Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic book series tells the story of Rebecca Bloomwood, a British financial journalist turned financial advisor, turned Barney’s personal shopper who cannot seem to get a hold on her own personal finances. So much so, that she throws her bills in the dumpster in hopes that someone will find them and pay them off. In addition, she writes letters to her bank managers and creditors making excuses for late payments and absurdly large overdraft amounts. In fact, her rationale for spending and the lies she comes up to avoid confronting her financial dilemmas are absurd (yet, hilarious) in themselves. Not only did I find myself continually laughing out loud, but I related to Miss Bloomwood all to well because, while I have not yet used glandular fever as an excuse for a late credit card payment, both of us do appreciate designer clothes (and shoes, and bags! don’t forget bags…), and neither of us is able to live within our budgets.
As I flip through the August 2007 issue of Vogue, I notice that in addition to ads for Gucci, Versace, and Miu-Miu, there are also advertisements for luxury cars including BMW and Jaguar-all before I even reach the Table of Contents. And I want it all (sometimes I even make lists). I sit there picturing myself leaving my Manhattan apartment in a brand new, beige BMW convertible, decked in head- to-toe Chanel, on my way to my $25,000 a year magazine job. Then, it dawns on me that the standard of luxury is a lot higher than it used to be, and my imagination has just maxed out three credit cards trying to envision my own version of the American dream.
While the ever spending, shopaholic Becky Bloomwood is a fictional character, her problem is real and common, especially amongst today’s college students. My dad even commented recently that all of his children seem to live a little more glamorously than either of our parents raised us, with spending habits over exceeding our meager budgets and humble upbringings. I think that this behavior has something to do with being out on our own and our generation’s “no settling; I deserve it” mindset.
Don’t get me wrong, you do deserve it, but learn to gain control on your shopping addiction before you end up tossing your bills in dumpsters hoping they will just disappear. Managing money is hard when you are young and ambitious, but if you can just hold off on those Christian Louboutins until graduation, you might actually be able to afford them without starving for six months.
No matter what kind of turmoil your finances may be in, just remember: The finer things in life may put you in debt but it doesn’t cost a penny to be GORGEOUS!