1. You can’t have your cake and eat it.
If you’ve used something up, you can’t complain when it’s all gone. Or, more simply: you can’t have everything in life.
2. While the cat’s away, the mice will play.
While the boss is away, the staff won’t get any work done.
3. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Out of every bad or unlucky event there comes a little bit of good.
4. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
When too many people all try to do the same thing, the result is chaos.
5. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
One thing which you’ve definitely got right now, is worth two things which you may or may not acquire later on. Or, don’t put your faith in things which may never happen.
6. A stitch in time saves nine.
If you repair something immediately, it will save a lot more work later on.
7. Fine words butter no parsnips.
Empty words or flattery do not result in anything tangible and worthwhile.
8. Empty vessels make most noise.
People without a thought in their heads do the most talking. (A “vessel” here is a container. If you tap an empty container, it makes more noise than one which has something inside it.)
9. Let sleeping dogs lie.
If there are no problems at the moment, don’t change anything.
10. Don’t cross your bridges before you come to them.
There’s no need to solve problems which haven’t occurred yet: avoid premature negative thinking.
11. Cut your coat according to your cloth.
Plan your purchases or projects according to how much money or resources you have: don’t overspend or make plans you can’t deliver.
12. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
You can’t make something wonderful out of poor resources.