Sometimes, financial matters get hard to manage. Whether it’s caused by an unexpected bill or a mistake while planning, running out of cash is nerve-wracking, particularly if you have no money for food until payday. Fortunately, there are usually a few options that can help you remain fed until your bank account balance looks a bit better. Here are some things you can do if you have no money for food until payday.
Take Stock of the Food You Do Have
Before you look at other solutions, spend a moment going through your fridge, freezer, and pantry to take stock of the food you currently have on hand. In some cases, you’ll have the makings for more meals than you’d expect, particularly if you look at the situation a bit creatively and with stretching it out in mind.
Pay particular attention to any grains or pasta you have available. Adding rice or pasta to dishes can help you get more mileage out of your other ingredients. Plus, they can help make sure you feel full when you’re done eating. For example, tossing some extra rice into a canned soup could turn one serving into two.
Additionally, rethink your typical meal composition. For example, if you usually eat meat as your protein, but you have beans on hand, beans can be used as a meat replacement for a while. Boiling some beans and seasoning them can help you get by, and they often pair well with a variety of basics, such as rice and many vegetables.
The goal here is to figure out how many meals you actually have in your home currently. While some of them may not be what you’d choose normally, it could mean having enough to eat to cover you until payday without any further action.
Check Out Your Nearest Food Bank
Practically every city or county has a food bank that’s available to residents. In most cases, the rules of using one for food are relatively straightforward. Many require little more than proof that you reside in the area. As a result, you might be able to take advantage of what it offers by simply heading to the location on days it’s providing food with a photo ID and utility bill in hand to prove residency in the city or county.
Usually, you can learn about nearby food banks by performing a search online. Once you find the website, you can see which days the food bank hands out food and what you need to do to use the service.
In most cases, it’s best to arrive before the food bank opens in the morning on a day you’re eligible to receive items. That usually increases your odds of getting products that are only available in limited quantities. Precisely how early you should get there may depend on the size of the food bank and the number of visitors it usually has on those days. If you’re not sure when to arrive, aiming for an hour before opening isn’t a bad idea.
It’s critical to keep in mind that what you receive through a food bank will vary, as it’s highly dependent on what’s recently been donated to the organization. However, most food bank trips will help you cover a variety of basics, particularly pantry staples like rice and bread.
Also, if you’re eligible to use more than one food bank, plan to do so. What’s available at each one can vary, so checking out a few food banks could help you get items that aren’t broadly available.
Contact Your Local Social Services Department
Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for a variety of assistance programs, including some that give your resources to buy food. For example, you might qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
While your application usually isn’t reviewed immediately, households in dire financial conditions may qualify for expedited processing. That could turn a 30-day wait into a seven-day one, which could make a considerable difference if payday isn’t coming for a while.
Another benefit of going this route is if you’re eligible for benefits, you may be able to keep them for a while. Then, you can supplement your grocery budget with what you receive through the program, allowing you to potentially redirect some of your money to another purpose, like building an emergency fund.
In most cases, you can find out about social services programs online through the state agency that oversees them. Also, you can often contact those offices directly if you need assistance figuring out what may be available to you.
Talk to Family and Friends
Letting your family members or friends in other households know that you’re in a bit of a bind isn’t a bad idea. While not everyone may be able to help, depending on their situation, a few could potentially lend a hand.
Even if all they can offer is some items out of their own freezer or pantry, it may be enough to help you stay fed until payday rolls around. Just make sure that you’re gracious about anything that’s offered. While you may have to eat differently than you normally would, what matters is that you won’t run out of food before you get paid. So, accept anything if you can make it work, and thank them for stepping up when you were in need.
Do you have any tips that can help someone that’s struggling with no money for food until payday? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald is a U.S. Army veteran with 20 years of service, including five years as a military financial advisor. After retiring from the Army, she spent eight years as an AFCPE-certified personal financial advisor for wounded warriors and their families. Now she writes about personal finance and benefits programs for numerous financial websites.