By: Paula Pant, Mar 3rd 2015 6:00AM
Living on a budget doesn’t have to mean living a boring, bland life. In fact, if you’re smart about the way you manage your money, you can enjoy some perks that feel outside of your means, at a cost that’s entirely within budget.
Here are six ways to enjoy a full, satisfying and — dare we say it? — downright luxurious life while still keeping a modest budget.
1. Vacation off the beaten path
While everyone’s heading to Cancun and the Caymans, you can enjoy an equally relaxing and beautiful vacation for less by choosing a destination that isn’t quite so popular.
Off-the-beaten-path destinations like Roatan, Honduras (pictured), Tobago and Grenada offer sandy beaches and plenty of sun at a more affordable cost than traditional hotspots. If you’re really in the mood for something different, find a city on the map you’ve always been curious about and head to Airbnb to snag discount accommodations there. Airbnb rentals aren’t just rooms in people’s houses; you can also rent a yurt, a modern loft, a houseboat, a beach house and more.
2. Never pay full price
Enjoy the finer things in life for less than sticker price by learning to be a savvy shopper.
Sites like Groupon (GRPN), Amazon Local (AMZN) and Scoutmob can help you score great deals on upscale restaurants, travel packages, spa treatments and more. Daily deals sites like Rue La La and Gilt can help you snag luxury and designer goods (clothing, furniture and more) at a fraction of the cost.
Learn to scope out a good deal and make use of discounts, and you can live like a million bucks for as much as half-price.
3. Buy a preowned car
In the market for a new car
? If you want to splurge a little and get a set of wheels that gets you noticed, consider buying a gently used, preowned vehicle. According to Edmunds.com, you can get a used luxury car for $30,000 or less — the equivalent of buying a new middle-of-the-line four-door sedan.
No one needs to know your “new-to-you” Acura isn’t technically new; all they’ll know is you’ve got an Acura.
4. Splurge on small luxuries
Gourmet coffee, fresh flowers for your kitchen table, luxury shampoo and shower gel — sometimes the small things can make a big difference in how much we enjoy our day and how pampered we feel. Identify the little things that mean a lot to you and treat yourself with these tiny splurges on a regular basis, while simultaneously cutting costs on big-ticket items like housing and cars. You’d be surprised how much these small treats can boost your mood.
5. Get more home for your money
Move to a city with a lower cost of living — or move from a fancy ZIP code to a more modest neighborhood — and you can get a bigger, nicer-quality home for the same price.
That said, “bigger” isn’t always “better.” Don’t buy more home than you need; rather, focus on getting the best home for your needs. For instance, you may find you love a modern and updated two-bedroom condo in a nice building much more than you enjoy owning a four-bedroom single-family house that you have to maintain yourself. Or you may discover the opposite. The key is to buy a home that suits you – not the home that society says you should own at a particular stage of life.
6. Build a renewable wardrobe
Stock your closet with high-quality, well-constructed staples
that will last you year after year and won’t fall out of style. Think: a white button-down shirt, a dark pair of dress pants, a flattering pair of dark wash jeans, a classic coat like a pea coat or trench coat. (Notice that these recommendations apply to both men and women.)
These foundational pieces can be used to create a wide variety of outfits, and you can keep your look current by updating it each year with a few select accessories like scarves. It’s much less expensive than revamping your whole closet each season to stay on top of the trends.