Good Life and Food
Most people live beyond their means because they want to feel and be perceived as being wealthy. A Coach handbag or Mercedes-Benz sedan screams, “hey, look at me I can spend money and feel good about it!” Feeling good about buying stuff or leading a “high-end” lifestyle is not inherently a bad thing, afterall we all want to live well and be exposed to nice things (even your most extreme cheapskate feels this way – it’s not a Western thing or a by-product of materialism, but rather just human nature).
However, there is a trick to feeling “wealthy” via not hopping on the luxury purchase bandwagon; that is, concentrate on items and things that don’t have a high premium or cost of entry. So, for example, purchasing a luxury watch or yacht requires a large sum of money yet purchasing high end foods, although still a bit expensive, does not have the same high cost of entry. My parents, for example, have never driven a luxury car, worn designer clothing, or lived in a highbrow neighborhood, however they do spend a considerable amount of money on quality food each week. Eating well provides my parents with their own “luxury lifestyle” at a fraction of the price of most luxury goods.
I’ve adopted the same mentality in terms of food and I often splurge on local meats, organic vegetables, and delicious fruit. I also aim to buy fresh fish each week and enjoy quality cheeses, breads, and wine. Spending a bit more on food and wine each week makes me (and my family) feel as though we are living a good, high quality, life. And the bonus is that I’m not overextending my weekly budget or taking on any debt to buy our free range whole chicken or bottle of Southern Italian red.
So, try cutting back on obvious luxury buys like jewelry, cars, clothing, shoes, electronics, products that require a monthly, auto renewing, fee, etc. and go high end on items that do not have a high price of entry. For our family, as I’ve said, that luxury item is food/wine. Specifically, here are some things that we buy each week that provide us with a luxurious lifestyle:
1. Organic fruits and vegetables (whatever is in season)
2. Freshly baked bread
3. Free range eggs (they taste better, really!)
4. Fresh, wild, fish
5. Free range, whole, chicken (which we have our butcher cut into parts for us)
6. Whole bean coffee (which we grind, per use, at home)
7. Organic grains
8. Pasta imported from Italy (so much better than stuff made in the US)
9. Italian tuna in olive oil (you’ll never buy Starkist again!)
10. Freshly cured olives
11. Various cheeses from around the world
12. Italian Olive Oil
13. Wine (including the homemade variety)
14. Fresh herbs
15. Dark chocolate
In sum, don’t be afraid to spend money on things that make you feel special (if you can truly afford the items) because life can quickly become bland and pointless without true, day to day, happiness. I do have a couple of caveats, however, before you treat yourself to some practical luxuries:
1., you should have no debt outside your mortgage,
2., you should have a 6-9 month emergency cash fund,
3., you should be fully invested in your company retirement plan (401K, 403b, etc.) and,