In the era of social media fame, it’s tempting to want to emulate the lives of Instagram influencers entering into the feeds of millions of followers by way of charm, style, or a swanky lifestyle.
But for 26-year-old Lissette Calveiro, online popularity cost her thousands of dollars.
She told The New York Post:
“Nobody talks about [his or her] finances on Instagram. ... It worries me how much I see girls care about image.”
Calveiro would know; the Miami native blew her savings and modest entry level salary trying to gain followers on the social media site.
She told The Post:
“I wanted to tell my story about this young millennial living in New York. .. I was shopping . . . for clothes to take ‘the perfect ’gram.’ ”
When the young professional moved to New York City for an internship in 2013, she felt like she was living the “Sex and the City dream.” The intern was brunching with friends, buying stylish outfits, and she began to document her new life on Instagram.
Calveiro, who now has more than 25,000 Instagram followers, gained a following by curating a “fabulous” lifestyle — but she says it was all a lie. The Post reports that she sank $10,000 into debt trying to live an “Instagram-worthy life.”
The now 26-year-old said:
“I was living above my means.”
While Calveiro's followers saw her jet-setting to various locations, fine dining, and showing off her designer clothes, she was actually living the life of a New York intern — and was struggling financially.
Her internship only paid for a transportation stipend, so she was living off her savings while she worked a part-time retail job.
After the internship, Calveiro moved back to Miami in fall 2013 and landed a full-time publicist job. She lived with her parents in Miami; however, most of her salary went to “dining out, shopping sprees and traveling — all to curate a covetable life online.”
Calveiro was breaking the bank trying to gain online popularity. She told The Post she was earning “low- to mid-five figures,” and debt was looming over her head.
The Post writes:
Calveiro would treat herself to monthly $200 shopping sprees so she wouldn’t be seen on Instagram wearing the same outfit twice. Every month, she’d also splurge on a designer item, such as a $1,000 vintage Louis Vuitton bag or an accessory from Kate Spade, so she could show it off to her followers.
Then there was the desire to look like a jet-setter, traveling to a new location — such as Las Vegas, the Bahamas and Los Angeles — every month for a year.
Her biggest splurge was a $700 round-trip ticket to Austin, Texas, for a Sia concert in November 2016.
Calveiro finally got a “sobering reality check” — she could no longer maintain her Instagram activity — when she landed a public relations job in Manhattan.
“I knew that moving [back] to New York, I had to get my act together or I wasn’t going to survive.”
Calveiro slowed down her Instagram activity by recycling old content, and she found a roommate and lived in an Inwood (uptown Manhattan) apartment, where her rent was $700 a month. Instead of dining out, she began cooking and gave herself a weekly grocery budget.
With the help of a financial coach, “14 months in,” she was able to pay off her debt. She told The Post she pulled a 180 with her finances, and now she's trying to make her Instagram look more realistic.
“I find more meaning in what I’m doing. It goes back to me being more authentic. Whenever someone says they like my coat I say, ‘Oh, can you believe I got this coat at H&M for $50?’ ”
According to Fashionista, the life of an Instagram influencer costs about $31,400 a year to “look perfect for the gram.”
If these standards seem completely unrealistic to you, that's because they are. Instagram often reflects a fantasy more than reality.
Standards that seem normal on an app are only reality if you're a celebrity or paid influencer — and it's your full-time job to get people to buy stuff, according to the site.