Top5 Ways to Live Like the Rich


By Kelli B. Grant,

JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE not pulling in a seven-figure income doesn't mean you can't have a little luxury in your life.

Here are five ways to live like you're rich -- for less:

1. 'It' Handbags

Regular price: The hot new Marc Jacobs metallic patchwork bag: $1,650 at Neiman Marcus.

Smart savings: You can rent the same bag from Bag, Borrow or Steal for $100 a week.

Men have luxury watches as a status symbol; for women, it's handbags. But spending a thousand dollars or more on a purse is hard to swallow. So rent instead. For as little as $40 a week, services such as Bag, Borrow or Steal and From Bags to Riches will rent you a designer bag. "It's your wedding, your prom, the Academy Awards," says Kathryn Finney, author of 'How to Be a Budget Fashionista.' "If you want a bag that stands out, renting makes sense."

But do limit your renting to special occasions, she cautions. Over time, you'll spend more to swap out trendy bags than you would to outright buy one classic purse for use day after day.

2. Celebrity Haircuts

Regular price: Heading to a Bumble and Bumble salon for a cut and single-process coloring could easily set you back $300 or more.

Smart savings: Sign up as a model for Bumble and Bumble University, which trains students under the guidance of experienced stylists. You'll get both cut and color for free.

Trust your tresses to a scissors-wielding student? It's not nearly as risky as it sounds, says L. Bayly Ledes, beauty director for Real Simple magazine. The most liberal cuts are made on salon prices -- most charge at least 50 percent less during apprentice or training nights. One caveat: Because the students are there to learn, most salons require you to go beyond a basic trim.

Supervisors are always present, leaving little chance your stylist-in-training will over-process your highlights or interpret your request for a layered 'do a la a modern-day Britney Spears. "Major salons really commit to training their stylists," Ledes says. (Apprentices at Antonio Prieto Salon in New York, for example, must complete two years of supervised training before they can perform salon services solo.)

Snagging an appointment is relatively easy. Just call your nearest salon and ask about student or training nights. Do plan in advance, as some salons make you jump through a hoop or two. Frederic Fekkai, for example, asks would-be models to e-mail a photo and written request of what style they'd like. Stylists respond with a price quote and appointment time.

3. Designer Clothes

Regular price: In stores last season, a grey Prada belted trench coat would set you back a cool $2,050.

Smart savings: On discount designer site Bluefly, the coat is $1,045.99. You'll save 49 percent.

Even if the devil does wear Prada, there's no fine print stipulating that you have to sell your soul to wear designer duds. Bargain-minded shoppers can easily secure designer items at discounts of 40 percent or more, says Finney. Your first stop: the nearest outlet mall. Sure, some finds will be from previous seasons, but Gucci is Gucci -- and you know for sure it's the real deal. (For more tips on getting the best deals at the outlets, click here.)

Online bargain sites like,, and even also offer juicy deals on designer goods from previous seasons, says Finney. "It's going to be discounted, but it's not going to be cheap," she cautions. "You're certainly not going to be picking up a Hermes bag for $5."

Unless you know every stitch and detail of your designer goods, steer clear of eBay, Finney advises. "Plenty are fakes," she says. It can be tough to tell until you actually have the item in hand -- and then, it's too late. Click here for tips on separating the fab from the faux.

4. Luxury Travel

Regular price: For a trip from New York to San Francisco April 20-27, a business-class ticket on Continental Airlines is going for $1,102.

Smart savings: Using 10,000 frequent-flier miles to upgrade (5,000 each way), you snag that seat for the coach price of $343. Although that uses about $200-worth of miles (one mile is worth about two cents), you'll still save 51%.

Leather seats, enough room to cross your legs, free cocktails -- what's not to love about flying business or first class? And it's surprisingly easy to do at coach prices, says Stephanie Abrams, host of the Business Talk Radio Network show 'Travel With Stephanie Abrams.' For most airlines, it takes just 10,000 miles for a round-trip upgrade to business- or first-class, an easy enough target to reach given numerous bonus point offers. United Airlines, for example, offers 150 miles for every $250 spent at major grocery chains, while American Airlines gives you 1,500 bonus miles for trying Netflix. And they all offer credit cards to help you garner a mile (or more) for every $1 you spend. "You really need to keep an eye out," says Abrams. "You could be passing up the potential to live like the kings."

5. The Best Seats at the Best Restaurants

Regular price: To some, getting a great seat at a trendy restaurant is priceless. To do so, you typically need to book well in advance, or be a celebrity.

Smart savings: A $20 bill discreetly slipped to the maitre d' gets you whisked past the crowds and seated at the next open table. You'll save two hours of your time -- not to mention plenty of stress and aggravation.

When it comes to getting into the hottest clubs and restaurants, applying a little grease -- i.e., slipping someone with authority a few bills to get your way -- has become an expected part of the game. Done incorrectly, it can be a recipe for utter humiliation, but if you can pull it off, the maneuver gets you red-carpet treatment when you might otherwise be left standing behind the velvet ropes.

The key is to make your request discreetly and politely. Hand off the cash without fuss or flair, while asking the maitre d' or bouncer if there's anything he can do to help. A $50 bill will suffice in most urban venues, but expect to fork over more if the club or restaurant is especially trendy -- or crowded. Still feel like you're apt to come across as more of a squeaky wheel than a slick operator? Click here for more tips.

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