Spend and the City: How Carrie Bradshaw’s lavish lifestyle tots up in 2021

19 August 2021

Savings

Jonathan Smith

Back in the late-90s and early-00s, Carrie Bradshaw was NYC’s It girl, as she and her gang of girlfriends lived, laughed and loved their way across our TV screens. However, while you could bank on there being work drama and romance every week, nobody ever seemed to mention the high levels of debt that such a lavish lifestyle in New York would surely incur.

Yes, we know that Sex and the City was a flight of fancy bit of entertainment, but aren’t you a little curious to see how Carrie’s bank balance would look with all that spending? After all, this is the woman who famously said: “I like my money right where I can see it…in my closet”.

If the answer is yes, then read on, because we’ve taken a dive into Carrie Bradshaw’s spending to see how she’d really get on. And, to make things even more interesting, we’ve also updated her expenses for how things would be in 2021 — though we’ve used her lifestyle from the new film that’s currently in production to make things fair. Maybe an older, wiser Carrie will be more thrifty?

How much did Carrie spend in the original series?

Before we delve into how much Carrie would be spending today, we took a look at her outgoings for the original series. After some research, we found that she would have racked up a yearly debt of $175,848 — a shocking $1,055,088 across the six seasons (1998–2004).

Below, you can find a breakdown of how we calculated Carrie’s monthly spending, which included a princely $1,500 spent on eating out and an eye-watering clothing bill of $14,500 every month.

ItemUSD / monthReferences / Methodology
Item
Income tax
USD / month
$1,204
References / Methodology
Reference here
Item
Rent
USD / month
$700
References / Methodology
Reference here
Item
Bills
USD / month
$150
References / Methodology
Average monthly cost in the late 90s
Item
Cigarettes
USD / month
$90
References / Methodology
Reference here
Item
Eating out
USD / month
$1,500
References / Methodology
Carrie uses her oven for storage, so it’s likely she never cooked. We estimate she spent around $50 per day eating out.
Item
Taxis
USD / month
$720
References / Methodology
The average taxi fare was $6 so we multiplied this by four trips per day across a month.
Item
Coffee
USD / month
$90
References / Methodology
We estimated she bought one cup of coffee per day at $3
Item
Wardrobe
USD / month
$14,500
References / Methodology
Elle revealed Carrie’s season four wardrobe cost $175,000. We assumed one season was equal to one year, so we were able to estimate her wardrobe costs were $14,500 per month.
Item
Monthly spend
USD / month
$18,954
References / Methodology
Adding up all of Carrie’s spending.
Item
Monthly earnings as a journalist/podcaster
USD / month
$4,300
References / Methodology
Reference here
Item
Monthly overspend
USD / month
$14,654
References / Methodology
Calculating the difference between Carrie’s monthly wage and her spending reveals an overspend.
Item
Annual overspend
USD / month
$175,848
References / Methodology
Each year, Carrie would rack up an overspend of $175,848, which would be highly likely to get her into debt. Over the course of the original show, this would have totalled $1,055,088.

Would Carrie still be racking up debt in 2021?

To get an idea of whether Carrie would be overspending in 2021, we first need to find out how her career would be going and how much she would be earning.

Warning: Potential spoilers for the new Sex and the City film ahead

Scripts from the new Sex and the City film currently in production have revealed that Carrie now has a side hustle as a podcast host. The average earnings for a podcast host in New York is $37,000 (Glassdoor), which, in addition to her $70,000 salary as a journalist (Glassdoor), means that she would have an annual income of $107,000 — a step up from $51,600 back in 1999–2004.

However, it’s worth remembering that the cost of living in Carrie’s beloved New York has spiralled since the original series ended. For example, her one-bedroom, $700-a-month apartment in the Upper East Side would now cost a renter $3,237 a month to occupy. And, if rumours from the new script are correct, Carrie and Mr Big are now divorced and living apart, so any cohabiting situation has probably ended and rent will be due once again.

Here is our breakdown of just how much Carrie is likely to be spending in the new SATC reboot.

ItemUSD / monthReferences / Methodology
Item
Income tax
USD / month
$2,566
References / Methodology
Reference here
Item
Rent
USD / month
$3,237
References / Methodology
Reference here
Item
Bills
USD / month
$157
References / Methodology
Reference here
Item
Cigarettes
USD / month
$385
References / Methodology
Based on the cost of cigarettes from World Population Review, Carrie would spend $12.85 per pack of cigarettes each day.
Item
Eating out
USD / month
$3,000
References / Methodology
Based on the cost of eating out in New York from Numbeo, Carrie would spend $100 a day.
Item
Taxis
USD / month
$1,200
References / Methodology
The average taxi fare in Manhattan today is about $10. If Carries took an average of 4 trips a day, she would spend $1200 on taxis every month.
Item
Coffee
USD / month
$144.60
References / Methodology
Based on the cost of coffee in New York from Numbeo, Carrie would spend $4.82 on her daily coffee.
Item
Wardrobe
USD / month
N/A
References / Methodology
Unfortunately, no information is available on what Carrie’s wardrobe costs will be in the new film.
Item
Monthly spend
USD / month
$10,690
References / Methodology
Adding up all of Carrie’s spending.
Item
Monthly earnings as a journalist/podcaster
USD / month
$8,916
References / Methodology
Carrie will be earning $107,000 in 2021, which puts her monthly income at $8,916.
Item
Monthly overspend
USD / month
$1,774
References / Methodology
Despite earning more, Carrie’s income would still not cover her lavish lifestyle and she would be overspending by $1,774 each month. This doesn’t even include her wardrobe — her biggest expense in the original series.
Item
Annual overspend
USD / month
$21,288
References / Methodology
Annually, Carrie would overspend by $21,288, not taking into account any of her wardrobe costs. In the original series, if you remove clothing from the spending, Carrie would have overspent by $49,148.

So, how is Carrie getting on financially in 2021?

Unfortunately, if Carrie maintained her spendy ways, then the news is not good — she would still be overspending annually by $21,288 (not including her wardrobe). There is the small positive that she seems to have reduced this deficit compared to the original series (again, ignoring her wardrobe spend) as she used to be in the red by $49,148. It seems as though her extra income in 2021 has helped her out, so her non-wardrobe overspend has more than halved.

What does this mean for us?

Though Carrie Bradshaw is a fictional character and will never have to suffer the harsh realities of her lifestyle, there’s still something to learn from this exercise. It’s worth remembering that a lot of what you see on television or social media is smoke and mirrors, and nobody stops to do the maths on the realistic cost of the lifestyle that’s being shown. And, if you end up getting trapped into trying to replicate the fiction, you could end up in financial trouble.

That being said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy these stories for what they are, as long as you keep a level head. You can even enjoy some of the luxuries that you see in the likes of Sex and the City, provided you go about affording them sensibly. So, put money aside for those Manolos, splash out on the odd Cosmo, and take a taxi once in a while — by saving your money and budgeting like a boss, you can occasionally enjoy a slice of Carrie’s New York lifestyle.