grind

Money Diary: A Week in NYC as a Freelance Writer

Carrie Bradshaw, minus the big office and stable income

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@freemanlafleur via Twenty20

In January of 2019, I was laid off from my full-time editor role with a major media company. During that week, over 200 media professionals and journalists were let go from their jobs. Journalism was experiencing a downfall and job opportunities were scarce due to the lack of funding and a large amount of people applying for the same roles. After receiving several rejection emails from companies I had applied for, I decided to accept a job outside of the media industry and freelance write until the market turned around. 

This was my first time working as a freelancer and I had no idea where to start. Twitter became my best friend, as there were many accounts dedicated to retweeting freelance gigs and paid opportunities. Eventually, I landed a byline at three media outlets and consistently received assignments and approved pitches from them. I started averaging 4-5 articles a week, which is similar to the workload of an average staff writer. Freelance writing has done more than just sharpen my writing skills, it has taught me to hustle, to be persuasive, to network and most of all, to budget. Here’s what a week in NYC as a freelance writer with another job, looks like.

Occupation: Freelance writer and social media manager 

Industry: Media

Age: 24

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Salary: $85,000 ($75K salary + $10K estimate of freelance gigs per year)

Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,500 (combined)

Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,150 

Student Loans: None

Spotify: $9.99

Hulu: $5.99

Raya: $8.99

Utilities: $65

Bi-weekly hair appointment: $90

Monday

7:30 am: My alarm goes off and I immediately rush over to my laptop. Monday is pitch day for a lot of media companies and I’m about to send over the pitches I put together over the weekend. I send five to the publication that I write for the most. Hopefully, they’ll approve three of them and possibly assign me one of their own. 

8:00 am: I prep my lunch for the day because I’m not down to spend $100+ a week on eating out. Thankfully, my job has snacks, which I always take advantage of. I do have to refill my Metro Card ($33) for the week though. 

9:00 am: I just made it to my 9-5 job. I’m craving a mocha latte but decide to hold out until 2 pm because I’ll need it later to power through these assignments tonight. 

1:32 pm: Just received an email from my editor. All of my pitches were approved. I’m super happy about this because I prefer to write my own stuff than the pieces that no one else wanted to grab. 

2:00 pm: I head out for a 20-minute break. I need some fresh air and it’s finally time to satisfy my mocha ($5.50) craving. 

5:31 pm: I just made it to one of my favorite coffee shops in Williamsburg. I beat rush-hour and land the perfect spot next to a window and an outlet. I opt for a chai latte ($3.50) because I’m trying to drink less coffee per day. I set my alarm for 8 pm because if I don’t, I’ll stay all night and miss dinner.

8:00 pm: My alarm goes off. I got two of the five articles done and also managed to swipe on my dating apps for 20 minutes. It’s time to head home and cook dinner. 

Total spent: $42

Tuesday

7:30 am: I wake up with a super-swollen left eye. I’m hoping this isn’t anything serious and decide to ice it for now. As I’m preparing my salad for today, I notice my groceries are running low. I use a delivery service because my closest grocery store is 10 blocks from my apartment and I’m just not cut out to carry eight bags of heavy items to my door. Before heading to work, I order my groceries ($57) online and set a delivery window from 6-7pm.

12:30 pm: My eye is only getting worse so I called my doctor for a last-minute appointment ($35 co-pay). Thankfully, she has some open slots and can see me during my lunch break. Turns out I have an infection and need Amoxicillin ($81). 

2:00 pm: I’m going to be working late tonight on my assignments, so it’s time for a mocha ($5) to power me through the second half of the day.  

6:00 pm: Just made it home. I wasn’t expecting to drop money for a doctor appointment so I decide to work from home to avoid buying food and drinks in a coffee shop. I have to wait for my groceries anyway, so it works out perfectly. 

10:30 pm: At this point, I’ve finished four of my five assignments for the week. The last one is going to take some research and is a bit longer, so I’ll save it for Saturday morning.

Total spent: $178

Wednesday

7:30 am: I’m super tired this morning. Two days in a row of working and writing always catches up to me midweek, but at least I’m done with assignment work until the weekend. Because of this, I made dinner plans for this evening with my friend, Efosa.

2:00 pm: I ditch my daily mocha for tea from the office. I’ll be getting home early this evening and would actually rather fall asleep sooner tonight. 

4:00 pm: Another one of the publications that I write for just emailed me an assignment. They give me a two-week deadline, which is great because I wouldn't want to take on any more work this week. 

5:00 pm: I just got off work and have about an hour to spare in the city before meeting for dinner. This is the perfect time to get some mini errands done. I hit CVS to grab some feminine products ($14) because it’s that time of the month and then get my eyebrows threaded ($15). I notice a boba tea spot on my way to the restaurant and struggle to refrain from indulging. A large taro with bubbles ($6) is worth the nine-person queue. 

6:30 pm: Efosa and I meet in Koreatown to try a new restaurant. I order a big bowl of ramen with dumplings on the side ($22)  

8:15 pm: The L train is delayed because someone fell onto the tracks. I opt for an Uber ($32) home because I want nothing more than to be in my bed, catching up on Euphoria, and slowly falling asleep.

Total spent: $57

Thursday

6:00 am: I had trouble sleeping last night so I wake up early and start on my final assignment. Although I planned to save it for the weekend, this will allow me more time to hang with friends or sleep in. 

7:45 am: I finished close to half of the assignment and I check my debit account to plan out what kind of weekend I can actually have. Some of my invoices still haven’t been paid out so I send a follow-up email to the respective companies. Some pay within two weeks of submitting an invoice while others take up to 30 days. This is probably the worst part about freelancing—the inconsistent paycheck. 

8:30 am: I’m on the train headed to work and try to think of ways to utilize my time. I’ve already listened to the new Brockhampton song 20 times so I decided to ditch my headphones and jot down pitch ideas for the following week. In between stops, I search for other freelance gigs on Twitter, but I’ll probably limit myself to the three I already write for. 

5:30 pm: I signed up for a free first-time boxing class last night, so here I am. If I like it, it’ll be $30 per class, and if I take two classes per week, it will cost way more than the gym membership I just canceled. I’ve found that a lot of fitness studios offer free first-time sessions, so I’m going to ride this trial wave for a month or two first. But I did have to purchase hand wraps ($10) at the class. 

7:00 pm: The boxing class was actually really great and there’s no way I cannot take another. I feel more energized and hungry, than ever. I pass by a Juice Generation on my way to the train and stop to grab a green smoothie ($9) for all my hard work. Plus, it’ll hold me until I get home to make dinner. 

Total spent: $19

Friday

7:00 am: Fridays are self-care days for me and usually my most expensive weekday. I’m up early because I go to a walk-in salon, so there’s no telling how many people will be in line this morning. But that’s also why I choose to go on Friday rather than the weekend. 

9:00 am: I just made it to my salon in Queens. I get my usual blowout ($35) and trim ($5). And because I’m wholesome, I leave my hairdresser a tip ($5). I want to Uber home but the price is ranging between $40 and $47. The train will do. 

2:00 pm: I’m finally back on my side of town and am headed to a coffee shop to get the rest of this work done. I order a mocha ($5) even though I don’t really need it today and an avocado toast ($10), honestly just for the Insta pic. 

4:00 pm: Two hours later and I have finished all my assignments for the week. On my way home, I stop by CVS and grab a few personal items ($22) to avoid having to restock anything over the weekend. 

6:30 pm: I head to Soho to have dinner with some friends to celebrate the weekend being here. I specifically chose a place on my model app so that I could eat for free. Basically, there are a few apps for models and influencers that offer free meals, drinks, etc. in exchange for posting a photo on your Instagram story. It’s saved me so much money over the years. I order an entree, glass of wine, and a side dish, all for free. Gotta love perks. 

9:30 pm: Typically I would go out on a Friday but I have a date with Handmaid’s Tale, so I’m calling it a night now that I’m back home.

Total spent: $82

Saturday

3:00 pm: I had a super long morning, slept in, and watched Handmaid’s Tale pretty much until 2. I’m about to head to the park and meet my co-worker Patrick for some catch-up time. I haven’t seen him in an entire six days. I know, dramatic. 

3:45 pm: It’s perfect weather outside. Patrick grabs sparkling water and I order an iced mocha ($4.25). We head to a shaded area in the grass and vent to each other about our current situations. 

4:50 pm: We’re getting kind of hungry so head to a Mediterranean spot nearby. I order a lamb kebab ($9) and Patrick gets a lamb burger and wine. We chill here for a bit while we wait for our friend Treye to join us. 

6:00 pm: Treye just showed up, late as always. Patrick mentions that we’re close to this cool outdoor lot spot, literally called The Lot, so we head there to check it out. It’s a vibe. There’s hip-hop on rotation, Brooklynites galore, cheap drinks. I order a sparkling juice ($3) because I’m not drinking anymore. The three of us compare guys in order of hotness, as vapid as it sounds, it’s super entertaining. 

8:00 pm: My friend Saavon joins us and we head to Martha’s Bakery, my favorite dessert spot. Saavon and I split a chocolate mud pie ($4.45 for my half). We used to come to this place weekly but I’m trying to prep for fashion week, so I’m laying off the sweets. 

9:00 pm: My friends and I bar hop, take a Revel ride, and explore the nightlife of Williamsburg. We do this almost every weekend but somehow always find something new. Right before calling it a night at 10:30, we stop for pizza slices. I’m not even hungry but social setting pressure is at a high, so I order a slice of white ($4.75).

Total spent: $25.45

Sunday

10:00 am: I slept in because all I’m doing this morning is switching bedrooms with my roommate. I’m still full from last night so will probably have a late lunch. 

1:30 pm: My friend Saavon and I meet up in Williamsburg to visit that spot, The Lot. We both order an iced coffee ($4.25) because it’s cheaper than day drinking. We spend about a few hours until my date at 4:30. 

4:25 pm: I always try to be the first person to a date with a new person so I can scope out the menu beforehand. I’ve never had oysters before so I also order some cheese fries on the side. The date went well. This dude is super funny and we talk about who we’re going to vote for most of the time. When it’s all said and done he offers to cover the bill, but I insist on splitting ($13.25). 

8:00 pm: I just got home from my date and I decide to order a new chair for my bedroom. I narrow it down to five different off-white accent chairs on Wayfair and settle for the cheapest one ($221.37). I’m totally done for the week, someone please take my credit card.

Total spent: $238.87

Total spent all week: $638.07

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