Luxury isn’t just for the rich and famous. Here’s how to live a luxury life without a big budget.
Americans love luxury—the U.S. is a large market for premium goods such as clothing, accessories, jewelry and makeup.
Although the definition of luxury, and living luxuriously, may vary by person, it usually involves throwing your budget out the window and splurging on something special: a pricey handbag, a spa weekend, dinner at a top-rated restaurant, an international trip. You get the idea.
But enjoying luxury doesn’t have to mean a complete disregard of your budget. It is possible to live luxuriously without spending a fortune.
To Karen Civil, an entrepreneur and media maven living in Los Angeles, a luxurious lifestyle is “a relaxed one where you are happy and at peace,” she says.
“It’s not just a life with material items, but an overall feeling. Feeling luxurious,” she adds.
Consider your definition of luxury and how you enjoy to treat yourself from time to time, and follow these seven tips for how to live a luxurious lifestyle on a budget:
1. Become a product tester
If you want to wear the trendiest high-end heel or play music on the newest wireless speakers, consider trying your hand at product testing. If you sign up with a product testing company, brands will give you products at no cost if you agree to wear or use them and provide feedback. Product testing can be a way to live a luxury life without a big budget since you won’t have to dish out for a purchase. Bonus: You can usually keep the products you are sent to test, and it’s an easy way to try different brands without the risk of losing money on items you don’t ultimately love.
Although potentially harder gigs to get, you can also become a mystery shopper who is paid to clandestinely evaluate restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.
If formal product testing is not up your alley, you can still try out high-end merchandise at no cost. To live luxuriously without spending a fortune you can stock up on free samples, especially for beauty and cosmetics. That’s what Dionne Dean, a stylist and fashion expert, recommends.
“Most high-end makeup counters will give you a sample of their latest beauty and skin care treatment to let you try out the product for a couple of days,” she says, adding that you can ask for up to a week’s worth of samples.
2. Prioritize rental over retail
Dreaming of wearing a designer gown or suit to your next big bash, but know the price tag means it’s probably just a forever fantasy? Turns out you don’t have to own something extravagant to enjoy luxe indulgences.
If you’re wondering how to live a luxurious lifestyle on a budget, consider renting designer clothing from online fashion rental services for a fraction of the retail cost. Rental periods last for varying lengths of time, from a few days to several weeks. It’s the perfect solution if you want a new outfit for the next special event you’re attending, but you know you’re likely to only wear it once.
3. Use online marketplaces, consignment shops and outlets to your advantage
Another way to live a luxury life without a big budget is to look for affordable luxe on online marketplaces where people buy, sell and even bid on items.
Dean suggests checking out local consignment shops to find upscale and costly items at budget-friendly prices. “Most luxury buyers consign their like-new items, rather than donate, to reinvest money back into their wardrobes,” she says. “Many times, you’ll be able to purchase the item new, unworn and with the original packaging.”
If you don’t care whether or not your luxury items are from last season, then you can live a luxury life without a big budget by visiting outlet stores. Dean says most design houses have outlet stores where they ship their overstock items or pieces from past seasons. Consumers can save up to 70 percent off retail price by shopping at outlets, she says.
If you want to save even more money at outlet stores, sign up for a specific store’s email list to get alerts for special discounts and events. Dean also recommends befriending the sales staff because they are often the first to know when stores are receiving extra shipments or making markdowns.
4. Go prix fixe and share at your favorite restaurants
There might be a trendy new restaurant that opened up nearby and you’re eager to try it… until you realize the menu prices will take a big bite out of your budget. Some restaurants, however, offer a “prix fixe” (fixed price) menu: a three- or four-course meal that’s often less expensive than ordering a la carte. If you’re trying to live luxuriously without spending a fortune, this option ensures your meal is not only delectable but more affordable, too.
Figuring out how to live a luxurious lifestyle on a budget could also mean opting to hit the new spot at lunch or happy hour, when prices may be lower, instead of dinner. You might also go with a friend and share one entree instead of ordering two.
5. Use social media to find food events
If you’re trying to be a frugal foodie, you can look for budget-friendly food events on social media or through online groups where the members focus on specific activities or hobbies, such as fine dining or cooking. That’s one way Michelle Jackson, who blogs at her personal finance site Michelle Is Money Hungry, has learned to live luxuriously without spending a fortune. With her thousands of dollars in student loan and credit card debt, it’s a necessity if the self-proclaimed foodie wants to enjoy fine food without increasing her financial woes.
“I’ve found everything from free tastings to free mixology classes,” says Jackson, who lives in Boulder, Colorado. She also attends blogging meetups each month where meals from trendy restaurants are often sponsored by different companies. Like Jackson, you can use social media to save money by searching for events in your industry and your local area that allow you to dine on someone else’s dime.
By figuring out how to live a luxurious lifestyle on a budget—especially as it pertained to dining out and entertainment—Jackson says she shaved $13,500 off her annual expenditures while still enjoying the same quality of life.
6. Cut travel costs
Travel can be one of the most luxurious ways to spend your money. It’s also often one of the priciest. Airfare, accommodations, dining out for every meal—it can quickly add up. One of the best ways to travel on a budget and live luxuriously without spending a fortune is to go with family and friends. You can plan a luxury vacation on a budget when you split the bill for accommodations, outings and activities. Traveling like this can also be a particularly rewarding way to live a luxury life without a big budget since you’ll get to share unique, even once-in-a-lifetime experiences with people you love the most.
If you’re traveling solo, you can still find ways to live a luxury life without a big budget. Jackson often travels alone, and since she considers travel a priority in her life, she’s learned to find ways to cut costs without sacrificing comfort. She chooses to fly off-season, books hostels or rentals where she can cook and asks locals for their recommendations to avoid expensive tourist areas.
7. Find deals on wellness activities
Wellness activities like trendy fitness classes and spa treatments can easily burn a hole in your wallet if you’re not careful. If you look at the price of one massage, you may even be tempted to think you can’t live luxuriously without spending a fortune. Not so. There are ways to enjoy wellness treatments without throwing down too much money.
Dean says coupon sites often feature deals from local spas. These are usually introductory offers for a treatment (or series of treatments) at a discount. She says several cities also participate in a spa week or month, which includes special deals to get customers in the door.
If your definition of luxury is more about time spent on improving your fitness, there are deals you can find to help you do just that. Jackson is often able to enjoy complimentary fitness classes with popular instructors in Denver thanks to events sponsored by the city and local nonprofits.
Be creative and live a luxury life without a big budget
Whether you employ some newfound shopping hacks to get your hands on that extravagant accessory you’ve been eyeing, split the bills for a deluxe vacation rental with friends or find a coupon for an indulgent day at the spa, there are lots of ways to inject luxury into your life—even if your budget is tight.
“It’s always a plus when you can find luxurious items at affordable prices,” says Civil, the entrepreneur from Los Angeles.
By following some of these tips, you can live luxuriously without spending a fortune.