Everyone wants to live his or her best life, but that can get expensive fast. There are, however, plenty of ways to thrive without spending a lot. And that’s what this new Cheap Chic column is all about: Living well without breaking the bank.

Whether you’re buying wine or getting groceries, planning a vacation or traveling to work, there’s always a hack that will help you cut costs a little — maybe even a lot.

One of the key themes you’ll hear from me is that you need to set your priorities.

This comes straight from personal experience. I made it a priority to live in Manhattan. I’m a journalist with no trust fund and no partner. I’ve made it work for about 15 years, paying high rents, but also being thrifty in my own ways. I will find the cheapest grocery store — and the best deal on kale within walking distance.

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I also co-edited the book Be Thrifty: How To Live Better With Less, and that experience took me to the next level. Together with my co-editor, we looked at every facet of life and asked: How can we do that for less? Where’s the better value? What’s the DIY angle? And when is it thriftier to not do something yourself? (In my view: Hair color!)

Understanding Your Priorities

Understanding your priorities also goes directly to understanding your balance of time and money. That balance will change over time for you. Sometimes you have more money than free time. Sometimes it will be the opposite.

If you have the time to compare prices, go to a cheaper store, or work a little harder, you’re going to save money. But at other times in your life, your schedule won’t allow you to do anything but the convenient option, which almost always costs more. The key is to understand that you’re paying a premium. Accept it and find other ways to economize.

If you’re so busy because you have a demanding, high-power job, enjoy the fact that you can afford conveniences. You earned it.

There Are Always Surprises

The one thing that’s true no matter what your situation?

You will inevitably be surprised by where you can cut costs — and where you were wrong.

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I’m constantly surprised by where I can and can’t save money. At one point, I was sure that you should try to buy wine where you can get a discount by the case. But several experts taught me otherwise. To learn why, keep an eye on this column!

I love talking about how to cut costs and be smart with money. If you have ideas or comments or want to read about a topic, hit me up. If you have a question, other people probably have the same question. And therein lies another important lesson: Sharing is thrifty!