Money

How This Instragram Influencer Got Herself Into (And Out Of) $13K Debt

With social media having become a totally viable (and often well-paid) career path, more and more millennials are reaching for viral stardom over more traditional jobs.

Their lives seem fabulous, they’re never caught in the same outfit twice, are always on the most luxe holidays and seem to be killing it, right?

Influencer problems

Online influencer, Lissette Calveiro opened up to New York Post about her serious financial struggle while trying to maintain an Instagram-worthy life.

In 2013, 21-year-old Calveiro moved from Miami to New York City for an internship. She would do brunch with friends on the daily, attend events and buy new outfits, all the while documenting the whole thing online. She felt as though she was living the ultimate Sex and the City dream.

At the time, Calveiro’s only source of income was from her part-time retail job. Her internship only covered transport and she was quickly chewing through her existing savings.

During her time in New York, she would treat herself to monthly $200 shopping sprees to ensure she’d never be seen in the same outfit twice and would often splurge on designer items like Louis Vuitton bags to show off to her following of 12,000 people.

Travel snaps

On top of all this, Calveiro would fork out for airfares to destinations like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and the Bahamas for the perfect snap. Her biggest splurge on herself? A $900 (US$700) round trip ticket to Austin, Texas for a concert. It became a serious issue.

“I pulled a 180 with my finances, and went into a mini-isolation from the world, slowing down my Instagram activity.”

As a result of spending so much above her means, Calveiro found herself $12,800 (US$10,000) in debt and moved back home to Miami at the end of 2013. Even while living with her parents, most of her salary went to dining out, shopping trips and travel – all in the name of Instagram.

After a sobering moment towards the end of 2016, she landed a full-time dream job in Manhattan and knew she needed to change her ways. “I knew that moving to New York, I had to get my act together or I wasn’t going to survive,” she told the New York Post. “I pulled a 180 with my finances, and went into a mini-isolation from the world, slowing down my Instagram activity.”

She would recycle a lot of her Instagram content, moved in with a roommate in a less-expensive suburb where her rent was just $700 a month and took up cooking, giving herself a weekly grocery budget of $35.

Turning around from debt

After 14 months, she was able to pay off her debt, owing her success to strict budgeting.

Looking back, Calveiro does regret blowing so much money. “I had a lot of opportunities to save,” she said. “I could’ve invested that money.”

“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?’”

Everyone makes mistakes, and it is possible to get out of debt. But by making smart choices with your money, you can avoid the problem entirely.


Bradley is a writer from regional NSW and he didn’t come here to make friends, he came to win. He tweets infrequently to his 43 followers @bradjohnston_.