My name is Paulie and I’ve been reading Len’s awesome blog for almost a whole year now. I’m 27 years old.
After getting my high school diploma I held a series of odd jobs before deciding three years ago that it was time to leave the rat race. So I quit my last “real” job as a Chippendales stripper and moved from Las Vegas to New York City where I now make money as a street performer. No, not as a stripper. I’m in a small band. Hey, you only live once, right?
My specialty is singing old songs by Led Zeppelin, Queen, U2 and the Clash, but with a unique twist: I’m a crooner. It’s true! If you want to make a living as an entertainer on the streets of New York you have to be unique because the competition here is incredible!
Depending on the public’s generosity, my take from the band is usually about $20 per day in small change, although we’re occasionally blessed with a kind-hearted person who will drop a fin or sawbuck into our tip jar as we’re performing — then it’s a little more.
My stupid band mates still have part-time jobs working for “the man,” so I often have to perform alone. You’d think working as a solo act would be better for my bottom line, but for some reason I always earn less. (Note to Alanis Morrisette: Now that’s ironic!)
If I had to guess, I’d say I currently make about $6000 per year.
Obviously, living on such a meager income means I have to rent — and let me tell you, in the Big Apple, you don’t get a lot for your money. I’m currently renting a 36 square-foot room at the back of a Bronx pizza restaurant for $199 per month. Actually, it’s a converted janitorial closet, but it has all the comforts of home: a nice cot, a working lightbulb, an electrical outlet, a couple of hooks for my clothes, and a small shelf to hold my iPhone and computer.
The only thing my room doesn’t have is a window, but what do you expect for $199 per month, right?
I don’t have a car — I use the subway for everything, including visits to see my parents across the river.
Believe it or not, I don’t spend a lot of money on food. One of the perks of living in a pizza restaurant is that I get a lot of free food. Not a day goes by when at least one delivery comes back because it was a prank or because somebody didn’t have enough cash to pay for the pie! Crazy, right?
Whenever I have an especially good day on the street, I’ll often splurge and buy myself a Big Mac value meal. I know Mickey D’s is terrible for your health, but I’m a sucker for those two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions — all on a sesame seed bun! Admit it. I know you are too, right?
My cell phone plan is $35 per month. Other than that, I don’t have any utilities to pay. To stay connected, I take advantage of the free wi-fi at various Starbucks, Mickey D’s and other businesses that offer it. I will say this: My landlord tried to make me cough up an extra $10 per month for electricity — so I asked him how much juice he thinks that little light bulb and an iPhone burns. I mean, come on. He finally saw the logic in that, thank God.
I don’t worry about health insurance because I’m young and don’t plan on getting sick anytime soon — but if I do, there’s always Obamacare, right?
I don’t save money for retirement. Why should I? That’s what an inheritance is for, right? Thanks in advance, Mom and Dad!
I don’t have an emergency fund either. Okay. Truth be told, I do. It’s called The Bank of Dad. I’m not kidding!
In my free time I enjoy chatting with my friends online, playing Call of Duty, riding bicycles — assuming somebody will lend me one to ride — and eating.
Closing Tips and Thoughts
- I’m a big believer in YOLO: You only live once!
- Live below your means. Know the difference between your wants and needs.
- Figure out what you want to do early on in life, and then live the dream!
- Don’t knock dumpster diving unless you’ve tried it. I’ve discovered lots of great things in dumpsters. Last year I found a brand new pair of Air Jordans — in my size, no less. I know. I couldn’t believe it either!
- You can’t take it with you. So why bother accumulating stuff, right?
- Everybody should read Len’s article “19 Things Your Suburban Millionaire Neighbor Won’t Tell You.” It. Is. Amazing!
- Live simply; real work is for suckers. Trust me.
If you’re a household CEO who is successfully making ends meet on roughly $40,000 per year or less, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at Len@LenPenzo.com and be sure to put “$40,000” in the subject line. If I publish your story, you’ll get a $25 gift card!
Photo Credit: digitizedchaos