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How to Live Like a Millionaire Without Being One

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You don’t have to look far to find people who seem to be living the high life. In both social and traditional media, the affluent lifestyle appears to be more the rule than the exception. While not always truthful, it’s part of the posturing that takes place in our rabidly consumer-driven society.

In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans find themselves living paycheck to paycheck and don’t have the means to spend money frivolously. If you’re among them, it can be difficult when you’re wishing to experience a prosperous standard of living. When I first started out, I lived from paycheck to paycheck and it was frightening. I know I overspent sometimes, which is why I developed some tips to stop the behavior. 

The good news is that you don’t need to go into debt just to enjoy the pastimes of the affluent, even though, sadly, huge numbers of people give in to the temptation to overspend. They then end up wasting considerable time and hard-earned money trying to dig themselves out of the debt hole. But it is possible to live within your financial means while enjoying the advantages that money can bring. With a bit of creativity and the right attitude, there’s no reason not to enjoy the perks of a millionaire lifestyle. 

Consider how millionaires spend their time — shopping, dining out, traveling, working out with their trainer, and hanging out in high-priced resorts where they can keep an eye out for the glitterati. Guess what? All these pastimes are possible without shelling out the big bucks. 

Here’s how to live like a millionaire even though you aren’t one:

1. Fashion your own form of retail therapy.

Finding that special item that you’ve dreamed of owning, and especially at a great price, feels like hitting the jackpot. What’s more, when you make certain that your purchase fits into your budget, you can enjoy acquiring it guilt-free. With all the online sites for gently used goods, there’s usually no need to pay retail prices. You can get high quality, ever-so-slightly used pieces for much less than you’d normally have to pay for a designer brand. Look for timeless, streamlined pieces that show your individuality. 

2. Discover discount dining.

Most upscale restaurants offer bar seating where it’s not frowned upon to take up a seat for light dining. Order an inexpensive appetizer and settle for a beer on tap or — to really save — a sparkling water with a lime twist. Then, relax and take in the atmosphere. If the restaurant offers a happy hour menu, time your visit to take advantage of the discounted prices. 

3. Take trips that replenish your soul.

A change of scene does wonders for your mental state. But getting away doesn’t have to mean expensive flights or resort-style prices. If a day trip to a tranquil state park or nature trail will do the trick, you may spend no more than a tank of gas and possibly a small park entry fee. Or, if you’re hoping for a longer escape, look for lodging near but not in vacation hot spots where prices will be much reduced. 

4. Stay fit without exhausting your bank account.

True, hiring a trainer can help keep you motivated, but you can work up a sweat and be resourceful at the same time. With no more than the cost of your internet connection and a good pair of workout shoes, you can search for any kind of exercise to get your heart pumping. With no one watching, you can improvise most other equipment, from a can of soup for light hand weights to an ottoman for a bench.

5. Spend time at the stomping grounds of the rich and famous.

You don’t have to play the slots to enjoy the Bellagio Casino in Vegas, or have a room reservation at Aspen’s Jerome Hotel to take in the charm. The public areas of some of the most exclusive spots frequented by the wealthy are open to everyone — although in the time of the pandemic, restrictions may apply. Walk through the casino pit and watch as people place staggeringly risky bets, or sit in an overstuffed chair in a hotel lobby and watch the guests come and go. People watching is vastly entertaining and won’t cost you a cent. 

Emulating the life of a millionaire when, in fact, your paycheck only stretches to next month’s lets you become privy to all the perks of wealth. At the same time, you may just come to realize that money can’t buy everything and that, all in all, your humble financial status doesn’t really deprive you of all that much. 

Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including Live Like a Millionaire (Without Having to Be One) (Skyhorse, 2015), 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of "Best Books for HR Interview Prep," and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers, and Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks 2008). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 901 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets. For more information, visit vickyoliver.com.

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