With the Sex and the City gang set to come back for new episodes on HBO Max, fans can expect to once again dive into Carrie Bradshaw’s extravagant Manhattan life.
But while Carrie’s life was always over-the-top — think Upper East Side apartment, enviable designer shoe collection, and a social life packed with restaurants and nightclubs — fans have frequently pointed out over the years that she couldn’t possibly maintain it on a freelance writer’s salary.
Though the situation may have been a bit less dire in 1998, crunching the numbers today reveals that Carrie would be racking up thousands of dollars of debt a month.
Get ready: Crunching the numbers on Sex and the City reveals that Carrie Bradshaw would be racking up thousands of dollars of debt a month
Income: Angelic Diamonds estimates that as a freelance writer today, she’d make $81,800 before taxes, or $4,793 a month after taxes
Angelic Diamonds did the math on how Carrie’s pricey lifestyle would hold up today, and found that the dating columnist could seriously benefit from a financial literacy course.
Glassdoor estimates that freelance writers in New York City earn, on average, between $39,000 and $88,000.
As Carrie was already pretty established with her own newspaper column when the series kicked off, Angelic Diamonds estimated she would fall on the higher-paid end of the spectrum, giving her a salary of $81,800 before taxes.
New York City has some of the highest taxes in the country, with residents paying on the federal, state, and city level.
Based on filing as a single person — and not contributing at all to a retirement fund — Carrie’s take-home pay would likely amount to $57,515 annually, or $4,793 a month.
Now comes the spending. Carrie lived in a studio apartment on the Upper East Side at 245 E. 73rd St. Angelic Diamonds estimates that she’d spend $3,250 on rent.
No roommates! Carrie lived in a studio apartment on the Upper East Side at 245 E. 73rd St. Angelic Diamonds estimates that she’d spend $3,250 on rent
Wow! Carrie doesn’t cook, meaning all of her meals are purchased on-the-go or at restaurants. Angelic Diamonds estimates that, on average, she’d spend $2,720 per month on meals
Bills (electric, internet)
Breakfast (bagel and coffee)
Lunch (with a drink)
Cocktails at brunch with the girls
TOTAL INCOMING PER MONTH
Apartment prices fluctuate in any given neighborhood, and New York City rent prices are currently quite low due to the pandemic — meaning if she were renting right now, she could really be spending as little as $1,700 to live on her block, according to Street Easy.
But assuming her rent is $3,250, that would leave Carrie with just $1,543 to spend on everything else each month.
And she certainly doesn’t come in under budget.
Carrie famously doesn’t cook, meaning all of her meals are purchased on-the-go or at restaurants. Angelic Diamonds estimates that, on average, she’d spend $7.65 every day on breakfast (for coffee and a bagel), $18 on lunch (with a drink), and $65 on dinner — plus a little extra for brunch with the girls on the weekend.
That would bring her total spending on meals to $2,720 per month — which already puts her $1,177 over budget.
She’d also need about $220 a month for her electric and gas bills and internet, plus $20 a day on taxis.
Finally, there’s the fashion. Carrie is constantly buying new clothes and accessories, and she’s hardly shopping at H&M.
Spend away! Among the items in her closet or multiple pairs of Louboutins and Manolo Blahniks — and if she bought one new pair of each a month, she’d be spending about $2,117
Yikes! Ultimately, according to Angelic Diamonds, Carrie would only be making $4,793 a month — but she’d be spending $9,099 a month, racking up $4,306 of debt each month
Among the items in her closet or multiple pairs of Louboutins and Manolo Blahniks — and if she bought one new pair of each a month, she’d be spending about $2,117.
She also owns a Christian Dior dress ($3,500), Vivienne Westwood skirt ($740), Dolce & Gabbana coat ($2,395), Fendi Baguette bag ($2,290), Dior Saddle bag ($3,950), a Verdura Target brooch ($24,500).
Ultimately, according to Angelic Diamonds, Carrie would only be making $4,793 a month — but she’d be spending $9,099 a month, racking up $4,306 of debt each month.
This isn’t the first time viewers have crunched the numbers to estimate how much Carrie was really spending — and while the amounts have differed every time, everyone comes to the same conclusion that she’s terribly bad with money.
In 2011, Stephanie Georgopulos did her own math for Thought Catalog, estimating that Carrie made just $15,400 per year as a freelance writer in the late ’90s and early ’00s, considering her only writing for much of the show appears to be a single weekly newspaper column.
Her estimated spending, though, was $22,000 a year, accounting for $750 per month on a rent stabilized apartment, $49 per month on cigarettes, $132 per month on drinks, and $303 per month on shoes.
In 2018, James Jackson of BuzzFeed did his own math with some not-so-pretty results. He estimated that Carrie was paid $4,000 pre-tax each month, but spent five times that on expenses, including $14,583 on shopping alone.
Those numbers came out to $17,000 worth of debt every single month, or $200,000 of debt a year.
Over the course of six seasons of the show, she’d have come away with over $1.2 million in debt.