In today’s society, one has to think of creative ways to stand out. This applies to many aspects of our lives; we need to stand out on the dating scene, the job scene, the social media scene, and even the friend scene, where you have to prove that you’re as fun as everyone else.
With my generation, especially, people are getting out of college and landing their first real job, which then results in taking their money and going crazy with it. I know not everybody has money or acts like they have money, but there’s a large amount of 20-somethings driving around in BMWs, Mercedes, and Range Rovers (especially in LA where I live) out there. How does someone like me, just starting out in a new industry, keep up with those around me going out for dinner 4 nights a week and buying tables at bars where groups are easily dropping $1,000 a night?
Well we don’t. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try to seem like we are keeping up! I want to save my money, there’s a security in having some money saved. My parents raised me that way, I guess, but I still want to be the life of the party and be invited to the clubs or out for dinner. So here’s just a few ways to get away with being surrounded by people blowing money when you can’t or don’t want to.
15. The Old Return Policy Trick
We’ve all seen this trick in a movie or TV show, although it doesn’t normally go as planned when it’s in a storyline. The idea is that you buy something from a store after you find out their return policy, and as long as you abide by their rules, you can return the item a few days to a month later (according to each individual store policies) for your money back. Now this could go badly, as it does often times on TV, if you for example spill on the shirt or break the piece of art. However, there are certain items that are easier to keep clean and harder to break or ruin. For example, if you’re having a house party and you see an amazing lamp at a store that would make your house look that much nicer, but it’s way over priced, you can potentially buy the lamp, keep it up for the party, and then return it the next week as long as their policy allows it. For all they know, maybe you didn’t like how it looked in your home; maybe it is too big to fit in your doorway, whatever. Just make sure to read their return policy before you decide to try to get away with this trick, because they’re called that for a reason…it can get tricky.
14. Save Money On Uber, Use Public Transportation on The Low
More recently, I’ve started to look into the public transportation options in my area. I do live in LA, so certain cities will have more and certain cities will have less possibilities, but in general, there are probably buses that can take you around your city for a dollar or two; you just have to discover them. With that being said, if you still want to impress your boss, friends, whoever then maybe let them assume you took an Uber when really you took the Metro – who is it hurting? I mean I’m not sure that I’d flat out lie because getting caught would be embarrassing, but you’d be surprised how little people care about how you got to the bar. Most of them won’t notice so you could save 15 dollars or more on an Uber ride on the way to and from your nightly activities just by switching how you get there. I literally took the metro (subway for LA area) to a Film Festival last weekend…saved at least 20 dollars in transportation.
13. Eat at Home First
This concept seems pretty obvious to most people, I would think, but it’s something that is a good thing to remember. If all of your friends want to meet up after work for drinks or dinner, you don’t always have to do it all. You could potentially eat a breakfast bar on the way to drinks or dinner, and then just order an appetizer or eat the bread if they serve bread (all the best places do, let’s be honest) and have your drink. People may make a comment, but all you have to do is say that you’re not that hungry, and people will leave you alone. I’m sure some of your friends will skip the large dinner when they’re out in a group having drinks, anyways. You won’t be alone in this. You can always make some toast or eat some eggs when you get home if you’re still hungry!
12. Trade Clothing/Shoes with Friends
Remember college? Your roommate’s closet was also your second closet, right? Well, why do we stop doing this with friends after college? Who says we can’t keep borrowing and trading clothing into our 20s? Nobody! This option is always a fun way to do things because it helps you appear to own many more outfits than you really do, and who doesn’t want more clothing variations to work with? Instead of running out and buying a dress every time you’re invited to the club or a big birthday party, just call your friend and see if they have a dress to loan you. More likely than not, she’s going to have a dress for you and ask to borrow one of yours! As long as you don’t have the exact same friend group, you’ll most likely get away with adding to your wardrobe without spending an extra dime!
11. Uber Select
Let’s say that you get invited to a big work party. Lots of executives and higher up employees will be in attendance, and most likely showing up in limos or big town cars. But who has $120 an hour for a car to sit and wait on you? Not a whole lot of 24 year olds, that’s for sure. Luckily for you (and me), though, Uber is an amazing service. They really are, and while I suggest looking for ways to save money on transportation, you have to admit that Uber has saved your ass on more occasions than you can count. Plus, spending a little money on your ride is better than driving drunk. So, you probably already know that Uber has many different variations of services you can use and Uber select is one of them. Uber select does cost more than your typical Uber, but the cars are also nicer. It beats the hell out of renting a limo or a Town Car that has an hourly rate. Just another way to look the part!
10. Do More Free Activities that Look Flashy and Fun
This suggestion leans on the fact that many people my age don’t care as much about actually doing the flashy, expensive activities as much as they want people to think that they’re doing those things via social media. Obviously, given the chance, most of us would want to actually go on the big yacht or genuinely attend the exclusive party, but if we could get a photo next to the big yacht or at the big party, then that helps. It’s just honestly how things are at this point in time, photos and proof that you’re being social and doing special things help with self-confidence and feeling vindicated by our peers. So, with that being said, try to do other activities to show people that you’re being social and doing new things that don’t cost as much as the cover for the club or buying a big dinner. For example, everyone can go on a hike or play tennis, but if you post a photo of your hike, nobody thinks, “wow, she can’t afford to go shopping so she’s just walking around.” They think, “wow, look at that view, that’s amazing.” So if you feel the need to get attention on social media, you can still find ways to get it without buying a fancy meal or new purse.
9. One Grey Goose Martini, and then switch to a Cheaper Vodka
Drinking is hella expensive, but it’s a big part of being social in your 20s. If you personally choose to be sober, then good for you, that’s impressive. But for those of us who want to go get drinks with other 20-somethings, we can’t always afford round 3 and 4 of our favorite beverage. That’s where this thought comes in. What if, the first round you ask the bartender for a Grey Goose Martini (if that’s what you like) but then on the second round, maybe you go up to the bar alone and order a cheaper vodka beverage. Nobody will be thrown off by the different drink choice because maybe you just weren’t feeling the Martini – $12 Grey Goose Martini, and then a $9 Smirnoff on the rocks with a splash of tonic. You do two more rounds and you’ve saved yourself nine dollars that you would’ve spent on the same amount of drinks. Better yet, switch to a glass of wine or beer, or skip a round by drinking a little slower. Not a bad way to save some money for another night out.
8. Know Your Audience
I have to mention that it is unlikely that the people you choose to go out with actually give any attention to your drink order. Think about it, you don’t remember what your friends order after they order it unless it’s something with an extremely interesting name (I ordered a “Cock Fight” at Pink Taco a few weeks back and I still remember, but only because of the unique name). So, try number nine if you are concerned that they care, but if you’re with your close friends then just screw it and order the cheapest vodka or get yourself a beer right away. If you’re trying to impress your boss or some new coworkers, sure, get a $12 drink to start your night. But if you’re with your close friends, tell them the truth: you spent too much last time you went out, so you’re going for the cheap drinks. If they’re your real friends they’ll probably be able to relate.
7. Live Stream instead of Tickets
This is a trick that my friends and I do because we love music. In fact, they just spent who knows how much money to fly to Kentucky for Bonnaroo. However, I didn’t go with them because I couldn’t justify that expense to myself right now. Due to the fact that they just came back from Bonnaroo, they couldn’t then justify going to EDC weekend right afterwards in Vegas. Which is saying a lot, because my friend Austin would go to Vegas every weekend if he could—so missing EDC this year crushed him. However, we did the next best thing: we live streamed the concerts. Honestly, credit belongs to whoever sets the live streams up, you the real MVP. This year I watched Ultra from my bedroom and it was awesome. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not the same as going to the live festival. But, have some shots and turn down the lights and you’d be surprised how much you enjoy watching a music festival with your good friends while being comfortable in air conditioning. Who knows, maybe watching the live stream this year will save you so much money that you can go next time!
6. Smell the Part
I bet you don’t think too much about this, but the way you smell and appear can significantly influence how people perceive you. This becomes obvious when you pass a homeless person who you can clearly tell hasn’t showered in weeks. Nonetheless, it isn’t just something to consider in obvious situations. I truly believe that by wearing a nice perfume/cologne you give off an aroma that others associate with being well off. Plus, who doesn’t like a nice perfume? So you don’t have to spend hundreds to thousands on the amazing wardrobe if you can’t afford it, all you have to do is spend $50 on a nice perfume and it has almost the same affect. Burberry, Armani, Dior, they all have amazing clothes but they have equally as amazing perfume/cologne that costs a fraction of the amount you’d pay for an outfit. Think about it, you could be giving off subliminal messages right now…
5. Flea Market
While this suggestion may cause some confusion, trust me, it’s useful. If you live in a city where flea markets tend to be plentiful then you know that it’s a great place to buy items that look more expensive and of a higher quality than they actually are which is exactly what you’re looking for from these suggestions. When I was in high school, I went to visit my grandma and grandpa in Florida and they took me to my first flea market. It was nothing like I had expected, it was so big that it was essentially just like a pop up mall in a warehouse. I left with a new pair of sunglasses and a watch that many people have asked me about to this day. The watch doesn’t really work anymore, but I could fix it if I so desired. The point is that a watch that cost me 10 dollars gets more attention than most of my jewelry that costs two or three times that amount and that is something to consider!
4. Use Your Contacts
This is a thought process that everyone in LA uses constantly, but they could be doing it a lot better. Using connections isn’t really a new concept. Many people out here (and I’d presume in many other big cities) call up a connection for a discount on a ticket, a seat at the cool restaurant, or access to the hottest clubs. This tends to benefit them in terms of getting further in their job or a more long-term goal on a personal level, but you can take it one step further. You can use connections to get into the parties and events just so that it makes it look like you can afford the tickets and shows. You’ll get to experience the finer things will becoming closer to your connection who helped make it happen. And, if you do it correctly, you really will start calling people in those social circles your friends, which leads you right to my next suggestion.
3. Surround Yourself with the Right People
Clearly if you are hanging out with people who can afford to buy $500 seats at charity events, and blow all their money on bottle service, then at some point people will start treating you as one of them. As long as you refrain from touching your wallet, you can only benefit by surrounding yourself with the wealthy. At some point you may find yourself being invited on boat or to a lake house where you get to reap the rewards of living a luxurious lifestyle without actually living one. It’s the next best thing! That’s how life works, your friends have nice things then you’ll probably get to enjoy these nice things. You just may have to spring for an expensive gift or two. Bring that $80 bottle of wine that nobody has heard of but tastes amazing as a thank you for letting you stay at their summer home, and let them think it cost you $300. You’re getting a bargain but they don’t need to know that.
2. Refer to Your Past Vacations
This might just be something that I noticed, but many people who are extremely well off, financially, travel as much as possible. So the idea is that it’s evident that you have large amounts of money when you’ve been to Europe, Australia, Asia, etc. Those people who spend their time traveling and enjoying vacations in extravagant locations will mention it in many of their stories, most likely. If you haven’t been to a foreign country before but you’d like to act like you have the same financial means as those around you, then it’s not too difficult to pull it off. In random conversations it’s quite easy to start a statement with, “yes that reminds me of my trip to Greece. Best vacation of my life, but…”. If someone questions your favorite place in that city or which museums you visited, you can pretty easily dodge the question by saying “it was so long ago, but I’d love to do it all again. There’s an extremely cute café on a side street that was near our hotel that I miss”. Boom, you sound like you had a great vacation but you must travel SO MUCH that this one just didn’t stay in your memory for too long. You can’t be expected to remember every trip you go on, there are too many ;)
1. Be the Life of the Party
My last tip for giving off the illusion that you have more money than you do, is quite simple: be fun. Always be ready to do anything, and everybody will just assume that you can do anything, money be damned. Be the one who brings up the idea to go to this concert, or that event, and then everyone will assume that you can afford it even if it you never follow through. Who would bring up the idea to rent a boat for a day if they couldn’t afford to do so? Yeah, not many people, so there’d be no suspicion that you couldn’t afford it. If you have to back out last minute, you may appear flakey, but you won’t appear to be poor. Now personally I wouldn’t want to be considered the person who always bails, but if your main priority is appearing wealthy then you may have to back out last minute on plans you can’t afford. Overall, if you’re the most fun person at a party or in a group, people will want to be around you so they’ll invite you to everything. You’ll have to try way less to impress everyone if they all love being around you, already. Money is a tricky thing but you can do your best to get around it.