- We have no bills (except for a small rent payment, a small electricity payment, and a small cell phone bill each month). This more than anything allows us to live on hubby's pension and social security income. If we had a stack of bills each month, this would be impossible without me working a full time job.
- We share one car that we paid cash for more than ten years ago. We keep the car looking nice (clean the inside and wash the outside regularly, fix small dings, etc) so it looks rather impressive even if it is old.
- We buy our clothes from the clearance racks and from the Goodwill but we make them look nice (they are clean, stain free, no tears, and we always iron our clothes before we wear them). Really, you can look wealthy with clothes you find at a thrift store if you take care of them and press them before you wear them.
- We do everything we can for ourselves and thus save a lot of money. For example, I ran into a friend yesterday and her errands for that day were to get her dogs groomed, get her hair colored, drop off her dry cleaning, and call a handyman to install shower doors in their two bathrooms. Later they were going out for dinner and then to a movie. In one day she spent over $400. For us, we would have washed our dogs ourselves, dyed our own hair, threw our clothes into the dryer in a do-it-yourself dry cleaning bag, installed our own shower doors, made dinner at home, then watched a movie from the library. The more you do for yourself, the more you can save (or the more you don't have to earn in order to pay others to do these things).
- We don't have a lot of gadgets. I love tech gadgets but I can't justify the expense so we use very low tech gadgets (hubby has a Sansa MP3 player to listen to music in place of an iPod, we both have very basic cell phones instead of smart phones, we each have laptops that were rather inexpensive instead of a state-of-the-art MacBooks, heck, we don't even have internet at our place!). Gadgets and fun things cost money so we really analyze our need for such things and by not buying them, we tend to save a lot of money (unlike before when we needed a boat, RV, top of the line cell phones, etc). Note that all of the gadgets and fun things usually have ongoing costs associated with them too (upkeep, user fees, maintenance, etc).
- We have good manners. I learned this from my grandmother who came from a well to do family but married my grandfather and became a farm wife. They never had much money but my grandmother was always gracious, helpful, and had impeccable manners. How you present yourself is a reflection of how you live and if you present yourself well, people think that you live well regardless of your income.
- We do buy some quality items (on sale of course). Saving and paying cash for things is both slow and boring (it takes a while to save up for stuff which can be pretty boring when you want things NOW) but by doing this we can buy quality items that we will use/keep for a long time. This includes some antique furniture which we got a great deal on, expensive watches that hubby likes, purses (I like expensive purses and while I used to not want to caught dead carrying a Coach or LV purse from last season, I am perfectly happy to buy one nice purse--from the outlet store, at 50% off clearance, from two seasons ago--and keep it for years).
- We also like free stuff. If someone is giving or throwing something away, I will gladly take it and remake it/recycle it/or donate it. I am always on the look out for free events in our city to entertain us, and use coupons prodigiously. Ditto for taking advantage of free wi fi/books/movies from the library, free over-the-air TV instead of paying for cable, and free handouts from casinos/stores/etc. Free rocks!
- Finally, we don't have kids. Actually hubby has five wonderful kids but they have all grown up, moved out, and are self supporting. When all of the kids were living at home, we certainly couldn't live like we are living now because kids are expensive! So our lifestyle has as much to do with the period of life that we are in--retirement age, not young parents with a passel of children age--as much as anything else.
So basically that is how we can appear to be rich when we really aren't. We enjoy simple things, try to conserve (money, gas, resources, etc) as much as possible, take advantage of freebies (everything from free stuff from friends who would otherwise throw an item out to freebies from stores, free entertainment events, etc) and tend to live well even on a small income.