Matthew Baker is an executive assistant looking for an executive and is also a freelance photographer. He hails from the great cold state of Utah but officially calls New York City his home.

1. What did you do for a living? What do you do now?
Formerly, I have been a personal/executive assistant to many CEO’s, President’s and VP’s of top companies. Now I am a freelance photographer, furniture reviver, charity volunteer, treasurer for a political campaign and assistant looking for a boss. Funny enough since I have become unemployed I find that I’m working more now than when I was working 10-12 hour days.

2. You are living on unemployment in New York City (well Queens, but still). How do you manage to afford it?
Well thanks to the fact that I have no debt beyond my monthly expenses it is surprisingly easy to live on $1620 a month. (and now thanks to NYC, NYS and the Federal Gov. the unemployed got a $100 a month “raise”). I live with the bare necessities and my bills; Cable+internet, Cell phone, Electric+Gas, Metrocard and rent, come to around $1440. Also seeing that my dating life has been put on hold, I cook most of my meals at home and groceries for the month come to around $70. And the rest goes to nights out with friends.

3. What are some cost-saving secrets that you have picked up along the way?
Jack’s 99 cent store on 32nd Street is a god send, or at least it was. I could pick up food staples (i.e. mayo, pasta, pasta sauce, bread, etc.) for 99 cents each. Now it is a little cheaper than the local grocery store but sometimes I can still find a good deal there. Shopping around is also a trick. I buy veggies at one store and canned goods at another and dairy at another. Right now I have the time to go to the different stores but I think once I get another full time job I may go back to shopping at just one or two stores again.

4. You are a semi-professional photographer.  How do you save money on photo equipment?  Do you barter?
I wait until I try out new equipment and see if I like it. A friend has the same interests as I and he has been fortunate enough to be able to afford all the equipment he wants and I have been lucky enough
to borrow it when he is not using it. At the moment once I find a piece I like I either wait for my birthday and ask my parents or use my meager tax return.

5. Have you gotten photography gigs as a result of your photoblog or flickr stream?
Not so much. I have been able to show people who I want to photograph my sites and it has shown them that I’m not a pervert trying to get them in my house and take pictures of them naked. I’m hoping with the
revamp of my main website that I’ll be taken more seriously in the photography world.

6. What is the perfect job or career situation for you?
I would love to be an editorial photographer but I have a few more years of shooting my own projects to build up my portfolio before I can enter that realm. But I will get there. Soon enough.

7. When you were a kid, did you get an allowance?  What would you buy?
I got $5 every 2 weeks and I could earn an extra 75 cents a week for washing one of the family cars. As for what I would buy… it was a mixture of micro mini cars, teacups from the local thrift store and plants for my outdoor garden.

8. What is the one personal item that you always splurge on?
Is liquor considered a personal item? If not then photographic materials.

9. What is one thing that you feel is always overpriced?
Life… And Old Spice High Endurance Deodorant.

10. If money can’t buy happiness, what can it it buy?
A few drinks with friends during happy hour.

Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.