Apr 29, 2011, 07:03AM

Sure I'm Rich, But I'm Not Wall Street Banker Rich

How to spend a paltry $26,666 a month.

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Lauren Manning

One of my favorite things to do when I go to the bank is to look at all the remaining ATM receipts. How much money do you have? I hate when nosy ass people get right behind me and see that my total Available Balance is $89—I always try to make that screen go away really fast so nobody sees it. But I’m always fascinated when I pick up somebody else’s receipt and it says the Available Balance is something like $28,000. How is that possible!

I read a story in The Wall Street Journal this week about investment bankers having a really tough time sending their kids to school (read: Dalton) on a measly pre-tax salary of 1.6 million dollars per year—which, okay, sans bonus is only about $320,000, down from the heyday of $700,000. According to the article, that’s “not a lot of money.”

Better get used to bologna sandwiches/doing your grocery shopping at the local CVS! 

Does anyone else think that a $700,000 salary, or even $320,000, sounds like an awful lot of money? Seriously: how much money do people really need to be happy?

I’m willing to bet that more than a handful of us live outside our means, no matter the income level—it’s the American Way. We Americans love our fancy houses, our big cars and fabulous vacations. I guess if you’re used to making $700,000 and see your paycheck sliced in half, you’re basically poor and eating Ramen. But, come on, surely you can make it work on three hundred twenty thousand dollars a year (after taxes). That’s $26,666 a month—but who’s counting?—only a pinch more than what I get as a lowly humanities graduate student.

So after reading that article, I naturally started daydreaming about how I would spend an I-Banker’s $26,666 a month as an unmarried gay dude living in New York City.

I would rent a big ass loft in Brooklyn ($7000) so I could have all the space I need to write my New York Times Bestsellers, throw parties, and practice with my band The The’s. (Total: $7000).

Couture is the most important thing to me, so I would still get all my clothes from Top Shop, OAK, and H&M as I do today, but I would spruce everything up with one or two Givenchy handbags, one Alexander Wang bag, the one with all the studs at the bottom, a black Margiela cape, 10 silver rings, 24 silver bracelets, 12 for each wrist—oh and maybe a taupe Rick Owens leather jacket. Hmm, this fashion stuff is adding up really fast. Let’s just say I’d give myself a budget of, like, $4000 a month just for clothes. Hey, some people send their kid to Dalton at the age of five; I coat myself in Lanvin. What’s the difference? (Total: $11,000).

I’d get a really fancy pair of headphones, maybe the Bowers and Wilkins P5’s, because I’m an audiophile, and I can’t do shit with a stupid pair of headphones.

I burn through portable headphones really fast, mostly because if I’m awake I’m listening to music—loud music. Why buy three pairs of $60 headphones a year when you can just buy one $300 pair to last you forever? I likes my bass, people! (Total: $11,300).

I would send my grandmother money every month, maybe like $2500, so she could travel and go to the Casino and do fabulous things. I probably couldn’t get her to escape Missouri and move to New York with me, but maybe I could also rent her a place in the City so she could stay there when she comes to visit. I would also send my sister some cash to help out with my nephew. (Total: $15,800).

(I’ve done all this and I’m still only half way through the money!).

I would save $4000 a month, for a total of $48,000 per year. Wow, imagine having all this fabulous couture, you’re helping your family out, you’ve got a fierce loft and stuff, and you’re still able save somebody’s salary in a single year (remember, this is all after taxes have been taken out!) (Total: $19,800).

Remaining: $6866.

I would buy contemporary art—I’d love an Angel Otero or a Mickalene Thomas piece, for instance.

I would still shop at a combination of Key Food/Whole Foods/West Side Market.

I would not eat out. I would not buy a car. I still would not buy an Unlimited Metro Card—the MTA doesn’t deserve the money. I would not pay for a gym membership. 

I would replace my current, crippled MacBook Pro with a new 15-inch model. I would get the Apple Time Capsule Hard Drive so I could copy files over the air. 

Remaining: $3000.

Spending money you don’t have is so difficult. I’ve done all this stuff and I still have $3000 in my bank account at the end of each month—and actually, I have even more because I’m not going to buy a computer or fancy headphones or art every month. So I probably have more like $7166 at the end of each month—all this money is driving me crazy!

And to think, if I’m making $320,000 in a year (after taxes), I’m probably partnered with somebody who is also making six figures in a year, if not the full $320,000, for a potential family total of $640,000 per year after taxes! 

Listen, I spent pieces of the first half of my life in Kinloch, Missouri a.k.a. THE HOOD, raised perfectly well by my grandmother who made $35,000 at the time. If Delores Moore can do it, so can you banker bro.

  • Madison, love your writing but you have hit on one of my big pet peeves. Why do the majority of people who write about money have to take a materialistic approach? Sure, $26,666 is a large monthly nut, but think about it this way. Based on your loose math ($15,800 is much more than half, although artistic license noted) why not save more? If you were to lose the job, the money would go much faster and one of the big causes of today's reccession is that too few saved money the way our grandparents did. 2. What about health care for you and your grandma? That's at least $12K-$20K a year. 3. What about investment? 4. What about charity? 5. What about sponsoring art and literature? 6. Higher education? See, there are plenty of non-materialistic ways to spend much more money. These ways of spending are both quite American (robber barons-Gates/Milken)and benefit society as a whole.

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  • point well taken, texan. and it's something i thought about a lot in the middle of and after writing the piece. i'm really not that materialistic...but i would definitely keep my 4,000 per month fashion allowance. i live for couture!

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  • Thanks and I didn't mean for one second you should deny youself your couture. After all, a peacock needs its feathers baby!

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