Sugar babies, secondhand saviors and window cleaners

“I can work Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays after 8:30 p.m. Oh, and weekends. Except when I have a cardiology club meeting or mock trial on Saturdays, which is twice a month. Does that work?”

The number of employers ready to say “yes” is unsurprisingly low. One NYU senior found a solution online — on a sugar daddy website, to be exact.

Around a year ago, an NYU senior needed money, and she needed it fast. She relied on funds from her stock market investments to pay her $3,680 rent. When the stock market took a plunge at the end of 2021, she suffered a loss of $10,000. Her family’s business in China was also taking a hit, so she knew it wasn’t a good time to be asking her parents for money. 

Besides a busy and occasionally inconvenient class schedule, international students face another obstacle when it comes to making money. In order to work in the United States, these students need to have a visa sponsored by their employers. For startups and small businesses with limited funds, that’s out of the question.

She googled quick ways to earn money in New York City, which is how she came upon, an online dating site connecting individuals looking for financially based relationships. She chose to remain anonymous due to the stigma of sugaring.

Finding men to go on dates with wasn’t an easy process. She was only interested in pursuing platonic companionship, which required her to weed through the matches. Though several men would say they were only in the market for company, it wasn’t entirely true — some just wanted to use the women on the site as escorts, which often entailed sexual acts. 

It took her several weeks, but she finally found a man looking for what she was willing to provide: companionship and conversation.

He’s a former diplomat and single father with a knack for spirituality. He became a regular client — or her mentor, as she calls him — which meant going to dinners, brunches and even getting high together. 

“I do think I have a lot to offer in terms of company,” she said. “If they want to talk about art, history, politics — I’m the person to do that.”

It wasn’t always pleasant, and not all of her dates with other men turned into regular outings. There were several occasions when she left in the middle of dinner after a man made unwanted advances, or just never planned a second meeting — a “friendship one-night stand,” as she puts it.

Through her experiences, she has found that some men really aren’t only in it for sugar.

“They have the money — they can pay a therapist if they want,” she said. “But what they’re looking for is a listener and a good friend.” 

She has talked to men as young as 25 — others nearly 40 years older — and even a few NYU alumni. Though she did walk away with 10 grand after just three months by not accepting less than $500 per outing, she has benefitted in more ways than just financially. She’s gotten to know a variety of people, and even receive advice from the older men she has met. 

“I only told a few really close girlfriends I was doing that, just because of the association and stigma surrounding it,” she said. “I’m afraid that people will label me as a prostitute. But in reality, nothing more than platonic happens.”

The internet is a hub for more money-making opportunities than just a career in sugar babying. Thrifting is a popular hobby for many, and the internet has made it more accessible. It has also turned secondhand clothes into a potential stream of income.

NYU junior Anna Hildebrand is the owner of the Poshmark shop SavedGemsByAnna. Since launching her store in 2016, she has amassed over 70,000 followers and 700 total listings. 

“I had too many clothes and I wanted to sell them in a way that I knew they weren’t just going to the trash cans,” Hildebrand said. 

When she first started her account, it was just a way for her to make some extra money. Then it turned into an environmental effort. 

ThredUP is another online thrifting platform where users can send in boxes of clothes and receive a small portion of the profit when they sell, but only if the item is deemed acceptable. The items that aren’t purchased are bundled up and sent to the dump — unless you want to buy clothes by the pound, like Hildebrand does.

For around $150, she received about 50 pounds of clothing in her “Rescue Box.” For…

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