I often hear in conversation people using the term “to make ends meet” and it usually goes something a little like this:
Person: I hate my job.
Me: Well maybe you should quit and do what you love instead?
Person: Yeah but I have to be able to make ends meet right?
First of all, most people (including me) don't even know the origin of this saying. So I decided to look it up and here's what I found.
To “make ends meet” is an old tailoring/dressmaking term, whereby the goal is to use just the right amount of cloth to allow the garment to wrap completely around the body, without wasting material.
So if you were to relate this to making income, the idea would be to make just the right amount of money to cover your cost of living. No more, no less.
The term was made famous in Thomas Fuller's book, The History of the Worthies of England, where he mentioned:
“Worldly wealth he cared not for, desiring only to make both ends meet; and as for that little that lapped over he gave it to pious uses”
Pious meaning religious of course.
So if I were to use the literal terminology, most people are making a hell of a lot more than just ends meet. Two cars, 3 flat screen TV's, huge house in the suburbs. These are all examples of “extra cloth” items that we don't need to survive.
On the other hand, someone who makes enough money to eat and have a place to sleep at night is really just making ends meet.
So the next time you find yourself using this as an excuse for not making a change in your life, just remember what it really means to make ends meet.