Growing up, my mother worked her ass off to provide my sister and I with the essentials. My dad was in and out of the picture and rarely offered child support. We lived modestly but never went without. My mom was strong and independent. I wanted to be just like her, minus the financial struggle.
As a teenager, I worked multiple jobs and saved every penny I earned. I was determined to make sure I NEVER financially struggled.
By the time I was 20 years old I was making a decent salary, working at my boyfriends father's business. We bought a house together and between my boyfriend and I, we had 4 vehicles. I drove a Mercedes SUV and a BMW, he drove an Escalade and a Hummer H2. We were young, stupid and frivolous. We knew nothing about the value of a dollar or budgeting. We ate out for almost every meal, had parties at our house and supplied our friends with unlimited alcohol and pizza whenever they came to visit, which was everyday. We went to Las Vegas every year and to other sunny destinations. From the outside looking in, we had it all. I was living what I thought was The Good Life.
At 22, my relationship dramatically ended and I lost my job. Shit got real, real quick. We listed the house for sale but it was right when the market collapsed and the house wasn't worth near as much as we paid for it. We took a huge loss, and financially, I was in ruins.
I thought the world had ended. And it had - my world, as I knew it, was over.
Within a year I decided to move to the city. I got a part time job making $15 an hour and lived in a shoe box apartment. I didn't have much, or anything, really. Dinner was purchased at the fruit and veggie stand outside of my apartment daily for about $3. I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what a plan even meant. I did, however, know I needed to make more money. So, that became my plan. I worked as a receptionist and did freelance modeling on the side.
Finally, within a few years, I was done scraping together change to feed myself. I was finally back in a good place, financially. The entire experience shook me to my core and now, more than ever, I was determined to make sure I NEVER struggled financially again.
The difference, this time, was that I was older, had been through some shit AND knew I needed a plan. What my experiences have taught me is that in order to live "the good life" I needed to a) struggle to know what it's like to succeed and b) plan ahead.
Here's what else I learned.
REDEFINE YOUR DEFINITION OF THE GOOD LIFE:
Few people are fortunate enough to become billionaires. Stop defining The Good Life with materialistic items and money. Also, it helps if you are realistic. If you define The Good Life with Yachts and you drive a Camry, you are screwed. Be realistic and less materialistic.
My definition is simple: Quality people, experiences and things.
I do not pay full price for anything. I cut coupons, collect points, and am apart of several online groups that offer free services in trade for my time. Recently, I just got my hair cut and coloured free of charge. All I had to do was volunteer my time. These castings are on facebook groups and apps like BUNZ and are posted daily. I am not cheap but I will not pay for something I can get for free.
STOP BITCHING ABOUT HOW BROKE YOU ARE:
To live The Good Life, you need to surround yourself with good energy. If you are constantly complaining about being broke then you need to come up with a plan on how to get better control of your finances. Even if you are strapped because of situations outside of your control, keeping that bad energy around you all of the time is just going to bring you down. Come up with a plan to gain more control and stop being so damn negative. It's not only a turn off to others but it will majorly bum you out too.
SHOW GRATITUDE FOR WHAT YOU HAVE:
If you are reading this right now, you have either a laptop, cellphone or tablet. These are luxuries not everyone has. Show some gratitude for what you have.
I am always thrifting. I LOVE shopping and this is a way to get the thrill for SO much less. Plus, sometimes you can score some pretty unique pieces.
SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE:
Free therapy. Enough said.
HANG OUT IN THE LOBBIES OF FANCY HOTELS:
Okay, so this might seem a little weird but it's pretty satisfying. Most places offer free wi-fi, so instead of hanging out in a coffee shop one day, opt for coffee in the lobby of a fancy hotel. You'll be hooked!
I'm not talking about your actual house, I'm talking about those low-quality people, experiences and things. The Good Life does not co-exist with chaos, drama and clutter.
EAT WELL FOR LESS
I may have just lost some of you. I know, not everyone has the talent and patience to cook but it's something we all must do. So whether you are an aspiring chef or someone who throws everything into one pot, eat well for less. What does that mean? It means checking out farmers markets or local fruit stands instead of going to the big frilly super markets. Places like whole foods charge significantly more than the little guys. This way, you will get more bang for your buck and more likely to get locally sourced produce. If you are someone who enjoys dining out, opt for a nice lunch out instead of dinner. Often times, restaurants will have lunch specials.
SAMPLE SIZES AT SEPHORA
Don't be shy. They will give you samples of almost anything at Sephora. Plus, this way you know if you REALLY want the product before you splurge.
RENT A FANCY OUTFIT
There are so many companies out there that allow you to rent an outfit for that special occasion. Instead of splurging on something you will probably only wear once, rent it for a fraction of the cost.
Whether its money or your time, nothing makes you feel richer than giving to those less fortunate.
DO NOTHING FOR A DAY OR WEEKEND
You know what the best luxury is? Time. Time to yourself. If you want to live The Good Life, make sure to take some time for yourself and do absolutely nothing. Lay in bed, read, take a bath, chill with your dog, do anything (or nothing) that makes you feel good.
If you have any fun tips to add on how to LIVE THE GOOD LIFE, please, add them below, I'd love to hear how you LIVE THE GOOD LIFE ON A BUDGET.