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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
200 pages
Jan 2006
Harvest House Publishers

Five-Star Living on a Two-Star Budget

by Margaret Feinberg & Natalie Gillespie

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The Live It! Give It! Principles


If you had to choose a hotel between one and five stars and price was not a factor, how many stars would you choose? Duh! Five stars, baby, all the way Right? Most people would pick the five-star hotel, especially if they weren’t picking up the tab. Why? Because a true five-star hotel offers comfort, ease, and all kinds of amenities. It provides visitors a level of quality above its competitors. Simply put, a five-star hotel is the best.

So what would happen if you could take the five-star concept and turn it into a five-star lifestyle? What if you could take some of the things you learned from the temporary lap of luxury and bring them into your daily life? Is it possible to permanently experience a five-star lifestyle? We think so!

True Five-Star Living brings joy. Not the ecstatic Look at-me-I-just-got-a-new-Coach-bag! kind of momentary glow or the I-just-spent-the-day-at-the-spa kind of temporary relaxation, but a deep-seated peace and satisfaction that lasts a lifetime. Five-Star Living isn’t about the fancy resort you booked on Expedia or the Tiffany bracelet you found at half price last year. Five-Star Living is about elevating your living standard within your means to the highest quality, not just materially, but also spiritually, physically, and emotionally. True Five-Star Living won’t drive you into debt; it will drive you out of debt. It won’t leave you with so many things that you can’t open your front door; it will leave you surrounded by high-quality items you appreciate and enjoy. It won’t leave you frazzled on an endless search for more; it will give you a sense of contentment at having just the right amount. And it doesn’t just feel good; it also involves doing good. Real Five- Star Living is a life well lived, not just for yourself but for others too.

You don’t need a Donald Trump-sized income to experience a full and generous life. In the following pages, you are going to learn how to live big on only a little. You’ll discover ways to become a savvy shopper and find out how a little time and research online and in your own community can save you big bucks—money that you can use to benefit those around you and still enable you to live a better quality of life.

Those who experience true Five-Star Living operate under what we have dubbed the “Live It! Give It!” principles: God gave you everything you have, so it really belongs to him. You honor him when you manage well what he has given you (Live It!). He blesses you when you share what he has given you with others in need (Give It!).

Our premise is pretty simple: If you spend less money to achieve the same or an even higher standard of living, then you will enjoy life more and can afford to save and give more.

If you choose to apply the Live It! Give It! principles to your life, you will find them to be more fulfilling and satisfying than chasing down this season’s Fendi or trying out the trendiest restaurants. The key to real Five-Star Living is being wise with what you have been given, multiplying it, and then sharing everything you can with others. That is the way to unleash the formula for experiencing joy.

How do you get started? By beginning to examine your big picture and create a budget of your money, your time, and your talents. You can even pull out a sheet of paper and begin making notes on where your resources are going.

In the area of time, ask yourself these questions (and answer them honestly!):

* How is my time being spent?

* Where do the hours of my day go?

* Do I have an organizer or chart that records where I am spending my time?

* Are there any ways I could be spending my time better?

* Do I enjoy where I spend my time?

* Is my time better spent in more productive endeavors?

If you head out the door for work each morning with a feeling of dread, chances are you are not spending your time wisely. Ideally, your life’s work should allow you to use your talents and enable you to pursue your passion. If your job or lifestyle prevents you from doing either, then you’re more likely to become bored, frustrated, burned out, or stressed out.

If you are not doing what you feel called to do, ask your self how that could change. Even if you can’t change jobs right away, begin taking steps toward a new career. You may need additional training or classes, but with a little determination you can make a change. In the meantime, look for ways to use your talents and pursue your passion outside of work. Volunteer. Start a side business. Get involved in your community.

When you reflect on the way you spend your time, you may discover that you need to make some practical changes. You may need to turn off the TV or unplug the Xbox. You may need to develop healthier ways to de-stress at the end of the day Or you may need to make time for an activity such as exercise or spending more quality time with friends.

Five-Star Living also means building “retreats” into your daily schedule where you can refresh yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Some of these retreats may be momentary deep breaths or walks outside. Others may include reading, prayer, or even shopping. Longer retreats include vacations or weekends away with friends. True Five-Star Living demands that time be spent on you. It is not selfish for you to take care of yourself, and that includes spending time doing things you love with the people you love. It will renew your overall energy and enthusiasm for life.

In the area of money, ask yourself these questions:

* Do I need a money makeover?

* Do I need to learn sonic new savings techniques?

* Is my debt out of control or causing myself or my loved ones stress?

* Do I shop wisely, getting the most quality and quantity for the resources I have to spend?

* Is all of my disposable income being spent only on myself and those I love, or am I helping anyone else?

If you are constantly worried about money, studies show you are at risk for many ailments and crises, including a depressed immune system, psychological and marital problems, career problems, heart attacks, anxiety, strokes, suicide, diseases—and here is an interesting one—double the risk of gum disease! Go figure.

Five-Star Living means taking a hard look at where your money goes and figuring out ways to spend, save, and give more efficiently. Five-Star Living does not mean giving up your comfortable lifestyle. It means enhancing the value of your purchases so that you can still enjoy what God has given you and return the favor by giving to others. You can reduce your debt, buy things you love, and save for the future. Great money management takes time and effort, but it will vastly improve your quality of life.

In the area of your talents, ask yourself questions like these:

* What did I love to do as a child? Do I still love those things?

* How am I using the gifts God has given me?

* In what ways am I exercising my talents and honing my skills?

* How are my talents and skills being used to bless others?

* Am I doing the things that fulfill me, are the right fIt, and give me feelings of peace and satisfaction?

People were created with unique purposes and will feel the best spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically when they are doing what they are designed to do. Using your talents is not selfish; it’s what you were made for. If you love to paint, buy some canvases, brushes, and paint and go to town! If animals are your passion, raise them or volunteer at a local humane society. If you love to help people, plug into a local ministry or community organization where your talents can be used.

Remember that no one else in this world can do exactly what you can do in exactly the same way. You have things to contribute that no one else can. Develop those gifts, talents, and skills, and exercise them often. If you sing, sing in places other than the shower. If you dance, dance with abandon. Your enthusiasm and passion will draw others like a magnet, and they will want to know your secret. Then you can introduce them to the fruits of Five-Star Living, because the benefits of Five-Star Living are many—reduced stress levels, enjoyment of life, a renewed appreciation for family and friends, discovery of new places, and an overall satisfaction that you are living your best life.

When you settle for a one- or two-star existence, you miss out on many of the good things life has to offer. By taking steps to lead a five-star life, you will be able to eliminate some of the stress-inducing factors in your life, secure in the knowledge that you are investing your time into more of what is truly important, spending money more wisely, and using your talents and skills in ways that bring satisfaction and joy. Five-Star Living, here we come!

Action Points

The Live It! Give It! Principles

* Forget the feeling that you have to accept a substandard quality of life in order to prove you are wise in your spending.

* Give graciously and even sacrificially to others as part of your five-star standard.

* Avoid being wasteful and impulsive in your spending.

* Learn new techniques and methods for savvy shopping.

* Be willing to put in the time required to find good deals.

* Spend wisely on items of quality.

* Invest first and foremost in relationships.

* Aim for a five-star emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical life.