How Not To Make Money

Some people are good at making money. I’m not one of them. Just talking about money makes me profoundly uncomfortable–a fact that makes being paid for things pretty tricky! When I was younger this wasn’t really an issue, since money wasn’t something I necessarily wanted or cared about–when you’re 21, being a poor, hustling scavenger who eats out of supermarket garbage bins just makes you feel edgy/resourceful. However, as you get older, being broke starts to make you feel like a tragic unsuccessful loser/suicidal. Basically, now that I’m in my late twenties, money has suddenly become something I want, desperately, in large quantities, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it. I suppose this is because as we age things like comfort and stability become more important to us. And considering that I still live behind a curtain and steal avocados from the deli, it’s evident that my life is neither comfortable nor stable (dammit!). However, in recent months I’ve been getting a bit more creative with my money-making techniques. I’ll start from the beginning.

My dad is possibly the most frugal man on earth. One of my earliest memories is of him teaching me how to wipe my butt, and him explaining that using “any more than three sheets of toilet paper” was a “waste of money.” First of all: WTF, second of all: unhygienic. Though our family was never poor–we were the middlest of middle class–my dad refused to spend extravagantly on anything, for any reason. Every summer, when my friend’s families went off to Mexico or Europe or wherever on vacation, my family went to New Jersey. NEW JERSEY, every year, without fail, from before I can remember all the way until after I graduated high school. Even when I was still in single digits, I could somehow sense that my life was lacking the element of glamor. (#FirstWorldProblems)

Growing up, my parents made it very clear to my brother and I that they wanted to teach us the value of the dollar. Aka they were cheap and never gave us any money. I got my first job when I was 15, bussing tables at a restaurant. When I turned 16 I got a job as a lifeguard at the local town reservoir, teaching swim lessons to children and casually saving people’s lives. I worked there with my high school best friend, Michelle. We’d sit together in our matching red one-pieces and fight about whose turn it was to go in the water every time someone started drowning.

After high school I moved to London for college. I only made it one semester before I realized that drama students are the most self-important, delusional people on earth, and subsequently dropped out. And since my parents obviously refused to help me out financially, I needed to get a job. (I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining about this, by the way. I strongly believe that being spoiled ruins people. You can find proof of this in the droves of self-entitled rich kids wandering aimlessly around New York–barf.) However the problem was that I was in England without a working visa, and therefore was unable to get a “real job,” so I had to find a way to make money under the table. Mind you, at this point in my life I didn’t have many expenses. I had moved into a squat and paid no rent, I dumpster-dove for all of my food, I got all of my clothes from thrift stores, and I stole everything else I needed. The only thing I really spent money on was alcohol and drugs (and tbh I got most of my drugs for free because I literally lived with three drugs dealers simultaneously #convenient). I barely wanted anything, but I had everything I wanted. My best friend and flatmate at the time, Matthew Stone, used to refer to this lifestyle as “penniless decadence.”

For cash, I started flyering for nightclubs. So basically I was that annoying person on the street who tries to hand you pieces of paper you don’t want. However, I quickly got fired from that job because they figured out that rather than actually handing out the fliers I was just throwing them in the garbage and drinking vodka on a park bench for three hours until it was time to pick up my money. After that I got another flyering job for a comedy club, however this time rather than handing out flyers I actually was the flyer. Like legit I had to wear one of those sandwich boards that says, “Comedy, this way!” with an arrow pointing in whatever direction. TRAGIC. I did that for about a week–potentially the most suicidal week of my life–until I finally had a mini breakdown during a shift and went and cried in McDonalds (with my sign propped up on the chair next to me, life a cardboard friend), pondering whether it was actually a bad idea to have dropped out of college.

My next crap job was working behind the bar at an English pub. They don’t tip in England, so bartenders just get paid an hourly fee. I made £5 an hour, which I’m almost positive is below minimum wage. During this time I had also become very skilled at finding money on the ground. I discovered that if I waited around in nightclubs, at the end of the night after everyone left I could find a lot of money on the floor. After a few months of this I realized that I was literally finding more money on the ground than I was making at the pub, so I quit. Next, at the age of 22, I got my first vaguely OK-ish job, booking bands and DJs at a bar in London called Catch. I worked 8 hours a week and got £80 for it, meaning I had a spending allowance of roughly £12 per day. That was SO MUCH MONEY to me. I remember having a phone conversation with my mom after getting the job, and telling her how excited I was that I could now afford to buy canned beets. She cried a little.

Over the next couple years I started making a small (aka very small) amount of money from writing. (Journalists are paid shit, I don’t recommend it as a profession.) However, when I moved back to New York in 2010, at the age of 25, I was suddenly faced with the need to do something I’d never done before: pay rent. As it turns out, even though I was a working journalist and was starting my VICE show, I still had no where near enough money to pay rent. The reason for that is because living in NYC is really expensive, but also because creative people are taken advantage of. It seems to be an assumption within creative industries that if you are a person who “does something you love,” then you should be willing to do that thing for free. Well, THAT’S FAR FROM THE CASE. Nobody wants or should have to work for free. And sure, I love writing, but let’s be honest I love laying down and staring into space more, so if I’m going to write I want some fucking $$$ for it, duh. I should have been a banker.

Anyway, for the last two years, to increase my income I’ve worked a few shifts a week at a Chinese restaurant. (But like trendy Chinese food, ya know? #important) However, I recently quit because refilling soy sauce bottles was starting to depress me, and I think that finally, FINALLY I have reached a point where I can support myself doing “things I love” without the help of a shitty part time job. “Things I love” include: writing stuff, peeing in people’s mouths, dominating pathetic men, selling T-shirts with my vagina on them, making videos, giving Jezebel readers questionable sex advice, and–my newest job!–going out to dinner with lonely rich guys who want to make it seem like they have a girlfriend when they’re out in public. Lololol–more on that in a post coming soon. Oh and my financial slave is back in the picture (the one who paid my rent for a while), but he’s kind of broke now so he’s not being so generous. Although I recently agreed to let him pay me in monthly installments (lol) in exchange for letting him eat me out when he comes to New York this Christmas. Cunnilingus payment plan!!

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26 Replies to “How Not To Make Money”

  1. Fuck rent! Everyone should get paid to do what they love and not have to pay to live in a box. Landlords would be pursuing their dream jobs left and right!
    I love your ~this is how I got here~ posts BTW #needlifedirection #alreadyasexfreak <3

  2. Karley,

    You are way too worried about being tragic. You bring it up constantly. Why are you so insecure about being tragic? Probably because you are tragic, duh! Maybe you should just embrace tragicity and get on with your life.

  3. it’s cool that you don’t have to do a job you hate anymore, but admittedly i sometimes fantasise about coming to Brooklyn and unexpectedly having you as a waitress.

    maybe you should write your memoir to make the big $$$

    by the way, i love posts like this~ <3

  4. hmmmm maybe I should just be a senile bitch, maybe that way creative people will pay me more. That and spitting on people.


    But then again, I kind of don’t.

    In summary, you are funny and I love you! I know you can make it as a person. You should start like a suicide girls type thing and be a really famous photographer and charge young rich wanna be models who have lots of money like $750 per shoot.

  5. i am totally going to start roaming the streets/clubs/bars when i get off my serving job to look for money dropped by fucked up losers. thanks for the tip.

  6. I feel you on tragicness and moneylessness. This is a great group therapy place to come and read and relate on insecurities. Thanks Karley!!!

  7. You are doing brilliantly. Just carry on believing in what you are doing, keep on doing it with such panache and passion, and the big $$$ will come in time…

  8. I feel like every English Literature graduate who has no job prospects and plans to move to an overpriced hipster city (London, guh) some come and read your blog – like, daily. Your admittance to being tragic is like therapy for me as I stare into graduations herpes infested mouth.

    Cheers babe.

  9. you really gonna let that guy eat you out? what if he has mouth-AIDS? One more step tward bona-fide protitution btw.

    I’m just jealous tbh, it would be amazing if some girl gave me $50 a month so she could suck my dick at Christmas.

    700% unlikely.

  10. Question: how did you go about being paid for doing the things you love, like writing for jez, making videos, etc? Did any companies assume right off the bat that you would write/create content for them for free, and how did you get into a conversation about being paid if they did? Also, did you start off doing some jobs for free then work up to getting paid? I’m creative and in a similar boat, it can get demoralizing.

  11. I remember when I met you years ago at the Chinese new years celebration & I was hella surprised you were working there, and you telling me you didn’t know if it was possible to support yourself writing. I’m really happy you can now & hope I can get there one day too.

  12. I wish I had known what a hilarious/legit person you where at Highland. I did not appreciate, my apologies. In my defense you kinda rocked the under the radar thing a little more back then. Anyway, your writing style, especially this “Anyway, for the last two years, to increase my income I’ve worked a few shifts a week at a Chinese restaurant. (But like trendy Chinese food, ya know? #important)” reminds me of 2001 Anthony Bourdain in a big way… hope that’s a compliment. Keep it coming, every post is magic.

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