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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wednesday Portraits - My Open Wallet

Y'all have put up with my rants about how tough it is to live in New York.

Well, it is.

It's tough everywhere, of course, but the cost of living is pretty damned high in this city. More apartment buildings are being turned into condos, the era of rent control is over, yadda yadda.

Last night I found a site that proved me sort of wrong and sort of right. My Open Wallet is written by a financially prudent New Yorker who offers advice on how to get by without having to sacrifice everything. So yes, you can still live in New York without having to be Daddy Warbucks, but also yes, it takes some maneuvering.

Madame X, as she calls herself, talks frankly about how much she makes, how much she spends and how much she plans on saving (this last part is a good idea - having a defined savings plan). She provides a list of smart, money-saving tips that can be used anywhere, and posts about the financial situations of other New Yorkers.

Once you become used to talking about money so honestly, it's pretty damned interesting. You can read what choices other people have made and how they're working with what they have. Would you take a more stressful corporate job or a more fulfilling job with a company that pays less?

While lunching last week with my family, my brother and I had one of our recurring talks about work. His girlfriend had remarked that architecture sounded glamorous. (Did I make it sound glamorous? I usually take great care to downplay how it is because it ain't so glamorous, folks).

At one point I said, 'The trouble with architecture is that you really don't make a terrific living. It's not like, you know, law.' And that's when my brother went on about how everyone wants to be an architect (ah, everyone who?), so by the rule of supply and demand, we're paid less. Hm.

I don't think so. Historically, architecture has been known as 'a gentleman's profession'. Meaning it's assumed that you already had money to pursue the field and you didn't need any more of it. Personally I think the term has to do with how particular the appreciation for one's surroundings is. Architecture is different from mere buildings, and the distinction is subtle.

My brother's route was laborious - long nights studying, three years of law school, a year of business school, and long, long nights at work. Now he routinely handles the intricate contracts between banks and bigwigs. He probably earns several times what I do, (I have no idea what he makes, and I'm frankly afraid to ask).

But, he's worked extremely hard, long hours at something I could never do. I'd be bored out of my skull and I'd be bad at it. On the other hand, I went to college plus two years of grad school. I spent many nights in the architecture studio and then long, long nights with noted firms that didn't pay a lot. That's the difference. Societies value lawyers, and rightfully so, because lawyers help secure money and corporate interests.

At least I chose architecture. I was talked out of more poverty-stricken routes by my parents (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

Wednesday Portraits is an ongoing, semi-regular installment featuring other New York blogs.

Photo by myself near East 42nd Street.


Tammy said...

Being a architect and living in New York does sound really glamorous. I'm sure it's not as glamorous as in my dreams, but it sounds glamorous. Being a lawyer actually sounds really boring, very well paid, but boring. If I had a choice between the two I think I'd be an architect, but marry a lawyer. LOL! What a fantasy life I have eh! Hugs, Tammy

Kitty said...

Tammy, I love your thinking.
You are adorable!

Madame X said...

Thanks for the link, and I love your photos!