How To Have A Lavish Lifestyle Without Breaking The Bank

When people say they want the good life, what most of them really mean is the luxuries life. Tempted by thoughts of first-class travel and sandy beaches, they move heaven and earth to get there—only to drown in debt down the road, their Prada purses overflowing with maxed-out credit cards.

You see, the high life is all about the money. You blow $1,000 on a hand-painted Hermès scarf not because it’s pretty, comfortable, or valuable, but because you can. On the other hand, someone who’s living the good life enjoys the finer things in life, prices notwithstanding. He or she can take as much pleasure in feel of real Italian leather and Egyptian cotton as with a $2 cup of coffee from that shop across the office. That’s what makes the difference.

Luxury, to those who have it, is seldom what the magazines make it out to be. Anyone can live well without massive spending or borrowing. Read on to find out how.

Welcome to Monaco.

The Luxury Life

Creative Commons License photo credit: Damian Morys Foto

Be Honest With Your Wants

One thing smart spenders have in common is that they’re honest with themselves. They’re attracted to expensive things like any other person, but they’re able to admit when they want something only because it’s expensive. If a price tag makes you think twice, ask yourself three questions:

1) Do you need it now?

2) Will you still need/want it next month? Next year? Five years from now?

3) If yes, can you find something similar for less?

The ten minutes you take to answer these questions—as honestly as you can—may make all the difference between a smart choice and an expensive mistake.

Make a list of things you have to have, your non-negotiables. For some people it may be a comfortable bed; for others it may be good coffee every morning or traveling at least once a year. These are the things you should invest in. You won’t feel bad about spending hard-earned money on them because you know you’re paying for your own happiness, not a status.

Indulge in groceries

Ever wondered why you’d think twice about a $15 steak at the butcher’s, yet gladly pay twice as much at a restaurant? People raise their guard at groceries because they’re careful not to let everything add up. Well, restaurant bills add up to a whole lot more—we just don’t notice because we consider it an “occasional” treat. Next time you hit the market, go for the finest cheeses and chocolates, the freshest produce, the best coffee. It’s only a few extra dollars, and it’ll water down your taste for expensive restaurants.

Size down

Economist E.F. Schumacher once said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius… to move in the opposite direction.” In this age of widespread urbanization and overcrowding, these words ring exceptionally true. Surround yourself with just the essentials, and free up financial room to splurge on quality.

Start with your home. Experts agree that all you really need is enough space to move around comfortably, with a bit of wiggle room. Fill a small space with good furniture, good art, good food—all the things you love, without the burden of a hefty mortgage, property taxes, and lawns that need mowing.

Travel more

A smaller home will leave you with more liquid funds—and time—to spend on things you enjoy. Most couples have to postpone travel plans to retire, get new furniture, or renovate the bathroom, but without a big space to worry about, you can pack up and leave anytime. Don’t be afraid to spend part of your savings on travel. It’s the kind of thing you never lose. Designer bags get stolen, fancy gadgets conk out, but a good experience stays with you forever.

You don’t have to go far, either. There may be things to discover even a few blocks down the road—a quick Internet search can give you a few pointers. If you need a real getaway, book a trip off-season to save on airfare. Eat at a few well-recommended restaurants and buy the rest of your food from the local market. Leaving for a few weeks? Consider renting an apartment or condo instead of booking a hotel.

Invest in quality clothing

A full closet doesn’t equate to luxury, especially if it’s filled with $10 polyester shirts that last a dozen washes. Sometimes it does make sense to pay more for things you’ll keep forever. Instead of stocking up on sweaters every year, save up for a few classic, well-made pieces that you can use ten years from now. Buy a good leather briefcase that you’ll never have to replace, comfortable shoes that go with everything, a warm coat that will live through a hundred winters. They don’t have to be designer. They don’t even have to come from a store. Lasting quality is always well worth your money, whether it cost you $30 or $30,000.

That said, it won’t hurt to bargain-shop, especially if you’re looking into high-end brands. Indeed, it doesn’t make sense to pay retail for designer gear when a bit of research can get you much better prices. Scope out designer sample sales and befriend local distributors so you’ll get first dibs. The most well-connected can get their stuff straight from French fashion houses for up to 70% off!

Pamper yourself

Treat yourself to an hour-long massage, a facial, a pedicure, or a hair treatment. Spend a day at the spa, if you have the time. Don’t wait for the stress to pile up—make it a regular affair. Work your favorite treatment session into your budget and schedule, whether it’s once a week or once a month. With a bit of planning, you can easily trade a couple of restaurant meals for a spa session. The prices are about the same, and it’ll give you more room to appreciate the life you’re building. After all, if there’s one rule to good living, it’s that relaxing shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be the standard.

Ally is part of the team that manages Best Credit Cards, a free balance transfer cards and no annual fee credit cards comparison service in Australia. Before joining BCC, she was a Media Planner with McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.

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Comments

  1. says

    Luxury is not about money. It is about enjoying what you have. No question that money makes life easier, but it does not make life more enjoyable. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb that if you are miserable when you are poor, you’ll be miserable when you get rich.

  2. says

    You don’t have to spend on luxuries and extravangances to enjoy your life. For many of us, a night out to dinner with the family can be a struggle. Add on top of that gourmet groceries, spa treatments and designer clothing and at the end of the month, you have no money for bills and necessities. These are tight times and luxuries can be hard to come by. That doesn’t mean you have to give up everything that makes you ‘happy’. There’s no reason that you can’t buy inexpensive ingredients and make a lavish dinner – buy a cookbook. There’s no reason you can’t dress in designer duds – visit your local thrift store. If you want to treat yourself, create a personal budget and build the treats for you and family into it. Just remember, because this is what got many people into trouble in the first place – things do not equal happiness. It’s how you live your life that gives you joy. Everything else is just stuff. http://www.solvingdebt.ca/blog/personal-bankruptcy-canada-residents-look-budget-calculators-help

  3. Chris says

    This article is right on target. We live in a 40 year single wide MH that was my husbands parents. It is located on his brothers property. We pay no property taxes or rent and the cost to maintain it averages about $1000 per year. We did do major renovations, most notably in the kitchen and bathroom. I spent a small fortune on major appliances because I love to cook. It is crowded but it is sufficient for our needs and limited retirement budget. The end result of all of this is that we are able to take several nice vacations a year, eat out maybe every few months, and eat in very, very well. We have all that we need, plus some, and are able to get paid by our credit cards since we receive cash rebates, instead of paying interest on them. (they are paid in full every month) Things do not equate to happiness, lack of stress, eating well and companionship are the real keys to happiness.

  4. Fabian says

    Spending is all about this kick you get when you acquire something new. Years ago, when I was still an impulsive buyer, I had to wait a bit before buying a new car. For a couple of weeks, I spent all my free time reading prospectus about it, ordered back issue of test in car magazines until I knew the whole material by hart. I remember it was a Range Rover. After two or three weeks, pouf it went out of my system and I never bought it. Now, each time I feel the urge, I do the same, which is even easier with Internet. I dream awake, make plans, budgets and imagine how great my life will be when I possess and it never fails, after a couple of weeks the need is gone.

  5. says

    Great article! I love the point about splurging on groceries. I’ve been trying to convince my husband I’d rather spend more on grass fed organic beef. this will help my case.

  6. Rachel Levington says

    This is a great article! It’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness. Instead of spending large amounts of money on an expensive lifestyle, there are several ways to have fun and feel you’re living in luxury with some creativity. I found this great article on budget worksheets to help keep me on track and it has served it’s purpose. I also still have a life of fun and enjoyment without emptying my wallet!

    http://www.personalbankruptcycanada.ca/blog/best-budget-worksheet-keeping-you-out-canada-bankruptcy

  7. says

    It’s important to be able to distinguish between what is a want, a need and a treat. My boyfriend and I started making economising gestures on luxuries (like buying more expensive meat rather than eating out), but we then started fabricating reasons to treat ourselves (when we started celebrating Wednesdays because it was ‘the middle day’, we knew we had a problem!) And then steaks just weren’t as fun any more!

    It’s good to treat yourself to a luxury now and again, but keeping it as a treat is always key!

  8. says

    I really like the Schumacher quote you used. It’s easy to get engulfed in all the flashing lights and distractions that are placed in front of us everyday, but the strong are the ones who say no and can easily avoid the temptations.

  9. Agustina says

    its great article!
    but i think it doesn’t work for me. coz am Chinese, i live in China and am fresh graduate….
    of coz, i wanna live a better life, but still low-payment now, cannot do anything i want….
    in all, have to work hard and make more money.
    Así es la vida…no tengo otras opcinones….

  10. says

    While it’s true that money doesn’t buy you happiness, it does however give you options as to whether you stay in a job you don’t like, exploring new place and horizons and helping others out.

    There is an old saying ‘To Live Within Your Means’, nothing wrong with that but I would say to people to look at ‘Expanding Their Means’. On the way to expanding it you should certainly live within your means.

  11. Christ says

    It is a sad reality, but we have to admit that having a life, not necessarily lavish, required having money. Money doesn’t guarantee happiness… however it greatly helps us to reach it.

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