Frugal GM Essential Gamemaster Gear: Generic Tokens
Like my post about the Noteboard, I bought a bunch of these little generic tokens specifically for "emergency GM use". They cost a couple cents each from Chessex and I'm certain I've gotten some from Koplow Games as well. I'm not linking to their respective websites because these tiny pawns aren't there. They come in a bunch of colors and I probably have a small handful of each color.
Unlike the Noteboard I pull these things out all the damned time. While I do have boxes and boxes of miniatures, these things are just to handy. I use them at my home table and at conventions. I've found that using these things for monster minis and "real" minis for the PCs adds a lot more to the game than I'd expect. If I need to I can write a number on the upright portions and it is easy to use a combination of color-coding and numbers to keep everything straight.
For me this is one of those simple things that just seems to work. I don't have to understand it, I just have to reap the benefits. There are almost always two-three of each color in my GM bag. I also keep some larger "regular" pawns to use as NPCs and even down-n-dirty PC figs if I need to.
The only place I've seen these from the likes of Chessex and Koplow are at their booth at conventions, but if you keep a look out you might find them elsewhere........definitely worth "splurging" on.