When it comes to making ends meet as a production assistant in New York City, Brittani Cunningham knows how to stretch a dollar.
The 25-year-old earns $37,000 a year and tries to keep her costs as low as possible. Luckily, one perk of her job is that meals are usually catered when she works production assignments, where her responsibilities range from assisting cast members on set to handling paperwork and timesheets.
Being able to eat at work allows her to save a ton of money on groceries. “I pretty much don’t have to pay for any food during the week, which is insanely amazing,” Cunningham tells CNBC Make It. “I’m really lucky to have that privilege. The only time I have to pay for food is on the weekends when I’m at home.”
Cunningham, a Brooklyn native, spent a week chronicling her spending for CNBC Make It in June 2021. She tries to keep her weekly budget to around $200.
To save money, Cunningham likes to go thrifting for clothes and buys pre-owned books. She also ditched her gym membership during the pandemic in favor of working out at home, and has taught herself how to do her nails and hair rather than pay someone else to do them for her.
“Being a Black woman, you spend a lot of money on your hair getting braids and products,” she explains. “I started to do that myself so that I don’t have to spend money on it.”
By keeping her spending tight and focusing on saving, Cunningham hopes to set herself up for the future. Her goal is to own an apartment and grow other revenue streams to the point where she doesn’t need to rely on income from the “fickle” film industry to make ends meet.
“[I want to be] able to one day become a homeowner and to build wealth, and maybe be my own boss,” Cunningham says.
As a side hustle, Cunningham makes and sells candles. Over the past six months, she’s made $2,000.
But she still lets herself enjoy her money with the occasional splurge. When she found out that Doja Cat was performing at Coney Island on July 4th weekend, she couldn’t resist buying a ticket even though it put her slightly over her weekly budget.
“I have to go see her,” Cunningham says. “I’m a huge fan of hers.”
Watch her full spending breakdown for the week in the video above.