How I live the bougie life on a budget and you can too

They say that money doesn’t buy you happiness. And sure, when you get to the fundamentals of our existence, that’s probably true. But as a 22-year-old who’s living in Sydney, earning below the poverty line, I can tell you first hand that money makes things a hell of a lot easier.

So when it comes to maintaining your thriving (haaah) lifestyle, filled with social engagements, friends, brunches and of course, drinks.. how do you maintain being bougie on a budget? Great question. Luckily, I’m the embodiment of every millennial/ writer stereotype known to man so I’m your hypothetical guinea pig. I know many a thing about being broke but faking it like I’m not a poor woman’s Carrie Bradshaw.

#1 Opt for the house wine.. Duh.

Do you really think that people are going to be eyeing off your wine, trying to determine if you’ve spent dolla billz on it? As if. If anything, they’ll be eyeing off the cute bartender across the room who just served them their fifth tequila sunrise. Unless they’re a wine maker, no one is going to know. It all looks the bloody same. And come on.. it doesn’t taste that bad, particularly after 3 glasses. And just a simple pointer. If you want to try an expensive drink, last time I checked you can totally ask for a taste test. Make the drink list your subordinate.

#2 Take advantage of the cheap food deals

Sydney is absolutely swarming with eateries that offer you the opportunity to pig out on good food for minimal cost. They’re literally everywhere. You’ve got Shanghai Dumpling Bar in the Kensington Street Precinct just a short stroll from Central Station. There, ladies and gentlemen, you can get 10 dumplings for $9.80. Cue a furiously abrupt thumbs up from me.

The Norfolk in Surry Hills brings you $3 taco Tuesdays. Hell, you can even go to Marrickville for banh mi for a neat little fiver. I’m not in Kansas (Toowoomba) anymore I tell you.

#3 Weasel your way into being invited to things

Unless we’re talking live music (burrrn), Sydney is never short of things to do. The city is a hub for new business, restaurant, bar and gallery openings. And by extension, it wouldn’t be an opening without people to fill the spaces. This is where you come in. A lot of these openings have a bar tab and nibblies, as they want to promote their product and keep us all happy. Take a page out of old mate that started the Shed at Dulwich and wrangle yourself enough invites, post about it on your social media, meet the people behind the event and you may just notice yourself being invited without trying. Before you know it your life will be all canapés, obnoxious grazing tables and tiny gift bags.

#4 Actually have a budget

Good God I sound like I’m about to ‘Mum’ you all. Which is weird because I’m probably younger than all of you with a quarter of your pay. But anyway.. I’m going to go ahead and say this anyway. I haven’t budgeted a day in my life which, apart from my lack of income and Sydney sucking me dry, is probably another reason why I have no money. But let me tell you this, budgeting is the bloody bomb. If you have no idea how to do it, go down to Dymocks and buy yourself The Barefoot Investor. Yes, it’s a bit of a cult, but I followed the steps and no longer have to choose between new underwear without holes in it and a decent bottle of wine. I can get both. So, financial cult or not I’m definitely winning in this scenario.


#5 Scour for last minute hotel deals

Who wants to spend the night in their boring regular house, when you could be living your best life in a hotel room with your mates (#blessed) for the weekend? Like.. If you don’t have something interesting to Instagram will people even remember you’re alive? Obviously, that was a swipe at the ‘Insta-famous’ folks that walk among us peasants. But in all seriousness, you can be put up in a bougie hotel for cheap if you find the right deals and gather your mates to minimise cost. You don’t even have to leave the city.

#6 Make friends in high places

There’s an abundance of people in Sydney with an array of wonderful, unique jobs – and no, I’m not talking about drug dealers. But the people who I’ve found to have a character like no other are people who work in the bar industry. “I only go to bars that have top quality voddies as their house. You get the fanciness and don’t feel like you’re drinking poison. It’s a win win,” said my broke best friend, Beth, as we were drinking $5.90 wine. One bartender swapped the house vodka in my drink to Belvedere, simply because I wasn’t a snobby priss.

I would also count your friend who’s a riot after a few drinks, a friend in a high place. Just an FYI. Particularly the friends that get drunk and spend $300 on cocktails for all of you. Now that’s a way to be bougie on a budget if I ever saw one.

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