Here she comes, the modern princess, with her meticulously streaked salon hair, immaculate make-up, perfectly coordinated outfit and designer handbag. There’s no denying her appeal, charm and charisma.
The reality of the modern princess is that while her look might resemble that of a Gossip Girl character, she seldom has the trust fund to match. In many cases, it’s that very charm and charisma that helps her obtain those hot shoes, that latest “it” bag and that high-end hairdo. Or perhaps she makes a decent(-enough) living and feels that she can spend it how she sees fit. That’s fair enough, but in ten years, what will she be able to show for her hard work, besides a stuffed closet?
While I do write a personal finance column, I am well aware that it’s not only unrealistic but also damaging to think that, like Becky Bloomwood, I can spend and charm my way out of debt and into the arms of a generous mate, friend or family member who finds my over-the-top spending adorably exasperating but ultimately tolerable. The movies and TV have made us accustomed to the concept of the cute shopaholic who always finds a safety net; as a result, in real life we begin to (mistakenly!) believe that that’s how life actually works.
Unless you’re among those fortunate few who do possess trust funds or some other unlimited source of fun money, modern princesses learn quite quickly that living a glamorous lifestyle, without future planning and financial foresight, costs in both the short- and long-term. By not saving and/or investing money, princesses essentially sacrifice precious salary-earning years, and can end up losing out on tens of thousands of dollars (or more!) in assets.
If you are a self-aware princess who wants to get her financial life back on track, here are three helpful pointers.
Re-assess your purchasing priorities
Your collections of designer purses and shoes do not qualify as collateral. (Don’t believe me? Ask the bank.) Stop “investing” in trendy designer items that will not only depreciate but also go out of style. I admit to owning a couple of luxury handbags, but I use them all the time and have done so for years. I usually don’t set foot in a mall more than three times annually (including holiday gift shopping), nor do I purchase much online. For every purchase I make, I consider how (or if) it will increase my net worth. I try to limit my buying habits to outings with friends, gifts for others, and travel — things that fill my heart with good memories and experiences, not my closet.
You can attract the wrong crowd
Same goes for if you dress like a bum, but many princesses don’t understand (until it’s too late) that dressing like a movie star/socialite can attract people that may only be interested in perceived wealth, connections and lifestyle. In many cases, once your “friends” realize that you’re not quite what you appear to be, they disappear, leaving you feeling hurt or even used.
Your true friends (probably) won’t change
By the time you reach your mid-20s, the close friends who are part of your life for better or not are probably always going to be there. Although that’s not to say you won’t meet any more amazing friends as you get older; still, you’ll know who you can always rely on — the people who love hanging out with you when you are at your best and your worst.
Celeb culture tempts us to think that being a spoiled, shopaholic — a princess — is perfectly acceptable, if not expected. Don’t believe the hype. the princess lifestyle is often lived paycheque to paycheque. If you’re serious about getting out of debt, not to mention accumulating wealth, tone down your princess-y ways. And start now.
In my next article, I’ll discuss how to deal with the princess in your life, whether she’s a friend or loved one, or the person staring back at you in the mirror!
Written by M. Alice Allen