There. I said it. Now before you think that I’m trying to usher in the apocalypse, hear me out. I’m not about to argue that the world needs another Kardashian. To be honest, I’m not even totally sure that she really is one. Instead, I’d like to defend the interview Ms. Jenner did for Wealthsimple last week, not her as a celebrity or as a person. Because 1.) much to my students’ perennial dismay, I don’t keep up with the Kardashians, and 2.) I don’t actually know her.
Last week, Wealthsimple did a profile on her as a part of their “Money Diaries” series, where they do a Q & A write-up with famous (they say “interesting”) people about how money intersects with their daily lives. And they picked the world’s most famous 19-year-old*. In it, she talks about inexpensive makeup, expensive cars, and possibly living outside of the limelight one day. After the post went live, there was some virtual eye rolling, and one Tweeter even questioned his enrollment in Wealthsimple. To both, I say absurd.
*Actually, I’m making this up. There are probably more famous 19-year-olds. Is Bieber still 19? What about Taylor Swift? Am I 97 yet? She’s Really is a Kid
No, this isn’t the condescending head pat that often comes with discussions about age and money. I won’t claim to know more about money than her because I’d wager that she has access to resources beyond this finance nerd’s wildest imagination. She’s also part of an empire that, regardless of what you or I may think of it, has been wildly successful. So for someone who isn’t even old enough to drink and who is still developing socially, emotionally, and cognitively by sheer definition of being nineteen, she’s done quite well for herself in terms of finances.
It’s true that she does sound young in parts of the interview. Like when she says, “You have to have some restraint” and then follows it up with the acquiescence that she has many (read: six) expensive cars. You know why she sounds this way? Because she is young. When I begrudgingly look back in time at my personal Facebook page, I grit my teeth when I see posts celebrating the Tiffany ring my then-boyfriend, now-husband purchased for me (To quote Kylie on why she doesn’t buy jewelry: “I’ve only really gotten jewelry as gifts from my mom or a boyfriend.” Preach.). Or the time I said shoe-shopping before class made everything better. While these posts are more than a little cringe-worthy now, they were part of my evolution from shoe hoarder to more mindful consumer.
We All Make Mistakes
You don’t like the way this multimillionaire spends her money? I’m sorry she didn’t consider your feelings. Not everyone has to live a frugal lifestyle. Not everyone has to retire early. Or maybe you think she’s being mistakenly materialistic; let the person who has never filled up her closet with an unwearable amount of shoes cast the first stone. (I’ll sit. It’s fine.) While it’s really easy to notice consumerism when the scale ends in Rolls Royce, us regular Americans are doing just fine, too, in terms of buying things we don’t actually need.
Is it possible that she’s going through some growing pains financially? Sure. I’d wager that we all do to some degree. While the average American makes his or her share of financial mistakes (what else do you call an average of $15,000 in consumer debt?), we tend not to speak openly about them. Perhaps if more people were willing to have conversations about what they spend and why, we’d be a little bit further as a country along when it comes to finances.
She’s Headed in the Right Direction
She’s already talking about her future. She’s already wondering about what will happen if and when her streams of income dry up. She’s demonstrating an awareness about thirty, forty, or fifty years down the road to a time that isn’t even a blip on most Americans’ radars who haven’t begun to save for retirement, nevermind the dizzying amount of celebrities and professional athletes who bankrupt themselves (hello, MC Hammer).
So before you lambast someone over her purchases not aligning with your values, consider this: this world would be pretty boring if everyone valued the same thing. If money is a tool that we leverage to give us access to things, experiences, knowledge, or whatever else it is that we fancy, then she’s entitled to spend her money however she pleases. That’s what makes each of our financial journeys so interesting and so important. There’s always room for improvement. There is always time to tweak, adjust, and set new goals. If someone is willing to open themselves up to share their beliefs, let’s stop criticizing and start learning.
So Tell Me…What do you make of the interview? Is there anything that doesn’t sit well with you? Something that you appreciate?