Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Gareth And Amy House Sitting Service


With the holiday season upon us lots of our friends are escaping NYC to travel back home to family or running away from the cold for a well earned break. As a result we have been offered apartments in Gramercy Park, Wall Street and Brooklyn. All of them are lovely and are providing us with a much needed break from the air bed which is bulging in weird ways again (it is definitely the hot water pipe that is effect it).

The only problem with all this house sitting is that it makes it very hard returning to our room at Amy's mum's. The bed has never been so uncomfortable, the walls have never been so close together, the clothes have never been so hard to keep tidy.


Saturday, November 29, 2008



Are your hands cold? Can’t you find your gloves? Are you not wanting to spend money on a new pair? Do what I do and use a pair of socks instead! It is what all the hip young new Yorkers are wearing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cheap date


On Friday we are going back to MOMA to enjoy their free admission night and after that we are going to the cinema and using the tickets i got given at work.

Fun and completely free.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Doom and gloom


Our London office laid of 20 people last week. It has been a black and depressing day. Lots of people I worked with back in the UK are now going to have to find new jobs. The stress of bills to pay, a nose diving economy and a tough job market. My thoughts are with them.

We’ve been told that we are OK (for the moment) in NYC but life is pretty stressful especially for all the people who are on work visas like me.

If I get laid off what will happen to me? It might be that I have to leave the country which is not a pleasant thought.

“Hello Mum, Hello Dad – remember me? I’m moving back in!”

At least I know I can survive on very little money. I reckon I could make a redundancy package last a whole year. ONB does come with some benefits.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



I had a great bit of news today.

I have won a turkey in the raffle at the swimming pool I go to.

It was completely free to enter and they had four family size birds to give away.

I thought the odds were good and I was right!

Unfortunately Amy’s mum had already got a turkey so I’m not exactly share what we are going to do with it! Watch this space to see what we end up doing with it – we are open to suggestions.

Interesting Amy fact: A once said she thought a roast turkey with a carving knife sticking out of it was sexy. Hmmmm where on earth did she get that from?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008



What a treat at work yesterday.

A catering company we use on a regular basis came in and did a tasting menu for us today!

We were bowled over. There was sooooooooo much food – from sushi to chicken satay, from popcorn balls to cookies with our company logo. They had pulled out all the stops and spoilt us completely. What a lovely surprise.

It’s things like this that make my job amazing! Lucky lucky me.

The deserve a plug on the blog.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On the couch with Holly

GARETH AND AMY SAY… The lovely Holly is featuring us on her ‘Frugal 5 Minutes’ section of her blog.

Here’s what we had to say for ourselves…

Tell me a bit about your “lightbulb moment”

AMY SAYS… Gareth was really the one who came up with the plan to pay off the loans. I had decided to forget about them because it was too overwhelming to think about paying it all off myself. Not to mention my mother’s advice, “Pay the minimum and let it die with you.”Anyway, after Gareth's initial shock, we were at a crazy Japanese concert in Brooklyn, PeelanderZ, drunk, upset about the debt and being really silly, when I said, “Well, we could always move into my mom’s back room, ha ha ha.” That’s when Gareth's eyes opened and he replied with, “We could!” And we did...

GARETH SAYS… As soon as Amy told me about the size of her debt I went into ‘fix-it’ mode but the trouble is I had no idea how to fix. I talked to my family and friends and everyone’s response was the same: “Bugger”. The lightbulb went on one night over a beer when I suggested we camp on Amy’s Mum’s terrace for 6 months! Amy thought I was joking – I wasn’t. Operation Night Brace was born that night but thankful we didn’t end up camping on a balcony on the 18th floor of New York apartment block! Instead we ended up leaving in a tiny room bt at least it had four walls and a ceiling.

What made you decide to start to blog?

AMY SAYS… We wanted a record of our journey together, also an outlet to vent to, well, to everyone!

GARETH SAYS… My sister had already been doing her blog for about a year. I loved reading her’s so thought that we’d start one too to keep everyone up to date with how we were getting on. It has become a great outlet – we can make light of the things that upset us and offer encouragement for others out there. It started as a chore but has now become a pleasure.

A lot of personal finance bloggers talk about keeping their “eyes on the prize” – What’s your prize?

AMY SAYS… Being Debt free! And with that comes a lot of emotional freedom. We won’t be held down by anything really. We don’t have kids or own a house so we will be free to make future choices wisely not bogged down by anything.

GARETH SAYS… For me the prize is the greatest prize of all – a great and happy future. I found the woman I want to grow old with and didn’t want anything to get in the way of the family we will build.

What’s your top tip for saving money?

AMY SAYS… Be very very aware of your money! Believe it or not most money is spent unintentionally, $10 here $5 there. When you are hyper aware of every penny you spend it is much easier to have a wad of cash in the bank at the end of the month.

GARETH SAYS… Let people around you know what you are trying to do. It is a bit like being on a diet. If you tell people they will hopefully not keeping inviting you out for dinner or waving pizza in your face. My friends and family know that we can’t afford to do things so they don’t ask us. Having to say ‘No’ all the times makes us and them feel bad so it’s best no to get in that situation in the first place.

Recommend a blog that you can’t live without?

AMY SAYS… I have no idea..? Gareth???

GARETH SAYS… Hmmm I think my sister would kill me if I didn’t pick her’s. It’s a great slice of English life.

What’s the first thing you are going to spend money on once Operation Night Brace is over?

AMY SAYS… Buy Gareth kitchen equipment, get a pedicure, oy my feet need it and maybe a celebratory feast for everyone who has helped us, emotionally and financially.

GARETH SAYS… Probably a nice pair of socks. Our room is so small it is a wonder that anything can go missing in it but it does. I have just 5 pairs at the moment and one pair is rather holey!
It’s weird – once you get out of the habit of spending your realise how little you truly need in life. It’s just stuff and at the end of the day you can’t take it with you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Amy's Apple Pie


Amy's apple pie! If you ask her nicely she might just tell you how she does it and it's cheap!!! AMy?


Blah Blah Blah

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Completely nutty


"Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.
- Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Where's Amy?


Can you spot her? And yes our room really is that small!

Monday, November 17, 2008

“I might look 31 but I’m actually a child with a facial hair problem”


We were a bit naughty two weekends ago.

Amy desperately wanted to see the new Charlie Kaufman film.

So she brought tickets online and said we were children so we got seats for $6.75 rather than $10.20.

She didn’t tell me what she had done until we got to the cinema. I started crapping my pants – ohhhh the embarrassment of being caught and shamed in public. Amy didn’t seem to care though – she was all ready to blame computer error.

We collected the tickets from the machine. Smiled nicely at the guy collecting tickets. And walked straight in. Result!!! Shame the film was a bit rubbish ☹ Great start, self indulgent and long winded ending.

We spent the money we saved on going for a drink afterwards. Ahhh the good old days drinking in a bar rather than drinking cheap wine at home on our inflatable matress.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

6 Girls and Gareth


Drum roll please... not only are we living with my mother and the barking dog, but my little sister, my older sister and my NIECE now!!! That's 6 girls and Gareth in a Manhatten apartment (There is absolutely NO more testosterone left in my immediate family, even the dog ;) Holy Crap! Unfortunately, my older sister may be splitting with her husband of 14 years :( It's a very sad moment but if she is unhappy I say come on over and join the party. And yes Gareth will be missing the festivities as he will be on many a business trip in the lap-o-luxury ;)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A bit whiffy


My deodorant ran out a few days ago and I have been trying to get to pay day tomorrow before I buy another one. I’m fine about doing this but I’m not so sure about the people I’m spending time with.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A one day suspension of ONB


Today is sadly my Grandma's funeral so we have come back to the UK for the weekend.

It is going to be a sad day.

Thankfully my Grandma got to meet Amy quite a few times and thought she was lovely.

She had lived a great life and went very quickly in the end.

It is a shame she won't be around to see us get married but we will be thinking of her on that day and in fact every day going forward.

Good bye Grandma.

Thank you for always being there for me.


Thursday, November 13, 2008



When we agreed to extend ONB to the end of the year i had no idea of my work schedule - no i do and Amy is accusing me of abandoning her on the air mattress as i am going to away rather a lot with trips to Denver, San Francisco, Toronto and the UK twice. I'm away about 4 weeks. Which is great for me (although i'll miss Amy completely) as i'll be in nice hotels and terrible for Little A as she will be all alone on the air mattress with her mother and the barking dog.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

IIY = Iron It Yourself


In the old days i loved getting my stuff washed and cleaned at the dry cleaners. The shirts would come back all folded and wrapped which made it feel like you were putting on a new shirt each day. It was pretty cheap - around $1.50 to $2.00 a shirt. But in the spirit of ONB that has stopped. I wash the shirts myself and when i am away on business meeting clients I make sure I get up a bit earlier to iron my shirt for the day. My mum would be proud of me. So far i have yet to burn a shirt and reckon I have shoved tons of cash.

It's the little amounts that add up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008



Gareth has been making the most delicious, sausage stew. Technically I'm a vegetarian, however I just pick out the sausage and east the rest ;)

Any way, I have brought a load of stew, a loaf of bread and a sack of cheese to eat for the next few weeks ;) for FREE, well cause Gareth paid for all the supplies ;) Thanks G!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cinema snacks


Why buy expensive popcorn and soda at the cinema when you can take your own curry to eat!!!


Because the entire movie theater will stink like curry, doh, oh well ;) xx

Sunday, November 9, 2008

BAR be-Q


We were walking along the beach one morning and we found a barbecue shack... literally built out of existing trees in the sand and what looked like over-sized black garbage bags to protect from the rain. We sat down and were greeted by a smiling friendly face, that spoke no english. But we motioned that we'd like a plate of whatever she had.

The most delicious barbecue I've ever had for a lot less then a crappy hoagie at a deli in NY. Cervezas included!!

We ate there almost everyday on our adventure!

Rice an beans, pasta salad, chicken, porko all of it!

Saturday, November 8, 2008



Yes I've been clipping away. Especially for CVS. I have a care card and every-time they print me out one of their giant receipts it has $10 off coupon for every purchase over $50. So, I buy in bulk, it's cheaper and pay for my purchases every time I hit $50, so I can use the next $10 coupon!!

Yep, the people behind me in line want to kill me but I spend $80 to everyone else's $100. Yehaw!

Friday, November 7, 2008



When we got of the public bus in Manuel Antonio ($4) in Costa Rica, Gareth sent me off on a mission to find us a place to stay. I grabbed the guide book and off I went. I went about a mile up hill and stopped into every hotel, hostel & bungalow along the way.

I walked back down hill through the back alley and continued to stop into every and any place available. Near the National Park was a small but cute place. The door was open and I walked in. The normal price was $115 a night for a king bed, a hammock, hot water, and a pool ;)

And so my haggle began. I got them down to $50 a NIGHT! Woo hoo... including breakfast!!

After our fantastic stay there for 5 nights we tallied up the bill, and 'the guy at the desk', now known to us as Jonathan, decided to only charge us $40 a night because we were so much fun and help at bowling night ;)

After a week in paradise we ended up spending about $20 a day each and felt like kings.

We are very lucky.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Best money I've ever spent


Today it has been one whole year since we met!!!

November 5th, 2007

It feels like years and years ago - maybe that's just the sleep deprivation talking ;)

Who woulda-thunk-it-ey?

We made it!!!

My $40 bucks on was the best money I've ever spent.

A great day!


Today is a very special day.

Not because of the elections but because it is mine and Amy's first anniversary!

Woo hoo.

12 months since we met and six months since Operation Night Brace began!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Cheapest Bowling Alley In The World


While away we discovered the cheapest bowling alley in the world. It was sooooo cheap it was free!!!

Mine and Amy's eyes lit up at this and we rushed along for an evening of smashing pins.

We quickly discovered why it was free though. You had to put the pins up yourself!

I have never sweated so much in all my life. It is hard hard work. We were exhausted after 2 games and head home aching.

I reckon the automatic pin setter was probably invented the day after ten pin bowling was invented.

Monday, November 3, 2008



So I've taken on a lot more responsibly at work and Gareth has helped me enormously! He's helping me be a manager of a small but ever expanding team, he's helping me brainstorm on lots of ideas for big clients, he's helping me keep my head when all goes wrong!

He's a prince for this.

Bottom line is - two idea generating heads are better then one = ensuring a giant bonus and another raise come December :)

So far it's this space.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Monday Breakfasts


They started serving feasts on Monday morning at work. Bagels with cream cheese, muffins, and orange juice. So today I had two bagels with cream cheese and took all the left over orange juice for Gareth. My bag is really heavy and I figure we'll definitely need the vitamins in the OJ to help us steer clear of the osteoporosis we'll be developing from living on an air mattress for 8 months ;)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Amy learns a new trade...


If all else fails...