In these tough times, many media types are lamenting the death of the magazine industry, so let me be honest as a writer for some of our treasured manuals to the finer things. Yes, it's getting difficult to find places in The Budget for the products and experiences that Luxury Magazine Service Journalists deem Necessary, and yes there are increasingly less and less places to publish bluntly worded haikus about such virtues. But in the interest of always improving my readers' lives--I'm not sooo worried about a dearth of assignments in this economy; I know how to write Depression Service Journalism thanks to notes I took from my grandmother, founder of the once-prominent Lower East Side shopping journal Mamelah--here are some of my personal budget strategies to keep enjoying the Luxury Life as defined in the glossies by Yours Truly.
$5,000 home theater credenza, written about in a national newspaper's style magazine
Why I Wrote That You Need It (Aside From Needing The Scratch):
Because if you've ever walked into the home of anyone who loves the home theater experience, you've no doubt tripped on or walked straight into any variety of speakers, from little cubes to towering, well, towers. Or maybe you've G-chatted your friend about how gauche it is that someone still has a 1980's rack system in full view. Either way, living room function should not take a backseat to form, especially under ten grand, and this system allows you to place your TV on a sickeningly beautiful contemporary credenza that houses speakers and all kinds of audio-playing goodies, from an iPod dock to a receiver. There's even still some space in there for a few discounted $30 Blu-ray discs that will look Awesome once you have full-HD resolution. In 2020.
How To Afford It (If You're Not Diddy):
Stop attending movies. Rip out the cable. Cancel your weekly entertainment magazine. Burn for heat and energy the newspapers you steal from your very old and blind neighbor. Do not buy a new flatscreen HDTV despite the Low, Low Prices. Do not buy a Blu-ray player. Do not Wikipedia Blu-ray via dialup so that you can better understand it. Do not subscribe to the public radio station that helps you develop "eclectic" musical taste. Change one digit in credit card number on account pages for: Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc. Do not buy an Apple TV. In fact, stop caring about all types of entertainment enjoyable in digital audio or video formats. Start to read books and speak to other humans--yes, including family members.
$140 Lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel, chronicled in a luxury city men's magazine
Why I Wrote That You Need To Experience it (Aside From Needing The Scratch):
Everyone who was once Anyone has eaten on the patio of this hotel's storied Polo Lounge. When I was there, I spotted Annie Hall. Apparently, she still lives in LA and never took back Alvie. Bitch. But I'm glad I saw her. She looked strung out. Not only that, but the waiters apparently don't leave for other jobs here, which must mean they get treated real nice (sex, money, sex for money from Annie Hall), and let's face it: It makes you feel Important to dine out here in the sun. Also, the fish tartares and smoked salmon are to die for. Of course you need a delicate palate seasoned by years of eating very fine seafood to be able to discern the difference between good and bad with such refined dishes. But I have to assume you possess such talents if you have read and enjoyed any of my past attempts at Luxury Food Journalism (including two brilliant pieces about the best high-end hamburger in America written in a span of 10 months for the same magazine).
How To Afford It (If You're Not The Creator of Mad Men):
Switch from $11 Subway sandwiches with the double meats and fillings of your choice to $5 sale sandwiches. Don't buy veggies at the Sunday farmers markets, where in-season produce is clearly overpriced and farmers should really be called Scammers. Indulge in McDonalds's Dollar Menu; Supersizing is as unstylish as square-toed men's shoes this season, but the Fast-food Quickie is Back. More tips: Buy "organics" at the 99 Cents Store; that botulism scare was a hoax. White suit at Target: $70; Mark Jacobs sunglasses found on driverside of a Bentley convertible parked on Beverly: priceless. Don't wash your hair with fancy shampoo: it looks better dirty, or so says my Stylist. Cancel all appointments with Stylist. Take the bus to the Beverly Hills flats before walking uphill to the main hotel entrance: You'll look like you were late, and nothing's sexier at the Beverly Hills Hotel than appearing as if you had something better to do than have lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Several-thousand-dollar Budget-luxe "Roughing It" In South Australia's Outback, reported for one of the nation's respected travel monthlies
Why I Wrote That You Need To Take This Trip (Aside From Needing The Scratch):
Until the grandson of a 19th-century sheep-shearer built a village of recycled wood eco-villas on 7,500 acres near the gigantic quartzite Wilpena Pound, you had to fly all the way to Adelaide, South Australia and drive several hours north just to spend your adventuresome nights in a work-a-day motel, peppered with people who ate rodents. Now, for just a minimum of $315 AU per night (that is, beyond transportation to another continent, rental car prices, and the market price for fresh 'roo steaks and emu cutlets), you can stay in beautifully minimalist structures fitted with flatscreen TVs, faux-aboriginal paintings, and retractable canvas ceilings that give you a view of the stars you'd have to risk your life in the Outback trying to see.
How To Afford It (If You're Not Hugh Jackman):
Sell family's camping supplies at garage sale advertised on Craigslist; after this experience, quality time with the kids in a Wildnerness Area within driving distance will just feel lame, despite how "inexpensive" it may seem and how "often" you can "afford" it. No flights to grandma's anymore, and no celebrating "Christmas" with other family members in different parts of the country; if you want the life-changing experience of fake-camping in another part of the world--the Grand Canyon will always be in America--make some sacrifices. On that count, stop seeing the dermatologist, oncologist, and neurosurgeon for every little "potentially cancerous growth"; you will need a few personal training sessions at the gym before you leave, and isn't this a better investment in your health? Further, stop buying free-range chicken and grass-fed beef. The quality of the Wild Eats at the onsite restaurant will satiate your animal flesh cravings for at least six months. Plus, beans, which are rumored to be affordable, provide the complete chain of amino acids necessary for building the muscle it will take to spend the day receiving a "transcendent adventure experience" from walking the bush.