9 Ways to Trade Up Without Trade Offs

We all know that life is about experiences and creating memories.

The problem is that we're balancing FOMO while also attempting to keep our finances in order. But why miss out on amazing adventures?

Who says you have to bleed money to have fun? Here is the ultimate guide to living large, without spending indiscriminate amounts of cash. Sometimes it's not even about the cutting corners, it's about knowing how to work your resources and connections.

1. Keep track of free events.

Here's a secret I'm going to let you in on: You don't always have to pay to go to events.

No matter which city you live in, you can find cool, free events to check out. Restaurants and businesses like to get their names out there and you need free fun so it is a win-win.

You have to be on the ball, though, to make sure you don't miss out. Browse through Facebook and join groups that will notify you anytime there's an event happening in your neighborhood or city. Read local magazines and blogs and follow them on Twitter to make sure you don't miss out on membership nights, giveaways and last-minute invites to concerts and plays.

2. Use your credit card to accumulate points.

When you use a credit card for everyday expenses, you can get rewards points, which you can then use to get perks. It's incred because you basically get free stuff that you would have paid for anyway — simply because you paid with your credit card instead of cash or your debit card. And it's all stuff you'll actually want.

It's one of those secrets no one really tells you about when you're younger. Those points are precious little nuggets of gold, and once you accumulate enough you can use them to help pay for your fun weekend adventures.

Trust me, points are like the adult equivalent of getting candy when you're well-behaved as a kid. You're basically getting untapped money just by choosing to use your credit card.

3. Take advantage of your hotel amenities.

If your hotel has a concierge, take advantage of it. He or she is there to help you plan and organize your life while you're on the road. He or she will book tickets to shows, call you a car and take care of your dry cleaning. It comes at no extra cost to you, and it will make you feel like a high-roller.

4. Have an adventure.

If it's a beautiful day outside, you don't necessarily have to spend money to take advantage of it. Pack a picnic and go for a bike ride or spend the day exploring your local botanical garden. Not all adventures cost a ton of money. Sometimes it's the simple experiences that are the most rewarding. Sunshine is free, after all.

You can also look for pre-sale ticket opportunities and offers from your own credit card company's website.

5. Book travel with your credit card and cash in points.

Booking travel with your credit card will help you get more bang for your buck.  When you book plane tickets with your credit card and rewards points, you can easily upgrade without having to put down any extra cash. It's a real game changer.

Not to mention you can take advantage of services like travel concierges, who will help you plan pretty much every part of your vacation. With their expertise, you'll have nary a worry when you're frolicking on the beach on a remote island.

6. Invest in something expensive.

Instead of buying a bunch of cheap clothes, invest in one expensive thing. If you buy something that is good quality, it will last longer.

Overall, you end up spending less money (and time) because you don't have to continually replace the low-quality garbage you bought on a whim. Plus, it's better to invest in something that is going to last over the long haul.

7. Convert credit card points into fine dining experiences.

Here's another reason why credit card rewards points are worth their weight in gold: You can use them to impress your SO or a new love interest on your next date.

All you have to do is convert points you may have accrued into a gift card. You can make it for a specific restaurant or for something like OpenTable, which gives you the flexibility to make a spur-of-the-moment dining decision.

You just have to log on to your credit card company's website, cash in the points and BOOM — you're off to a free dinner.

8. Take advantage of corporate discounts.

Always check with your HR department for corporate discounts. It is the key to really stretching the dollars you have and can help you save on so many things, from museums to gym memberships.

9. When you eat out, choose restaurants that are BYOB or have friends meet you for an aperitif at home.

You can opt to go to a BYOB restaurant and toast with the wine that you bought at your local wine shop. You don't have to skip the fun just because you ditched the expense, and you'll be able to tell your dining mates just how and why you selected that specific Pinot.

So, go forth and live large. And may your adventures be plenty and your experiences incredibly memorable.

There's no reason your paycheck should prevent you from living large. You just have to make it work for you. This year, American Express is offering Card Members the chance to use Membership Rewards points for more than 25 memorable experiences and products. Visit the Anniversary Collection website to start using your points for everything from tickets to shows to once-in-a-lifetime experiences like dinner inside the Galleria dell'Accademia.