Catch Word #138 – Trying to make ends meet

Some people have a lot of money and some people have only a little bit. This episode focuses on expressions that people use when they are talking about trying not to spend money, often because they don’t have very much. There are people who pinch pennies all the time, and others who only tighten their belts when they have to. Listen to this episode to learn about making ends meet.


Expressions included in the learning materialsmakeendsmeet

  • To feel down
  • To make ends meet
  • Instant noodles
  • A shower
  • To start someone off
  • To get by
  • As long as
  • Minimum wage
  • To get back on your feet
  • To pinch pennies
  • To tighten your belt
  • Broke
  • To cut costs

Sample transcript

Maura:            All right. Now let’s get to today’s episode. Today we’re doing a Catch Word episode, and that is where we give you different expressions that are all related. And, of course, we define them for you, we tell you how you can use them, we explain any origins.

Harp:              Yes. And today we’re looking at expressions about managing your money and paying your bills.

Maura:            Well, that doesn’t sounds very fun.

Harp:              Yeah. Paying bills is never really fun, but the expressions we have are pretty interesting.

Maura:            And you gotta learn all the expressions, even the ones that aren’t very happy or exciting.

Harp:              Let’s get started.

Maura:            OK. The first expression today is to make ends meet.

Harp:              To make ends meet.

Maura:            That’s right. To make ends meet. And this expression means that you spend the same amount of money that you earn.

Harp:              Yeah. So if you earn $500 a week, you spend $500 a week.

Maura:            And usually this expression is used when someone doesn’t have very much money. So if we continue with the example that you gave, Harp, if someone makes $500 a week, it’s just enough money for them to be able to survive, to be able to pay their bills, like their rent of their food.

Harp:              Yeah. They’re not buying a lot of fancy clothes or going on any trips. They’re just making enough money to meet their basic needs.

Maura:            That’s right. So, the expression itself isn’t actually negative, but it’s often used in a situation where someone doesn’t have very much money or they’re trying to make ends meet. They’re trying to find a way to make enough money that they’re able to pay their bills.

Harp:              Yeah. It’s used when people are having trouble making ends meet, usually.

Maura:            That’s right. This expression, too, has a few interesting origins. And if you’re interested in those, we’ll tell you about them in our Learning Materials, which comes when you become a member.

Harp:              So become a member.

Maura:            OK, let’s give some examples now with to make ends meet.


Maura:            So, how was your weekend? What did you get up to?

Harp:              It was really good. Pretty much just relaxing. But you’ll never guess who I ran into.

Maura:            Hmm. Who?

Harp:              Jenny, our old college roommate.

Maura:            Oh really? What’s she doing nowadays?

Harp:              She’s just working in the city. But it was really funny reminiscing about the good old days back when we were in university.

Maura:            Yeah. It’s funny, you know, I remember studying really hard and staying up late and taking naps in the afternoon.

Harp:              Yeah. We were talking about how hard it used to be to make ends meet. You know, working the part-time jobs and eating instant noodles or the cheapest food we could find.

Maura:            Yeah. That is definitely true. It seems like a lifetime ago now.

Harp:              Yeah.

Maura:            So in that example, we had two people who were talking about what their life was like in university. And this is definitely a time when people have trouble making ends meet. They have to pay high tuition prices and they can’t work full time, so they don’t have very much money. Most students don’t.

Harp:              Yeah, and it’s usually the first time they’re not living at home with their parents, so they’re not used to managing their money that much, and having to pay for everything themselves.

Maura:            That’s true as well. So it’s definitely a time when people are learning to make ends meet. They’re learning how to spend only as much money as they have.

english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips