Can we actually live the Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle?

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If you have watched the show “Sex in the City”, then you , too, have been enthralled in the glamourous life of Carrie Bradshaw. It is no secret that the lifestyle of Carrie is one of intense luxury, however the real question is…. would Carrie Bradshaw actually be able to afford the glamorous lifestyle she lives on TV. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube.

HBO has given us some great shows including Chernobyl, The Sopranos, Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones and, of course, the newly renewed romantic comedy, Sex and the City. The show aired from 1998 to 2004 with 6 seasons, 94 episodes, and a 7.1/10 rating on IMDb. With a cast starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie, Kim Cattrall as Samantha, Cynthia Nixon as Miranda and Kristin Davis as Charlotte, these four friends explore Manhattan’s dating scene as single New Yorkers. Carrie Bradshaw is the main character, writing a sex column called Sex and the City. She is single, fabulous and open to finding love. But on only a columnist’s salary, Carrie manages to afford her own New York City apartment, buy countless Cosmopolitans, have frequent brunches and purchase the newest Manolo Blahnik’s to add to her fashion-forward closet. So the question is … would Carrie Bradshaw actually be able to afford the glamorous lifestyle she lives on TV?  

“Carrie Bradshaw is the main character, writing a sex column called Sex and the City. She is single, fabulous and open to finding love.”

In season 4, episode 16, Carrie cannot afford to buy her apartment back from Aidan. Miranda calculates that Carrie has spent around $40,000 on shoes alone since moving to NYC. Some might say it’s poor spending, but others might see it as Carrie spending her money on harmless pleasures. In the episode, Carrie approaches her wealthy ex-boyfriend Mr. Big, who gives her a check that she doesn’t feel comfortable cashing. She then approaches Charlotte, her wealthy unemployed divorced friend, and Charlotte ends the episode by selling her engagement ring, giving the money to Carrie for the apartment. Initially, Charlotte claims she doesn’t like mixing money and friendship, but ends up helping her friend anyway. Writer-producer Amy Harris justified her decision for that episode, saying that Charlotte gave her money to Carrie because it’s what a good friend would do. And throughout the series, although it wasn’t said, it’s implied that Carrie paid Charlotte back for the money she was loaned, learning from her past mistakes .

Depicted is Charlotte and Carrie from an episode of Sex in the City. In Season 4, Episode 16, Carrie faces a dilemma because she cannot afford to buy her apartment back from Aidan. It is revealed that Carrie’s lack of finances is a result of her poor spending habits. At the end of the episode, Charlotte sells her engagement ring, from a prior marriage, to help Carrie with her debt. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube.

That episode was the only time viewers got a glimpse into Carrie’s interesting financial situation, so let’s do the math (and remember, these numbers are for the years when the show aired). According to Thought Catalog, in the first few seasons, Carrie earned $300 per column each week. This means she made around $15,000 a year. Imagine that Carrie gets her paycheck and spends it on $3.50 packs of cigarettes, overpriced Manhattan Cosmo cocktail drinks at $11 each, the $121 brunch she got with the girls once a month, a $19 round trip for a taxi since she doesn’t ride the subway, a $125 phone bill, a $60 gas bill and income taxes around $2,100 per month. If she spent $40,000 on shoes after living in NYC for 11 years, then this would mean $303 a month on designer shoes, not to mention that one pair of Manolo’s costs around $525. Other expenses include takeout meals since she never cooks, gifts for the parties she attends and shopping for clothes to add to her ever-expanding closet. Carrie mentions her rent is $750, but the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side was around $1700 a month. The show claims that the apartment is rent controlled, but that doesn’t explain how Carrie would afford her lifestyle. Totaling her spending from season one alone leads to the conclusion that she spent around $21,216, made around $15,400, and was left in debt with $6,500. In the later seasons, Carrie goes on to write $4.00 a word at Vogue, making $3,000-4,000 per month, plus a $25,000 sign-on bonus for her first book (and then proceeds to write five more)  

” “I like my money right where I can see it … hanging in my closet.” “

Carrie Bradshaw, Sex in the City

Spoiler alert! Carrie ends up marrying Mr. Big, thus marrying a rich man. One might conclude that in the end, she used her husband’s money to crawl out of her debt, but one might also assume that she manages to escape her debt by crafting a successful career for herself.

Money is complicated. It’s hard to budget, and even harder to know when to save and when to spend. For Carrie, financial problems were never a big part of the show. She spent without remorse and lived an enviable life with an endless supply of cash. Whether or not Amy Harris defends her unrealistic financial situation, claiming she doesn’t want to judge how Carrie spends her money, nobody can live like Carrie Bradshaw. Unfortunately, it is just fiction, but Carrie symbolizes the need for people to live their lives in ways that make them happy. As Carrie Bradshaw once said, “I like my money right where I can see it … hanging in my closet.”

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