Not Enough Money At The End Of The Month?

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It can be very stressful, but there is hope.
It can be very stressful, but there is hope.

A while ago, I wrote about how I don’t make enough money to pay my bills. And though technically true, I do make enough money annually to cover all my expenses and we have a sizeable savings fund set up in case we need it to pay for anything. After writing that post, I have gotten a lot of search traffic directed toward that post, with many people desperate for answers on what to do when there’s not enough money at the end of the month. There are a lot of options when this happens, but if you ever find yourself in this situation, here are the first 3 steps you need to take:

Take A Deep Breath

Stop going through your pile of bills, step away from the table, take a deep breath, and realize that you can do this. Yes, you don’t have enough money to pay for everything. Yes, it may feel a bit overwhelming trying to juggle everything that is on your plate. But your life is not ending, you still have your life and your family, and you have options. You are working hard to try and make ends meet, and you should be proud that you aren’t giving up!

The worst thing you can do at a time like this is to psych yourself out and start to panic. You need to step back and take a long look at where you are and where you came from. Zoom out and look at the 10,000 ft. view of your life. You will see that this month’s finances are not the end of you, and that you are able to formulate a plan to work on getting out of this mess. If you have trouble calming down or feeling overwhelmed, make sure to call a friend or family member that you know cares about you and just have them listen to you. Talking it out is a GREAT way to get out of your own head and spell everything out in black and white.

Write Out Your Spending

This is taking a page straight out of my budgeting basics series, but you need to track your income and expenses to see how much you are bringing in, and find out where all of your money is going. If you don’t know where your money is going, then you will never know if you make enough money to cover your expenses or not. Go through the past 2 months of credit card and bank statement and write everything down on paper.

Once you have written it all down, total it in categories such as “food”, “toiletries”, “household”, and whatever bills you have. You can then see how much you are spending in each category, and decide places where you can cut down some spending. Bills are usually fixed, but all of your discretionary spending categories (i.e. “Food”, “Miscellaneous”, etc.) can usually be pulled back if needed. Usually after these steps, you can identify enough extra spending to cut out that you are able to afford your lifestyle again. If not, it’s time to cut even more (see below).

Take Care Of Family First, Drop The Rest

When you are faced with a situation that you are enable to cut any more spending and you still don’t have enough money per month to pay for everything, then you need to start cutting even more. First, you must take care of yourself and your family. This means you have to have money for food, clothing, shelter and utilities. Dave Ramsey likes to call these “the four walls” of your home. After that money is budgeted for, you look at how much money is left, and start allocating that money toward other bills.

Start with any government bills such as student loans or backed taxes. Then, put your money toward any obligations, such as car loans and credit card bills. And here’s the kicker; If you run out of money in your budget, you DON’T PAY THESE BILLS! I know it seems counter-intuitive, but if you have to choose between feeding your family and your student loan debt, FEED YOUR FAMILY FIRST!. The debt will be there when you start making more money, but you must take care of your family now. If collectors start calling and demanding money, just tell them you made a budget, and they fell “below the line”, and you have no money for them.

Yes, this is stressful. Yes, this will be tough. But you DO have options, and no matter who is demanding your money, you are in control if you get on a budget and start telling your money where to go. Don’t let anyone change your priorities for you.

If you need any direct budget help, please contact me using my Contact form.

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

40 thoughts on “Not Enough Money At The End Of The Month?”

  1. I find myself having to step back away from our budget otherwise I get way stressed over something I can’t so a whole lot about at the moment. Thank you for this post. It’s a great reminder that life happens and sometimes you need to do what you can but not stress about what you can’t.

    • Priorities are a big deal to me. If you aren’t spending your money in line with your priorities, then what are you doing?! Write it out is the BEST way to start taking control of your finances.

  2. I like your writeup for this giveaway, and you mentioned something I totally forgot about: don’t panic. That is such an important first step! You aren’t doing yourself any good by completely freaking out about your situation.

  3. Great post! It speaks to people who are really in trouble and not just short a few bucks. I never thought of the idea of telling the creditors they didn’t make the cut. I just kept juggling so that I wouldn’t have to deal with their nasty calls. Your suggestion to speak with someone that cares is so very important, and I agree 100%.

  4. I think you and are on the same page when it comes to budgeting and knowing where the money is going. I agree with you about documenting expenses and writing them out on paper or in a spreadsheet. The budget is a powerful tool and one that will tell the user what’s going on if used properly. Great Post Jacob! Mr.CBB

    • Yup, we do it before diving into our monthly budget, even though we mostly know where it all is going. Budgeting should be relaxing and just confirming that you are on track, and if you’re not, you can get yourself back on track. Don’t approach it when stressed, it never ends well.

  5. Love the idea of the four walls. I agree, this is a terrible situation to be in. Which is why I’m incredibly proud to work for Activehours. I encourage anyone who’s in a jam to check us out. We help people get paid for their hours worked — totally free. No catch, we’re just trying to help and rid the world of sleazy predatory lenders and banks!

  6. If I was out of Money before the end of the month, I’d sort though what I will easily part with and list them on Craigslist. Then I let go of the anguish and help others either at the local hmane shelter or at the hospital. Once you give of yourself freely you feel better about your situation. I have also bartered for what I need be it food, gas, or clothing. Never loose your smile or your outlook on life. Things turn around.

  7. sell items i dont need, look for childcare wok and some additional buys for my buying club. then make a plan forn ext month

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