So when I say the good life, I mean getting the best out of your money, time and resources- a life of order, style, comfort, finesse and luxury (as much as is possible…lol). And don’t forget, it’s getting all these on a budget. So while you wish you could live in Buckingham palace forever, sip on cocktails in Ibiza all year, surf, suntan and build sandcastles on the blue and pristine beaches of Seychelles, let’s see how we can both recreate some of those experiences on a budget. And yes, I know the word ‘budget’ is relative but hey, if you have a regular 9-to-5 job like me or earn a monthly income, we might just be kindred spirits on this one. Here we go.
18 Ways to live a Good Life on a Budget
- Start with making cleanliness a way of life- get clean. Think of it- how many elegant, luxurious, high-end restaurants, shops etc. have you been to/seen that are dirty, shabby, littered, unorganised and cluttered? Yep, none. Cleanliness evokes finesse, class and that sense of elegance. So, for starters, to live a good life, get your home and work spaces clean, neat and tidy- every nook and cranny. And I’m talking your clothes closets, car boot, inside your car, desk drawers at work, kitchen cabinets, your beauty counter, under your bed, handbags, bathroom counters, your garage, wallets/purses etc. When you are done, pleaaaaaaaaaaase don’t accumulate clutter again but start making cleanliness a lifestyle.
- Pay attention to personal grooming. This includes taking care of your hair, your body, your nails, the way you smell (and you don’t need an expensive bottle of perfume), trim your chipped nails, iron your clothes, replace the missing buttons, clean and polish your shoes, replace your shoe heels/soles, get involved in physical activities that are good for your health, throw away old underwear etc. This type of overhaul has a profound effect on your wellbeing, an activity that shows you respect yourself. And you and I both know, that self-respect is vital for a good life.
- Ask yourself, what’s going to give and commit to that. You may not be able to have it all, but for what you’ll have, it has to be of the best quality. So for example, will the salon manicure come first or will you DIY it so that you can stock your fridge with more healthy foods? Will you spend less time scrolling mindlessly on social media so that you can skip for 10 minutes or take a 20-minute brisk walk around your neighbourhood, all in favour of improving your physical health? Figure out 1 or 2 things that are critical in your quest to live an optimal life and then commit to these.
- Eat & cook healthily. This is not to say you stop eating your favourite pastries, but that you eat more of foods that can preserve and nourish your body while also extending its longevity. It’s also not about shopping for strictly organic items at grocery stores but about buying healthy foods (think food pyramid array of food items to eat). So for example, if you like 2 minute/instant noodles a lot, spruce it up with vegetables, herbs and slices of chicken/beef to get its full worth. If you only drink a glass of water, try drinking 2 glasses of water, infused with lemon/mint. Do more of steaming, grilling, stir-frying as opposed to constant deep oil frying. Indulge yourself regularly but let the scales be tilted in favour of the healthy foods.
- Get informed and be aware. It is said that knowledge is power; when you are aware, you have choices, and your choices open you up to new experiences. So if signing up for a card for doing nothing except your monthly shopping will give you cash back rewards for free- go for it. Personal example- I have had the Clicks cash back reward card for a long time and I have been able to buy myself bottles of perfumes of high quality with the cash backs I get on a quarterly basis- just because I shop at Clicks for toiletries every month. No gimmicks. I am also on the Discovery Insure Vitality programme and I get at least R800 cash paid back into my account every month because I drive well. That is extra cash in my pocket on a regular basis just for driving well. So be aware of the freebies available to you in your favourite places and then grab those chances.
- Always buy quality over quantity. My personal definition of quality is ‘valuable and durable’. You don’t have to earn/make so much money to get quality items. With the little you make, you can still get quality items. It’s a matter of looking at your priorities, looking at the money you have available for the things that matter and shopping for the best quality of the item you can buy with the money you have. While it may not be the highest quality you wish for at that point in time, you’re assured that it is not the lowest quality either. Which brings me to my next tip.
- Shop during Sales/Discount seasons. When you bought a new pair of shoes for R600 and then the week after you saw the same shoes going for half the price, how did you feel? Like you wasted money, right? Sales or discounts doesn’t mean ‘unwanted stuff’, it just means getting good quality stuff at reduced prices. You can save a lot of money and purchase quality items when you buy during sales seasons. The trick is to put some money aside, be in the know for when your favourite stores have their sales and taking advantage of the discount seasons.
- Infuse your space with your favourite colours. Shades of your favourite colour in your personal spaces provides a cosy feel. And it doesn’t even matter whether it is black, grey, brown or white- a quick look on Pinterest will give you creative ideas on how to make your space cosier and more relaxing.
- Buy cookware and tableware that is of good quality. Throw away blunt knives, chipped dinnerware/plates/cups/mugs/drinking glasses, old raggedy napkins/table linen or mats that have no purpose anymore, rusty plate racks, broken trays etc. This includes purchasing non-stick pots and pans that will make cooking easier and will also last for a long time. Healthy food + Quality tableware= Fine dining. And fine dining is synonymous with a good life. You don’t have to buy quality cook/tableware at once because they are not always cheap, but if you commit to buying them these things all at once, but buy them bit by bit, you’ll have your own little collection in no time.
- Play up your style by acquiring clothing accessories. It’s mostly about the details and it boils down to the small pieces that amplify your beauty and sense of style especially when it comes to clothing. Accessories include everything from eyewear, handbags, purses, leather belts, scarves, wristwatches, jewellery, travel luggage, laptop bag, pens, etc. Start spending on these and not just clothes. And remember, if you buy genuine leather items, get a leather cream and storage bag to take care of these highly-prized belongings.
- Try out new things and places. From personal experience, trying out new places or hang out spots heightens my awareness, deepens my experience of that event and sometimes ignites an interest in me that I didn’t know I had. My personal experiences include grocery shopping in a different grocery store, buying a different tone of red lipstick even though I have 2 shades of red in my make-up bag, checking out an unfamiliar artsy store in my favourite mall, trying out a new hangout spot in my neighbourhood, wearing a different shade of blue jeans etc. For you, it can be anything. As long as it is a new experience, then it’s good for you because you and I both know that when you do things that are new, it improves your outlook on your environment/self, something vital for a good life.
- Get your finances in order. This starts by trying as much as you can to spend within your means then paying off debts, saving and investing etc. It’s up to you to decide what “financial project” you need to tackle first. Is it to pay all your debts so that you can save more money or to invest? When you are in control of your finances, there is a certain level of autonomy and pleasure you derive- a pleasure that is synonymous with a good life.
- Read. Honestly, I have learnt a lot from reading books than I have from watching TV etc. Reading is an informal but good form of education, a medium of escape, de-stresser, an indulgence and a good medium for personal development. It’s also entertaining- I bet you’ve seen someone laughing at themselves or talking back to a book just because it is so engrossing. Books are easily accessible at libraries and budget bookstores so you don’t even need a lot of money for this except buying books is a habit.
- Be benevolent- do something good for someone. There will always be someone near you in need and it’s not just about doing good just for the sake of it, but about doing something good to make someone else more comfortable and less stressed. That is the essence for me personally. As my daughter says, it’s a good way of ‘filling your bucket’. Why? You improve your attitude in the process and also make someone’s life just a bit easier. And remember, doing good doesn’t always require money, it could be your time, your call, your presence, your devotion etc.
- Indulge in a delightful activity ‘often’- For example, if you are a tea lover, why not bake some scones, cakes, tarts, pies and all those other tasty treats and invite a few friends over for your own ‘high tea’. Love to pamper your skin? Go ahead and DIY a spa session at home. If you love flowers or gardening, go to a nursery and immerse yourself in the lovely scent of colourful flowers. Love to drink? Make your own cocktails at home. If the outdoors thrill you, engage in an outdoor activity for the adrenaline rush, and if you are a homebody like me, burn the scented candle, play the soft music, unwrap the chocolates and unwind. If you love French food, google a French meal recipe and prepare it at home. It can be whatever, as long as it gives you pleasure and brings you delight, go for it.
- Infuse greenery in your space. I have a ceramic pot filled with some green plants overlooking the space I am in as I type this and it’s such a delight. I think plants give open spaces a certain flair making them look less drab and more aesthetic especially if you reside in a ‘concrete jungle’. It also evokes a sense of warmth, peace and psychological balance. So for starters, start with a green pot on your kitchen sill and then try it in your bigger personal spaces if you like the idea. If you cannot be trusted to water and keep plants alive, get a fake plant in a nice vase for the aesthetic effect.
- Be polite. A good life is filled with good manners and politeness (rudeness is just so crass), and being polite is just a simple way of showing respect to yourself and others, as well as living harmoniously with others (as much as is possible). From personal experience, when I am polite, I am calmer, less edgy, unruffled and more patient- things that are essential for a quality life. Try it- make it a habit to be less bad-mannered and see if that doesn’t improve your life.
- Finally, be grateful. If you look back on your life and what has been, do you know that things could be worse? But you are still standing, you are alive and are hopeful. T0 get the best out of life, you have to be grateful for all that you had, what you have now and what you expect to come. Gratitude helps you lessen discontentment in your life and improves your standard of living.
Now over to you, how are you going to improve your quality of life? Try one of these activities today and make your life better. Good luck.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Till we chat again, keep shining, share the blog with your awesome tribe and take care of yourself XOXOXO