Champagne Tastes, Beer Budget: Live a Luxury Life Without Breaking the Bank

luxury lifestyle

We’ve all been there– wanting to enjoy the finer things in life but not quite having the money to do it. My family calls this “champagne tastes on a beer budget.” Although that sounds silly, there is truth to it. 

So, how do we change that mindset? There are ways to have a taste of luxe while sticking to a budget. One way is to cook more at home and save those fine dining experiences for special occasions. Another is learning to take advantage of credit card reward points without going into debt.

Living a life of luxury is rooted in how you approach life, not just buying expensive items. We’ve compiled a list of 14 options that will help you on your journey to living out your champagne dreams.

1. Barter for Workouts

gym membership woman exercising.
Image Credit: Ridofranz
and iStock

Having the opportunity to work out regularly is vital to maintaining our physical health while improving our mental health. But fitness studio memberships are pricey and are a luxury item. However, there are options available if you barter with the studio management. 

Often, your membership will be waived if you work a few hours a week at the front desk or offer to handle the setup and takedown before and after classes. I worked the front desk at my favorite studio for that free membership for a couple of years after being laid off, and it was worth it for my mental and physical health while searching for a new job. 

2. Take Advantage of Credit Card Reward Points

Man excited using credit card.
Image Credit: Moon Safari and iStock

Recently, my husband and I have begun taking advantage of credit card reward points by selecting a card with the best plan and using it for all our monthly charges. By doing so, we have taken multiple trips using the points for airfare and hotel reservations. 

However, the key to doing this is that you must pay off the debt every month. If you accrue a balance, this defeats the purpose of earning cash-back points and could land you in a heap of debt. 

3. Make the Most of Airfare Savings Apps

Couple taking picture on vacation.
Image Credit: Maridav and Depositphotos.

Use an app like Hitlist to monitor fares from your home airport and alert you when hot deals arise, helping you reach your dream destinations for less.

Another way to save on flights is with Hopper. This app analyzes historical airfare data and advises whether to buy now or wait for the best deal. Moreover, Skiplagged is an excellent resource for discovering potential savings through unique strategies like hidden-city ticketing, which are not typically available elsewhere.

4. Take Short Trips Rather Than Long Vacations

Man on vacation
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

I recognize that most people want to take an extended vacation; however, you might enjoy more sustainable pleasure by taking short trips more frequently. Add a few long weekend getaways to your calendar. 

You may also find it easier to unplug from work when you’re away for just a few days rather than a week or more.

5. Make Money With Your Bank Accounts

Couple working on computer reviewing finance.
Image Credit: Tijana Simic and iStock

Everyone needs somewhere to put their money, but choosing the smartest option is essential. Before selecting an account or if you’re searching for a better one, take the time to shop around. Look for accounts that offer competitive interest rates, low fees, and features that help you manage your finances effectively, such as budgeting tools and automatic savings options. 

Research different banks and credit unions, compare their offerings, and read reviews to find an account that will keep your money safe, help it grow, and keep you organized.

6. Seek Out Quality Conversations & Experiences

women talking on couch.
Image Credit: Brizmaker and iStock

This is possibly the most critical aspect regarding living a luxurious life while on a budget because it’s not about the money you spend but the type of people and experiences you surround yourself with. If your core group of friends is typically negative, doesn’t want to engage in more profound and meaningful conversations, and prefers to sit on the couch watching reruns of trash TV rather than attending quality events, you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

Seek out people who challenge you and your mindsets, make you want to be and do better, and don’t let you settle for anything less than the absolute best.  

7. Create More Free Time on Your Schedule

Young smiling happy cool woman wears white tank shirt sit on blue sofa couch stay at home rest relax spend free spare time in living room.
Image Credit: ViDI Studio and Shutterstock

There’s something undeniably luxurious about free time, yet so few of us make space for it in our schedules. Every moment is spoken for between careers, household duties, childcare, and kids’ activities. We often forget that, with a few notable exceptions, we have control over our own calendars.

If you need help carving out free time, schedule it like any other commitment. Block it out on your calendar and treat it as an unbreakable obligation. When the time comes, you can relax completely guilt-free. Making time for yourself is a significant step toward a luxurious lifestyle.

8. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

woman holding shopping bags in mall.
Image Credit: PeopleImages and iStock

Undoubtedly, high-end items, often considered luxury, can be expensive. However, they are frequently worth the investment in the long run. High-quality items tend to last much longer, saving you from the frequent need to replace them.

Quality doesn’t always have to mean unaffordable. We often buy things impulsively, but with some research, you can likely find a higher-quality version of the same item within your budget. Taking the time to compare options can lead to better, more durable purchases without breaking the bank.

9. Shop Secondhand

thrift shopping
Image Credit: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock.

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t purchase high-end items. Today, you can easily find gently used items on Facebook Marketplace and other secondhand sites. You’d be surprised at what you can find, like designer brands, at a fraction of the cost. 

For example, I once found a Kate Spade purse that retailed for $450 for just $50 at a consignment store. Shopping for pre-owned luxury brands is becoming increasingly popular. The luxury secondhand market is expanding rapidly, with data indicating it’s growing four times faster than the primary luxury market. This growth is primarily fueled by online marketplaces, making it increasingly convenient to discover and purchase second-hand luxury items.

10. Spend More Time in Nature

couple hiking in hawaii.
Image Credit: Maridav and iStock

Again, luxury doesn’t have to be about obtaining items. It’s also about living life freely and with joy. And what better way to do that than spending more time in nature?

Get outside, walk barefoot in the grass, spread a blanket, and enjoy a fantastic cheeseboard you made while sipping a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. 

11. Purchase an Older Luxury Car

man buying a car.
Image Credit: Nattakorn maneerat and iStock

A strategic financial alternative to leasing a luxury car is buying an older, used one. While a “newer” used model might still be out of reach on a tight budget, you can often find older luxury vehicles at more affordable prices. Many luxury car models retain their classic appeal and performance even after several years, meaning an older version might offer the same elegance and comfort as a newer model without the hefty price tag. 

Additionally, older luxury cars can sometimes be found in excellent condition, as their previous owners often maintain them meticulously. This way, you can enjoy the prestige of driving a luxury car without breaking the bank.

12. Take Advantage of Discounts

woman online shopping with credit card.
Image Credit: Drazen Zigic and iStock

Discounts are available whether you’re booking a hotel room or buying tickets to a Broadway show. Always check to see if you qualify for special rates, such as student, senior, local resident, veteran, or union member discounts. For best results, carry the appropriate identification to verify your eligibility if needed.

13. Focus On Paying off Your Debts

Young couple stresssed with debt money problems, not able to pay bills looking at computer.
Image Credit: Cast of Thousands and Shutterstock

One of the smartest steps to live a big life on a small budget is eliminating your debt. High-interest credit card payments and other debts can consume a significant portion of your income, leaving less money for enjoyable activities and experiences. 

By paying off your debt, you free up funds that can be redirected toward travel, dining out, hobbies, or other luxuries you might otherwise have to forgo. Additionally, being debt-free reduces financial stress and improves your financial portfolio, allowing you to save and invest more effectively for your future.

14. Rent High-End Items Rather Than Buying

designer purses shoes accessories
Image Credit: Creative Lab/Shutterstock.

If you have a weakness for designer items like dresses, purses, and shoes, consider renting them from sites like Lending Luxury or Bag Borrow or Steal instead of buying them outright. These platforms offer weekly and monthly rates at a fraction of the retail price. Renting allows you to switch to new styles every season without additional expenses.

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With a passion for travel, great food, and beautiful art, Julie put aside her 15-year career in the tech industry and dove head-first into a more creative sphere. Utilizing her degree in Communications, she is pursuing freelance writing. An avid traveler, Julie has experience writing and documenting the amazing spots she has visited and explored, the delicious food she has tasted, and the incredible art she has admired and purchased! When she’s not writing, she can be spotted around Austin, TX, at various art gallery openings, having a delicious meal with her husband and friends, and playing with her two dogs.

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