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Everyone likes to live the glamorous life. But what if you don’t have a six-figure income? What if, in fact, you have two kids, a mortgage, and make $60,000 or less? Either you have to spend less or make more — or both! If making more is not in your near future, focus on spending less because too many people are in debt and choose to live above their means. In 2005, for example, there was a 30% increase in bankruptcy filings.
According to Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America credit counseling firms, people of every income level live from paycheck to paycheck with the average American family having $9,000 in credit card debt. “We get many clients who are professionals earning six-figure salaries,” says Sullivan. “The key to living a successful and happy life is simply to spend less than you earn, no matter what you earn.”
It might take a little discipline and a big commitment, but you can live a champagne lifestyle — without breaking your budget — even if money is tight. Here’s how you can do it:
According to the book Five-Star Living on a Two-Star Budget (Harvest House Publishers; $10.99) by Margaret Feinberg and Natalie Nichols Gillespie, professional and middle class alike can “live big on just a little.” The book shows you how to get the best of everything by managing your money, shopping at the best designer outlets, getting beauty and hair bargains, and finding discount coupons and travel steals. The authors explain how to buy a home at 20% to 50% below market value, luxury cars at $10,000 to $15,000 less than the sticker price, and designer clothes and accessories for up to 65% off of department store prices.
The book encourages the affluent penny-pincher to buy the Entertainment Book (www.entertainment.com) for $30 and get coupons for substantial discounts at restaurants, grocery stores, movies, and dry cleaners in your area. Now that the year is almost half over, you can get a great discount on the book. What’s more, it’s a great way to get the deals you want, from car rentals to airfare to the best local attractions.
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
For the shopper in you, Chelsea Premium Outlets (www.pre miumoutlets.com) is a great place to start. With 38 outlet centers in 22 states, the company offers 25% to 65% off designer brands every day. Their outlet stores include Burberry, Coach, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, MaxMara, Hugo Boss, Versace, BCBG Max Azria, Dior, and Chanel. Sign up for their V.I.P. Shopper Club on the Website and get exclusive discounts worth hundreds of dollars. For more shops, see the sidebar.
“We market to people who need a bargain and to people who simply love a bargain, and today, who doesn’t love to get a great deal?” asks Michele Rothstein, senior vice president of marketing for Chelsea Premium Outlet. “Many of our best shoppers are affluent, successful people who work hard for their money and want to spend it wisely. People used to keep their bargains a