Resources to Help Make Ends Meet

Quick Look

  • When you’ve done what you can to cut expenses, and earn more income through side gigs, changing jobs, or getting raises, and you still can’t make ends meet, consider the resources listed below to help stay afloat.
  • Consider how different resources will affect your situation in both the short-term and the long-term and choose something that strikes a balance for your needs.


There’s Nothing Wrong with Getting Help

If you are having trouble making ends meet, there are three possible solutions: You can earn more, spend less, or do a little of both. Therefore, before you commit to leveraging the financial support listed below, do a few Google searches to find creative ways to earn more income or reduce expenses. You may find some great ideas from other creative people out there with a situation not entirely different from your own.

That said, there are going to be times when you have done all you reasonably can. And if you’re in this situation, there are three things to do before you actually get the assistance you need. For each question below, write a brief answer in the notes field (available to logged in users) above to help you frame your challenge.

Why can’t I make ends meet?

  • The question may seem obvious but there are a variety of reasons you may find yourself in this situation. And that’s ok. What matters is that you’re honest with yourself. For example:
    • I’m getting ready to live on my own for the first time. I need to save money and learn how to live within my means.
    • I’m already fairly frugal but I need to earn more money.
    • I already earn decent income but I spend beyond my means on non-essential purchases.
    • I’ve had some unexpected expenses that have temporarily impacted my finances.
    • I’m using some of my income to pay for previously incurred debt.

Whatever the case may be, knowing the answer to this question may help you determine the type of support that’s best for you.

What type of support do I need?

  • Even though your challenge is a financial one, there may be multiple ways to receive support.

    Nobody has ever gotten anywhere without some help. Don’t be afraid to use all resources available to you.

    For example:

    • A direct gift or grant that doesn’t need to be repaid
    • A subsidy for a good or service you need (e.g. housing, food, utilities, childcare)
    • An adjustment to the payment or repayment terms for a good or service (e.g. housing, food, utilities, childcare, medical debt)
    • A loan that you will pay back in time
    • A good or service you need you can barter for by offering something other than cash (e.g. you babysit or do errands for your friends for “free” while they let you stay at their house for a week or two).

What is my post-support plan?

  • More specifically, what is your plan to repay the support you receive (if needed) or, what is your plan to get into a position such that you’ll no longer need the support? Depending on the support you need, this could be a short-term plan or a long-term plan. For example:
    • Work more hours or get a second job or side gig to earn more money
    • Get a new, better paying job or ask for a raise or promotion
    • Take educational courses or training to be more qualified for a better job
    • Finish paying off past debts so you can use your existing income to pay for your life today

There’s a good chance you’re already doing some of the suggestions listed above. And if that’s the case, let the resource that is providing you with additional support know! They will be glad to know you’re thinking ahead about how to improve your situation.

Support Resources

Now that you have a clearer idea of why you need support, the type of support you may need, and have a rough idea of your plan to eventually move beyond needing that extra support, you are ready to review the resources below and consider which ones may be appropriate for your situation.

  • Direct Cash: This is likely to come directly from friends or family. You can ask them directly or you can set up online campaigns through sites like GoFundMe.
  • Housing: Search the web for terms like “local housing services” to find out about non-profits or government agencies in your area that may be able to offer long-term affordable housing options or temporary housing options.
  • Services: If you need help for essential services like household utilities (heat, water, electricity etc.) it’s best to contact the utility company directly and see if they can offer you a discounted rate. After that, contact your local city government offices to see if there are local programs available to help.
  • Debt Owed: If you have debt, you may want to contact the company you owe money to first and try to negotiate. If you’re not comfortable with that or you’ve already tried it, leverage the resources available on the U.S. Government’s FTC site about dealing with debt. Whenever you’re searching for help with debt it’s best to ensure you’re getting your information from a reliable and trustworthy source.
  • Loans: If you had unexpected expenses or you know you will soon be able to make ends meet plus a bit more, taking out a temporary loan can be a reasonable option. Just make sure you are not creating a bigger problem than you already had. Depending on your situation, you may consider a Personal Loan (a great review of choices are here), or a Home Equity Line of Credit (only an option if you own a home and owe less on it than what it’s worth).

  • Unemployment Benefits: Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Typically, unemployment provides a certain percentage of your wages from a previously held job, for specified period of time. Each state sets their own limits for how much you must have earned from that previous job to be eligible. Additionally, there may be other requirements like needing to prove you’re looking for new work. To find out if you’re eligible, search for “Unemployment Benefits” followed by your state’s name.

Benefits & Drawbacks of Different forms of Support

Finally, before you start taking a benefit from any of the resources available to you, consider some of the benefits and drawbacks of each. This may be helpful to discover the resource that is best for you.

Resource Benefits Drawbacks
Friends & Family
  • Flexible repayment terms
  • Flexible benefits (direct cash, temporary housing etc.) 
  • May or may not involve direct repayment
  • Request for help can be set up online through sites like GoFundMe
  • Can complicate relationships
  • Online campaigns can make your situation more public than you would like it to be
Government Services
  • May come from Federal, State, or Local governments
  • Can come in a variety of forms including direct payments, assistance with cash for food, subsidized housing etc.
  • Rules for continuing to receive benefits can be cumbersome
  • Income limits may apply 
Local Charities & Non-profits
  • Closer contact with community supporters may expose additional resources you weren’t previously aware of
  • Resources may be limited
  • Can reduce or eliminate certain fees or create modified terms so you can continue to receive services (e.g. home utilities etc.) or repay for previously used services in a way that is more feasible for you
  • Business or company you need services from (or owe money to) may not have significant incentives to help you

We’ve just covered the basics in this article but hopefully the picture is clear: If you’re struggling to make ends meet, there are resources available that can help you. Take the time to research online and find a good fit for the specific financial issue you’re facing. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Remember that there are many successful people who hit a rough patch and overcame it to become financially healthy and a whole lot more. You’re not alone and you will make progress!

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