How to Live A Luxurious Life on a Not-So-Luxury Budget

how to live a luxurious life

Like Coco Chanel, I love luxury! My heart does palpitations when I walk by the boutiques in Paris. A three-star Michelin restaurant evokes moans and groans. And, a fabulous handbag and a hotel staff that is constantly saying “my pleasure” at my every request makes my heart melt.

I even developed a Society where I have the honor of mentoring a passionate group of women while we travel to some of the most luxurious places in the world, such as Aspen, Paris and Monaco. I  believe it’s important that women learn how to infuse their businesses, lives and souls with luxury. (By the way, that pic is of us at our slumber party with a private chef at the Ritz.)

Call me vain, materialistic or whatever word you have for people like me. I really don’t care. In fact, I understand. I use to feel the same about people living “the good life,” and you know what? It wasn’t because I thought they were bad people. It was all my stuff.  Deep down, I was just jealous, because I wanted it too.

Here’s what you should know about me. I haven’t always lived such a luxurious lifestyle. In fact, I’ve been flat broke. I’m talking eating Ramen noodles, living in a double-wide, chasing down the K-mart blue light special and putting 25 cents worth of gas in my car broke.

I’m also not a money coach, meaning I don’t teach you how to make more money. Instead, I teach you how to tap into your desires, learn how to turn your work into play, create an inner glow that will blind a room, follow your passions and live life full out. Money just seems to follow such a lady.

What I’ve discovered is that you must first learn how to think like a luxurious person to attract a luxurious life, which is what “French Kissing Life” is all about – filling each day with joie de vivre, style and elegance – all of which can be achieved with little money in the bank. In fact, this method, not some money management system, is exactly how I attracted a most luxurious life.

I want to show you how to do the same, because I know deep down, you’d probably enjoy a nice bottle of wine or a night at the Ritz Carlton. And, darling, that is beautiful! There is nothing at all wrong with desiring the finer things in life.  In fact, I’m cheering you on!

Make Luxury Obtainable

Very few people are fortunate enough to become overnight millionaires, but if you want to live a luxurious life, you must align your energy with luxury. So, what is a lady to do?

Well, you may need to redefine luxury to make it obtainable now, because if your current definition is fine yachts and you drive a Pinto, guess what? You’re screwed.

So, let’s think of luxury as this: quality people, experiences and things.

When I decided many years ago that I was fed up with the crap in my life, I started seeking quality. I was done with the junk foods, whining people and plastics made in China. I wanted more for myself, but I couldn’t afford Chanel at the time (and although I write about her like we’re best friends now, I still don’t own a piece.)

Luxury loves to be appreciated.

If you’re reading this, it tells me that you most likely have a computer. That’s a luxury. Show some gratitude for all that you do have. There is luxury all around you darling – the sun, sky, moon, stars, a kiss. Wake up and just notice.

Luxury is about quality and sometimes the most quality experiences are free.

I can’t think of anything more luxurious than hanging out with my daughter on the sofa watching a really good movie or my morning cup of coffee on my back deck. Instead of me giving you some woo-woo law of attraction guide on energy alignment to attract more money, I am going to share my real-life examples of how I began to experience luxury long before my first Ritz-Carlton stay (BTW, j’adore the Ritz.  The staff is just precious). When I started doing the following things, the world of luxury opened its big arms and embraced me:

  • I stopped hanging out with complaining people who were always talking about how broke they were. Major luxury repellent.
  • I sought out quality relationships with people who were no strangers to luxury. I wanted to learn how to think like them.
  • I spent more time in nature. There’s nothing as luxurious as walking barefoot in the grass on a summer evening or a good hike in the woods.
  • Luxury abhors haste, so I slowed down and enjoyed cups of coffees and conversations with friends.
  • I stopped spending my money on crap. This is for all my ladies who love to go to T.J. Maxx and stock up. For me, the “2 for $20″ deals no longer felt like such a great bargain. I was stuffing my life with less than I deserved. I began to save those $20s here and there to buy what I really wanted. This approach was also how I was able to invest in my first mastermind, which helped to call more abundance into my life. Luxury is not about quantity; it’s the quality that matters.
  • I hung out in the lobbies of fine hotels and just experienced the world of luxury. They don’t charge you for lobby space, and they usually have free wi-fi. Great office space, by the way.
  • I drove a junk car so I could splurge on good food. My life did not suffered one bit from the occasional rattle, but that homemade truffle infused ravioli with a touch of creme fraiche? I’m still about it.
  • I followed my passion and attended sommelier school. The $500 initial investment opened me up to a whole different level of luxury where I was able to taste a $1000 bottle of wine and say something fancy like, “Hhhmm….I think it needs to breath for a while.” Major luxury moment. (By the way, by following my desire to learn more about the world of wine, I was asked to write restaurant reviews for a regional magazine and create wine programs in our town, which led to more luxurious experiences that paid me. How cool is that?)
  • I dressed and walked like a woman of luxury, meaning I didn’t walk out of my house in baggy jeans and a T-shirt with my shoulders slumped. I always aim to look my very best before I leave my house. (Just a little pointer: have a couple of go-to outfits for different occasions that you can just grab and go and look fabulous).
  • I became a student of luxury, reading quality literature, watching classic films and readingTown and Country and Vogue.
  • I stopped listening to my thoughts that said things like, “Girl, you grew up in a trailer. Who do you think you are?” It’s just needless chatter. You get to write your story from here on out.
  • I started fully engaging with my world and the people in it, asking questions, seeking answers and constantly putting myself out there. Scary? Yes! Thrilling? Absolument!
  • I placed fresh flowers in my home. Flowers are nature’s Chanel.
  • I visited my parents more. They always make me feel like a princess.
  • I sought out quality conversations that discussed the fascinating stuff of life, like death, love, politics, religion, travel, fashion and food and wine. Well, at least those things are interesting to me. Your list may look completely different.
  • I attended luxurious events, such as an orientation for women at Duke’s School of Business. Keep in mind, I was working as a full-time nurse and had never been in business. These events also didn’t cost me a dime other than the gas to get there. This is how you begin to call things to you, darling.
  • I started walking through Saks as if I belonged there, not like some freak whose eyes were going to pop out of my sockets when I saw the price of a Louis bag. Nope, just a shoulder shrug like it wasn’t the bag for me.
  • I became a major food snob and committed to moving my body daily. I would save up and go to the nicest restaurants. Foie gras? I’ll take it. A glass of Sauterne to wash it down? Of course! I also made moving my body a daily priority. Some days, it was a saunter; other days a full out sweat session. Just move.
  • I cleaned (and continue to clean) my world of low-quality people, things and experiences.True luxury does not co-exist with chaos, drama and clutter.
  • I believed I deserved a luxurious life. This is the most important of all. Many women are walking around feeling guilty if they invest $20 dollars in themselves. A $1000 handbag? Dear Lord. They heel over in a full blown panic attack before they could get out the door of Bergdorfs.If that’s you, listen to me. You are not doing yourself or the world of favor by denying yourself of a luxurious life.
  • I believed I deserved a luxurious life. The most giving people I know live the good life, which is how they are able to help so many others. You’ve got to clean up this thought that you don’t deserve it in order to allow luxury into your life.
  • I started doing was blessing those who lived a luxurious lifestyle, instead of judging and secretly hating them. By saying, “You go girl” every time I saw a woman rocking out her Prada dress, walking out of the massage parlor or sashaying into the Four Seasons, I was opening my heart to the Universe and saying, “Bring it on. I’m ready!”
  • To give is luxurious. When you give of your money, time and energy, it’s like opening up space to allow abundance and luxury to flow into your life.
I’ll leave you with this thought.  Luxury is yours to define.  It may have nothing to do with handbags, a cute bell boy or a pillow-top bed.  And, sometimes, it may be that deal at Tar-jay. However you define it, you can begin to allow more of it in your life when you come from a place of celebration, open to possibility and take one playful step at a time.
How do you plan to live a luxurious life?  Leave me a comment below.

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57 Responses to How to Live A Luxurious Life on a Not-So-Luxury Budget

  1. Congratulations to a beautiful new design! I virtually toast you in champagne with this quote…
    “I only drink champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad.
    Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone.
    When I have company I consider it obligatory.
    I trifle with it if I’m not angry and drink it when I am.
    Otherwise I never touch it.
    Unless I’m thirsty.” – Lilly Bollinger

  2. I LOVE your article. It’s so TRUE! I don’t have millions in the bank but everything I by or places I go to, I try to go to the nicest most luxurious looking places. And sometimes it’s free to get in. I’d rather be rocking a designer purse than a cheap one because for one it will last me longer and two, it looks nicer. I completely agree with you on always looking like money. People treat you way better when you’re well taken care of then if you were looking all scrubby all the time. And it is all about the quality of things not just material things. Positivity is the best! Thank you for writing this article.

  3. […] 4. Be around stuff you love. Notice that I didn’t say “buy stuff you love.” You can—as long as it matters to you in the long run—but more accurately, seek out places that let you experience the things you adore, either for free or for low costs. For example, love luxury hotels? Hang out in the lobby of one (and bonus—free wifi!). Love modern art? Galleries are free to browse (but make sure you don’t take home a painting). How about stellar food at a swank restaurant? The bar menu is generally cheaper and tastes just as good. Come up with your own ideas, or study Tonya Leigh’s list of ways to live a luxurious life on a not-so-luxurious budget. […]

  4. Wonderful article! I just have one question. You mentioned something about a $500 initial investment. What exactly did you invest in? And I totally agree with you on the quality vs. quantity perspective. Thank you for writing this article, it was truly inspirational!

  5. Thank you for posting this article. At times, having three children I feel guilty if I purchase anything for me. Your quote, “You are not doing yourself or the world of favor by denying yourself of a luxurious life.” I needed those words. I needed to hear that I deserve the best. Especially when I have worked hard to get where I am. Thank you and much love for you 🙂

  6. I make a decent living; I’m not rich, but I’m not poor. My boyfriend and I both are “middle class” and live a comfortable life. However, many people think I am much wealthier than I am, and I believe I have found the key to daily luxury.

    The key to a luxurious life is spending money on the things that are important to YOU… well, in this case, to me. (And it is different for everyone).

    I spend more money on the things that are important to me.

    My car is important to me, so I lease a new one every three years.
    My clothes are important to me, so I dress professionally (both inside and outside of my work place).
    My appearance is important to me, so I pay to get my hair done professionally, and I buy quality beauty products.
    My accessories are important, so I spend money on the little things, which I believe contributes to an overall polished look.

    I do NOT spend money on the things that aren’t important to me. Technology is not important to me.
    I’ve used the same laptop since college.
    I use a pay-as-you-go “dumb” phone that I rarely use.
    I had an ancient, 19 inch TV until I moved in with my boyfriend and his giant flat screen (which I would never have spent money on).
    The latest songs, movies, games, and gadgets are just not important to me.

    I’d rather use my dumb phone and my old computer, while enjoying having dinner at fabulous restaurants with my boyfriend or lunching regularly with my best girlfriends.

    I will forgo the latest iPhone in favor of indulging in my daily Starbucks venti latte.

    Also, one can find quality items that are not expensive, if one looks in the correct places. And one must always know when to spend money on the cheap stuff (the baskets that organize your toiletries in your vanity), and when to indulge (the throw blanket that goes on your sofa in the living room).

    However, I believe there are rules that ANYONE can follow which contribute to the luxurious life.

    1. Practice good hygiene: shower regularly, use deodorant and perfume/cologne, and take care of your teeth, nails, and skin. Make an effort to do your hair/makeup prior to leaving the house.
    2. Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed. No dirty, wrinkled pjs in public!
    3. Use proper grammar while writing, texting, emailing, social networking, and speaking.
    4. Read regularly, do the daily crossword in the paper, learn an instrument or new sport. Use your brain for something! Intelligence is always chic.
    5. Don’t cuss. Make it a habit to say “please” – “thank you” – “ma’am” – “sir” in your daily life (the more you practice it, the more natural it becomes).
    6. Write “Thank You” cards, and send them the old-fashioned way (via snail mail), and always bring a gift for a host/hostess when invited to someone’s home. Send sympathy cards when the unfortunate occasion arises.
    7. Smile. Treat EVERYONE with respect; be it the person who serves you your morning coffee, the cashier at the supermarket, your neighbor, your boss, or the people you pass on the street. Treating others with dignity and respect reflects very well on someone.
    8. Involve yourself in your community and in charity work. Doing so is not only great karma, but those who help others are automatically awarded an air of class and style!

  7. I’m a florist in NYC and I would love to use your phrase “flowers are nature’s Chanel” with an appropriate credit of course on my social media and/or website, if that’s ok with you. Love the article! Ivona

  8. This is such an honest post and I completely understand wanting to obtain luxury. It leads to freedom and a lack of worry so why not? Paris is full of luxury boutique hotels. It is great because you are bound to find one that is situated to wherever you choose. I always think that the accommodation should also be an experience.

  9. I don’t even know how I stopped up here, but I assumed this post was once good.
    I do not know who you might be but definitely you are going to a well-known blogger in the
    event you aren’t already. Cheers!

  10. For me this article is a must read. One doesn’t have to be to super rich to live a luxurious lifestyle, i rather save money to buy high quality products; since i derive pure satisfaction from it, than to purchase cheap inferior products. I love this article, i want to share with my facebook friends but i do see any space for that?

    • Juliet, thanks so much! Quality over quantity. If you want to share (and I’d be super honored), there are some red, round social sharing buttons under the pink box below the article. You can tweet, email or FB!

      Have a gorgeous day!

  11. This is such a great post. I loved how you said you have to stop hanging with complaining people! That is a major part of changing your lifestyle. Quality over quantity is important too. I recently decided I’m not going to settle for less in relationships or lifestyle. I would rather save to splurge on what I want than buy something cheap. I’m taking a trip to Madrid to study Spanish over the Christmas break. As a teacher I have free time during breaks to travel and do things I want to do. Life is too short to settle for anything less than the best!

  12. OMG I can identify with this. I also believe in getting out to nature to experience true luxury, of hanging out with positive people, of being grateful, of not spending in TK Maxx on crappy stuff but in saving up for the big things. I also walk in Saks and I’d like to think I look like I belong there. I walk admiring the beauty, not the brand, of luxury items. And… guess what! I am also going to the orientation for women at Duke’s School of Business this year!! What a coincidence. But, like you say, I also act like I don’t deserve it, and I hesitated for so long before buying myself a Saint Laurent bag for 1500 Dollars earlier this year until I was forced by a friend to buy it! I wish I was less like that and embraced spending out on myself every now and again – because I am worth it.

  13. Interesting introduction to your concept of a luxurious life. I have always wanted it, but for 68 years never achieved the full understanding. I signed up for your newsletter, and I will see what happens once I take the action needed. You see I do believe that its “never too late”.

    Thank You

  14. maybe it should be called a LUXURY STATE OF MIND despite the surroundings. Now if your mind can be eternally blessed for infinity, that is the real genuine luxury. Truth be told that God said that to us. We will have luxury, just around the corner, in your heart , your desires that will be fulfilled either here , there or everywhere. Your luxury is already here. Your soul, spirit and mind set. Keep obtaining and demanding luxury everywhere you go and in music and art and travel and all things demanding the highest favor and utmost concern of every detail in Life and Heaven. Make this a priority to bring luxury to every dark place , every putrid place, every distasteful habit that we need to fill every void with luxury. now i’m going to listen to TEARS FOR FEARS . ” everybody wants to rule the world” 12 inch extended mix” on Youtube.

  15. I will add to this meme. You can enjoy the finest in literature in film, all you need is a library card. And while everyone is bringing a packed lunch to work to save money. You pack a fabulous picnic lunch for your work break that’s way better than what you can buy at the Subway sandwich shop.

    • Tonya, you mentioned aligning yourself with people who support luxury. To me, luxury means having the best of something. Today I took my 16 year old son to a University of Michigan swim clinic. The coaches have worked with and trained Olympic medalists. There is no amount of money that can be equal to such an experience for my boy! Had I not joined FKL, I wouldn’t have felt that we belonged amongst such people. You helped me to see otherwise.. thank you Tonya!!!

  16. Great suggestions, Tonya. The key is definitely taking the time to define luxury for your own self first, in your own style. My life has never been the Ms. Gotrocks type but I have had the good fortune to align myself with some of the most incredible people through jobs in catering and artistic endeavors from whence my passions grow. Not those who are struggling and striving to be at the top, but those who have made it to the very pinnacle and know it is not about more money. An occasional luxury as a treat will do much more for the soul than being overly demanding in luxury situations on a regular basis. Cheers!

  17. One thing that is most important is to make a choice and understand the trade-off that comes with each choice. If you go out you have fun but you have less money. If you don’t you have more money but you’ll miss friends. When you start realizing that you have to pick one or the other, you’ll get out of that mentality of trying to have it both ways. Which just isn’t possible for most people that have to find a way to live within their means.

  18. Excelente articulo, lo leí lo estudie y me di cuenta que estaba en lo correcto , un millón de gracias, lo certifico porque soy de Venezuela donde estamos en una muy difícil situación económica en general y aun así….si se puede! no podemos dejarnos hundir por la pobreza espiritual que acarrea a la pobreza materia….Dios te bendiga!

  19. Yes I am living and learning gratitude
    I know that this too shall pass and I am living A Blessed Life
    The laws of Attraction are working in my life every day ..
    Being able to be apart of the French Kiss community shows me this and Thank you for your wonderful
    Luxurious and lovely lifestyle.
    I Am Rich And Elegant.

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  21. I work hard and frequently do computer consulting. I used to put off vacations because I didn’t get paid time off. Eventually I just needed a break and started taking vacation. Just walking into a nice hotel with everything ready and having free time to be myself is amazing.
    We also live near an arboretum, which is basically a giant park. On week nights the place is almost empty. Beautiful landscaping and nature. Sometimes I pretend it’s my country estate! You can get a couple’s membership for about $85.
    That may not be your thing, but consider getting season tickets or a subscription to some kind of experience that feels decadent.

  22. am new here. I am a modern lady but i want to know the benefits of being a part of this club. I look forward to more refinement come 2019. Expecting your answer Tonya

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