I Have No Money

no money

It’s one of the worst feelings you can ever have. That moment when you see there is still a week left until you get you next paycheck and you have no money, little food and you have no idea how you are going to make it. Your mind starts racing trying to figure out where you might be able to get a few extra dollars and it’s not long before you hit full panic mode as you scramble to figure out what, if any, options you have. I was there years ago when I was just out of college and just after my fiance had moved in with me. I found out she had $80,000 in credit card debt that I hadn’t known about until then. While we scrambled and were able to make things work until the next paycheck came, we made the decision that the situation would never happen again and it was the steps we took to resolve the issue which were far more important than securing the money until the end of the month.

As soon as I realized we didn’t have enough money to last until the next paycheck, I treated it as a major emergency. It entailed a number of long nights with a lot of crying, denial and shouting before we came up with a plan that we both were on board with. We took some drastic steps that went far beyond what most people would do, but it did allow us to wipe out the debt in less than two years (and taught us the great importance of an emergency fund).

The first step was acknowledging that this was a major issue. My fiance had always lived paycheck to paycheck and that had become her norm. Even though we were in the process of planning the wedding, I said that I wasn’t willing to get married until the debt was gone (you can imagine how this went over at first). Once it became clear that this was not a negotiable point, we started to put together a plan to actually tackle the underlying issue of the debt that was causing the paycheck to paycheck problem.

In the end, we ended up making three huge sacrifices that neither of us would have chosen to do, but are sometimes the choices that need to be made when an emergency appears. This included moving out of the apartment we had into the basement of her parent’s house (something that I really didn’t want to do, but did to show that I was willing to make as much of a sacrifice as she was). We both also took on additional work, her doing a job that she didn’t especially like, but made a decent amount of money. We also cut things back drastically so that we were living on about 60% of my old salary, even while all the additional money was coming in.

To tell the truth, I don’t remember a whole lot about those two years and it seemed to go by in a whirlwind. With two jobs and doing some extra work on the side, I was working far too many hours which made the days all run into one another. They were tough, but somehow we managed through them and came out in a situation where we would never have to worry about facing the “I have no money” until the next paycheck scenario.

The lesson here is that while the fact that you have no money at the end of the month may seem like the emergency, it really is only a symptom of the true emergency — the underlying situation that created the issue of not having money at the end of the month in the first place. How that situation gets solved depends a lot on your particular situation and the options that you have (and are willing to take), but chances are it is going to mean disrupting the norm that you have had until that point and making some major sacrifices to change things for the better. Most of all, you are probably going to have to find a reason that will motivate you to make those changes (not being able to get married until the debt was gone was highly motivating to us) which will give you a reason to endure the tough times ahead.

While I was far from happy about the decisions that we had to make at the time, in retrospect they were a great learning experience. I know that I can do things that I had never imagined that I could do before then, and that has stayed with me until this day. Learning to make the difficult decisions, coming up with a plan to make the goal attainable and then following through are all lessons that apply to many other parts of life that has served me well, and although I would never wish anyone the situation of having to figure out what to do when there is not enough money at the end of the month, if you are able to lift yourself out of that situation, you will have given yourself a number of useful skills that can be used throughout the rest of your life.

(Photo courtesy of danielmoyle)

This entry was posted in Credit Cards, Debt, Frugal, Personal Finance, Relationships, Saving Money and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to I Have No Money

  1. Emi says:

    I would sell some stuff if I did not have enough before the end of the month. craigslist, ebay, listia, yardsellr

  2. Myrna says:

    One thing I do is enter contests like this, hoping to win some money!

  3. I normally go without

  4. Katy M says:

    I would need to call people who I owe to see if I could figure out a payment plan.

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  5. Sara says:

    I definitely know how this feels this month! Luckily I’m able to poco up more hours at work over the holiday

  6. Biku Toria says:

    I would try to work extra hours at work, or sell off some stuff I don’t use anymore. If it looks like I won’t have enough money in a month I buy less food that I don’t really need.

  7. jay says:

    Agree with Emi. Also, turn off the heat, eat peanut butter and jelly, and walk or hitch a ride -even if you own a car. I’d also take a second job, no matter what it was: clean folks’ houses, walk their dogs, etc.

    You’re right in that this is a symptom of the bigger problem. Lack of foresight, lack of planning. S**t happens and you’d better have a plan.

  8. Cat S says:

    I just encountered this same situation… ended up putting up a bunch of stuff I didn’t use on ebay.

  9. Angella says:

    I would also sell items to raise a little extra money. Try to get extra hours at work as well. Cut the food budget down to the bare minimum.

  10. Michelle says:

    I would definitely look at other sources of revenue, but before sacrificing so much of my time, I would look very closely at expenses to see what can go, make minimum payments on low-interest student loans, and see if there is anything I can sell/return/cash in for a little extra cash.

  11. jay says:

    BTW, quite a while back DH couldn’t work because of an injury, and ‘cuz of who he worked for he had no SDI. We called our mortgage company and were able to “skip” a payment (actually, it was added it to the end of the mortgage). Phew!

    Also, when my Dad was extremely ill, we called all his billers and were able to put EVERYTHING off for a month with no penalties. He had excellent credit, and had always paid in full, so wasn’t a big deal once the circumstances were known.

  12. Diana B says:

    Active Hours is a very interesting idea but I hope I never need it!

  13. Christine says:

    I’m not sure, I guess first of all figure out how I could possibly not spend any money until the end of the month and then if there are essentials borrow just enough to pay for those. Then figure out a plan so that I can get out of that mode.

  14. Daniel M says:

    you go without, cut back on everything and put some $ aside so it doesn’t happen again

  15. Brittany says:

    Tell me more about why you support the idea of the ActiveHours site.

  16. keisha hanvy says:

    I’d be doing without some things and trying to sell some stuff to get some extra money.

  17. Jamie Herda says:

    Cut back immediately on everything. I have a one month emergency plan at the moment, but need to work on getting 3 months…it’s hard!

  18. Tyler Brown says:

    I’ve learned to do this for sometime. I buy shelf stable foods such as peanut butter, ramen noodles, things that will last more than one serving. I still also buy milk and eggs, since those have so many uses. If I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. I have one job, along with a ton of side projects, and also spend a lot of my time entering sweepstakes. I’ve won Walmart gift cards, Chili’s gift cards. So I’ve been able to afford luxuries on a pauper’s budget.

  19. Marina says:

    I’d probably try to find something to sell and I’d do without.

  20. Elisabeth says:

    I would try to make do with what I have… like eating whatever I had in the pantry.

  21. creditcardfree says:

    My first thought would be to sell something on Craigslist that I know longer need, or offer a service of some kind, like babysitting or mowing someone’s lawn. I’ve always subscribed to the belief that you must have an emergency fund regardless of your income level.

  22. Gailete says:

    I have run into the situation many times while married to a husband that seemed to think if you haven’t maxed out your credit cards you could still buy buy buy. I had to learn how to look ahead at what bills would be coming up, how much they were and when they were due. Even though I couldn’t pay much more than the minimum, when writing the check out I rounded it up to the nearest dollar, it doesn’t sound like much, but as long as you stop charging, you will start seeing it decrease. I also tucked away any ‘spare’ dollar that I could find, I picked up change on the ground. I stopped the car once to jump out and pick up what looked like a couple dollars on the road–it turned out to be $14! That marriage is long gone because he never learned and now 15 years later, I still get his creditors calling me looking for him.

    When we once had a severe crisis, I sold my good sewing/embroidery machine and all the attachments. Years later when things were better, hubby allowed me to replace that machine. That was a rough one. I know longer sell on ebay but that is how we sold all of the stuff so that in a week we had the money we needed. I’m pretty much willing to sell anything I have to keep bills paid.

  23. Jessie C. says:

    Live with what I have in the house at that moment.

  24. Vonnie says:

    I would try to make payment arrangements for the next pay period.

  25. Shadiah says:

    Diana, Activehours is my company and I’m incredibly proud of the fact that not only do we help people in a pinch (not a good place to be, we agree), but also the fact that even when you’re not in a pinch, we can still help you get paid for the hours you’ve earned. The way we see it is: you’ve worked the hours, it’s your money after all. And it’s free to use anyway!

  26. Shadiah says:

    Hey Brittany,
    I’m a cofounder at Activehours. We believe you shouldn’t have to wait until payday to get paid for the hours you’ve already worked (or for your accrued government benefits either). We figure, if you’ve worked the hours, you’ve earned the money. Nothing less, nothing more. We don’t charge (though we graciously accept tips if you love our service), so we’re not making a killing off our users, the same way payday lenders or banks do. We’re just trying to help.

  27. tls simms says:

    I call my creditors and make arrangements sometimes it works 🙂

  28. Ally says:

    Work with what I have

  29. Chrystal D says:

    Look for things to take to the recycling center

  30. Jenny says:

    Usually if I run out of money, I just do without. I eat what’s in the house (I usually buy a lot of groceries on sale, so have pretty well stocked cupboards). I don’t go out for fun, and if I need to go somewhere, I’ll walk. I also check to see if I’ve tucked away a gift card for a rainy day that can help get me through.

    Just last week I used a 25$ gift card from last Christmas (it wasn’t really a rainy day, but fees would have used some of the value if I’d left it much longer)

  31. CB in the City says:

    Been there, done that. I approached it one day at a time — ate what was already in the house, walked if I had no gas, cashed in my coins, used my gift cards — whatever it took. It’s really pretty amazing what you DON’T need when you put your mind to it.

  32. Vesta says:

    Sell handmade craft items

  33. Dawn Justice says:

    I would gather all the change I have (if I haven’t went through it yet lol). Enter a giveaway a hope I get lucky lol. Maybe sell something I didn’t really need anymore.

  34. Rhonda says:

    Thankfully, we haven’t been in this position in quite a while, but when we were in a pinch, we just didn’t. Didn’t go anywhere but work, didn’t buy anything but gas to get to work, didn’t eat out, didn’t grocery shop but ate from pantry & freezer even if we didn’t like it; tried to sell unused items or overstock from my direct-sales businesses.

  35. Omar Mukhtar says:

    I would get out and hustle!

  36. Amy says:

    The entire 8 years I was a school teacher this was my life. A co-worker and I always lamented that we had maybe $2, if we were lucky, in our checking accounts. (along with our major credit card debts) I have worked very hard to keep debt free, and I plan on that continuing.

  37. Thanks for the great giveaway!

    I would sell stuff if I needed to. It’s only stuff.

  38. domestic diva says:

    I might try to do a bit of extra consulting or sell some things.

  39. Katrina says:

    I eat what I have on hand and minimize.

  40. Jessica Dunn says:

    Not having enough money is a monthly thing. We just go without.

  41. kelly nicholson says:

    What actions would you take if you found that you didn’t have enough money at the end of the month?

    hope people give me grace as i say grace!

  42. colleen boudreau says:

    sell some stuff or borrow money from a friend/relative.

  43. ANGEL JACKLYN says:


  44. Kay Lynn says:

    I would sell something on Craigslist.

  45. shelley says:

    i sell on ebay and craigslist

  46. shelley says:

    Hi. I don’t think this is a bad idea, but it’s the same as borrowing from yourself and therefore your paycheck is smaller once you receive it. I can see how this could become misused and disorganized, leaving an individual with barely a check. Unless you have discipline and good reason, this shouldn’t be used. Am I looking at this the wrong way?

  47. I just buckle down , no more spending!

  48. Regina says:

    oh, wow…been there, done that. We cut everything out that we didn’t need like Dish network, extras on the phone, etc. Started price comparisons at the grocery, combined as many trips to town as possible, etc. I never want to look at my kids again and wonder how we are going to eat that week…
    tarter95 at hotmail dot com

  49. Diane says:

    I’ve been down the debt road, and am now debt-free, except for $42K still owed on my mortgage. Your best decision was finding a way to get your girlfriend on board with paying off the debt. It’s essential that both partners in a relationship be united in that goal if you want things to work out. I know the sacrifices you made for a couple of years were worth it!

    I had the spend now/pay later hubby. It took a divorce and filing bankruptcy to get out of the mess he created ($750K in business debt!) A hard lesson with 2 kids involved…

    If you find yourself in a bind, in the short term, selling anything you can will help. Borrow $20 to keep gas in the car & get to work if necessary and eat whatever you have in the house!

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