Hattie Watson, a New York City model, tells us how much money she earns. She will be 29 years old this month. She lives with a new boyfriend in a small apartment in New York City — but she says she will soon be moving to L.A. to pursue a new line of work in photography.
She once had a roommate who bailed on her, and that's why she invited her new boyfriend (who shares her interest in body art) to move in with her. She says she has no idea how much he earns, but also says that in a good month she and her boyfriend could make two grand (she doesn't say what he does for work).
Taken together, that would only be $24,000 a year. Whether that is gross or net monthly earnings, that is still nowhere near a "middle-class" wage, no matter where in the county one is living — and particularly in places such as New York City. And $24,000 a year is less than 50% of what the "median household income" is nationally. As a matter of fact, taken together, both her and her boyfriend's earnings combined doesn't even meet the threshold of what the "median wage" would be for even one wage earner (which was $28,000 a year in 2013).
And I once thought that it was usually the guys with the most money that got the prettiest girls (sarcasm) — but this NYC model says she's not a material girl.
She drives a 2004 Scion XB that has 160,000 miles on it. She says she currently has about $2,000 in savings. "The first year I modeled, I was making minimum wage. It was like $30,000. But this past year was probably like $15,000." (Doesn't she file annual tax returns to the IRS to know for sure?)
Actually, if she were not an "independent contractor" (working as a model/photographer), the minimum wage in New York City is $8.75 an hour; so based on 40 hours a week for 52 weeks, that would be $18,200 a year. So last year, she made LESS than the minimum wage — and most likely, she would have needed a roommate to help pay for rent and utilities.
For monthly expenses, she says: "I have a 500-square-foot apartment. My electricity bill was $140 last month. My rent is only $950. It’s a small two-bedroom, maybe it’s more like 575-square-feet. Groceries, probably for both of us, are $60–$100 a week maybe. Then I have a phone bill which is $100. And I pay for my website, which is like $20. Car insurance is $100. My internet is $80. And I have other little bills that come out every now and then, ya know."
Excluding food, her living expenses cost $1,390 a month (or $16,680 a year), with no mention of a retirement account or healthcare insurance. And $15,000 of income last year for her would be $1,250 a month — so maybe she also qualifies for Medicaid and food stamps.
She says she worries about money all the time: "I constantly check my bank account to make sure the bills came out. Or if I need to buy something. I try and figure out how I can make it work. Money is my main stress in life. And my parents would absolutely fucking hate to hear that. They get worried all the time, but, well, you know, that’s a part of it — I’m an artist. I’m not gonna work a 9–5 corporate job. It’s not gonna happen. I’m very minimalistic. I don’t need a lot in life, you know?"
@politicalmath Tweets: "I try to be sympathetic but don't write on how poor you are & include pics of your iPhone 6 & late model Macbook Pro." She replies: "Actually, the computer was gifted to me and the phone was a deal the company gave me and my bill is actually cheaper."
All in all though, it does appear that she lives a somewhat humble life-style; but then again (judging by her blog), she also seems to travel a lot. I was wondering how expensive that is for her transportation (whether she drives or uses other means); and for lodging and food. That can't be cheap, especially if she only made $15,000 last year and lives in New York City.
She says, "I got lazier with modeling. I’m just kind of over doing it so I don’t really like to work quite as hard. And plus I’m stationary now. When I’m traveling I make a lot more money." (I was wondering — if she didn't have a roommate, would she still feel the same way?)
When asked about what she liked best about her job, she says: "I get to do whatever I want to do. I control my life. The more I want to hustle, the more money I can make. I can pick up and go anywhere and do this job. Anywhere. I’m my boss." (But for how long can she do that?)
But if her only current source of income is from freelance modeling and photography, you'd have to give her credit for her tenacity; but most people can't live with that lack of financial security in their lives. I also wonder if she pays Social Security taxes, and if not, what she might do for retirement 32-37 years from now. Does she expect an inheritance from her parents? Or maybe she'll get lucky and marry into wealth — or to someone else who has more financial security than her present boyfriend currently has.
She doesn't mention healthcare insurance, so I hope she's OK there. And she's still young enough to pursue a very successful future, so I wish her a lot of luck there as well — because financially, it's very difficult to exist these days, especially when trying to eke out a sustainable life as an artist (and especially without a roommate).
I'm concerned about the people of her generation, because looking back, it seems that people in my generation had more opportunities, were paid better in proportion to the cost-of-living, had LESS corrupt politicians, and weren't AS ripped off by our current corporations in the way they nickel-and-dime us death these days.
But if the Republicans were ever to have their own way, she would probably have a lot more to worry about — especially if she relies on food stamps, Medicaid or any other type of government assistance.
Her website, blog and portfolio: