exist (from) hand to mouth

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exist (from) hand to mouth

To survive or continue to operate with only the bare minimum of money, food, or resources to, having little or nothing else to spare. I existed from hand to mouth during most of college, since I could only get part-time jobs that paid minimum wage. The company has already been existing hand to mouth for the last two years. If we don't do something to improve sales soon, it will be forced to close down completely.
See also: exist, hand, mouth, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

hand to mouth, exist/live from

Living with a minimum of sustenance or support. This term, which dates from about 1500, implies that one has so little to live on that whatever comes to hand is consumed. “I subsist, as the poor are vulgarly said to do, from hand to mouth,” wrote the poet William Cowper (1790).
See also: exist, hand, live, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer