take belt in
take (one's) belt in (a notch (or two))
To reduce, restrict, or limit one's budget or expenses; to live more modestly or make financial sacrifices. (Alluding to having a thinner waist line due to having less to eat.) It's pretty galling to see the CEO driving up to work in a brand new company car while the rest of us are being told to take our belts in to help save the business. With your mother out of work, we're all going to have to take our belts in a notch or two for a little while. I really love my new job, but it pays a lot less so I've had to start taking my belt in a notch.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
take one's belt in (a notch)and pull one's belt in (a notch)
1. Lit. to tighten one's belt a bit. (Probably because one has not eaten recently or because one has lost weight.) He pulled his belt in a notch and smiled at his success at losing weight. He took in his belt a notch and wished he had something to eat.
2. Fig. to reduce expenditures; to live or operate a business more economically. (As if one were going to have to eat less.) They had to take their belts in a notch budgetarily speaking. The people at city hall will have to pull in their belts a notch unless they want to raise taxes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.