The Engrossing Illusion of 'What I Spend in a Week' YouTube Videos

Screenshot: Lexis Lomard

Most YouTube trends—with the exception of the dreaded “Letting The Person In Front of Me Decide What I Eat” drive-thru challenge from earlier this year—have a short shelf life. They emerge only to fill a brief content drought, and not long afterwards viewers will move on with their lives, ideally without any memory of the mundanity that came before whatever video series is their current fixation. I am usually immune to such trends. Rather, I was immune, until I found “What I Spend In A Week” videos.

If the number of vlogs I’ve mindlessly binged in the last month and some change are to be believed, the recent trend began with YouTuber Lexie Lombard, who on October 11 posted a video titled “What I Spend in a Week in NYC as a 23 year old.” She was inspired by similar videos filmed by women older than she is, (she mentions vlogs by a stay-at-home mother and a woman preparing to get married) and so she decided to track her own spending for an entire week, resulting in a total of $555.10. It, of course, fails to account for rent, or transportation, or any real bills. Like anything on YouTube, it should be taken with a grain of salt—though it’s a fun, new exercise in voyeurism, lifestyle purchases are still limited to what the creator wants to include, and how they want to include such expenses.

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In user Krazyrayray’s “What I Spend In A Week in Seattle as a 21 Year Old,” vlog, she includes one week of rent ($250) and various bills, such as gas ($56.41) and annual maintenance for her range rover ($2,400.) Her vlog feels a bit more genuine—but it is also a reflection of her YouTube persona, which often includes aspirational, luxury spending. In Sundai Love’s “WHAT I SPENT IN A WEEK IN MY 20'S IN TOKYO | WOW!”, the model-turned-YouTuber repeatedly explains that the week she chose to film does not reflect her day-to-day life: she’s not usually taking random day trips to Izu and having expensive hotels provided to her for free. Her take on the trend registers more like faux authenticity: the title promises a glimpse into her regular life and instead offers an escape for viewers.

In MissRemiAshten’s “What I Spend In A Week in LA as a 24 Year Old,” she begins with a disclaimer for her wealth: “This video is not to brag about how much money I spend in a week, and please don’t bash on me for how much money I spend in a week. Obviously everybody’s lifestyles are different, everyone’s incomes are different.” She doesn’t count “electricity, or water bills or rent.” Her total is $3,557.05. Remi’s video might be the best distillation of why this series is so engrossing and infuriating at the same time: it’s a selective image, not the whole thing, which is inherently dishonest. Also, it is always fun to see how the other half—the young, hot, rich influencers of YouTube—live.

A more accurate portrayal would require filming a month of spending, with every tedious expense meticulously counted. I’d also like to see mention of the money earned while engaging in gratuitous spending—from brand deals and other various influencer incomes that remain largely opaque to the YouTube audience. But then again, I know better than to desire honesty from the YouTube crowd. It’s not really worth the energy. I’ll probably just keep watching these videos until the next banal trend takes over.

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About the author

Maria Sherman

Senior Writer, Jezebel