The New Financial Advice is shaping up to be a real bummer: if we know anything, it is that we should expect to earn and achieve less, to be unemployed more, to carry debt always, and not to live where we want, but where we can. But beyond accommodating ourselves mentally to straitened circumstances, what shall we do? The answer, it seems, is that we shall hustle.
In 2004, I was a junior in college, majoring in English and creative writing. I had only two hobbies: aping the poetic stylings of John Ashbery in order to secure a well-paying career in the arts; and, about once a week, taking the bus to Amherst, Mass. to eat ice cream at Bart's and loudly read the weirdest parts of the personals section to my friends (and, this being Western Mass, there was plenty to choose from). It was during one of these sessions that I branched out to the classifieds section and saw a want ad targeting college students promising money in return for short essays. I have always been productive when it comes to writing (if not particularly good), but more importantly, I liked money, so I answered the ad and was rewarded with a real human being who promised to send me instructions.
Where have you lived, Ana Ottman?
Yesterday, a graphic designer posted an ad on Craigslist titled "Designer Looking For People To Do Their Job Without Pay (Anywhere)" which poked fun at people who post ads on Craigslist asking designers to do free work for them. I emailed the designer asking for a short interview. The designer, who goes by the name Mr. Furley, responded and was gracious enough to answer some of my questions. He was a wonderful curmudgeon.
Where have you lived, April Corbin?
Hi Ben — I saw this ad you posted for a 1-bedroom: (link to ad). When is the move-in date?
After I got back from the holidays, I noticed that the park across the street had put up two ice rinks. Yay, free ice skating! And then I remembered that I don’t have skates that fit anymore. Here’s a timeline of my attempt to get used skates.
David Raether, a former comedy writer who wrote for the sitcom Roseanne, has a terrific essay at Priceonomics about "what it's like to fail." In the late '90s, Raether was making really good money: $12,000 and $15,000 per episode for a 22-episode season of a show, plus script guarantees that paid $20,000, and $650,000 a year from a television studio which paid him the large sum just to come up with ideas for television series. In 2001, he was earning about $300,000 a year, and then left the business to spend more time with his family, which he rarely got to do because he was working around the clock at the studio.
After graduating college and blowing my savings on a (relatively short) backpacking trip through the U.K., I flew out to help my girlfriend (now wife) move to California for graduate school. Most of my job hunting at this point had been firing out resumes to positions in the Los Angeles area, and I had expected it to be easy for a bachelor’s degree-toting lad like myself.