A Week In Brussels On A $34,376 Income

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Today: an erotic artist working in Brussels, Belgium who makes $34,376 per year and spends some of her money this week on organic potted basil.
Occupation: Erotic Artist
Industry: Adult Industry
Age: 28
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Salary: $34,376 (2018)
Paycheck Amount (On a freelancer basis, a multitude of sources with no set frequency): Last month it was $2,041, but it changes every month
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,800 (I pay the rent on a two-bedroom flat I share with my husband)
Loans: Only revolving credit, last month's credit card statement was $1,427
Netflix: $0 (I use my sister's account.)
Revolut (bank fees): $9
Spotify: $9.99
MusicBed (music licensing): $9.99
VPN: $12.95
Canadian Health Insurance: $28.09 (Despite not officially living in Canada, I still pay for the monthly premiums for the health insurance to maintain my residency.)
Savings: I contribute to savings when I can but since my income varies month to month, there are some months I put in nothing. In fact, since last year I have only been dipping into them, after a big medical emergency and spending time supporting my husband, my savings have dwindled to: TFSA: $2,624, RRSP: $2,346, Crypto: $4,815 (the leftovers from living off crypto earnings in 2017).

Day One

9 a.m. — I start the morning off with an Aeropress coffee. Coffee grounds, butter, a teaspoon of organic creamed honey, with milk. My sweet tooth is insane right now, so I treat myself to rice crackers topped with peanut butter and fair-trade, dark chocolate hazelnut spread. I spend the morning catching up on articles, doing research, and procrastinating a lot. For lunch I cut up some duck confit, eggplant, mushrooms, fry an egg, and mix it together on top of wild rice. Of course, my fried rice ends up looking more like a salad with the addition of grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and parmesan sprinkled on top. My midday snack is led by my cookie cravings, but instead of running out to the bakery I decide to create some wild concoction with what I have in the pantry. I sprinkle coarse sea salt on top and pair with milk. If you're picky about the quality of your food, moving to Europe will make you the happiest camper — a liter of organic milk costs $0.79.
5:40 p.m. — Since I'm Canadian, when I moved here I had to get a EUR bank account. I settled with Revolut, a UK-based digital bank geared toward travelers. As part of its premium offering (what I'm paying $9/month for), it has a section where you can play with cryptocurrency. It only allows buying/selling within the platform, so it gives you an opportunity to capitalize on making money off the fluctuation. This morning, I noticed the market was down, so I decide to buy 40€ of BCH (bitcoin cash). Last week I made 25€ from an initial 70€ investment, I'll check in with you on how this plays at the end of the week. $45.05
10:37 p.m. — As a creative, I earn money on an irregular basis throughout the month, which requires me to hustle and put in the work, so I spend the rest of the evening filming and uploading videos. I check my email to see I got a monthly payout for my video rentals on a porn website. This particular site has a profit-sharing model and is geared towards sharing real sex videos to buck the stereotypes and cliches found in mainstream porn. Since it's an American company, I got paid in USD, and have to pay a 1% fee for a EUR conversion ($2.10). All the while, I'm swiping on Tinder and matching with a pushy kinky female lawyer who is down to film with me (as long as she gets to wear a mask). I text the hubby and joke with him that I found his counterpart, him, being a woman stuck in a horny boy's body. $2.10
Daily Total: $47.15

Day Two

6:46 a.m. — I wake up in the morning to check my e-mails — one bill to pay and another notification for money received. To qualify for my Belgian visa I had to purchase year-long travel insurance ($54.57/month) that I paid up front at the beginning of the year. The PayPal notification tells me that $5.93 (about 4.7%) goes to fees for the trans-border business transaction. I received payment from a U.S. customer for fine art prints that I shipped out earlier this week — they came from a set that I shot with him and his lady friend last year. After checking for more notifications, I go to wake up the hubby on the couch. He came home past midnight and very drunk, and I left a pillow and blankets on the couch since I didn't want to be woken up in the middle of a sleep cycle. $5.93
9 a.m. — This morning is another coffee day, and a slightly hectic one since two of his friends are staying in the the second bedroom, and everyone is very hungover. I am eager to get them out of the space so I can do some yoga and movement. I've been struggling in my head a bit trying to figure out how to transition from making semi-consistent money to finding other sources of income. During university I escorted to make money, which helped tremendously financially and helped me reassess my priorities. Then I discovered webcam modeling and did that to support myself, but with the time difference and other factors it makes it difficult to juggle. I would have to wake up at three in the morning to catch the evening crowd in North America (where most of the wealthy clients are) and that would leave me very little energy during the day for any creative pursuits.
11:12 a.m. — I go to a bargain grocery store. The selection there changes all the time, but they have fresh produce and a decent amount of organic products. The great thing about Brussels is that rather than being a luxury, organic products are a staple, which makes cooking and eating such a pleasure. I get a loaf of French country bread, truffle olive oil, citrus mayo, frozen shrimp, organic smoked salmon, herbed sun-dried tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, organic onions, tagliatelle, organic tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and potted organic basil. A trip to Whole Foods would likely get a third of these items for the same price. $37.13
3:18 p.m. — I spend the afternoon listening to a podcast, which inspires a bit of writing and reflection. I finally pulled the trigger on the Medium Partner Program, and get the story I was writing recommended by the curation team. Let's see what kind of passive income this can earn. Lunch was pasta with fresh basil from the groceries I picked up.
5:15 p.m. — The hubby picks up a hot chocolate for me from my favorite place on the way home. Rather than cacao powder, they use these spoons with a giant chunk of real chocolate and let you melt it into a frothed milk mixture. Last time we went to this spot I picked up the tab, so today it's his turn.
5:55 p.m. — Just received my first payout from Patreon. At the beginning of the month, I started working on a page to distribute content and gather support for my creative journey. Patreon takes a cut with processing and service fees, then I receive the money through PayPal, which goes through a foreign currency conversion and that all adds up to a reduction of 11.33% from total earnings. $8.50
Daily Total: $51.56

Day Three

11:30 a.m. — It's a Saturday today, so I have a late breakfast at home. A gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella, fresh basil, and sun dried tomatoes, as well as some fruits on the side. The hubby and his friends are out visiting nearby neighborhoods, while I am just not in the space to be around people whatsoever. I catch some sun on the rooftop garden while reading Small Fry, a memoir written by Steve Job's daughter.
6:31 p.m. — The S.O. and I go for a walk and stop by a new plant-based Taiwanese street food place that was in having a soft opening today. We order taro spring rolls, "shrimp" tempura, and an herbal noodle soup. He pays. Then we stop by the grocery store and both pick up a few things. I grab fresh OJ, freshly baked macarons, dessert cups, organic almond milk, and dark chocolate/coconut rice crackers. Then I take 1/4 tab of LSD, hoping for a body high with slight visuals, and the next two days of a perspective change. $30.45
Daily Total: $30.45

Day Four

6:47 a.m. — I have an ex-pet (a psychiatrist in New England) who still writes me e-mails about his progress in embracing the feminine spirit and sends me a tribute with each e-mail. We've only ever had virtual correspondences, and we've engaged in regression and fantasy play together. He's married with adult children and has been having a very tough time juggling family, work, and gender identity. He now sees a male fetish provider in person. 5% to PayPal fees. $5.05
10:20 a.m. — I see an ad for Jimmy Joy, a European meal replacement product, so I look into it and decide to buy two packs to try (five meals each). One is a limited edition Chai version that includes caffeine & L-theanine. In combination, these two compounds should give the wake-up affect without the jittery anxiousness. The other is a banana-flavor active pack, which I assume contains more protein. The order comes with a free shaker. I make the order ($24.05) on another one of my pet's credit card (a professional from NY). We communicate through text and his journals. He keeps an Evernote journal. I comment on his entries, and I give him tasks and assignments. His current assignment is an art project that culminates in a painting. I walk him through the process of selecting a subject, creating a reference image with ideas of composition in mind, choosing a color palette, mixing colors, etc. He's submissive to me and is thrilled at being able to support and interact with me.
11:12 a.m. — Breakfast is a tuna sandwich topped with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke, and a drizzle of truffle oil. Fresh OJ to drink.
6:20 p.m. — Solo dinner after picking a fight with the boo. I have wild rice with potatoes, bok choy, and mushrooms seasoned with fresh ginger and Thai basil. I was grumpy when he woke me up during my day nap. He was cleaning. All is forgiven. He sits me on his lap and tells me that he's happy with this week since he thinks we did better. I'm having a tough time within myself and it comes out, especially when it comes to sharing space and getting disrupted from "me-time." He's quite loving and understanding, but it doesn't make me easier to live with.
Daily Total: $5.05

Day Five

11:37 a.m. — I have left over wild rice and melted chocolate in almond milk for breakfast.
2:48 p.m. — For lunch I have smoked salmon, grape tomatoes, tagliatelle, mozzarella tossed with truffle oil and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh Thai basil leaves. I sketch and watch Netflix after breakfast. Feeling insanely uninspired and dull today.
6:30 p.m. — I film some erotic content and start editing, then when the hubby gets home we film a part two to go with it. I make some rice noodles with shrimp for dinner, and he's off to watch Game of Thrones while I'm back to video editing.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

10:46 a.m. — I work on backbends and handstands this morning, fold laundry, and do some journaling. Then I stumble out for groceries before breakfast, which I pay for using my pet's Amex ($26.24). Groceries consist of: bananas, limes, and organic mushrooms, mozzarella, ricotta, butter, dark chocolate bars, organic pre-made fresh pancakes, and a Viennois pastry. I text with the boo about his job search. Currently he's receiving a stipend of $1,200/month for an internship, which isn't much to live on when you're solo. He's eyeing some international firms, and he found the salaries of American lawyers mind boggling. We joke about how it must be proportional to the cost of cocaine in those cities. Realistically, the apartment we're living in would be about $7,500/month in NY (based on space and location). So even if he gets a ridiculous pay raise, if we have to move, our quality of life will likely decrease. I'm open to the future and to changing lifestyles. We shall see.
1:06 p.m. — I start filming a Data Visualization video, and get distracted looking at UX courses. I remember I was going to look into supplements to manage my serotonin levels. I order a nootropic supplement with 5HTP, Ginseng, and Vitamin B1/2. I also pick up mushroom tablets (Chaga, Cordyceps, Shiitake, Reishi, Lions mane, Maitake). I placed the order on with priority shipping using my pet's Amex ($62). Taking LSD over the weekend made me realize that my brain and body have not been feeling well.
3:30 p.m. — A fish filet with wild rice and mushrooms for lunch. Then I do some movement and handstands while listening to a recording of a gymnastics coach talk about hip/shoulder flexibility. Afterwards, I get to the dishes I've been putting off. They pile up really fast, especially when I'm cooking and snacking at home. In the past week, my husband has come home daily to do dishes, but I told him to leave them for me today.
5:40 p.m. — I have a grilled cheese sandwich for a snack with melted dark chocolate in almond milk. I end up diving into setting up a local server and playing with Grav (a modern flat-file CMS) a bit. I'm proud of myself for dipping my toe in, even though I've been procrastinating so much. I recently read an article that talked about procrastination in terms of delaying bad feelings — that framework makes a lot of sense. I also do a couple of shows on cam with clients, and spread the word about my Patreon. After that, I add some new posts on various social media platforms. I fall asleep around 10.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Waking up this morning feels like my body is slowly turning into stone, so I choose to sink back into the comfort of cotton clouds instead. I've been so irritable and emotionally exhausted lately. Depression with a hint of borderline is what the clinicians labeled it. It's a luxury to have a lifestyle that accommodates my wildly changing moods and allows me to have a wealth of experiences that feeds into my art. Although, when I'm in the pit of it, everything rages and hurts in a way that rationale has a hard time finding a foothold.
3:30 p.m. — I spend the morning reading, then I have some crab pasta salad with two scoops of Jimmy Joy. Surprisingly delicious. The banana flavor is a caffeine-free sweet snack while the chai flavor serves as a sweet pick me up.
10:17 p.m. — I finish the day with another scoop of Jimmy Joy. Surprisingly, I now have cravings for this shake mix. I get a bit peckish, so I snack a bit on some fruit before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $0
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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