Take your life to the next level and enjoy luxury you would normally not be able to afford.

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.” – Tony Robbins

First and foremost, before considering how to have a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget, you need to have a household budget and understand what your financial position is and what your commitments are before you start frivolously spending. You need to prepare a thorough spreadsheet (or a list) of your incomings and outgoings. This will help you avoid spending money that you don’t have and incurring interest on your credit card that you’re unable to pay off in full.

If you’re not sure how to do this, you could go to a financial advisor or a service like MyBudget (www.mybudget.com.au), and they can assist you in understanding your financial position and current financial commitments to identify better ways of managing your money (perhaps by combining debts into one low-interest account) to reduce the interest you’re paying.

Living within your means is vital to prevent a life of debt. This doesn’t mean you are not able to enjoy wonderful experiences, travel or give yourself the occasional luxury, but it does mean being more mindful about how much you spend, what you spend it on and where you can spend less/spend more wisely to save money. After all, why pay more for things than you have to?

My rule of thumb is that ‘repaying debts must take priority over non-essential spending’.

Also, I rarely pay full price for anything. I either bargain, wait for it to be on sale, use a ‘buy one get one free voucher’ or use a gift voucher given to me as a present. While initially these ideas seemed embarrassing to me, I’ve now embraced them as it makes my money go further and I have more buying power.

Develop the habit of negotiating more effectively to get higher prices when you sell and lower prices when you buy. A good negotiator can save or gain 10%–20% or more on every financial transaction. Each dollar saved or gained is additional money that you can put away.

It’s important to learn how to be thrifty and how to make your money go further. For example, if you are planning to buy a new outfit, try to plan in advance for special occasions and look for sales (especially End of Financial Year or post-Christmas sales). Sometimes you can even get designer clothes at a fraction of the cost because they are ‘last season’. If you rarely wear the same outfit twice and don’t want to invest in another outfit, ask a friend (of similar size) if you can borrow one of hers. Your wardrobe size multiplies if you share clothes with friends. Just make sure you dry clean the outfit before returning it to your friend! Another option is to hire a designer dress for a night (more on that later).

If you require a ‘book week’ costume for your child and don’t have a sewing machine (or are just not creatively inclined), go to a charity shop like St. Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) and see what you can get there. Not only do they have a wide variety of items, but also in buying something you are helping those in need. I’ve even seen a number of designer labels at Vinnies such as Zimmerman, Carla Zampatti and Sass & Bide. You can save an absolute fortune.

Vinnies’ Shops are run by dedicated volunteers and employees, and offer a range of quality clothing, furniture, books, toys and other household items at affordable prices. Each shop is a treasure trove for bargain-hunting fashionistas and people who like doing things differently. It is a regular destination for people who enjoy reusing and recycling.

If you find that your take-home pay is not high enough to ‘live the high life’, you can consider increasing your income to enjoy more financial freedom, whether that be applying for a promotion, doing some overtime or getting a second job. There are opportunities out there. You just need to look for them

Work out what your priorities are – you shouldn’t penny pinch on what you really want or need, but you should save on things that are not as important to you. Think of areas where you’re happy to compromise or cut back to save money (like when a wedding is being organised, often you are unable to afford everything to be ‘top of the line’). You need to identify the important things that you don’t want to compromise on and the things you’re happy to save money on or perhaps even remove altogether.

Also, if there’s something extravagant that you want that’s on sale, ask your partner if it can be purchased and given to you as a birthday or Christmas present and so on. I rarely get anything ‘for no reason’, but as the saying goes, ‘good things come to those who wait’ and when you wait you enjoy it even more.

One of the best ways to save money is to concentrate on reducing your four main living expenses: Your mortgage, your credit card account, your car costs and your grocery bill.

Instead of indulging in retail therapy, consider doing something that you love that doesn’t involve money, like having a relaxing bath, going for a walk, playing tennis, reading a good book or dancing to music.

Remember, ‘things’ don’t make you happy. Life’s not about accumulating ‘things’.

One of the best ways to save money on your grocery bill is to shop for ‘in season’ produce.

You can also save money by buying fresh meat and vegetables rather than pre-prepared or processed meals. When you cook from scratch, not only is ‘fresh best’ with more nutrients, but also you’ll know exactly what’s in the food that you’re eating and you can make your dollar go further cooking up a storm!

A good way to accumulate Qantas Frequent Flyer points is to have a credit card that earns maximum points (such as the Qantas American Express card) and put all of your everyday spending on that (such as groceries, petrol, gas and electricity bills, phone bills, Council rates, your children’s education costs, car registration and insurance and so on). It’s important to put only expenses on your credit card that you know you have the money to pay for, though. American Express is not accepted everywhere, so it’s wise to have two cards for the same account (such as an American Express and a Visa card). If you don’t have these already, I’m not suggesting that you should go out and get additional credit cards, because that can lead to further debt. If your current credit card(s) are not working hard enough to reward you, then perhaps it’s time to change credit cards and start rewarding yourself with the benefits. When choosing the right credit card, don’t just look at the reward benefits, though. Make sure you check whether there is an annual fee before weighing your options.

In addition, to complement this, if you shop at Woolworths, sign up for a ‘Woolworths Rewards’ card (previously known as an Everyday Rewards card) and select the ‘accumulate Qantas Frequent Flyer points option). You can then ‘double dip’ by scanning your Woolworths Rewards card and paying on your American Express not only at Woolworths but also at Woolworths Petrol Stations (where you get additional discounts on fuel) and BWS.

When dining, if you can, select a restaurant that’s on the Qantas Points Restaurant website. Not only is there a good selection of restaurants and the booking process very easy, but also when you arrive at the restaurant, you immediately earn 100 Qantas Frequent Flyer points per person dining without spending a cent. Then when you pay the bill, if you use your credit card which earns Frequent Flyer points, you earn even more! Better yet, if the restaurant you’ve selected through the Qantas Points Restaurant website is also in the Entertainment Book, you could be dining using a ‘Buy One Meal, Get One Free Voucher’ or ‘25%–50% off the Total Bill’.

Another way to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points, to save points for your next free trip (which I’ve had many of), you can shop with Qantas Business Partners when required, which include David Jones, Myer, Seed, Nike, Bonds, Rebel, Net-A-Porter.com, The Iconic, Dymocks, JB Hi-Fi, Zanui, Apple.com, Saba, eBay and Sephora.

Were you aware that you could sample the high life of a Hollywood star by renting their home for the night (or week)? Money-savvy A-listers who rent out their home when away to make the most of their resources include Leonardo DiCaprio, Brooke Shields, Lenny Kravitz, Daniel Radcliffe and Salma Hayek.

When you travel, go to the ‘travel/tour desk’ at your hotel and ask for a guide on local activities. Often there will be special deals and offers in the back of the guide.

Discount Travel

Indulge in more luxury than you can usually afford by booking accommodations and flights through sites like the following:

Discount Dining

Want to have a ‘date night’ or lunch/dinner for a special occasion on a budget? Then consider the special deals available through these websites:

I’m sure that there are countless others if you look for them; however, I’ve found that I have more than enough variety when looking through the sites above.

Discount Shopping

Do you have a gift you need to buy, or do you need items for around the home? Then try these sites:

Discount Experiences

Whether for Father’s Day, a special occasion or just a treat, to try new experiences, these are the places to start:

Discount Fashion and Accessories

From name-brand underwear to designer clothing to makeup that models use, go to the following sites:

Alternatively, you can hire dresses for special occasions rather than buying them (especially if you don’t like being seen in the same outfit twice!). Visit sites like these:

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