“I know plenty of writers who do live on their credit cards and are alcoholics and are stuck in these dreadful jobs because they have these romantic ideas of being a writer. But they’re broke, and they’re always going to be broke unless they change. I don’t know what other people do financially, but I do know you can’t compare yourself to other people in terms of money. You can’t see another writer going out to dinner all the time, and think you can do that, too.”
I worked at a fancy-pants restaurant on the Upper West Side that paid a lot of money, but I hated the job. I lied on my resume and told them I had lots of wine experience and worked at a bunch of fancy restaurants. And when they called my references, they actually called my friends who acted as my references for me. The night before I started, I went to Trader Joe’s and bought a bunch of Two-Buck Chuck and my friend helped me practice opening bottles. At one point, it was like, when you’re teaching a romantic partner how to golf. He was behind me, showing me how to open them.
On the first night, I accidentally wrote the special down wrong, and one of the servers said, “The chef wants to see you in the kitchen.” The chef screamed at me in Portuguese, picked up the special he had made, and threw it against the wall. Then I had to clean it up. On the second night, I accidentally broke off the cork into a $450 bottle of wine, and I got screamed at some more. It was terrible.
I’m a natural hoarder and I like to have money with me because if there was an apocalypse or something, I’d want my money readily accessible. I saved most of the money because I only spent money for rent and going out to eat and I didn’t have any debt.
You should really put that money in the bank.
I have! My husband’s helped me get a savings account, an IRA and with investing. He works with me now as a partner on D*S. I had this thing about bank accounts and was a cash heavy person. I’ve transitioned now, but I’m still cautious and careful. It’s a byproduct of how my dad was careful and had to budget for our family, and that’s all really trickled down to me. I always pay off all my credit cards. I don’t spend what I don’t have.
I remember getting my first paycheck and calling my mom, like, “I have a thousand dollars!” I started saving money. And then I slowly began opening envelopes — the ones I pretended didn’t exist. I started paying everything back: my student loans, the ticket I got the one time I jumped a subway turnstile, my credit cards, library fines and the doctor bill. I kept up with all the payments, and I’m still working on it. But it’s no longer this scary thing.
Discretionary spend-o-meter alert: Bundle’s latest report goes deep into which cities, age groups and households spend the most on travel, cable and entertainment. I personally love this topic — it’s what sets apart the gamers from the sunbathers.
The overall big spender? Arlington, Va., is the No. 1 travel & leisure-ist city in the U.S. (Avg. household there spent $5,615 in 2009.)