How to Make Ends Meet in the Short Term, the Long Term, and For a Lifetime

Making ends meet is not an easy task. You think you are going fine, and prices keep increasing, but your salary does not. There may be a sudden spike in gas prices or food prices. There may be a recession or depression. Other times you have a personal emergency, such as a pregnancy, a health issue, or a job loss.

In all of these cases, you need to find a way to make ends meet so you can have a place to live and retain your dignity.

These solutions are provided to help you make ends meet in the short term, about a month or so. Solutions are also provided to help you make ends meet in the long term, about a year or so. Hopefully, these financial solutions will help you so that you can eventually find a way to make ends meet for a lifetime.

Making ends meet is possible with the steps outlined in this hub.
Making ends meet is possible with the steps outlined in this hub. | Source

How to Make Ends Meet in the Short Run

These steps only work as short term solutions. By short run, I mean a time period from one day to two months. If you are expecting some income, a tax refund check, or your first paycheck from your new job, and you have bills to pay before then, you will be able to juggle some bills to cover your short term situation. You can reduce your expenses by avoiding buying things, even groceries, and eating only what you already have in the house, or visiting your parents at dinnertime. You could skip paying your utilities until then, for example, or make only the minimum due on your credit cards. You might be able to borrow from family, friends, or credit cards to make ends meet. If things are really desperate, you can skip paying a bill and take the hit on the penalty charges. I would recommend managing your payments to minimize the amount of interest and penalty charges you incur, so your situation doesn't continue to get worse.

"Use it up; wear it out; make it do, or do without."

This method cannot work as a long-term solution. You are going to get deeper and deeper in debt and can risk losing your good credit rating, your utilities or even your home. You must be able to find a way to make sure that your cash flow is balanced. The amount of money coming in must be equal to or greater than the amount of money going out.

How to Make Ends Meet in the Long Term

When I got pregnant, I was making slightly over minimum wage. I thought I was already being very frugal. I lived in the cheapest apartment I could find, and had furnished it with furniture I had bought at thrift stores and yard sales. I even negotiated those prices down. I used coupons and ate cheap food. I was living as cheap as I could and working many hours of overtime just to make ends meet. But then I got pregnant, and had to find ways to do even more with less. My small savings account was used very quickly for medical costs. I had insurance, but it paid 80%, and I had to come up with the remaining 20%. The following are steps you can take to make ends meet in the long term:

  • Reduce your Expenses. You must keep your expenses to a minimum when you have a cash flow problem. Spending will only make things worse. See this hub for assistance: Saving Money When there is Nothing Left to Cut. My daughter did not have a nursery, and there was no changing table. She used a crib that was given by a friend, and clothes that another child had outgrown. I bought only the necessities, and used cloth diapers to save money.
  • Refinance. I refinanced my car loan so that the payments were spread over a longer period of time. This reduced the amount of my monthly payment. Yes, I wound up paying more interest over the life of the loan, but it was something I had to do to make sure I could make all of my payments on time. At the time I refinanced, I was only able to get the new loan at the same interest rate as the old one. I would recommend trying to get a lower interest rate if you can.
  • Get a Roommate. I moved out of my apartment because it was not safe for a baby and moved into a two bedroom apartment, with a slightly higher rent payment. I rented out the second bedroom to a college student. The extra cash helped tremendously in my cash flow.
  • Get a Second Job. My second job was only on the weekends, which was convenient as it did not cause any scheduling conflicts. However, since I was paying for a babysitter, it did not help me as much as I would have liked, and it took time away from my newborn.
  • Drop Out of School. At the time I got pregnant, I was going to school to get my Masters Degree. I had to pay for the classes up front, and when I passed, my employer would reimburse me. I would then use the reimbursement for my next set of classes. I stopped going to school for medical reasons, not to save money, but I was able to borrow from my education fund to pay my bills. Since I knew I was going back to school eventually, I had to find longer term solutions, but this did help me out in the first year.
  • Get Help from the Government. This method did not work for me, because I was not knowledgeable about the available resources, and the one place I applied said the amount I was making was slightly over their maximum. I could have stopped working overtime, or stop trying for raises and promotions, to change that, but I preferred to do things independently. I wanted to find long term solutions, and being dependent on the government was not the solution for me.
  • Consider Moving. If you are renting, you can try to find a place that is cheaper, maybe even moving in with friends or family for a while.
  • Help from Medical Provider. I was not aware of this solution at the time, but apparently you can call your doctor or hospital and let them know of your situation. They may be willing to reduce the amount of the charge or help you with a payment plan.

Day Eleven : Hub #24 of 100 Hubs in 30 Days
Day Eleven : Hub #24 of 100 Hubs in 30 Days

How to Make Ends Meet For a Lifetime

None of the tips so far in this article are long term solutions. Sure you could tolerate them for a time - maybe even a year or two - but eventually you will want to find a more permanent solution. The only way to keep making ends meet is to reduce your expenses so that they are less than your income. You can't expect to live in a mansion if you have a minimum wage salary, so you must have realistic expectations. Save the difference for a rainy day, because even though you don't know what problems lie ahead, you do know that there will be some financial problem in your future. Be prepared. For the long run, get an education, and work on increasing your salary and keep reducing your expenses. Save up for the items that you want or need, instead of buying them whenever you get the urge. You may feel like you deserve it for the things you have gone through, but the stress of paying for the item will not be worth the amount of joy buying it gave you.

Making ends meet can feel like a sacrifice, but when you adjust your lifestyle to one that fits your earnings, you will find that you will have less stress, and have a reasonable quality of life.

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Comments 24 comments

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks nancynurse. My situation gets better and worse as the work situation changes. I like to keep sharp with the ideas no matter my money situation.

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nancynurse 4 years ago from Southeast USA

I appreciate you sharing so much. You have some great ideas. I hope your situation has eased up a bit. Great Hub. Voted up!

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Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks TheCreativeLife. I hope things work out for you.

TheCreativeLife profile image

TheCreativeLife 4 years ago from Holliston, MA, USA

Thanks for the great hub, I feel so overwhelmed lately, and am not sure how to get ahead..I need help!!

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you tipstoretireearly. It is important to make things work for the short run, but eventually, as you know, you eventually have to think about the long term and make a plan that won't keep you fighting fires every time you get a bill.

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tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

Smart to point out the difference between managing your finances for the short term and the long term. What works well for one situation is often at odds with what works well for the other situation.

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Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks barbergirl28 and Victoria Lynn for visiting and providing your insights. I agree that living frugally all the time, and saving up as much money as possible so that you can have a financial cushion is the way to go. There is always a money emergency around the corner and we need to be prepared.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Great article! I love hubs on saving money. I believe that even living frugally when we don't "need" to is the way to go, as we may need the money later. I recently lost my full-time job. I have a large mortgage payment, but it's working with several part-time gigs. Plus, I have money in savings if I need it, money I've worked hard to save (often with extra jobs in addition to full-time). I know everybody's situation is different, but usually all of us can save a little bit in some way. Many votes on this one!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

Great article on finances... especially in today's times... I have been watching the prices at the grocery store increase over the last few months and it just sickens me... especially knowning that we are already stretched thin! yet, we always find away. Thanks for the tips!

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Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you rls8994. I am glad it can help you.

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rls8994 4 years ago from Mississippi

Great advice that I intend to put to use. I recently became a single parent and adjusting to the one income has been very difficult. Thanks for sharing this information. Rated up!

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Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you GoodLady for your visit and your comment. It really isn't hard to live economically if you look at the upside of everything. I admire your attitude!

GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

Thanks for the helpful Hub. I have learned to cut most things out, reduce utility bills, live a lot more economically and it is fine! It really isn't surprising how well I'm getting on with my new, reduced economy too. When I was young I wasn't used to much. Why should I be now? Life was simpler then. Mum said, "run across the farm and get a bag of potatoes will you?" - and those potatoes with some mince meat was often our main meal. It was great! I loved the walk through the countryside. I lived with the fairies in the grass. mmmm. There's an upside to everything. Now I love sharing the guest bedroom with passing through guests!

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Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

No matter the income, one can always find enough expenses to fit it. Those big houses and cars can get expensive, and you have to look the part to keep up with the Joneses.

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stephaniedas 5 years ago from Miami, US

I can't imagine that someone making $100,000 couldn't make ends meet. I do know people with large paychecks who always complain about paying pills, but these people have large, new houses and expensive cars, credit card debt, etc. Sometimes people get defensive about it, though!

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Stephanie. I've heard people who made $100,000 who said they were just making ends meet and couldn't live any cheaper, so I thought a personal example would show people like that what is possible.

stephaniedas profile image

stephaniedas 5 years ago from Miami, US

Hey this is a great hub. Nicely written. I like that you give examples from your life. I have a lot of respect for someone who had financial difficulties and turned around her situation.

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Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Leanna. So many people tell me they can't stop using credit cards because they are already as frugal as they can be, and I have to tell them they have to do more, so they can be as frugal as they need to be.

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Leanna McCarthy 5 years ago from Vancouver

There are some great tips in here. Adding your personal experience is a great touch and makes personal finance more human and relatable. Nice job!

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Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for visiting my hub and commenting Nell Rose. Saving money can be difficult, but if you keep the end goal in mind - whether it is saving for a new sofa, retirement, or becoming a millionaire - it makes it much easier.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, I am so familiar with this, and you have some great ideas, the only one I can never quite manage is to save any money even for short term, but I am going to try and see if I can do it your way, and hopefully fingers crossed it will help a bit, thanks!

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Giselle - it does help to have personal experience to show people that it is possible to get out of this type of situation.

Thank you DzyMsLizzy for writing your hub and letting me link to it. You're right, there are many different ways to approach cutting expenses, and reading different authors helps people get into the right mindset.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

Some additional good've come from a different angle than I did, as my circumstances are different. Not every tip works for the more ideas out there, the better for all. Thank you very much for linking to my Hub. Much appreciated.

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Giselle Maine 5 years ago

This hub is fantastic in how it has separated out the short term, medium term and long term. I am really enjoying reading your hubs about personal finance. The fact that you have first-hand experience with these ideas makes your hub very authentic and much more meaningful (and helpful too) for the reader.

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