Of course you needed that leather purse/pair of designer jeans/Sex and the City DVD box set last week. But now you're a little low on cash and by a little low, we're talking call-your-parents-for-a-loan territory. Put down the phone. You can make it through the next week with a virtually empty bank account; you just have to be shrewd with your cash.

1. Prioritize
Can't live without coffee? Drag the canister of instant grounds from the cupboard, toss it in a thermos and head to work. If you don't have coffee or a coffee maker at home, buying one or the other is obviously out of the question. If not feeding your addiction is also out of the question, at least cut back and slum it for a while. Sure you love Starbucks dark roast but 7-11 and McDonalds both make lovely cups of coffee. Just think about all the hours of enjoyment you're going to get from whatever it is you purchased that put you over the edge.

Treat every indulgence the same way. Do you usually buy your lunch? Well, now you have to bring it. Had a dinner date planned? Postpone it or offer to make dinner instead.

2. Eat smart
Speaking of food, the next little while will definitely be interesting cuisine-wise. If your fridge was recently stocked, you're set. If not, you're going to have to get creative. Eating smart, in this situation, doesn't necessarily mean healthfully but rest assured, you will not starve.

Eggs and tuna are both versatile foods. Eggs can be cooked a million different ways: the omelette is good because you can throw the random assortment of vegetables, cheese and meat you have in your fridge into a frying pan and end up with something edible.

Tuna on top of lettuce makes a lovely, filling salad; with toast and a slice of cheese, you've got a tuna melt; in a burrito shell or wrap: instant tuna wrap. If you've got tomatoes or other veggies sitting around, even better. Mayo basically never goes bad, so hopefully you have a jar in the back of your fridge for tuna salad, but it's not a necessity.

You may have to return to your college days and pick up some ramen noodles and mac and cheese. While not incredibly nutritious, both are cheap and filling. Really, pasta of any kind is pretty cheap. All you need is a little tomato sauce for a meal.

Running out of ideas? Visit Food Network Canada.

If you have enough food at home to make a main dish for more than two people, organize a potluck at your place. Hopefully you'll get to keep the leftovers. If you really must eat out, choose brunch. It's usually cheap and if eaten late enough in the day, should keep you full for hours.

3. Shopping
Chances are that you're a bit of a shopping addict--hence the large, slightly irresponsible purchase. While buying anything during this empty-wallet period is highly frowned upon, if you must indulge, do it wisely. Visit dollar stores, sale racks at discount stores and Goodwill. Do not enter a department store or mall. These are dangerous places.

While it may be tempting and seem like a good idea, do not go shopping with a friend, promising yourself that you will only live vicariously through them. You will end up buying something.

4. Socializing
Invite people over. Go to their houses. Do not go to bars and if you do, go only with enough money to get you in. Leave your credit card at home. Starting a tab at a bar is a bad idea.

You can leave the house but only under special "free" circumstances. Go for a long walk. Visit museums or art galleries on the days it's "pay what you can." Go to the gym. Go skating in the winter, rollerblading in the summer. Hell, being broke could actually get you back in shape!

Bottom line? Being broke isn't so bad. If you prioritize and are prepared to make  some sacrifices, you will make it through to payday--and you'll be more creative, in better shape and coffee will taste much better from now on.

Written by Vanessa Grant

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