10 Tips for Living Large-ish on the Cheap

So your name isn’t Beyoncé. You might not have a solid gold private jet or a superyacht. But author Dina Gachman has some advice for living the good life on the cheap.

By Dina GachmanMarch 9, 2015 9:14 am

You don’t need to be a billionaire to have a good life. I mean, it wouldn’t hurt, but no one ever dropped dead simply because they weren’t on the Forbes “richest people in the world” list.

1. There will always be someone richer, taller, smarter, and better looking than you:

This tough-love philosophy can apply to dating, work, and life as you know it, but for our purposes let’s apply it to finances. If you’re fixated on your neighbor’s Porsche or your mortal enemy’s mink stole, stop your whining and suck it up. Pining for what someone else has will not make you rich, it’ll just make you (and everyone around you) miserable.

2. Haggle like a pro:

Don’t haggle over the cost of a restaurant meal or the price of some Girl Scout cookies, but you can and must haggle over the cost of things like bicycles, computers, cable and internet rates, gym memberships, and, of course, cars. Ask if the car dealer will cover any registration fees and knock off the first month’s payment. If they won’t, calmly walk toward the door, until they panic and change their mind.

3. Always tip, or you’re going to hell:

This might not save you money, but it’s true.

4. There’s no such thing as “just” using your credit cards:

If you catch yourself eying a new pair of boots or a fancy purse you can’t afford and saying, “I’ll just put it on my card,” you need to stop what you’re doing, check your head, put the card back in your wallet, and walk away. There’s no such thing as “just” using a credit card, unless you have a magical stash of money or your name actually is Beyoncé.

5. The cheap seats are better than no seats:

Culture isn’t always cheap – unless you know where to look. Search for free museum days, find out what plays or dance performances are going on at local colleges, and fill your nights with art openings, which might sometimes equal terrible paintings, but always equal free wine.

6. The joy of house sitting:

If you’re tired of your tiny apartment and your crazy-ass roommates, try to get some house sitting gigs. For a brief period of time you can pretend you have a yard, a porch, a walk-in closet, and no roommates, landlord, or rent. It’s like a mini-vacation from your life.

7. DIY car fixes:

Do not overpay someone to do simple car fixes like change out head- and taillights or wiper blades. It might not save you millions, but it adds up.

8. Yard sales are your best friend:

Want to make a quick hundred bucks? Go through everything you own, throw it on the lawn, put up signs, and watch the cash come rolling in. You’ll be shocked by what random strangers will buy at yard sales – old socks, busted Slinkies, bent forks, N’Sync bobble heads. It’s pretty amazing.

9. DIY spa treatments:

If you’re stressed out and you can’t afford a massage, then a Shiner Bock, a bloodcurdling scream, and an episode of American Pickers should do.

10. Buying shoes is smarter than investing in stocks:

Before you object, remember that unlike with stocks, investing in a beautiful, durable pair of shoes won’t leave you wondering where your money went. You can just look down and remember that it went right there, on your feet.

Dina Gachman is the author of Brokenomics: 50 Ways to Live the Dream on a Dime, which hits bookstores next month.