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Caviar Taste on a Vienna Sausage Budget? How Super Shoppers Score Great Deals on a Shoestring Budget

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High-dollar handbags. Lavish vacations. Custom-built sports cars. Mansions overlooking the ocean, where parties are catered and the champagne flows freely. For many of us, watching reality shows like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills,” and all iterations of the Real Housewives is a glimpse into a world of luxury that most of us won’t ever be able to afford.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a least a taste of the good life, though, even if you don’t rake in millions just for showing up at a party. By following a few tricks from super shoppers, you can indulge your taste for the finer things without blowing the budget.

Designer Fashion

Since some designer handbags or clothing can cost more than most 20-somethings have in their retirement accounts, buying retail isn’t always an option. However, there are plenty of places where you can get your fashion fix for less.

The trick? Buy second-hand. Savvy shoppers regularly hit thrift and consignment shops to find great deals. It can be hit or miss, but you can often find past season merchandise for a fraction of the cost of new. Be strategic in where you shop; consignment shops in more upscale communities are more likely to have high end goods than a thrift shop in a suburban strip mall.

You can also try scoring deals online. Sites like Poshmark, Mercari, Tradesy, Vinted, and more are shopping platforms in which individuals can buy and sell clothing, shoes, and accessories. You’ll find everything from your favorite mall and discount stores to high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel on these sites, typically for a fraction of the retail price — in some cases, as much as 70 to 80 percent less. These sites offer protections for buyers and sellers as well, so if that great deal turns out not to be so great, you can get your money back.

Another option, which is perfect for anyone who only needs designer duds for a short time (such as for a party or class reunion) is rental. Sites like Rent the Runway and Bag Borrow and Steal will rent designer goods for a predetermined amount of time, usually for about 10 to 20 percent of the retail value. So, if you have your heart set on a designer gown, but don’t have $2,000 to buy it, you can rent it for $200 and look like a million bucks.

Entertainment

Living the haute life means more than just looking the part — you want to see and be seen, too. The good news is that you don’t have to cash in all your pennies for an Instagram-worthy life. You just need to know where to find the deals, and you can usually find them in some of these places:

Museum memberships. How is a museum membership luxurious? Well, not only does an annual membership give you access to the museum for “free” throughout the year, members typically receive invitations to events, including cocktail parties, galas, and fundraisers throughout the year, giving you a chance to widen your social circle and attend some fabulous parties.

Deal sites. Groupon, Living Social, and the like often offer discounts to local events or attractions, where you can have a great time for less.

Get social. Ever wonder how people score tickets to movie premieres or advanced screenings? Sign up on a site like Gofobo.com to get advanced notice of screenings in your area, and request tickets. Also, follow Hollywood PR firms on social media; often, they will give out free tickets or other swag to followers. If you like to read, sign up for an account on Net Galley. Many publishers will offer free advance copies of upcoming releases to readers who will post reviews or share their opinions on social media.

Travel

Finally, the words “cheap travel” and luxury are rarely used in the same sentence, but it is possible to score great deals and travel in style.

Again, check out deal sites like Groupon. You can often find package deals, as well as hefty discounts on hotels and resorts. Just be sure to compare the prices you see there with the actual hotel rates on other sites. Or, skip the hotel altogether, and rent a more spacious and luxurious home or condo. Airbnb and HomeAway have thousands of luxury listings around the world that you can rent for way less than a hotel.

Holding travel-branded credit cards can also save money and get you luxury perks. Hotel cards, for instance, can help you score room upgrades, waived resort fees, free nights, and more. Airline cards will help you earn free flights, while also helping you save on baggage fees, travel insurance, and other fees — not to mention, give you access to airport lounges and priority upgrades. Many of these cards come with an annual fee, but if you like to travel, the perks can quickly outweigh the cost of the fees.

Super shoppers will tell you that scoring deals and living the luxe life takes time and persistence, but the payoff is a taste of the good life — with cash still in your wallet.

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