If you crave to live the 'good life' but your budget is constantly screaming at you, "Hey! We can only afford 'so-so' living!" that's okay. There are a number of ways to look and feel like you're living above your means while at the same time keeping your finances from packing up and moving away from you, and it's really just a matter of making minor adjustments. Here are a few strategies for getting some of the things that you want out of life -- even if you think you can't afford them:

  • If you're looking for a home, don't necessarily rule out your first neighborhood of choice because you think that it's beyond your financial reach. Living in a condominium can have a number of advantages and is sometimes a real estate bargain. A condo development provides you with an instant neighborhood, outdoor landscaping and maintenance services, and often access to recreational and fitness facilities. It could be your entryway into that town or community of your dreams.
  • Vacations can renew and reinvigorate your spirit, help you think more clearly, and boost your outlook. But let's face it: it's very difficult to enjoy a vacation when you're worried about how much it's costing or you've compromised your standards so that your budget doesn't explode. Try this instead: go ahead and plan your fantastic getaway, then just scale it down a bit. Instead of a week at that exclusive resort of your dreams, go for three or four days. Midweek prices can be as little as one-third of the price of weekend rates, and possibly even less during off-season times of the year. Take advantage of package deals such as booking your airfare, hotel, and rent-a-car all at once. The "name your price" websites also offer fantastic bargains. And don't forget to use your frequent-flier miles whenever you can.
  • Do you enjoy eating out at fancy restaurants? Most people do. Do you have trouble holding your food down when the check arrives? You're not alone there, either. But you don't have to completely cut out fine dining; just do it sparingly. It's quite all right to treat yourself to a good restaurant every once in awhile. And while you're there, by foregoing the appetizer and dessert you could slash the cost of your meal by almost half. If you can also pass on the alcohol, the tab will drop even further. Another tip: go to that same great restaurant for lunch. You'll get the same atmosphere, the same service and the same food, all for a lot less money.
  • Some people must own a car that describes who they are (or at least, who they'd like to be). If what you drive is a status symbol to you, consider this: instead of buying a brand-new car, consider leasing one that's a year old. Many corporations lease cars for their executives and exchange them every year or two for the latest models. The leasing companies will often re-lease these trade-ins. They're in great condition, well maintained, and close to new. By leasing one of these vehicles, you'll get the car that you want but at a significantly lower-than-new price. If this will still cause your budget to never speak to you again, think about buying a car that's several years old. A quality three- to four-year old vehicle is one of the soundest financial purchases that you could make. And even though you may not quite have arrived where you want to be yet, you'll still look great getting there.

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