How Isla Fisher made me financially smart (for the most part)

By Emma Testerman | Jan 07, 2021

The last thing I expected was a financial lesson at the end of 2020. Delivered by none other than actress Isla Fisher in her role as Becky in "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

One could argue it isn't exactly Fisher delivering this knowledge but the script writer, but tomato, potato, tomato.

It makes sense that the smartest choice to make during an economic collapse during your young adulthood life is to quit the "madness money" spending, as my finance professor said, and hoard it like a dragon until the danger has passed.

Or until one of your wipers snaps in half from scraping ice off the windshield too hard. Or to renew your car insurance. Or to buy 35 sewing patterns so you can somehow achieve that Etsy dream of being a prom dress designer. You know, actual adult things.

I get it. I'm 24, I should know better than to buy all Sims 4 expansion and stuff packs mid-March, just two weeks into my remote work quarantine. I know better than to consider completely splurging as a form of therapy

I'm not entirely sure what happened. I can guarantee, with sources of friends and past coworkers, I was a penny-pincher from high school through half of college. So what changed?

Answer's easy. Sometimes spending feels therapeutic. Sometimes.

Also, I don't care. Sometimes.

I'm certainly no source for life's greatest and puzzling answers to saving or growing money. I mean, I'm figuring that out too. Post-college and all. But, in a scene in the movie where Becky, Fisher's character, returns from a Gucci sale, she stumbles upon a revelation she never noticed before.

This coincided with something I recently learned, myself. As someone who gets excited at sales and inexpensive costs, it makes sense that when you see a stylish article of clothing (or...anything, really) for a good price, it's probably worth purchasing. Maybe you care about name brands, maybe you don't, but overall, cost and quality is what we invest ourselves in.

Becky realizes that a Gucci cashmere coat she bought isn't as genuine as the brand claims. Looking at the tag, it reveals the coat actually consists of predominately polyester, with only a small margin of cashmere material.

In short, she spent over $300 for a coat not even worth $40.

Now, in case you are wondering why this provoked me, this is because there's been both a boom and public outrage towards "fast fashion."

For those who don't know what this is, it's a large industry of fashion "brands" — Shein, Romwe, Boohoo, to name a few — that churn out a disproportionately large amount of clothing currently in style at a laughably poor quality and cost.

They also own a disgusting amount of sweat shops... but, that's a different topic to tackle at a later time.

Sometimes, online shoppers will get lucky and find themselves with something nice. At least, decent. It's rare to find anything of actual 'wow' factor through these sources. I attempted buying from these places, and without any note of exaggeration, most of the times I've purchased from them, I end up with poorly sewn clothes, a ton of plastic in my trash bin and a weighted conscience.

Knowing our beliefs here in Maine, we value local shops and retailers. We strive to support the community financially. We greatly appreciate homemade items. We also value things that will serve a purpose for a good amount of time, and if it isn't what we need, it still has that purpose for someone else. We make do with what we can. Financially speaking, that's pretty darn good.

But when you see a good price on something of interest, and it arrives in such a plastic-wrapped mess, you know you've murdered at least five seals in the ocean or littered an ecosystem just by receiving them. It's a sudden slap to the face that there are people — and businesses — who abuse the purpose of marketing and offering a product that isn't even worth five cents in the end.

This pivotal scene in "Confessions of a Shopaholic" displayed not only the pitfalls of splurging on things we consider worth investing in, but that value is more or less a personal opinion embraced by a popular group of people, often marketers and businessmen in leading industries.

Ultimately, it's never wrong to splurge a little on yourself. There needs to be a healthy dose of a "rainy day" mindset today, which so far seems to be either nonexistent in some or out of proportion in others. (Like me, earlier last year.)

But before you decide to purchase a pack of magnetic lashes or reusable sticker wallpaper to make your apartment bathroom look more chic, maybe look at the cost and ask yourself if the money you're about spend is worth the investment.

Emma Testerman is The Courier-Gazette's copy editor. She currently resides somewhere in the back woods, often mistaken for a cryptid. She can be reached at

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