The Unique Struggles Of Having Expensive Taste, But No Money

by Zara Barrie

My name is Zara Barrie, and I’m addicted to expensive things. It wasn’t a choice I consciously made, like sexuality or my God-given genetics -- I was born this way.

Since I was a little girl, I always chose the most extravagant item on the menu. My palate has always desired oysters and black truffles and champagne.

When my mother took us to the toy store, while my siblings would find themselves teeming with excitement over Legos and Barbies -- I would be magnetically drawn toward the display of luxurious silken headbands and plush stuffed animals and high-priced porcelain dolls not suited for the likes of children.

Before I attained the capability to fathom what “expensive” even meant, I was lusting after haute couture gowns, designer leather jackets, vintage croc clutches and fabulous orange Hermès Birkin bags that I would longingly gaze at from the intoxicating, shiny pages of a magazine.

My love of all things expensive isn’t exclusive to clothes; I love expensive cities like Paris and New York and adore five-star hotels.

The only sport I’ve ever enjoyed is horse riding, and I feel far more at home in a posh hotel bar than I do the grungy dive.

Go right ahead, self-righteous hipster, burn me at the stake, and hang me out to dry. I’m no longer ashamed of my bourgeois ways -- I embrace them.

The trouble is: I don’t have money.

I’m a creative, and creative careers don’t pay. I work endless hours yet hardly scrape by.

I’m also a stubborn soul who refuses to take on a job I hate (I’m fiercely dedicated and passionate about my creative work), so a career transition into something more financially fruitful simply isn’t an option for me.

On the very same note, there is no way in hell I’m trading in my Helmut Lang for Forever 21.

I’m not about to sacrifice an evening spent consuming black truffle macaroni and cheese at The Waverly Inn for a two-for-one special at Applebee’s (hey -- to each her own).

My inability to sway has made my life full of some very unique challenges exclusive to all of us girls doomed with expensive taste and NO money:

You live in perpetual fear of the credit card decline.

At this stage in the game, my credit card has declined so many times; I feel a legitimate rush of accomplishment every time it’s approved.

I can’t explain the salty waves of anxiety that wash over my entire body every single time I’m waiting on a seemingly endless line to purchase a new pair of shoes or a lavish new scent.

My inner voice pleads: “Please go through, please go through. Please, DEAR HIGHER POWER UP ABOVE, go through -- I vow to never buy a $150 face cream again if this limited edition Tom Ford fragrance simply goes through.

When you find yourself silently willing the universe to accept your credit card -- you know you have a deep-rooted over-spending problem, and an additional therapy session is order this week  (yet another expensive habit you’ve cultivated).

Nothing upsets you quite like wealth and bad taste.

My mother always told me money doesn’t buy class, and I’ve learned it most certainly doesn’t buy style either.

In fact, all the fabulous fashion stars prancing around the city streets in gloriously sky-high shoes and synthetic silk lashes are usually the most broke babes on the block

No one who actually works in fashion makes money; it’s the great myth of the fashion community. Fashion people are creative weirdos, not business moguls.

It pierces deeply into the core of my tender heart when I see a fabulously wealthy woman blow heaps of cash on tacky clothes, hideous furniture and expensive vacations to basic resorts free of imagination or character (why would you go to "Atlantis" when you could go to Cape Town or Saint-Tropez or Marrakesh or an East African Safari?).

I happen to be an inherently sweet and soulful young woman, so I don’t necessarily resent her for her lack of taste but am rather fueled with an irrepressible desire to help her learn how to properly spend her unlimited budget.

A desire to serve as her dutiful tour guide, introducing her the world of sashimi dinners in Malibu, private jets to Aspen and beautiful Balenciaga oversized knit sweaters.

You have a misunderstood style of “budgeting.”

Some people, some lame “responsible” people like to perpetually tell me that my priorities are out of whack.

This incessant lecturing does rumple my sequins, after all, I’m not judging the basic ways in which you invest your money, and unless I’m breeding with you or asking you for financial help (neither of which I am), why the f*ck do you care?

See, when you have no money and expensive taste, very few people understand your budgeting style.

They don’t understand you’re totally okay spending an entire paycheck on a piece of vintage Chanel costume jewelry (it will make everything you wear look fabulous!), even if it means surviving on rations of peanut butter for two weeks.

Normal people will try to help you manage your finances when they see you looking slight and hungry after a mega purchase, but what they don’t realize is you’re happy in this life.

Regardless of the sacrifices it required, you are now the proud owner of a highly coveted haute couture brooch that will send you sailing to the ceiling with happiness every time your mascara-adorned eyes peer into it.

People wrongfully assume you're wealthy.

The struggle is real: So many people seem to think I’ve got an unlimited budget and an epic trust fund because of the lavish things I’m lured toward. Keep dreaming.

This becomes an increasingly awkward predicament that goes as such: I will be out to dinner with new friends (often wealthy friends), and they boldly order expensive champagne feeling no need to ask if my budget allows for me to split it with them.

They assume because I have a Céline bag hanging off my arm, I can surely afford champagne.

If only they knew the sacrifices it took to buy that purse.

People are disappointed when they find out I live in a tiny six-story walk up above a laundromat and not in the penthouse suite of The Trump Tower.

Sales people at Barney’s give me dirty looks as if I'm cheap scum for not being able to purchase the $400 deluxe hand cream they gave me a stealth sample of because they assumed (due to my Gucci mega sunnies) I could afford to buy it (and it’s not like I could turn down a free sample -- that’s just rude).

You’re constantly scheming a way to get what you want.

Another gem from my mother (she taught me everything I know): “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

True for LOVE but also for fashion and dinners and trips.

Anyone who really truly madly deeply loves expensive things finds a way to get them. We are fierce collectors of beauty, and nothing can stand in the way of a woman and her passions.

We may take drastic measures (writing bad checks, cultivating payment plans with retailers, draining savings accounts and sacrificing meals) to attain these possessions -- but we do eventually acquire them.

Disclaimer: True expensive-taste-loving ladies with NO money would never use a man or her sexuality to get anything. Our wild integrity and incredible ethics is part of the reason we HAVE NO MONEY.

I will leave you with this brilliant Oscar Wilde quote:

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from lack of imagination."

(PSA: This quote is a great way to justify your reckless spending.)