22 Ways to Live Luxuriously on a Budget

22 Ways to Live Luxuriously on a Budget

Everybody likes nice things.

But have you ever felt like nice things were just out of your budget? Like, when you were scrolling through Instagram, came across your friend’s vacation pics, and thought, “That’s cool and all, but I don’t have an extra thousand bucks just laying around.” 

If so, you are not alone. The reality is, many of us aren’t making the salaries we hoped we would, 70% of us are graduating college with massive student loans, and then some of us just started this whole money thing and it still feels scary to spend it.

Today I wanted to write something for those of you who feel like luxury is just out of reach. Whatever your reasons, whether it’s six-figure student loans, or underemployment, you don’t feel like you have room in your budget for anything extra.

But if you never have room for fun, then it’s easy to get down at life. And that’s how budgets get wrecked. 

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to add a luxury into your life. Luxury isn’t about spending money. It’s actually about appreciating the small details. And you don’t have to kill your budget to get it.

So maybe you don’t have an extra thousand dollars, but maybe you have an extra $50. And the best part is that some of the nicest luxuries don’t even cost a thing. Here are 22 ways to get that luxe feeling when you don’t have much money.

Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. 

1. Fresh Flowers for the Home

You saw this one coming, right? Fresh flowers are an instant mood booster and add natural beauty to the home.

Buy a few cheap supermarket bouquets and mix them up into separate arrangements. Don’t worry about making them look symmetrical–perfectly arranged flowers look kinda generic. For a more elevated look, take your inspiration from Dutch paintings, or nature. For example, I love how loose and organic this looks:

Loose Organic Flower Arrangement
Via Mint Journal

For more of a how-to, Fox Fodder Farm, one of my favorite New York florists, did a great piece on how to arrange supermarket flowers so they don’t actually look like supermarket flowers.

I also really love this Loewe video for how to arrange flowers for color. Who wants to come over for a flower arranging party?

2. Gift Yourself on Your Birthday

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably make a beeline for Sephora to get your free beauty gift on your birthday. But here are some lesser-known deals you might not know about:

Starbucks

Coffee lovers–by signing up to be a Starbucks rewards member you’re entitled to  a free drink or food item on your birthday. Free coffee is always a good way to start the day.

Benefit 

Haven’t kept up with your eyebrow game? During your birthday week you can get a free brow arch just by showing a valid photo ID (no purchase necessary). This isn’t available at all locations, though, so you might want to call your local store and ask first.

Fresh

I love Fresh! When you sign up for their rewards program, you get a free welcome gift and then another free gift for your birthday. However, if you don’t live near a store you do have to spend at least $25 to have them mail the rewards to you.

Pinkberry

I’ve got a major sweet tooth, so I never let this one pass me by. If you join Pinkberry’s loyalty program, you get a free small fro-yo during your birthday month.

Sprinkles

Who needs an entire cake on their birthday? If you have a Sprinkles nearby, you can get a free cupcake on your birthday.

3. Watch Stylish Movies

On lazy weekend days, watching movies with excellent costume design always inspires me to mix up my closet a little bit. Here are my favorites:

Me Without You Movie
“Me Without You” with Michelle Williams and Anna Friel.

Me Without You

Taking place in 1970s England, this is a coming-of-age story about a lifelong, complicated friendship. Every single outfit, and Michelle Williams, is on point.

🎥 Watch it on Amazon Prime.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

It’s January and it’s pretty warm (45 degrees!) in New York today. That means I’ve got warm, sunny seasons on my mind. Every single scene in The Talented Mr. Ripley gives me ideas for my summer looks. The gorgeous Italy backdrop doesn’t hurt, either.

🎥 Watch it on Amazon ($2.99 to rent)

A Single Man

Nicholas Hoult’s fuzzy white sweater still haunts me in my dreams, and Colin Firth has never looked better. Since it’s directed by Tom Ford, the fashion designer, you know this movie is going to look impeccable.

🎥 It’s not streaming anywhere right now, but you can check to see if your local library has it.

In the Mood for Love

I feel so lucky to have watched this in a movie theater. It’s one of those movies. Besides the fact that it’s dripping with style–the cinematography, the music, and the 1960s Hong Kong setting–the truly original love story always gives me the feels. Must watch, y’all.

🎥 Watch the full movie on Youtube.

4. Simplify and Declutter

Messiness is the opposite of luxury. My husband and I recently hired someone to clean our apartment, and man, walking into a clean, organized home was an amazing feeling. You don’t have to hire someone to clean, but taking the time to put things away where they belong, or hiding them out of sight, makes a big difference in the overall look and feel of your home.

5. Buy Sheet Masks on Discount

I bought five packs of Karuna masks once on clearance, not knowing it was the ultimate score. Later on I found out they normally retail for $8 per SHEET. Places like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack consistently carry name-brand beauty products for less, with sheet masks often being priced at $3 or less. So instead of splurging on a facial, get the luxe feeling at home by steaming your face after cleansing, putting on a sheet mask, then layering on your favorite beauty serums.

6. Cook Restaurant-Quality Meals at Home

Jean Georges Molten Lava Cake

Do you have a favorite meal you love to order, but then makes you feel guilty for splurging? I bet there’s probably a recipe floating around online, so you can make it at home. One of my favorite recipes to DIY is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Chocolate Molten Cake. With just six ingredients it’s dead-simple for baking newbs like me. You most likely have everything already and just need to get the Valrhona chocolate. To make them even more special, I love baking them in ramekins (bought for cheap from TJ Maxx).

7. Go to the Library and Indulge in All the Free-ness

When I was in between jobs and cash strapped, the public library saved my budget. Some days I’d spend hours pouring over current issues of magazines and then going through the archives. When I found a magazine that seemed really interesting, I’d check it out and read it at home. I also didn’t have cable, Netflix or Amazon Prime, so being able to check out movies for free was also a much-appreciated benefit.

8. Entertain at Home

Here in the city, it’s easier (and more expensive) to just meet your friends for dinner or drinks out. So when you entertain at home, it really seems special. Having a dinner party is labor-intensive for sure, but you don’t have to spend a ton of money to make it look elegant. What I’ve done is hit up a dollar store to buy the table cloths, place mats and votive candles for super cheap.

As for food, I’m a big Trader Joe’s fan, and their frozen appetizers are actually pretty tasty. To save both time and money, check out Bon Appetit’s top picks for the best Trader Joe’s frozen apps.

9. All-White Bedding

White Sheets from Parachute Home
Via Parachute Home

A neutral color palette for your bedding can make every day feel like you’re waking up in a hotel. Plus, even if you don’t make your bed, everything still looks crisp and clean. Watch out for sales at Macy’s or check out Target. I like this sham set a lot, because the texture just adds a little dimension to the monochrome look.

10. Try Sample Sizes at Sephora

You can get a sample of almost anything from Sephora, so don’t be shy about asking for one. Or three. Plus, by trying before buying, you’ll be better informed whether or not a product will work for you.

Have a special event, or just want to look extra nice? Head to the Beauty Studio for a free, 15-minute makeover, which will focus on one part of your face. Need help with eyeshadow or blush? This is for you. Sephora also offers a 45-minute full face makeover if you buy a gift card or products valued at $50 or more. I got the 45-minute makeover to get ideas for my wedding makeup, and I was surprisingly happy with the results. Learn more about the beauty services here.

11. Wait for Restaurant Week

Maybe you’ve been meaning to try that cool new restaurant, but can’t pull the trigger because of the price. Check if your city has a Restaurant Week, when there’s usually some kind of discounted pre-fixe options at participating restaurants. When I lived in Boston, my best friend and I would always take advantage of Restaurant Week so we could try restaurants that were normally out of budget. Better yet, if dinner is still too expensive, try the lunch option instead.

12. Take a Relaxing Bath

Bath Time
Via Her Campus

Maybe you don’t have the budget to go to the spa. But you can still recreate that spa experience at home for less than $10. Set up your favorite soothing tunes, dim the lights, and don’t forget the bath bombs.

13. Buy an Actual Magazine

In today’s digital world, buying a physical magazine feels like such in indulgence. I hardly buy souvenirs when I travel, but I won’t hesitate to buy a magazine for the flight. And when I’d go to the laundromat I’d always get a little thrill looking at all the magazine options. I’ve tried digital magazines, and it’s just not the same. There’s something about that magazine paper that’s just so alluring. Physical magazines are something to savor, and take your time with, which is the definition of luxury.

14. Add Green to Your Home with a Plant

I once turned down having my own office, because there weren’t any windows in there. Flowers don’t last long, but if you want a way to upgrade your apartment for fairly cheap, think about getting a plant, especially if your apartment isn’t filled with natural light. Plants can be a nice way to bring the outside indoors.

15. Own a Piece of HistoryCire Trudon Taper Candles

Dating back to the 1600s, Cire Trudon is the oldest candle company in the world. So owning them can feel like you own a little bit of history. The Madeleine taper candles are also scentless, so if you love to throw dinner parties, these will automatically add polish to the table.

16. Spend the Day at an Art Museum

I never feel poor when I’m surrounded by beauty. Not only is it inspiring to be around the best of the best, but art has this way of making you see the world a little bit differently.

17. When It Comes to Designer Items, Think Small

You use your phone every single day. But you might wear a fancy dress once or twice a year. So which purchase is actually more practical? I see designer phone cases go on sale all the time. Here are my favorites right now:

Designer Phone Cases: Kate Spade, Kenzo, Stella McCartney

18. Rent a Fancy Dress

So maybe a new dress isn’t in the budget. But maybe you can rent one instead! I rented a Proenza Schouler dress once for a nice dinner with my husband, and it was a thrill to receive a fancy dress courier’ed to my office. All of these dresses cost $40 or less to rent.

19. Skip Dinner and Order Dessert

Eating out can really cut into your budget, but what if you ate at home and just went out for dessert? If you don’t have to pay for dinner and drinks, then ordering the most decadent dessert on the menu all of a sudden seems way more reasonable.

20. Swap In Matching Containers

Muji Refillable Bottles
Achieve a more intentional, uniform look by swapping regular soap and shampoo bottles with matching containers. I recently changed out my soap dispenser with a green Muji bottle and it was $4.50 of pure happiness.

21. Donate Money

Nothing makes me feel richer than being able to support the organizations or causes I care about. In college, I remember I made about $60 per week from my work-study job, and one day I donated $50 of it. Maybe it was a stupid, naive decision–I had only $10 to for myself to last the whole week–but it felt oddly powerful.

22. Do Absolutely Nothing

The best luxury is having all the time in the world. The next time the weekend rolls around, instead of cramming in a bunch of errands, dedicate an entire day to doing absolutely nothing.

What are some ways you add luxury to your life without spending much money?

Image: Unsplash

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  • For some reason, the first thing I thought of was upgrading your shower head! Nice ones can be found for <$50 and they aren't too hard to install. Plus, if your current bathroom has a plain shower head, upgrading it to one with various pressure settings is going to feel sooooo luxurious.

    I love the idea of matching containers for commonly used items. Ian and I are downsizing to a smaller space (but in the city!), so I'm struggling with how to make our space feel as large as possible.

    • I really need to investigate this shower head thing! It has always felt like it would be “complicated.” We just got a new bathtub and shower head, but maybe the landlord won’t notice if I do a little swap…I want one now!

      And yay, you’re moving!!! Yes, the matching containers really makes the bathroom look more like a spa, especially if you use cheaper shampoos/soaps. Good luck with the moving!

  • For me is buying a small serving of tea leaves and brew them at home in my nicest mug. The whole experience feels so luxe but cost very little money. I mean, you can also go all out by buying a Hermes mug but yea I like my cups just fine hahaha

  • Drinking loose leaf tea on the weekends always make me feel so fancy. I buy a big sample pack from David’s and then stretch it out and make it last for months!

    This is such an awesome list, btw! I only disagree with you on the white sheets- I’m way too spill prone for that!

    • This was my suggestion! Going to a tea store and smelling all of the loose leaf, then getting it weighed and purchased by the ounce feels so special! Absolutely my weekend luxury.

      • I never think to do this at all, but I think I’m now inspired to check out actual tea shops! I love me some Earl Grey.

    • Oh, I always pass by David’s but never think to check it out! I just get my tea from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

      Yes, white sheets are controversial! I still love how they look, but yeah, depends on how messy you are. Although you can totally bleach white sheets, and you can’t do that with other colors.

  • I’d like to come over for a floral arrangement party! How do you get your cats to not eat them? Esteban is always chewing on flowers and then vomiting :/ he never learns to stay away. HALP.

    I was just telling Vadim that we need to visit museums (inspired by you) for date nights instead of the night in with take out. I can’t remember the last time I visited a museum here in NY, whereas when we travel we love looking at art.

    A Single Man is such a good movie. Vadim was obsessed with Tom Ford at one point and we watched it when it first came out. I’ve been meaning to watch “In the Mood for Love”! So happy it’s on youtube.

    I’ve been really into white bedsheets too. We currently have one from IKEA. I used to be afraid of getting them dirty but honestly, they’re washable so YOLO.

    I think I saved myself $60 bucks this weekend just by borrowing three books from the library. Thanks again for the inspo 😉

    I’m with you on #22, doing nothing and having nowhere to be is the absolute luxury. And if not that, luxury is having groceries delivered instead of having to trek out in the snow or using the fancy body wash instead of my Trader Joe’s one (which is rly nice too).

    This is the list of all lists 😉

    • OK, I will order a flower pack and we’ll have a party! We put the flowers in areas that are kind of hard for the cats to get to. We haven’t had a major issues with the cats eating them, though.

      A good museum to go to if you don’t really go to museums is the Cooper Hewitt. It’s a lot more practical rather than fine arts, so there will be like, chairs and things. And it’s not that big, either. With the Met, I find it’s kind of overwhelming. Another cool one is the Morgan Library, which is free on Friday nights. Really neat to see a historic library with some of the oldest books you’ve ever seen. Then you can go eat in K-town later and get fried chicken and bubble tea. I just designed your next date!

      Haha, I would not think Vadim was TF fan! You would love In the Mood for Love. It’s such a beautiful movie. And I used to get annoyed it was never anywhere online and I’d have to get a bootlegged version from eBay or something.

      Remember with white sheets you can bleach them! And I wouldn’t buy super expensive ones, either. I think Target, etc. is fine.

      I really need to get back into getting groceries delivered! We have a Fresh Direct coupon that I just need to activate. I got a jug of Whole Foods oil delivered for free once, and it was the ultimate luxury. If I didn’t have a coupon it would have cost $8 for the delivery, the same price as the oil!

      • I can bring the dessert/wine! Esteban is unfortunately too curious about everything. We still have to get him to stop jumping on top of our kitchen counter and stove!

        Haha, I think you did just plan our next date night. We were supposed to do it today but instead Vadim wants to go food shopping :/ I love the smell of books-old and new…The Morgan Library sounds perfect. And fried chicken + bubble tea is just the cherry on top haha. The MET is definitely overwhelming, I’ve been there so many times and still get lost and feel like there’s too much to see.

        Yea his glasses are Tom Ford, we have the Tom Ford coffee table book, he’s a bit less obsessed than he used to be though haha.

        It seems like I’m the only one here that’s a fan of the white sheets haha.

        Getting groceries (especially heavy duty ones like jugs of anything) delivered is a serious game changer. If you use the instacart app for the first time, it’s free delivery as well. I also used my email to sign up and Vadim’s email as well so we got free delivery twice 🙂

        Let me know when and I’ll trek my way over to you 😉

  • Restraint can feel luxurious….sometimes I enjoy the feeling of “passing” on something in anticipation of the trade off. At least on my better days. : )

    • 100% agree. Stepping over the discounted, so-so items in favor of what you really want in the end. In a way, delayed gratification is super luxurious!

  • Ooohhh #15!! Owning a piece of history can get super expensive but I try to make it up in buying old books. There is just no substitute for rare editions and the smell each old book has 🙂 I have to read the book and like it first though – then I’ll return the library or kindle copy to find a rare one on ebay.

    • The candles are $24! I love the idea of a rare book, especially one that you love and reach for again and again. Although I do enjoy wearing in books myself! There are a few that I’ve spilled coffee on, etc., and I take that as a book that’s well-read and beloved.

  • ying

    Great ideas. Anything can feel luxurious as long as you love it and really enjoy the moment. Luxurious doesn’t have to mean spending boatloads of money! Some of my favorite ways of treating myself: ordering HelloFresh meal kits once per month (doing it every week would be too expensive); snuggling with my cats; drinking my favorite oolong tea on the weekends, spending a weekend reading a novel (borrowed for free from the library, yay), eating cheap dim sum with friends.

    • I think we’d all be better off if we think about what luxury means to us, and how it can be incorporated into the everyday. Maybe we’d buy less stuff that way! And I love cheap dim sum with friends. Definitely better than an expensive brunch!

  • Alicia McElhaney

    I know this is ~ a lot ~ for some but you can get free magazine subscriptions via RewardSurvey. I get Shape, Bon Appetit and Allure for free…it’s really nice!

    • Alicia McElhaney

      ALSO Madewell has a similar birthday program where you get $10 for free on the site. They always have a sales around my birthday so I’m usually able to snag something nice for a super low price.

      • Madewell has such a generous rewards program–nice find! And I haven’t heard of RewardSurvey but could be a way to get magazines you might not pay for for free. Thanks for these!

  • Erin @ Reaching for FI

    Love love love this post, and thanks for all the fun birthday ideas for myself next month 😉 Plus you know how much of a fan I am of the library! And yes, hello, when can I drop by for a flower arranging party??

    Another luxurious movie? Marie Antoinette. The history nerd in me cringes a bit while watching it but it is soooooo worth it for the amazing eye candy that is the entire movie!

    • Hey Erin, thanks! I was trying to get another post up, but it wasn’t happening so I was like, OK, this is it. You can come over for a party anytime! My house is your house 🙂

      Oh yes, Marie Antoinette! I know a lot of people had problems with that movie, but I still think it’s fun. I bet you cringed when that Converse sneaker made it into there. That was a cheeky move, for sure.

  • I’m really cheap normally and even more so this year that we’re repairing our financial foundation so this year we have to work on remembering what we have is positively luxurious, and only some of them are things: a solid career and reputation, a tiny family of my own that I love, the best dog in the world, a safe (COLD) home we essentially rebuilt to our specifications. I have physical distance from a user-father and am going to have financial and emotional distance when that whole process is complete. Life isn’t easy but while money could buy a couple of these things, it couldn’t buy all of them.
    With my fresh new library card, the world is looking like a pretty nice place right now. Except it’s super gross outside so I’m staying in with my good wool socks.

    Also I really really like chocolate. Lots of chocolate. And Pocky. Flannel sheets on winter nights.

    • I remember when I was backpacking in Europe after school for weeks, and my luxuries back then were:
      1. Hearing American music in a laundrymat
      2. Dreaming about sleeping in my own bed. My bed at home wasn’t great or anything. But it was mine. When you’ve been bouncing from hostel to hostel, that one piece of stability is such a luxury.

      Anyway, your comment about the intangibles being luxuries reminded me of that. Also, family is really tough, and I’m glad you have that distance between you and your dad. I’ve had some family issues myself, but for the most part I have a most-excellent mom, and for that, I count my lucky stars every day.

      Yay to wool socks, flannel sheets, and for the library. I always feel like when I step into a library the world is so full of possibilities.

  • EJL

    One of my favorite little luxury things is to make my coffee slowly. I have a manual grinder, a Chemex, and a gooseneck kettle. I love the entire process, and it’s a lovely treat. I do it on the weekends, especially when I’ve also taken the time to make a nice brunch. My dining table is next to a big window so I open the blinds just enough to let some sunshine in. I just sit and enjoy it all. It’s lovely 🙂

    • I remember my roommate would do pour-over coffee every morning, and I thought it was so “adult’! A nicely made coffee plus sunshine feels so luxurious. I forgot to add natural light to the list–that’s definitely a luxury to be appreciated. Especially in NYC where lots of apartments feel like dungeons 🙁

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Mary Snow Wyga

    Anything by a fire! I’m fortunate to have a real wood-burning fire in my home and I love having a drink (wine, tea, anything), reading a book or just having a snuggle by it. If you don’t have a fireplace in the home, many restaurants, lounges, cafes, libraries will have gas ones. I find the ambiance of fire very luxurious. Candles could also do the trick (even $1 ones!).

    Other things:
    – Leisurely spending time doing hair and makeup. Or the masks as noted!
    – I’m in a dance troupe and sometimes we’ll pair up and give each other neck massages.
    – Cleaning my jewelery (even the cheap stuff)
    – Give yourself a mani/pedi, or do with a friend
    – Do an online yoga class or meditation (tons on Youtube)
    – Organize a vignette in your home
    – Make yourself a nice French-pressed coffee or cocktail with garnish

    Clearly, I like to pamper myself a lot (but on the cheap!).

    • Yes to fireplaces! As someone who’s never had a working fireplace before, every time I’m within the vicinity of one, you bet I’m all over it. And I’m also constantly cold, so there’s that reason, too.

      All great suggestions! I second spending time doing hair and makeup. Sometimes I’ll be at home in my sweats and just put on full makeup just because. I also haven’t heard of vignette before, so I’ve just learned something new!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your ideas 🙂

  • Elaine Holuk-Maginley

    Thanks for the movie suggestions. I like to window shop for art. Sometimes it’s auction sites and sometimes commercial sites. I won’t be purchasing right now but I imagine where the art will go and pick a frame and mat. It’s fun and feels luxe.

    • If you watch just one, go for In the Mood for Love, no doubt. Window shopping for art is a lovely idea. I would say window shopping for anything expensive feels pretty nice, as long as you don’t get sucked into buying stuff!

  • These are so fun! I love the idea of integrating luxury into your lifestyle without spending oodles of money. That’s what living frugally is about to me.

    • Thanks, Mrs. PP! I think it’s worth rethinking what luxury actually means, because it means something different to everyone. I mentioned the word to a guy once and he thought luxury meant food! Anyway, we don’t have feel like our lives aren’t glamorous because we don’t buy fancy handbags.

  • I love the flowers/plants/linens points! These are things I only recently started doing and it seriously works! I think my snake plant is the one thing I’ve bought in the last 3 months that I feel joy looking at every single day. There’s definitely power and luxury in purchasing something that serves no other purpose but to be admired. I feel the same when I buy even a $5 bouquet from Trader Joe’s!

    Number 22 is my favorite point of all. At the end of the day, time is what we all want more of yet we spend everyday bustling around as though there isn’t enough of it when all we have to do is actually take a breath and slow down. I love having a lazy weekend and reading fiction on the couch. Usually I spend my time reading nonfiction since I feel it has practical importance and I’m always looking for tips and strategies to level up. It just feels so indulgent to genuinely enjoy a good story!

    I also +1 everyone else’s suggestions of taking the time to make some nice coffee and tea, and I’d add some hot cocoa to the mix too!

    • I never used to care about things to make the house nicer, but I’ve noticed a positive psychological effect. Coming home to a place that’s put together just boosts my mood. And Trader Joe’s is such a good spot for cheaper flowers! I got some peonies there once for like $6. They would have cost $15 from the farmer’s market.

      I’ve never thought about fiction like that, but you’re right–transporting yourself to another world is totally a luxury in its own way.

      Yes to hot cocoa! I used to get Swiss Miss but was gifted a more high-end version from Williams and Sonoma once, and I had no idea what I was missing. With real marshmallows, too!

  • Birds of a FIRE

    This is awesome! Definitely won’t break the bank, but feels luxurious. It’s the little things :). Looking forward to your restaurant week picks in the future! I feel like it’s work going through and trying to pick the best ones every time haha.

    • Thanks! I’m all about the luxuries for less 🙂

      For NYC, I’m liking the menu for Danji!

  • Totally in agreement with everyone else who mentioned that brewing nice loose leaf tea is one of the best affordable ways to add a little luxury to one’s day to day life! For my tea-drinking habits (up to three cups of tea a day), it actually works out cheaper than many tea bags. I’ve spent a little more money than most people would on my setup at work, but it’s a luxurious experience every single day.

    I’m also a big fan of scented candles – I always thought I got great value for money from Voluspa candles (strong scent, lasts pretty long even with fairly frequent use) – and nice chocolate.

    • Man, I’m definitely cheaping out with the free tea Keurigs at work then! And I can definitely see how loose leaf tea ends up being a little cheaper. Anytime anything is pre-packaged for us, there’s a cost to that.

      Oh, I remember my sister for me a Voluspa candle one time and I noticed the scent was strong and it lasted quite a long time. Usually when I think about cheaper candles I feel like their scents aren’t strong enough, and that’s the trade off, but I think Voluspa packs a lot of value for sure.

      And yes to chocolate! We just ate some Mast Chocolate, and it was supremely subpar. Might as well have just bought some Lindt chocolates from the drugstore.

  • You saw In the Mood for Love in theater!? Where? How?

    • A few years back at the Museum of Moving Image. And of course afterwards we were craving noodles 🙂 Indie theaters around here usually show it around Valentine’s Day.

  • Lots of good ideas in here! All except the white sheets…with two humans and two dogs in our bed that would be a complete disaster!

    I’m on a mission to find a couple of plants, but they have to be hardy and pet safe. I’ve got a serious black thumb though.

    I’ve been known to take advantage of Sephora samples, especially for face masks. It’s the kind of thing I like experimenting with and their so expensive to commit to a full size.

    • Haha, the white sheets get no love. We have two cats, but I can see how two dogs or young kids might make white sheets totally impractical.

      We worried about the cats and the plants, too. We have a hanging plant that is up high, so we feel OK about that. However, what the cats do when we’re not home is a total mystery. They could be jumping up and chowing down on the leaves for all I know.

      Oooh, face masks is a great idea. I’ve usually only asked for makeup samples–foundations and concealers to test the colors, but actually skincare products is something I’ve never thought of!

  • Done by Forty

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who really likes The Talented Mr. Ripley. I’ll watch that movie at any opportunity…as Mrs. Done by Forty leaves the room to do something, anything else. And yes, everyone is dressed sharp throughout.

    Entertaining at home is our most reliable hack. We can get real fancy for way less than we’d spend on crappy bar food & beverages.

    • Wait, there are people who don’t like TTMR???

      Entertaining at home just feels really special. I put on a vinyl tablecloth once (from the dollar store), and it was still fancy as hell.

  • Lenka Pešková

    Saturday morning is my “luxury time” – no alarm clock, breakfast in bed and being just with myself and no rush!

    • That sounds like my favorite kind of Saturday, too! Most of the time, I have some errands to do, but when I don’t, it’s the best feeling ever.

  • Hey Marlon,

    I’m so happy you’re a fan, and thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m all about a healthy balance between spending and saving, and that you also don’t have spend tons to have a great life.

    Yes to donating money! It was such a surprise how it felt–that feeling of abundance that you have enough, and that someone else always has less. I know I would have spent that $50 in some stupid ways anyway. I’m sure the money you donated meant to the world to that young couple. And I love how you recognize the generosity that’s been bestowed to you and your family. The same with me–from being sponsored to come to the US, things like that inspire me to help others in similar ways.

    Himalayan sea salt baths! I’ve never heard of them, but that sounds lovely. Too bad for your family, but more for you.

    And yes, try not to buy the entire Muji store!

  • Taking the time to brew my loose tea, investing in a fluffy robe, and a nice shower head are all ways I add luxury without breaking the budget.

    • A fluffy robe is on my wishlist! I’ve loved using them in hotels and think it’s time for me to upgrade mine. But they’re actually harder to find than one might think. Someone else mentioned the shower head thing and I think I need to investigate this now!

  • I don’t do Restaurant Weeks much anymore, but when money was tighter, it was definitely a way to treat myself! But yes I realized RW is happening now actually, so I guess the timing of this post was perfect.

    Yes, anything that takes longer to do (pour over coffee, baths, etc.) just feels luxurious. I would love to have one of those little trays that spans the width of the tub, and put little flower petals in my bath water, hehe.

    As someone who usually scarfs down cereal and milk, I agree that homemade breakfast feels super luxurious. Every time my husband brings out the waffle maker, I feel like I’m getting the royal treatment.

  • Some things I like, all of which are super cheesey:
    -Loose leaf teas are lovely, as others have mentioned. I have a green tea/caramelized sesame mix that I love
    -Home mixed spa water. I like cucumber and rosewater
    -Plating home meals nicely with black garlic, $2 sample-sized cheeses, seeds, and micro-greens/sprouts
    -Handmade soaps (I use a mint tallow soap that feels so refreshing on my skin)
    -Sephora perfume samples
    -Visit a pastry shop instead of a restaurant
    -Read indoors by a sunlit window (in the winter) or laying out on the grass (in summer)
    -Yoga or stretching just after waking up
    -Dimming the lights and lighting some candles while eating dinner with my significant other
    -Personal stationery

    • Hmm, well, if these are cheesy then I have zero interest in being cool. Love the idea of the homemade spa water, and may need to replicate that at home. I also love plating meals at home nicely and have bought some nicer plates so I can do so. Before, we just had a mish-mash of random free plates, so now everything feels a bit more intentional. I also have always loved the idea of personal stationery with my name/initials, but have never pulled the trigger because I feel like I’d never actually use it!

  • GYM

    Wow this is an ultimate list! Ooh I didn’t know about those birthday freebies- I am a recent “Fresh” convert, thanks to a Sephora birthday freebie. I have a post coming up about birthday freebies but it’s mainly food, and non-luxury type foods haha.

    I like having a piece of dark chocolate, when I do that, I feel luxurious. In fact, I think I’ve been feeling luxurious every day because I’ve been eating a few pieces (okay half a bar) of dark chocolate haha.

    • Yay for birthday freebies! I think I read a news story of a guy who spent his whole day redeeming birthday stuff, and it all added up to like, $100. I really like Fresh lip products and colors, and they often have sets that are more reasonable than just buying one.

      Chocolate is an everyday luxury in our house, too! There’s absolutely no way I could eat just one piece of dark chocolate (I would inhale the whole thing), but I guess the luxury here is “restraint.”

  • Accidental FIRE

    Nice list. My favorite two here are the library and museums. I’ve been increasingly spending time at my local libraries and their wifi is screaming fast. And I’m super lucky to live in the Washington DC area so one of my favorite things is to take a few hours and stroll through the Smithsonians or the National Gallery. They’re constantly changing exhibits up so there’s always something new to see. It’s a great way to pass the time and learn.

    • DC folks are lucky, because most of the museums are free, right? I remember going to the National Portrait Gallery on a whim and that being so much more interesting than I originally thought.

      Thanks for stopping by, AF!

      • Accidental FIRE

        Yes all Smithsonian museums are free, of course we pay with our taxes but it’s minimal per person. And there are quite a lot of other free museums as well in addition to tons with an entry fee. It’s museum-central.

  • Frugal Money Man

    Awesome post!
    I like to think of myself as a “Master” when it comes to the grill. Instead of going to expensive steak houses, I like to try and perfect my own steak at home. I may be biased, but I don’t think my steak is far off from the steak houses!
    Mrs. FMM says mine is hands down the best!!!…………..No bias there at all.
    At least she tries to make me feel good about myself 🙂

    • So instead of going to Peter Luger, I’ll just drop by your house for a steak–got it! Frugalizing steak is pretty awesome, and being able to make it almost as good as the steak houses is a big win! And nope, Mrs. FMM isn’t biased at all 🙂

  • All gorgeous suggestions, Luxe, thanks for sharing! I do some of these myself – the loose tea, doing nothing once a week, and cooking quickly come to mind – but there were some new ones on the list I’ve never tried out. And btw, I went in Muji and lusted over the green bottles this week – they ARE pretty!

    • Thanks, Daisy! It was fun to put this together–I kind of like a magazine editor! And yes, the Muji bottles in green and brown are so pretty and make the bathroom look so much more put together.

  • graphoman

    (Neither the Target nor the Muji link works.)

  • Defined Sight

    Great tips here! I love not walking into clutter – at home, nor at work…it’s not fancy, but white space is always better! If someone says, “whoa, your space is pretty zenful” mission achieved!

    I love buying magazines on road trips! It’s a great break from staring at my phone or computer (plus looking at those in a car makes me whooozy…whoops!).

    I have not seen any of those movies you listed! I gave up TV (#blogfocused) except for morning news getting ready in the morning…but I crave the days where I can feel a small sense of luxury again to lay on the couch and watch a good one…I’ll have to check one of those instead of my fav Sex and the City or Friends episodes on rerun!

    • Hi, DS!

      Clutter is always something we’re working on at home, but yes, I would love LOVE to walk into a home that’s always neat and organized and feels all zen. I think to achieve that we’ll have to throw everything away and start over, haha. But yes, there’s something about white that signifies cleanliness, etc. Funny how colors can evoke a certain feeling.

      Good for you for quitting TV. It’s funny how much time you suddenly have once you stop watching it. For the movies, if you have to choose just one from the list, def watch In the Mood or Love. And Sex and the City eps are always a fun escape!

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • The Dollar Build

    An excellent list! My #1 favorite on your list has to be free birthday stuff! I just celebrated my b-day this past weekend. In typical PF blogger fashion, I asked my girlfriend to skip the fancy dinner and just join me as I cruised around town snagging all the b-day freebies I could get my hands on! We stopped for at four different coffee shops, a bakery, a BBQ joint, and a farmer’s market before we came home and passed out, exhausted from a full day of freebies 🙂 If there’s anyone out there looking for some cheap entertainment on their birthday, I highly recommend it!

    • Your birthday sounds way more fun than a fancy dinner! I’m sure your girlfriend appreciated being let off the hook, too. My friend and I used to use this app in the city for deals, and one Saturday, we basically hit up one neighborhood and got free stuff from 3-4 places! There’s a lot of free stuff out there if you just look for it.