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Category:  Money

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 Stretching That Paycheck

By Cyndi Roberts

It happens to all of us. There are still a few days left till payday and somehow that last paycheck just didn't last long enough! Or maybe there were some expenses this week that really were not expected--new tires, school expenses, medical emergencies.

These are the times to fall back on some really tight- wad strategies.

1. No money to put gas in the car? Walk to work--it's good exercise. If walking is not an option, try to carpool with a co- worker who lives near. Or share a ride with your spouse. It may mean getting to work earlier, so be prepared to use extra time constructively. Start that book you've been wanting to read; take your needlework and finish a project you've not found time for, etc.

2. Quench your thirst with good ol' water, not Cola, or anything else you have to buy. Bring your water from home, if necessary. That goes for kids' lunches, too.

3. Of course, you know to carry your lunch and snacks. Make it a challenge, to see how many days you can go without spending any money.

4. Bring out that "change jar" and roll all your coins. Most people have a spot where they keep all that extra change that accumulates. What better time to use it? If a trip to the bank is not feasible, just carry along a roll or two of dimes. Quarters can get pretty heavy, but dimes or nickels can be toted pretty easily in your bag.

5. Out of bread? Instead of making a run to the neighbor- hood convenience store, why not make your own? It's cheap, some recipes don't even require kneading, and it uses ingredients you probably have on hand.

If you keep baking mix on hand, you can just make biscuits. Biscuits are a great addition to a meal and are very quick to make. They can even be toasted for breakfast.

6. Out of milk? Keep a box of instant dry milk in your cupboard for just such emergencies as this. If you don't like the taste of reconstituted dry milk, try adding a quart of the dry milk to a quart of your regular milk. Chilling it before drinking makes it a bit more tasty.

7. A low-cost supper that most everyone likes is simply an omelet. Pair it with some canned or fresh fruit. Another easy idea is pasta and sauce. Most grocery stores have their own brand of spaghetti sauce mix, usually for about 35 cents. All you add is tomato sauce. Serve this with any kind of pasta--it doesn't have to be spaghetti, use whatever you have on hand.

8. Our local radio station has a daily program that features people calling in and telling about things they have for sale. If you're really strapped for cash, find something that you don't use anymore and either check with your local radio station for a program like this one or maybe put an ad in your local newspaper. Maybe even an ad on the bulletin board where you work. Another option is selling on online auctions. Even some clothes you don't wear anymore can bring in a little bit of emergency cash. Or maybe there's a consignment shop in your area.

"If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the philosopher's stone." -- Benjamin Franklin

Cyndi Roberts is the editor of the "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" bi-weekly newsletter, featuring creative ideas and tips to help you "live the good life...on a budget!" Visit http://www.cynroberts.com to download a free "Recipe Sampler". Subscribe to the newsletter and receive the free e-course "Taming the Monster Grocery Bill".



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