Once you commit yourself to going on a show like the “Today” show, especially when you’ve decided to open up about something as private as your finances, you just have to give in and go with it. Even if you end up getting teased about it on Gawker.
Ever since I was laid off nearly a year ago from a magazine gig at Condé Nast, I have been afraid to check my bank statements and growing credit card balances. I knew I needed help, so when I heard that Jean Chatzky, a financial contributor for the “Today” show, was looking for subjects for a money makeover, I volunteered.
I was hoping she would help me budget, but instead she held my feet to the fire and motivated me to find more work. Unemployment barely paid my bills, and freelance jobs require work to find — and that’s before the any of the actual work is done. But by the time Chatzky deemed me ready to appear on the show, I had miraculously found a number of new gigs, including this one, and my finances are in slightly better shape.
After soliciting Chatzky’s help, it was time to play my part and appear on the “Today” show.
Read on to hear about my experience plus the video
Someone recently said to me, “If I was good with numbers I wouldn’t be a writer.” I think that is the story of my life. From speaking to Chatzky and the producer of my segment, I was prepared to see some low numbers. (The one they showed as my “pre-makeover income” was about what I was making on unemployment.)
Once at the “Today” show studio this morning, I decided to take it all in stride. I wanted to tell my story to inspire other unemployed journalists not to give up. And my story is becoming more and more common. I had a great time just hanging out backstage: I sat next to Bonnie Fuller in the green room (she had just come from a red eye and was too busy to chat) and Richard Belzer from “Law & Order” and his dog in make-up.
After I was made pretty and mic’d up, I was all ready to be interviewed by Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford. Gifford is not shaking hands anymore because of swine flu, so she wanted to bump butts, which was hard to do while I was sitting down.
When the four-and-a-half minute segment got underway, Kotb and Gifford really drove the conversation and it was all I could do to just hold on and get a well-formed response out of my mouth. I wanted to talk about how hard I work as a freelancer, or how difficult it is to find work in today’s environment with jobs disappearing and people getting fired daily. I at least wanted to mention that I now work for FishbowlNY.
But in the end, I hope I made the point I went there to make: if a fired writer like me — with no freelance experience and just a handful of contacts in the industry — can make it work, so can you.
And, what’s more, while I was getting my make-up done, I met another woman who was also laid off from DNR on the sales side, only to be hired as a freelancer and laid off again earlier this year. No matter where I go, I never seem to be very far from someone else who has been cut from the Condé Nast payroll.
Chatzky’s also looking for new people to makeover, so if you’re interested in being on the “Today” show, let her know.