The Story

Personal finance for people who like nice things.

Have you ever looked at someone who wears fancy clothes and jets off to faraway places and thought: how the heck do they afford this stuff?

Yeah, me too.

Let’s be honest, most people are hesitant to talk about money. And yet: if no one ever talks about money, how is anyone supposed to get good at it?

My goal here is to share with you my personal finance journey in hopes of inspiring you to own your money, instead of letting it own you, regardless of income. I’ll detail exactly how I manage my money, how much I spend on luxury items, and most importantly, how I can save money AND have nice things in a place like New York City, which seems uniquely designed to make you fail hard at personal finance.

Few would disagree that saving money is the most financially healthy thing you can do. But what if you also want to enjoy the things you value, like travel or designer clothes? This blog is for those who are the “in betweens”. You want to save, but you also wouldn’t mind spending on luxuries that matter to you, and, despite what anyone says, these two things are NOT mutually exclusive.

The three topics this blog will focus on are:

Simplifying personal finance.
Strategies to get the luxuries you love.
Thoughtful consumption on everything else.

If any of these apply to you, you and this blog might get along:

You want to save money but don’t mind spending on things you care about.
You appreciate higher-end clothing for design and craftsmanship.
You think relying on anyone else for money is lame.
You don’t do things just because “everyone else is doing it.”
You believe in the value of hard work and resourcefulness.

The Luxe Strategist:

I’m a 30-something New Yorker who saves 50% of my income, travels to places like Paris and Hawaii for practically free, and has a weakness for Proenza Schouler sweaters and $400 sneakers.

But I wasn’t born with those things.

Most Americans would say I grew up financially disadvantaged. I say I learned the importance of self reliance. My parents were low-income refugees from a third-world country; my dad finished third grade, and my mom is illiterate in every language. I’m actually the first person in my family to graduate high school, and then college. And, even after living in the US for over 30 years,  my mom still works the same blue-collar jobs, never making more than $14/hour.

I didn’t have a model of success to work from. Instead, I forged my own.

After college, I could have chosen to stay in my hometown. Work at the same factory where my mom worked. Live at home. I could have been comfortable. Safe. But instead I chose to move to a big city where I knew no one. To hustle to find a job, and work for every single penny I had. To take risks, and fail disastrously. To take more risks, and then lead myself to success. And eventually draw my own financial map.

Maybe you don’t want to take the well-trodden path. Like me, you might not come from a financially privileged background, you might not make a pro athlete’s salary, and you might not have anyone to rely on money-wise except yourself. But instead of resigning yourself to those circumstances, you choose to have a more productive attitude, that you can live richly IN SPITE of situations beyond your control. And that with a little bit of resourcefulness, creativity, and critical thinking, you too can have nice things.

Stay in touch on Twitter and Instagram.

  • Julie

    Hi! I love your story and your money values! My parents are immigrants and I’m the first in my family to complete college, earn a decent salary, and to save my money. I like that your voice is for the in-betweeners, we like to spend our money on things that matter, but we also like to have a healthy balance sheet too. I’ll be following your blog. I’m excited!

    • theluxestrategist

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for finding my blog! I’m glad there’s someone else out there who shares a non-standard upbringing and likes to save AND splurge, too!

  • MissPiggy @TheEarnestAddiction

    I just stumbled across your blog and love it! It’s aligned with a lot of the same things I’m passionate about – luxury fashion, frugality and living in big cities (I’m in Sydney, Australia).

    Just subscribed to your blog and looking forward to reading your other posts!

    xx Miss Piggy

    • Hi, and yay for finding me! And YES, I’m about all of the things that you are into. Sydney is probably more expensive than NYC!

      Also, I just discovered your site. I love the cool illustrations you use for the images. Are you on any social media (Twitter or Instagram)?

  • Serenity he

    hi, just found your blog thru frugal asian finance. And your blog is like a book that i can’t put down :P. I can relate so much. I too have a mom who’s illiterate, but she works harder than anyone else I know.

    • Hey there! I’ll have to thank FAF again for pointing you over to my blog 🙂

      Wow, I’m so touched by your kind words. The whole reason I started this blog was because I didn’t see a voice for people who grew up like me, so it honestly makes my day that others can relate.

      YES. My mom is the ultimate hustler and is NOT to be underestimated. She can’t read but she’s smart as hell. After living in the US for over 30 years, she finally got her citizenship a few years ago. I’d never been more proud 🙂

  • My mother is educated but not my father, and my siblings and I are educated fully.. but I can relate to a lot of it — forging your own way.. *high five*

    • Thanks for stopping by, Sherry! Yeah, my parents couldn’t afford a babysitter for my sister so my mom had to drop out of English classes. My dad did learn to read and write, but he still only worked factory jobs. My sister and I are both successful regardless. Glad you can relate 🙂

  • Rich Uncle

    I just came back to your blog and basically read through every single post! I love that we have similar mindset. After reading PF blogs for a while, I realized that I am actual never a frugal person. It’s just happens that I am pretty picky with the things I own. So I do buy designer bags, etc, but I don’t buy lots of them. Love your “1 piece for each category” concept. That’s exactly how I function. Btw, beautiful wedding~~ I am traveling to NYC for work a lot and jealous of the convenience to have ladyM right there. – EC

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for coming back! I feel a little exposed you read all the posts, but I guess that’s par for the course 🙂 Yeah, “frugal”, was never really in my vocabulary before I started this blog. I am just naturally very picky about things, so I didn’t settle or buy a ton of stuff. But I always wanted the BEST stuff. Yes, having Lady M right here is such a blessing…and dangerous.

  • Eddie

    Hey Luxe!
    Your articles are great! I discovered your blog earlier this week and just now stumbled upon your story. It is very lovely and inspirational!

    • Hi Eddie,

      Thanks for the compliment! I started this blog, because I couldn’t find any with a similar story, so it makes me happy that it inspires even just one other person!


  • Christine

    Just found your blog through Michelle (Making Sense of Cents) on Twitter! Love that you talk about saving money and also enjoying the things you love! I feel like so many people think that managing your money well means not spending any money! I look forward to reading more!

  • Hi,

    I will need to thank Michelle for linking to me! And I’m glad my blog’s message resonates with you. I’m pretty sure if I never spent any money I’d be miserable! But it’s all about being SELECTIVE about what you spend your money on 🙂

    Hope to see you around here in the future!

  • Aparna @ Elementum Money

    Your introduction to the blog makes so much sense. So many of us do not think hard about what money really means to us but would rather go ahead and earn and spend like zombies. If only we could stop and think about what to save for and what to spend on life would be so much better.
    I first read your post – 5 ways my poor mom set me up for a rich life – retweeted by Winning Personal Finance and was hooked.

    • Hey Aparna,

      To be fair, many of us don’t have the education or introspection to think much about why we do anything. But I hope my blog can help people start thinking about money differently.

      Thanks for stopping by! I’ll have to thank Winning Personal Finance for linking to my post so you could find me!