For most people, sticking to a budget or trying to save money are difficult chores — as is evidenced by the credit card debt that exists in the United States — but if you're someone with expensive taste, it can be especially hard.
Whether you prefer the best in wine, shoes, or jewelry, having an income that sits below your taste threshold can be a struggle, but if you're serious about getting out of debt or increasing your savings, it's paramount that your taste stay appropriately reigned in.
That being said: A leopard can't change its spots, and taking measures that are too Draconian can ultimately backfire on you. If you were cursed/blessed with expensive taste, here are six keys that will help you stay within the confines of a budget.
1. Find out Where Your Money Is Going
The first order of business when you're trying to rein in spending is to find out where your money currently goes. Over the course of a month, keep track of every purchase you make no matter how small. Then, organize the expenditures into categories like Eating/Drinking Out, Groceries, Utilities, Clothes, etc.
From another handbag you found on sale to that $15 martini you enjoy every Friday after work at your favorite bar, it can be quite eye-opening to see where you spend your hard-earned money, and it can help provide you with some guidance about where to cut back.
2. Buy Less, Buy Better
One of the smartest ways to continue to give in to your expensive taste without breaking your budget is to commit to buying less by also committing to buy better. Higher quality items tend to cost more and last longer, which means they're a wise purchase, and because they also tend to meet the demands of an aesthetic eye, you'll also satisfy your taste tooth when you employ this principle.
From high-end ancient tribal rugs to vintage jewelry, buy quality so you don't have to keep making the same type of purchases year after year.
3. Ask Yourself Questions to Hone Your Desires
Another trick to guide your spending is to ask yourself questions. Many people assume their desire for material goods is without too much nuance, but with a bit of concentrated effort and self-sleuthing, you'll find quite a bit of nuance exists.
When you want to buy an item, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is this item for?
- How much use will I get out of it?
- Is there a cheaper item that will do?
- Am I buying this item instead of doing/thinking/feeling _____ (fill in the blank)?
As much as you're able, ask questions that get to the heart of what it is you want. It will help ensure you don't make unnecessary purchases, and that when you do spend money, it will help you buy exactly what you want.
4. Don't Rely on Credit
The average American household with credit card debt owes about $15,000. Depending on the interest rate associated with the cards involved, that amount of money could take someone as long 30 years to pay off.
While it can be a difficult transition to make if you're used to relying on credit to satisfy your taste for the finer things in life, by avoiding credit cards, you'll ensure you never end up in a debt cycle that keeps you from reaching your financial goals.
5. Eat Out Less, Eat Out Well
American households spend roughly $3,000 a year eating out, and while our frenetic pace requires some assistance now and again with the basics of staying alive — like eating — by being very conscious about when and where you eat out, you can save money without foregoing a great meal.
Good food that's fresh, local, and well-prepared costs more than food that isn't. Choose to go out less, but ensure that every time you do, you choose a restaurant that's committed to excellent food that's been sustainably and deliciously sourced, and your expensive taste in food won't get sidelined even while you seek to save money.
6. If You Can Live Without It…
Perhaps the most important lesson for anyone trying to save money is that whatever you can live without should be lived without. Staying within a budget takes discipline, and knowing what you do and don't need to be happy is a discipline unto itself.
Regardless of how expensive and fine your taste, honestly ask yourself whether you truly need to make the purchase, and, if you don't, do your best to skip it.
By making smarter spending choices you can still feed your expensive taste without blowing the budget.