer exists as a cake). Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 20:33
  • @Yay: Thanks for pointing out the other question. I've read the answers, but they're not quite what I'm looking for. I've edited my question to clarify what I'm looking for.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 21:35
  • @cobaltduck: I can see why one could think of the grasshopper (dindn't know grasshoppers sang; it's a cicada in the Portuguese version). My first version was not very clear. I hope it is now.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 21:43

6 Answers 6


Both “boom-or/and-bust and "{either} feast or famine" are pretty literal translations of your idiom, with "feast/boom" meaning "days of plenty" and "famine/bust" standing for "days of nothing."

Although "boom-or-bust" is mostly used for describing the ups and downs of whole economies and industries, I think it, and especially "famine-or-feast," would work well in your first two examples of people or governments quickly blowing through their limited budgets, resulting in them having either too many/sufficient resources or too little or no resources.

adjective 1. characteristic of a period of economic prosperity followed by a depression.
Also, boom-or-bust

adjective 1.characterized by alternating, extremely high and low degrees of prosperity, success, volume of business, etc.: "artists who lead a feast-or-famine life."

(definitions from 'Dictionary/com' and "The Free Dictionary,' respectively)

As for your third example, I'd probably go either with any of the other good answers so far that capture the alternating feel of your proverb ('rich today, poor tomorrow'/'ebb & flow'/'ups & downs') or with the good one that, although lacking perhaps the alternation, talks of the nearly-inevitable consequences of "fools [having] money."

My own late entry for your third example (and it might also fit with the first two) would also be one that doesn't directly capture the notion of alternating fortunes:

burn a hole in/through {somebody's} pocket
If ​money is ​burning a ​hole in ​your ​pocket, you are very ​eager to ​spend it.
(from 'Cambridge Dictionaries Online')

You know, all that money just burned a hole right through his pocket. What a shame.

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    I agree with all you said. Still, boom and bust might convey the right idea in my first and second example.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:52

If someone spends money extravagantly without any forethought, only to regret later, the I'd say

A fool and his money are soon parted

something that you say which means that stupid people spend money without thinking about it enough

[The Free Dictionary]


The city council spent nearly all its culture budget on free concerts in the first four months of the year, and now there won’t be any more significant events this year. You know, fools and their money are soon parted.


He inherited quite a lot of money from his parents, but he’s frittered it all away, and now he doesn’t even have a house of his own. You know, a fool and his money are soon parted

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    I've never heard a fool and his money are soon parted used in that sense. Whenever I've heard it, it's been used to mean it's easy to swindle, outdo or deceive an idiot and thereby get his money, or, there are many dodgy offerings out in the world, and you must be careful in choosing investments - neither carries a sense of profligacy. Essentially, I've heard the phrase used to mean that the action is on someone else removing the money from the fool by hoodwinking them, rather than the fool loosing their money through their own actions by being irresponsible or careless.
    – Charon
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 12:20
  • Wiktionary defines it so: It is easy to get money from foolish people, especially rich ones.
    – Charon
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 12:23
  • @Charon - Jacinto's examples imply that the people in question acted in foolish ways to have lost all their money. Fooling rich people who are foolish and swindling money is not the only implication of the phrase. If I am not rich, find it hard to make ends meet but still fritter away my money in alcohol, I am a fool and I will be parted with my money soon which I'll mostly regret at a later time.
    – BiscuitBoy
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 7:01

I'd suggest, the wheel of fortune is always in motion and rich today, poor tomorrow

People's fortunes are constantly changing - somebody who has good luck one year may have bad luck the next, and vice versa. It seemed that nothing could go wrong, but the wheel of fortune is forever in motion, and disaster struck the following day. The proverb was first recorded in 1748 in Papers of Benjamin Franklin. The Facts on Files Dictionary of Proverbs

fortune is fickle might also fit the bill. Ngram

  • I wonder whether the wheel of fortune... and fortune is fickle apply to may examples: those sayings appear to imply the individuals themselves have no responsibility in their state of affairs. Rich today, poor tomorrow parallels in form my idiom. Does it imply as the fortune sayings that the change is caused by bad luck?
    – Jacinto
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:46

1) what goes around comes around from OD:

proverb: The consequences of one’s actions will have to be dealt with eventually.

A couple more suggestions :

2) Ebb and flow from TFD

... You know, their bank balance ebbs and flows like the tide.

... You know, that's the type of ebb and flow that event goers have to endure.

3) Or on similar vein, ups and downs from reference.com.

rises and falls of fortune; good and bad times: Every business has its ups and downs.

  • 1
    What goes around comes around seems very close to the OP's idiom.
    – Charon
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 12:11

Consider the old saying:

What a difference a day makes!

If you refer to a future turn of events, another idiom is:

"There is no telling what tomorrow will bring."


Just reading The Birth of the Modern by Paul Johnsonand on page 640 in a chapter about the fall of the Spanish colonial empire there is this sentence about the effort from the Spanish public to finance keeping the empire together:

There was a lot of speechifying but no action; as the old Spanish proverb said, ‘Day of much, eve of nothing.’

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