Financial Hand Gestures From Around the World

Traveling overseas has many benefits: seeing new places, experiencing new cultures, tasting the local cuisine and meeting new people. But communicating with the locals can be difficult if you don’t speak the language. When we hit a language barrier, most people fall back on body language instead – but be aware, not all hand gestures mean the same in every country. has put together an illustrated guide to some useful financial hand gestures from around the world, so whether you’re trying to barter at the local market in Asia or asking the waiter for the check, you can always make sure that you’re understood.


Money – Forming a circle with the thumb and index finger of your right hand is a common gesture for money in Japan.



If you want to say: “I’m Broke” in Spain – Point your middle and index fingers towards your eyes, brush your fingers downwards as if to demonstrate tears.


Giving money – In Korea it’s polite to use two hands when giving or receiving something from another person. Therefore, you should use your free hand to support your arm
when handing over or receiving money.


I Have no Money –  To let people know that you’re a short on cash in Peru you have to press your neck with your index finger.
This is the gesture for the expression “estoy aguja” or in English “I have no money”.


Money – A common gesture that indicates money in Ghana is to scratch the palm of your left hand with the fingers of your right hand.


Cheap Person – Tapping your elbow with the palm of your hand is a way of signalling that someone is cheap in Mexico. There is a similar gesture in Brazil,  but the meaning is completely different. Rubbing your elbow with the palm of the opposite hand indicates jealousy in Brazil.


Asking for the Check – It’s very interesting how Filipinos ask for the check: they draw a rectangle in the air, as if they were drawing an imaginary check in the air.


Cheap Person – If you see a person rubbing his forefinger down his nose in Netherlands, he is trying to deliver a message that someone is cheap.