10/01/2013 05:41 pm ET Updated Dec 01, 2013

How to Stretch $500

It is amazing how quickly we can all whittle away $500 at times. Here are a few not so known ways to stretch your hard earned dollars even more.

Museum membership. Buy an annual family membership to a museum or educational center that participates in a reciprocal program. It will cost between $75-$125 for a family of four, but your membership to one center will also get you in to hundreds of other museums and science centers for free or half the cost.

Vacuum sealer. No, I am not kidding. A vacuum sealer keeps food for up to five times longer with no freezer burns. It opens up a lot of possibilities like buying markdown meat in bulk, individually portioning and freezing it. Or, you can double recipes and freeze a meal or two for a rainy day.

Extra freezer. Stocking up on meat and having all of those perfectly sealed meals only works if you have a place to put them, which is why it may be good to invest in a spare freezer. A chest freezer is typically more energy efficient than an upright freezer. Score a small freezer unit for less than $200 when you look for closeout sales on last year's models.

Coffeemaker. You've heard it said before, one of the best way to cut costs is to skip your trip to the coffee shop and go with home-brewed java. If you want a plain cup of drip, that's not so hard. If you want a daily nonfat soy vanilla latte, a machine at home will cost you a little more than a simple coffeemaker. However, coffee machines have come down in price and you can buy a pretty good one for around $150. You're just about 40 lattes away from breaking even.