Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Ok, here it goes…so I’m going to talk about money and blogging today.  Taboo topic, I know.  **Everyone clears room and hides behind their Givenchy Antigona Bag.**  Within the past few years social media and blogging has grown tremendously and with that the climate of consumerism, especially amongst our millennial generation, has reached a breakneck pace.  We are in a society that is shouting BUY! BUY! BUY! and it seems as though no one is really talking about the consequences or implications of that.  I know I didn’t really want to.  (Please don’t make me look at my Sephora bill, I beg you.)  But with this month being all about financial acuity I wanted to start a conversation on this topic and throw my two cents into the ring.

I started my blog a little over a year ago because I loved writing and beauty and thought blogging would be the perfect outlet to put those two together.  And what could be defined as superfluous spending before I started Brazen Brunette only increased when I began my blog.  The newest product launch?  A drugstore dupe?  I was there and felt like I needed to buy it not only for my own curiosity and love of makeup, but now I was writing reviews and didn’t I have a loyalty to my readers?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been strolling through a store or online shopping (a habit that is only magnified with wine consumption) and been on the fence about buying something and thought “Ooh, but that would be perfect for the blog!  And I could do ___ post!”  So many items that I probably would’ve passed on somehow ended up in my possession in some way related to my blog.  We as bloggers and blog readers become the ultimate consumers.  So what’s the big problem?  Well homegirl has some shopping issues and needs to save more money.  

(I want to quickly interject here that I completely understand that even being in a place to talk about excessive consumerism is a first world problem. And girl if you’re making six figures or come from money, please get on with your bad self.  No judgment.)

So this begets the question what exactly are we buying into?  The idea that our life will be better if we buy this shirt or wear this lipstick?  I’ve definitely been culprit to this.  And with the talk that social media doesn’t portray people’s true lives and it’s all staged, blah blah…well that’s true!  Bloggers are selling a product, they’re selling an idea and an image.  We are following them because we want to be them, we look up to them, we have drank the kool-aid.  And sometimes, actually a lot of the times, it can feel hard to live up to or aspire to those images we see.  The image they’re projecting can be so unrealistic.  Who is wearing full makeup everyday? Where are women wearing a crop top and midi skirt ensemble?  Albeit adorable, but seriously what is the occasion??  And while many successful bloggers look at their blog as a business and have free stuff sent to them, participate in sponsorships, and make great money off their blogs there are thousands of bloggers out there (myself included) who are barely making any money from their blog.  And some of us are spending money we don’t have, on stuff we don’t need, to put in already overstuffed closets and vanities.   The idea of overspending is so glorified in the media and on social accounts that it’s important to look at the long term ramifications of this behavior and the emotional distress that can accompany it.  Does anyone remember the Sex & the City episode where Carrie doesn’t have enough money to buy her apartment after splitting up with Aiden and realizes it had all been wasted on shoe shopping, $40,000 to be precise.  Do we want that to be us? (I have vivid nightmares of tallying up all of my Nordstrom purchases and realizing I could have purchased my own island.)  Today’s media has caused us to envy (and expect) lifestyle norms well beyond our means and make excessive consumption appear natural and normal.  For those signed up for LIKEtoKNOW.it you know the feeling of all these blog approved goodies landing in your inbox ready for purchase on the daily. 

So there’s actually some psychological research behind why we buy so much stuff and seemingly can’t stop.  We as humans are culprit to two big psychological phenomenon.  One being the arrival fallacy, as coined by Tal Ben-Shahar, which is the idea that once you reach a certain destination, or achieve a goal, or purchase that dress you’ve been eyeing you’ll be happy.  And this never works out in our favor because once we reach that destination or buy that dress there’s something else we’re striving for and we’re not nearly as ecstatic as we envisioned we would be.   Big let down.  The other concept is called hedonic adaption.  This basically states that as euphoric as something may feel in the moment we inevitably drift back to our baseline of happiness and existing.   This was proven true by a famous study finding lottery winners were no happier than non-winners 18 months after they hit the jackpot.  Proving the point that while we may experience the “shopping high” and relish in all the positive feelings that come from snagging a new purchase it's not true happiness.  It's found many individuals shop out of boredom or to fill an emotional void and I know for myself that the two times my shopping habits were the worst was when I moved to Spain by myself and then last year when I moved to Tampa on my own and felt really alone and missing my family.  And while I have a running wish list of things I want to buy and tell myself that once I allow myself to splurge on those Prada shades I'll be done and won't buy anything for a month (promise!) I soon come to realize, as I’m sure we all have, that there is always going to be a pair of Prada shades or new beauty launch that we “need"...the wish list never ends.  So how do we intentionally reject excessive consumerism while still participating in blogger culture?

I got my master’s degree from a very pricey private college and currently work in mental health.  I’m no Donald Trump ladies & gents and my student loans are insane.  So while the concept of “Keeping up with the Joneses” has reached a whole new level because of social media I will have to pass on jetting off to Capri and collecting designer handbags like some of my peers.  The trips blasted all over our friends Facebook pages, watching YouTube shopping hauls, and seeing outfit posts on Instagram featuring high end designers...All these things somehow feed me this unrealistic idea that hey I can do that to!  And I should buy that stuff so I can feel as happy as that person looks in that photo!  We are romanticizing the idea of excessive consumerism.  And I have totally been guilty of this!  Just the other week I posted my Sephora VIB Rouge card, proud of my baller status reached only by all the money I spent at the beauty mecca.  But the harsh reality is being broke sucks.  I’m worried about the women putting themselves in financial peril and debt trying to emulate a lifestyle that is putting them at a financial risk.  The freedom that comes with financial security is unparalleled and there is no feeling worse than being stuck because of poor money management and being forced to rely on others. With the rising costs of college today and a difficult job market it is more important than ever that 20 somethings are putting themselves in a good place financially so that they can eventually buy a house and start a family and all those wonderful things that come with growing up.  

I hope it's conveyed by this post that I have thought long and hard about this topic this past month.  I have found myself going back and forth between a deep desire to buy out Nordstrom's shoe department and a yearning to renounce worldly goods and move to Bali.  There has to be a happy medium though.  There has to be a place where I can feel that I'm not promoting frenzied shopping to my readers, but still being authentic in my love for all things beauty and fashion.   I'm struggling guys.  What I have come up with so far is to put myself on a "splurging budget."  Instead of spending blindly I will set myself a monthly limit for blog/beauty related items as a way to still treat myself, but in a healthy controlled way.  And while I'm sure the occasional slip-up will still occur, and that's ok, I want to be cognizant of the image and message I'm portraying on social media and to my readers.  You guys mean the world to me, so hopefully we can start an honest discussion below and commiserate over our expensive tastes and struggling bank accounts.  What are your thoughts on a consumerism?  Have you ever struggled with this issue as a blogger?  Let me know!

xoxo Nicole

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