How to Live Your Best Life for Less

Why is it that people assume you have to spend a ton of money in order to live an enjoyable life? Isn’t it possible to be happy and healthy without racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt? The answer is yes … but you might have to get creative.

4 Ways to Be Happy With Less

You can’t walk into a store, pull happiness off the shelf, and ask how much it costs. However, it’s possible to enjoy both without a massive salary or impressive savings account. Here are a few creative suggestions for living your best life now:

1. Ditch the Expensive Car Loan

It’s impossible to thrive if you’re sending every penny you make on your car loan. Owning a $30,000 car with a $500 monthly payment when you’re only making $2,000 per month is ridiculous. Nobody needs that much car – especially not to be happy. Try selling the expensive car and opting for something much more affordable and functional. If you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of good options below $10,000.

2. Find an Affordable Room in a Nice Area

In case you haven’t noticed, real estate is expensive (and getting more expensive). In order to live in a nice area, you pretty much have to work a schedule that never allows you to actually spend time in the house you’re paying off. One clever suggestion is to ditch the notion that you need your own house or apartment and try renting a single room in a nice area of town. Writer Amy Hayden has done just that.

After being laid off from a couple of journalism jobs in Chicago, Hayden moved to New York City and now lives on $1,000 per month. One of the main reasons she’s able to do this is because she rents a tiny room for $135 per week in Manhattan. She isn’t letting money define how she lives.

3. Know Where and How to Shop

There are certain things you need to be healthy and somewhat comfortable in life. And if shopping makes you happy, you don’t have to feel bad. There’s nothing wrong with spending money, so long as you don’t trick yourself into thinking that it’s going to make you happy.

The key is to know where to shop and when to shop so that you aren’t blowing through your entire budget. Start buying items because you like the way they look or feel, not because they have certain logos that everyone else thinks are cool.

4. Develop Hobbies

Happiness isn’t found in consuming as much as you can. Buying things like clothing and food may make you feel good in the moment, but they don’t give you much to build your life on. If you truly want to be happy, develop some hobbies and build relationships with other people who enjoy the same interests. Examples of cheap, social hobbies include biking, tennis, art, and poetry.

Stop Equating Happiness With Money

Actor Jim Carrey once said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” And while you might think that’s easy for someone with millions of dollars to say, who else is qualified to make this statement? Jim Carrey, like thousands of his peers, has discovered that money can’t buy happiness. It can get you pretty close, but it always comes up short over the long haul.

It’s time that you stop looking at money as the answer and begin to live your best life now. That may mean getting creative with the decisions you make, but you’ll be better for it in the years to come.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.