55 Ways to Upgrade Your Lifestyle on a Budget

55 Ways to Upgrade Your Lifestyle On the Cheap. Introduce a little luxury into your life without busting your budget.

A lot of people hear luxury and think champagne, private jets, and caviar. But isn’t luxury just a feeling?

Maybe to you it’s the feeling of waking up late on hotel sheets.

To me, it’s getting to travel the world at a moment’s notice. 

Or a bunch of fresh flowers on the dining room table.

I used to think that luxury was just for millionaires, or materialistic people.


I’ve come to see that luxury has nothing to do with net worth and everything to do with self worth. Click To Tweet


It’s about making the choice to treat yourself like you’re the highest quality and deserve the absolute best – even if you’re on a budget.

So here’s to a luxurious new year. Here are 55 tips to upgrade your lifestyle without emptying your bank account:..




1. Live large in cheap places. If you want a luxury vacation, find a country where your dollar can stretch. Here are some of the cheapest luxury hotels in the world.

2. Nice luggage. Check out Marshalls, TJ Maxx and the thrift store for lightly used or discontinued luggage. Remember that when it comes to luggage, designer brands don’t always equal quality. Here’s a guide to get you started.

3. Go off season. Popular destinations can be 50% cheaper in off-seasons.

4. Use credit card perks. If you’ve always wanted to experience business class flights, use your credit card points to travel in style – for free.

5. Always ask for an upgrade. There’s no harm in asking!

6. Buy mystery hotel rooms. Mystery hotel rooms are luxury hotel rooms that are advertised at a discounted rate by keeping the name of the hotel a secret. Here’s a guide to get you started.

7. It’s the little things. In a city like Paris or Venice, luxury is in the air. You don’t need to spend thousands on fancy hotel rooms or Michelin starred restaurants. Just stroll the streets or sip a cappuccino at a local cafe. Window shop. People watch.


Related Reading: 33 Ways to Travel on the Cheap



8. Buy top-shelf polish. Even if you can’t afford regular mani pedis, buy yourself some beautiful nail polishes and take the time to do a home manicure. Believe me, a foot soak and some fresh polish go a long way towards relaxation.

9. Coconut Oil. From eye makeup remover to face masks to conditioning treatment to cuticle cream to cooking, coconut oil smells delicious, feels amazing and will make you feel like a million bucks for under ten bucks.

10. Buy drugstore makeup. You don’t have to spend hundreds to get quality cosmetics. Try some of these drugstore brands that celebrity makeup artists swear by.

11. Get student massages. Most massage schools consistently need people for their students to practice on. Here’s where you should go in NYC.

12. Be a hair model. If you’re lucky enough to get an experienced student, you can get a $50+ haircut for $15. It’s how I’ve afforded all my cut and colors for the past five years. Salonapprentice.com is my favorite resource for finding quality hair modeling opps.

13. Pamper your brushes. Use baby shampoo to regularly wash your makeup brushes. Not only will this help your skin avoid breakouts, but your brushes will be soft and clean-smelling every time you use them.

14. Drink lots of water. When I want to feel (and look) amazing, this is the one thing I can always count on – and it’s free!




15. Become an expert thrifter. It’s amazing what you can find at thrift stores – vintage clothing, brand new items, original art, and designer shoes. Give yourself a budget, bring a friend and go have some fun. Check out these top thrifting tips for scoring the best finds on the cheap!

16. Tailor your clothes. Splurge on tailoring for a couple basic pieces. You’ll keep them longer and wear them more.  And they’ll look more expensive because of how well they fit you.

17. Try a capsule wardrobe. You know those 2-3 pieces of clothing that just make you feel amazing, every time you wear them? What if your whole wardrobe was like that? A capsule wardrobe is all about quality over quantity. Save money by buying less, and spend more on the pieces that matter.

18. Buy second hand. Second hand shops are a great place to get designer and high-end clothing for reasonable prices. Look for specific brands and don’t be afraid of googling if you’re unsure.

19. Fake diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds are so last year. If you want something sparkly, think about buying Moissanite which looks similar to a diamond but is significantly cheaper and doesn’t have the ethical issues.

20. Rent a dress. If you want to wear designer outfits to a wedding or event but don’t want to shell out $500 – $1000 for a dress, check out Rent the Runway. Not only do they offer amazing dresses but they usually give discounts to first-time customers.

21. Get used fur. Does anyone buy fur anymore? I mean, c’mon people, animals! But if dead animal skin is your thing, head to a vintage shop or cruise the thrift store for affordable used fur coats. Just make sure you know how to spot the real thing (if that’s what you’re after…)

22. Buy a beautiful silk slip. Slips make up for the lack of lining in cheaper clothes, and help your clothes hang gracefully on your body. Plus, you’ll go about your day feeling like you live at Downton Abbey.

23. Hire a personal stylist. If you’re someone who has clothes with the tags still on hanging in her closet, or has a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear, consider hiring a personal stylist. They’ll help you define a personal style, and you’ll ultimately save money on all the (wrong) clothes you don’t buy.




24. Buy a duplex. If you want to buy a house, but the mortgage feels out of reach, check out duplexes in your area. You’ll get all the perks of being a homeowner without the added stress of a big mortgage payment.

25. Paint your front door. Not only will this add charm to your home but it will also raise the value of your house. Not bad for a $5 can of paint.

26. Take amazing showers. Replicate that luxury-hotel shower experience by upgrading your shower head or adding a water filter to help your skin stay soft.

27. Buy original art. Forget about buying that picture of Amsterdam from Ikea. Buy an original piece of art that you love from a newly established or emerging artist. Not only will you have something unique, but it might be worth a lot one day.

28. Create a home bar. Nothing says luxury like a home bar. Some glass decanters will class up even the most bottom-shelf liquors.

29. Share fast internet and premium channels. No more waiting to watch your favorite shows! Pool logins or split costs with your neighbors to get access to premium channels like HBO and Showtime.

30. Got an old mattress? Get a mattress topper. If you need a new mattress but aren’t ready to splurge, get a luxury mattress topper and sleep like a queen.

31. Splurge on bathroom accessories. Save money by buying basic soap but shine it up by getting a fancy soap dispenser or soap dish. Check out Home Goods to find discount designer accessories.

32. Replace your Ikea sofa legs. New legs will totally change the look of your $300 Ikea couch without spending $3000 on a new sofa.

33. Get mood lighting. Because nothing feels as romantic as sitting in a room full of candles or dim lighting. Here are some great budget lamps, and here is a dimmer you can install yourself.

34. Buy fresh flowers. When I walk in the door and see a bouquet of fresh flowers on the table, I feel like I live in a mansion. To me, this is a luxury that is worth the money and makes me happier than home upgrades that cost ten times as much.




35. Buy expensive ice cream (at the grocery store). Instead of spending $5 on a scoop at an artisanal ice cream shop, splurge on the most expensive pint at the grocery store. It’ll cost you about the same and last you the whole week.

36. Make homemade cold brew. Did you know americans spend $15 a week on coffee? Skip the $5 glass at Starbucks or Whole Foods every so often and make your own with this simple guide.

37. Only drink the best (cheap) wine. Because the best wine under $10 is still a freakin’ good bottle of wine. These helpful lists will point you towards the best affordable bottles at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere.

38. Grow your own fresh herbs. Fresh herbs take your home-cooked meals to a whole new level. Grow some basil, cilantro and chives on your windowsill. Throw in some mint so you can make a fresh mojito!

39. Buy in bulk. Indulge in costly groceries like Organic quinoa, cashews and rosemary by buying them in bulk. Here are some of the most cost-effective foods to buy in bulk.

40. Bake your own bread. Nothing will transform a rainy Sunday afternoon like the smell of bread baking in your oven…except twenty minutes later when you’re smearing it with brie. If you’re buying $6 – $7 loaves of bread, try baking it yourself for a fraction of the price.

41. Freeze your wine in an ice tray. For those of us that can’t ever seem to finish a full bottle, freeze your wine in an ice tray and add it to sangria or use it in cooking.

42. Learn to make sushi. Sushi, while amazing, is also very expensive. Especially if you like high quality fish. Learn how to make your own and save $50+ on a single meal. Plus, impress every date…ever.

43. Get a pizza stone. Really good pizza is one of those treats that just can’t be replicated in the freezer aisle. Invest in a pizza stone and start making your own artisan pizzas.

44. Shop at the farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets are about more than just the quality of the food or the affordability – they’re  about the experience. Make it a weekend tradition to stroll through your local farmer’s market (and pick up some fresh flowers while you’re at it…)


Entertainment and dating


45. Indulge in free luxury experiences. There’s nothing like an evening at the opera or the symphony to make you feel like you’re a high-roller. Look for free and discounted nights in your city by checking your town event, local library and parks and recreation calendars.

46. Bring your own wine. Often, for a small corkage fee, you can bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy at dinner. A bottle that costs $20 at the store can cost $70 or more at a restaurant, so this is a great way to enjoy top-notch wine without paying top dollar for it.

47. Plan a high class picnic. Brie. Baguettes. Brut. Put it all in a basket, wait for a sunny day and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable date.

48. Host a TedTalk night. Because all you need is YouTube to be an intellectual these days. Ask four or five friends to pick a favorite TedTalk and spend an evening watching (and discussing).

49. Visit open houses. Dreaming of owning a house, but not ready to make an offer? Visit open houses in your city. Not only will you get to stroll through beautiful homes, but you just might get inspired to start saving for that down payment.

50. Hang out in hotel lobbies. Hotels always make me feel like I’m on a grand adventure. And when it comes to hotels, the fancier, the better. But you don’t need to stay the night to get that feeling – just grab a book and lounge in a nearby hotel lobby, or order a glass of wine from the bar.

51. Go to art exhibition openings. Appreciating art is certainly one of the greatest luxuries available to you, especially if you live in a big city. Hit up an art gallery on opening night and indulge in some free wine and cheese.

52. Watch a sunset at the beach. What always delights me about nature is that it’s the greatest luxury, and one that we often miss out on because we’re so busy working trying to afford the more costly luxuries. Remember to slow down and enjoy the sunset!

53. Go to book readings. Get the experience of “meeting” your favorite authors, and possibly making a friend or two.

54. Check out the fanciest happy hours. Instead of going to your neighborhood burger joint during busy hours, head to the happy hour of your favorite fancy restaurant. Bonus points if it’s on a rooftop!


Related Reading: 10 Ways to Keep Your Entertainment Budget Under $100/month

A final tip…


55. Calculate your cost per use. A great way to start introducing luxury into your lifestyle is to use the cost per use rule when purchasing new items. For example, a an evening gown that you’ll wear once? Probably not worth $400. But jeans that you’ll wear for 5 years? Might be worth $100.


Remember, being financially savvy doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade your lifestyle. As long as you make those upgrades with full consideration for your present means and your future financial goals.

In other words – as long as you can afford it.


In the meantime, you can always come back here for ideas to upgrade your lifestyle on the cheap.


Related Reading: How to Live Within Your Means Without Feeling Limited

14 responses to “55 Ways to Upgrade Your Lifestyle on a Budget

  1. I already do some of these things. I’ve always wanted to try #50 at very nice hotels but I wasn’t sure if it would be weird if I just walk in and sit on their comfy couches for 30 to 60 minutes and leave, lol. I guess I’ll have to try and see if it will work.

    1. It totally works. I do it all the time when I need to kill some time in midtown manhattan or need to use a bathroom 🙂

  2. Fabulous ideas (and thanks for featuring our massage article!;-) A little trick I do when wanting to feel fancy for under $10 is to buy a box of wine and put some in a glass decanter. Burn some yummy smelling candles, put on a little jazz, and it’s a great night in!

  3. Great tips Stefanie. I’ve always wanted to do the mystery hotel for the better rates but am always nervous that somehow mine will end up being a nightmare. Maybe 2017’s the year !

    1. Try it out. You can generally narrow it down to 3-4 hotel possibilities before you book based on the descriptions they DO give.

  4. really informative, the travel information is specifically useful for me. For a lot of places the seasonality is based on holidays but the weather and everything is else is the same just less crowded traveling in the off season. Also like the groceries section replacing gourmet dining with the same meal made by yourself.

  5. I love your article. I don’t have millions in the bank but everything I by or places I go to, I try to go to the nicest most luxurious looking places. And sometimes it’s free to get in. I’d rather be rocking a designer purse than a cheap one because for one it will last me longer and two, it looks nicer. I completely agree with you on always looking like money. People treat you way better when you’re well taken care of then if you were looking all scrubby all the time. And it is all about the quality of things, not just material things. Positivity is the best! Thank you for writing this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Designed & Developed with by LizTheresa.com