I'm sure many of you are in the same boat. One of the ways I make my money stretch is to use base metal and then cover it with silver fill wire. I wrote a tutorial last year on how to coil the double dips that's available to you for free.
If you're using base metals such as copper and brass, you can patina them to a dark finish which will unify the color of your base metals. I did this with the "Meandering Earrings" project that appeared in the summer 2010 issue of Easy Wire. The earrings were made with copper wire and finished in a dark, bark-like color.
When you've used a dark patina on base metals, it's important to seal in the patina so it doesn't rub off. There are several ways to do this. One is to seal it with Renaissance wax and another is to use a sealant like Midas available from Rio Grande.
Monsterslayer is the lowest priced silver fill wire I've found. If you've got a different source with lower prices, please share by leaving a comment.
Make sure you take some time today to create something!