“I’m obsessed with trying to make cash,” Amy Sedaris tells me.
She's speaking literally. Having a bank account is nice and all, Sedaris says, but physical money—the heft of a roll of quarters, the satisfaction of throwing a bill into a tip jar—is what really gets her engines firing.
And so the actress and comedian, who's been known to sell cupcakes at her book signings, and cheeseballs out of her apartment, puts a little extra energy into making sure she’s always got plenty of it on hand.
On a break from promoting her Martha Stewart-tries-mescalin-style talk show At Home With Amy Sedaris (now in its second season), Sedaris recounted some of her favorite "little schemes" (her words) and what she likes to buy with all that cash.
What’s your general take on money? Any strong feelings?
I like to hoard money. I've always been that way since I was little. I think I got it from Girl Scouts, I always sold the most cookies. And then when I was a waitress I just watched money pile up — singles, fives, 10s, 20. And I’m still obsessed with it.
You love to sell stuff, right?
If I have to do something, and I know there’s an audience there, I like to make them buy something. Even if it's a pencil or wand or a lighter or a potholder. I like that transaction, you know? I like having a table between me and the crowd. “Yeah, you want a picture? Great, you've got to buy a pencil. It’s a dollar.”
Does that money go towards anything in particular?
It's just throw away money. You know, you go out with friends, you're like, “I’ve got the coffee." It’s an allowance that I can turn around and be generous with. I like that.
Or this is my scam. When I would date somebody, I'd have a jar on the table, and I’d say, “what do you have in your wallet?” And they might say, $8.20 or whatever. And I’m like, “Put it in the jar and I’ll match it. And then every time you come over, this is what we’re going to do, and then at the end of a year, we’ll see how much money is in the jar, and then we’ll go out to dinner or do something fun with it." But it’s usually a scam because I know I’ll probably break up with that person. And when we break up, I'll spend that money on myself.
Do you get money advice from anyone?
I hired a money guy. I did it kicking and screaming, because I like going to the post office three times a week. I like pretending I’m an accountant ... I still roll all my own change. All that kind of crap. But I love that I can pick up the phone, and he can do all the icky work. Because my bills were stacking up like a Dagwood Burger. And I’d be like, oh, "I’ll do it tomorrow when I’m in the mood." And that ends up costing you money. So I love having a money person.
Do you have any big money goals for the future? Are you saving towards anything?
I save for my god kids. I just opened a passbook [savings] account for my godson, and I like watching that grow. That’s my new thing that I’m a little obsessed with. And I still have my table sale …
Is that like a yard sale?
Yeah, but it's on my dining room table. I put everything on there that I don’t really want anymore, or that I’m trying to get rid of. I used to sell everything for 25 cents, but [the cost of doing] laundry has gone up in my basement, so I don’t need quarters anymore. So now everything's a dollar. That’s a good way to get rid of stuff. And then my friends can get really good deals. It can be half bottles of lotion, it can be a bar of soap. It can be candles, or dishes. Jars of spaghetti sauce, things like that. Actually, I don’t think I've bought a jar of spaghetti sauce in my life. But something like that.
Are there things you hate spending money on?
My maintenance fee for my building. I hate to pay that. You know when you go to get something framed and they suggest “museum glass,” and it always costs extra? I hate spending money on that. And I hate spending money on luggage and vacuum cleaner bags.
What do you love spending money on?
A new wig. Something fun, like a prop. Anything at the flea market that I think I’m going to be able to play with, or artwork to support an artist. My extravagance is julienned carrots for [my rabbit] Tina. I’ll buy those, because I’m afraid of cutting myself. And tipping.