After years of closely monitoring their budgets — and savings account balances — customers are feeling a bit more confident about buying affordable luxury items. Of course, what is affordable to one person might be an extravagance to another.
Affordable luxuries are the items that might be considered indulgences, but are still within the budgets of most individuals. Sometimes, an affordable luxury is a product associated with a high-end brand that is sold at a lower price than the brand’s other lines.
If you’re in the market for some luxury items that won’t stretch your savings to the limit, there are a few items to consider.
Luxury Vehicle Leases
The appeal of a lease is that you can drive a much more expensive vehicle than you would otherwise be able to purchase with cash or an auto loan. The downside is that, over the last few years, lenders have made it more difficult to qualify for a lease.
Since 2010, leasing has begun to bounce back slowly. According to Experian Automotive, in the first quarter of 2013, leasing accounted for 28 percent of new-vehicle financing.
If you are interested in purchasing a vehicle, auto advice site Edmunds.com has a calculator projecting the true cost to own, or TCO, for a vehicle. In addition to the purchase price, it factors in costs that consumers often don’t consider, such as depreciation, loan interest, insurance premiums, fuel and maintenance costs.
2012 luxury cars that Edmunds.com considered good values were the Audi A6, Lincoln MKS and Jaguar XF.
If you’re in the market for a luxury vehicle, the best advice is to look for one a few years older than the current models. It’s well known that the second you drive a new car off the dealer’s lot, the value of your purchase depreciates by up to 20 percent.
Organic products often cost twice as much as their counterparts. And though some people feel they get their money’s worth, there’s a debate as to whether organic food really is healthier for you than regular produce, meat and dairy.
According to a Roper survey, 40 percent of Americans said organic food will be a bigger part of their diet within one year and 63 percent occasionally buy organic food and beverages.
“The trend for organics is growth; more and more people are choosing organic produce and food products and especially in the last 10 years it’s been growing at healthy rates,” said Miles McEvoy, organic program manager for the state of Washington.
There are many places where you can score luxury clothing, shoes or handbags for a fraction of the retail price. One avenue is a consignment store or a thrift shop. Depending on where you live, you can often buy red carpet looks that have maybe been worn only once for a photo shoot.
For example, you might be able to find a Chanel bag for about $1,500 (a savings of more than $2,000). To find the best (and cheapest) designer clothing, use Beyond the Rack, Piperlime or Ebay.
Brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, D&G from Dolce & Gabbana and Tory Burch have all repositioned their collections or introduced new lines to take advantage of the affordable luxury concept.
“Kohls and Target and Walmart have long had big-name designers create exclusive lines at a fraction of the price,” said Jon Lal, founder of BeFrugal.com.
It’s one thing to wear someone else’s brand; it’s another to have your wardrobe custom fit to your specifications.
“Having your clothes tailored in fine Italian or British fabric used to be an expensive luxury experience,” said Ed Rossiter of LewisTaylorShirts.com. “Now companies like ours offer this service at a much more affordable level allowing more men to enjoy the benefits of fine quality fabrics and excellent tailoring.”
Per Rossiter, good custom dress shirt tailoring involves getting the cut right based on your measurements. It’s therefore vital that you spend time to get the 10 different measurements correct. “This really is a massive shift in the premium garment trade,” he said.
As healthcare continues to be in a state of flux, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you had a personal physician on call whenever you needed him? That’s the concept behind concierge medicine. For a yearly membership fee that varies depending on where you live, you can have access to a relatively high-tech primary care practice.
Spa Visits, Vacations and High-End Restaurants
These areall within reach using online coupon and discount sites such as Groupon, Living Social, Dealster and Bloomspot, which offer a variety of luxury items and experiences at up to a 50 percent discount.
Of course, smart spending means balancing out the necessities with the treats. These resources can help you get what you want without breaking the bank.
Photo credit: Casa Velas Hotel