Perhaps you've noticed: Living is expensive.
In January, you paid an average 3.9% more for basics -- the roofover your head, the food in your fridge, the visits to your doctor-- than you did 12 months earlier in Southern California.
A government forecast says that food in general will set you back 3.5% more this year.
People are coping in many ways -- patronizing the public libraryinstead of the bookstore, kicking the brand loyalty habit, arguing(often successfully) with credit card companies, finally takingtheir fathers' advice to check the tire pressure, mowing their ownlawns.
Check out some dollar-stretching tips. Tweaking your household finances to save hundreds of dollars a year doesnt have to hurt too much.
Dinner for 99 cents Savvy shoppers can find name-brand and organic products at discounters like 99 Cents Only.
Getting back to basics Contrary to how it feels, stuff is cheap. Really. So why do we feel so squeezed?
Quick econ lesson
A family watches pennies to get by: 'Educate yourself about the economy'
Turning over a new financial leaf: 'When I got my gas bill, I couldn't believe my eyes'
Parking the Porsche and walking to Il Fornaio, he tries to 'stretch everything'
After food, rent and transportation, 'basically nothing left for splurging'
Deanna Corbin, 46, would live in Los Angeles if she could. But she can't, at least not with a modicum of space and safety, not on her $38,000 salary as an administrative secretary. So Corbin gets up at 4 a.m. every day and hustles her 11-year-old daughter out the door by 5 for the two-hour drive...