Hi, my name is Gabby and I am a self-diagnosed shopaholic. Unlike Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic, Blair Waldorf, Carrie Bradshaw, or Danielle Bernstein, I don’t have a fictional bank account. I don’t have money other than what my $12 an hour job pays me, nor do I have brands sponsoring me. But I am not complaining — while I love fashion, I don’t aspire to be involved in its working world. However, that is not to say a girl can’t dream of being able to one day enjoy breakfast and a necklace at Tiffany's every Saturday morning. The healthy and realistic thing to do would just to dream and to work harder. But I am sure I speak for most people, when I admit that when I am stressed stressed or depressed, practicality and responsibility go out the window.
Everyone has tendencies that arise when they are feeling anxious or sad. This is normal. Some people binge on unhealthy foods while others binge a reality TV show. We all know a person that drowns themselves in tequila and another who bites their nails to extinction. The reality of all these activities is that they are in some way or another bad for us. A little of each is OK, but too much and we are in deep trouble. My personal weakness is shopping.
As silly as it sounds, my bank account is something I feel a lot of shame about. I am the oldest child in my family, but I have a reputation of being the “spender” and the “financially unstable” one. I guess I could say that I am fortunate enough to have the means to overspend on clothes. Except, I don’t. In one year, I will be off into the real world with my student debt dragging behind me. Thankfully, I haven’t dug my financial grave yet. So, aside from opening up to my therapist about this, I decided to do what I do best: write, research, and report.
Meet Delyanne Barros
I spoke with Delyanne Barros, a personal finance and investing coach, attorney, entrepreneur, and TikToker. Having graduated a little over a decade ago, Barros now makes six figures and will retire when she is 45. She knows what she is doing with her money, to say the least.
It was not always this way for her. “Once I left home for college, I was financially on my own,” Barros says. Though she was born in Brazil, Miami became her home. She studied at Barry University in Miami and then Pace Law School in New York City.
Becoming financially stable and smart was not a choice for her at age 20. While I do not have an abundance of funds, I am fortunate that I am not completely on my own yet. Everyone’s financial situation is different, especially during college. There are those like Barros, who was raised into becoming “frugal,” as she says. Then there are those who, fortunately but also unfortunately, know nothing about personal finance. Maybe this is not entirely our fault.
Women need to talk money more
Barros told me a story from years ago that prompted her to start coaching people. “I walked up to a group of guys in a circle at a bar and asked what they were talking about,” she says. “They said money.”
According to Barros this is something she has noticed a lot. “Money is personal, but as women we already do talk about a lot of personal things. Yet, we can’t seem to talk about money.”
Could it be that the shame women have about talking money is contributing to spending problems? That is a question for which neither of us has an answer. In any case, Barros told me that part of the reason she began coaching people was to open the conversation up more.
A new mindset — and new habits
I told Barros how I think it is easy to dissociate from our financial reality when our only reminder is a thin piece of plastic. This is especially true for me when I am feeling down and use spending as an escape. Learning to find other ways to feel better is something that a therapist will tackle, but mindset is a huge part of learning how to manage money, according to Barros. She advises that we consider how “money is tied to time.” We have to think about the money we are handling in terms of the time it spent us to make.
“Everyone should sit down and create a budget,” Barros says. “Write down what you make in a month, what needs to go towards necessary payments, and assign what you will pay yourself.” The areas of spending that affect us the most are housing, transportation, and food. According to Barros, we should be focusing on cutting down these costs in any way we can rather than never buying the Starbucks latte we so desperately need twice a week. “No one is getting poor or broke over coffee,” she says.
Listen closely, my fellow shopaholics, to the next thing she told me: “Don’t vilify spending.” I repeat: “Don’t vilify spending.” According to Barros, “like any crash food diet, restricting won’t work.” In fact, restricting ourselves will do the opposite and result in binging whether it’s on pizza or shoes. “We can’t use willpower because that uses energy which we will run out of,” she says.
Barros recommended that I read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. According to Barros, this book is particularly great for people (like me) who are “beginners.” The New York Times bestseller taught Barros a lot when she began her own personal finance journey. “It is easy to understand and practical,” Delyanne told me
Barros’s financial success and early retirement plan is actually attainable even if our college finances are not great right now. According to her, at the end of the day, college is about having fun and getting our degree. Almost no college student has a good-looking bank account. “Now is the time to start learning more about personal finance,“ she says.