How to Save Money Without Giving Up Your Lifestyle 

by | May 10, 2024 | Savings

What are the things that define your lifestyle? Maybe larger purchases shape your lifestyle: your home, vehicle, or travel habits. It may be smaller purchases like hobbies, clothing, or your penchant for getting a latte from a local coffee shop before you arrive at work. 

Our lifestyles are not only what make us unique; they also keep us motivated as we meet obligations and pursue personal and professional growth. They’re not in a vacuum, though. Our lifestyles impact and are impacted by our financial situations.  

Bringing us back to reality a little: you probably already know that saving money is, in general, a good thing. It always helps to have cash stashed away for big purchases, emergencies, and major life milestones like growing your family or retirement. Some people find it easier to orient toward using their money for saving, but for others, more immediate lifestyle choices are the priority. 
We’re not here to judge how you like to spend your money – after all, consumer spending powers the economy! However, it’s still important to make sure that saving money plays a role in your financial picture. Here, we’ll cover ways to help you save money while working with your lifestyle choices, not against them. 

Pay Yourself First 

Before we get into the nitty gritty tips on saving, the first step is to do the mental work. If you want to increase your savings, it’s important to make it a priority. Strong savers save first, rather than saving what is left over after spending. People call it “paying yourself first.” To do this, you’ll need a rough idea of how much you can afford to save based on your income and expenses (spoiler alert: we’ll dig into budgeting next). After determining that, taking action to implement your new priorities will help the savings habit stick.

To make this mindset shift easier, automate your saving. For example, you can use a 401(k) account to automatically allocate retirement savings from your paycheck, and it’s hidden away where you can’t easily spend it. A 401(k) also lowers your taxable income which can lower your tax obligation, and help you save money when tax season comes around. Another option is to use direct deposit and automatically move a portion of paycheck into a dedicated high yield savings account (like Milli). By automating your saving, you can give yourself the freedom to spend what is left however you see fit – after bills, of course. 


Everyone needs a budget – especially people working toward saving more money. The benefits to budgeting go beyond just your savings rate! A survey from the Certified Financial Planner board found that consumers with a budget feel more confident, in control, and secure than those who do not use a budget. 

A budget is a tool to help you understand where your money is going and allocate it intentionally, then see your progress toward sticking to your financial goals. Budget as granularly as you need to stay on track.  

Creating a budget for the first time? Check out our budgeting for beginners guide. For those who are not new to budgeting, fine tune your finances. Both blog posts have downloadable budget spreadsheets linked to help you follow along. 

Then, if you need a little extra support or accountability to stay on track, practice loud budgeting. Be transparent with friends and family about budgeting changes to help you save. You may find another person just like you who wants to save money while preserving your lifestyle. You can build accountability and get in the habit of sticking to your financial boundaries to stay on track.  

Image of a young couple backpacking in a canyon with a river representing enjoying their lifestyle while staying in budget.

Lifestyle Priorities

In the budgeting process, you’ll do the math to calculate how much money you’ll save and spend, and perhaps allocate to pay off debt or invest. Then, it’s time to put your preparation into practice and actually live out your budget.  If this is the first time you’re committing to sticking to spending limits, be proactive about your lifestyle priorities and maximize your satisfaction with your resources to help your new savings habit stick. 

Depending on what your budget allows, pick a few lifestyle-related things you cherish and prioritize accordingly. Be realistic about where you will cut back. For example, perhaps you love to travel but don’t care about having the most cutting-edge electronics. Maybe you love the high-end gym, but you will use coupons and meal prep to lower grocery costs to balance the more expensive gym membership. 

Think about your values, interests, and what brings you the most joy. If something is at the bottom of the list, see how you can cut your spending to reflect that. Focus on celebrating and enjoying the things you’ve decided to prioritize, rather than seeing it as lacking whatever didn’t make the cut.  

Tradeoffs and Compromises 

Some economists describe economics as choosing how to allocate limited resources to best meet the population’s needs. You might find it helpful to apply that thinking to the different areas of your budget.

Almost everyone has to consider tradeoffs (unless you have a lot of money and endless free time to spend it). But even if you have ample means and time, you can’t be in two places at once. You can’t be skiing in the Alps and swimming in the Bahamas at the same time (sadly). You must decide which vacation destination you’ll choose, weighing the pros and cons, even if you have plenty of budget to work with.

When you’re hoping to save money while maintaining your lifestyle, you have to be intentional about the best uses for your dollars. Understanding the tradeoffs and compromises that you can make can bring about that satisfying feeling of being in control of your finances! 
Perhaps you eliminate or drastically reduce whole budget categories to be able to allocate more money to other line items. This might look like giving up your car for public transportation so you can afford to live in your top-choice building downtown near people and places you enjoy.

You’ll also want to get into the habit of making compromises within your spending categories. For example, if your lifestyle involves regular spa services or beauty treatments, allocate a dollar amount per month for them. Then, see how you can use that same amount to opt for one luxury service, two mid-level services, or three express/budget services. You can still have pampering, but in a way that supports your broader financial goals! 

Image of a woman sitting on a bench in a park during autumn. She is holding a to-go coffee cup and has a bouquet of flowers next to her, representing a little treat to get through the day. Overlaid is an icon of a bag of money and arrows to represent allocating money.

Little Treats 

Do you stop and get yourself a “little treat” like a fancy pastry or bouquet of flowers every so often? For some people, having a “little treat” to look forward to can be a reward for tackling obligations, or as a pick-me-up which can be a source of joy, for just a few dollars here and there.

If you want to preserve your lifestyle and save money, the key thing is to make sure these small purchases are within your savings-oriented budget. If you spend $3 on a little treat every day or $5 every other day, that turns into $75 – $90 per month. Over the course of a year, that’s over $900!

However, neuroscience research shows it’s not the reward itself that triggers the release of the feel-good brain chemical of dopamine in our brain – it’s the anticipation of the reward. You can use this to your advantage if you’re trying to save money while not totally cutting these rewards out of your life. 
If you enjoy getting your “little treat” but are looking to save money, challenge yourself in these ways: 

  • Choose a less expensive treat 
  • Get fewer treats and let the anticipation phase linger longer  
  • Schedule your pre-budgeted treat in advance 
  • Anticipate something with no cost that can serve the same purpose as a treat (new episode of a TV series, seeing a friend, going to a free event) 

Finding small ways to break down the direct connection between spending money and satisfaction can help you save more in the long run. If your little treats are less like the occasional reward and more like a regular coping mechanism, peruse our blog post about how to stop emotional spending to take even more control of your spending! 


Money is a tool for accessing the lifestyle you want, but it’s also a tool to save for future needs and wants. Starting or increasing your money-saving while keeping your lifestyle involves some new habits and changes in your behavior as a consumer. Budgeting, prioritizing your choices, or earning extra income are all great ways to enable to you hit your savings goals while balancing what brings you joy in life. When you make intentional decisions oriented toward savings in the present, stay encouraged by knowing that you’re building the lifestyle you want both now and in the future! 

Looking for a bank that can help you keep spending and saving on track? Check out Milli! We’ve got helpful spending insights, automated savings features, a highly competitive annual percentage yield, and customizable Jars – all designed to help you save more for the things that matter most. Download Milli from the App Store or Google Play and sign up today. 

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