Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The ONB review of the year


Getting to move in with Amy even if it wasn't exactly what i had in mind.
Managing to see a bit more of the world (Morocco (paid for before we started) and Cost Rica (tagged onto the end of a work trip).
Deciding to keep going with the debts - to get Amy onboard we agreed just to do 6 months and $80,000 we've done loads more than that now.
Go on a few driving trips with Amy - she is a new but pretty good driver, i love being her co-pilot ("Watch out for the gas attendent!!!").
Writing my books and poems - this is such a cheap hobby but one that gives me (and hopefully others on day) great pleasure.
Feeling 110x closer to amy at the end of the year than i did at the start
Work has been incredibly good fun this year - a little less stress in 2009 and it would be golden
Having so Hannah and Sasha come over in April and Mum and Mike in the summer - it was great to show they around
Proposing to Amy - although we are going to have a second attempt at it with a proper ring and a proper bended knew
Managing to keep up the cycling and swimming although you'd never be able to tell from looking at me
Cooking more - i only cooked twice in 2007!!!!!

Being proposed to
Going to Morocco, Costa Rica, Vegas and England
Getting a raise ;)
Learning to make apple pie
Learning to budget my money


The funerals - it was lovely going back to UK at Xmas for a nice family event rather than a sad one
I haven't managed to read as many books as i would have liked
Upsetting Amy
Freaking out on the 'it's like a prison' day in our small room

Gareth upsetting me ;(

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Holidays


That's right santa came early this year and actually gave me a bonus!!! PLUS freelance work - all totaling a nice amount.

All will go towards the loans bringing us down to...wait for it....



That means in under a year Gareth and I have paid off approximately $130,000.00

That's fucking bonkers!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

When will you learn Gareth?


For Xmas Amy wanted "a nice plain locket with something special engraved on it."

So i got her a nice locket and took it to the engravers.

When he asked me what i wanted engraved on it i said "Something special."

"Like what?" he said

"Like something special - i want the words something and special engraved on it. That is what my fiancee said she wanted - "something special" engraved on a locket."

Everyone in the shop started laughing.

I liked the way the message worked on two levels...

1) Serious - Amy is something special to me
2) Silly - I did exactly what i was told to do

Unfortunately Amy had to go and collect the locket herself because they couldn't get it sorted in time before i flew back to the UK.

When the woman in the shop showed her she was far from happy and because it was late in the UK i wasn't able to explain it to her. She only could see reason 2 and just thought i was taking the piss and got upset and we all know xmas presents shouldn't be upsetting.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh i'm having flashbacks to the DIY engagement ring. Will i never learn?

It took 45 minutes on Skype the next day to help make Amy feel okay about it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008



Everyone a very happy Xmas.

G and A xxxxx

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Saving with Skype


After a shocking mobile phone bill I am now trying to us Skype as much as possible now i am back in the UK. The big bill is all work related but claiming the money back takes a bit of time so cash flow is becoming an issue. My bank account is running on fumes!!!

Skype is amazing. If you haven't already signed up - DO IT NOW!!!!!

EBay spent $2.6 billion buying Skype in September 2005 so that you can talk for free over the internet. Thank you eBay!



Gareth emailed me this morning freaking out saying he was 'overdrawn" from his bank account! He had absolutely no idea how this happened!! He apologized profusely saying 'he must have fucked up somewhere!" So I double check with the loan company and turns out I had clicked one to many times on the 'Submit Payment' button and they withdrew from his account twice!!! ARGGGGG!!!!!!

You pay and pay and pay when you are overdrawn!!! It sucks royally!! Thank god my bonus is coming in so we can take care of it quickly!!!

We both always double check every account - it must have been my excitement because we're down to the wire!! Soon we'll owe just over $60,000 which is beans compared to the original $184,000!!!!

I admire Amy's desire to pay it off as quick as we can but perhaps taking double from my account isn't the best way to do it - i still love you though boo xx

Woke up on Boxing Day (Dec 26th) to find the second lot of cash had been refunded and there was no sign on a banking fine in sight. Ho ho ho Merry Christmas.

Welcome to our world world


It feels like everyone is gearing up to start their own Operation Night Brace! The unemployment figures are going through the roof and belts are being tightened quicker than the restraints in a mental asylum.

Fear not world.

It really is okay.

You can do it.

Downscaling your wants into needs is a good thing.

It because everyone got greedy and wanted everything that we are in this mess.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh the days...


When I thought I had loads of money to spend, I would pay a premium for rare and bizarre services..errr...this is from last valentines day!!!


Xmas dinner


Because Amy and i aren't going to be together on Xmas day we celebrated it together before i left.

Forget the usual turkey meal. I decided to get a bit creative and made a meal called: 'Melted Snowman'.

On the plate i served up...

Mashed parsnips
Poached chicken (to keep it white)
Cauliflower cheese (baked carefully so as not to brown it)
Bread sauce
Funny white japanese mushrooms
White asparagus

In the centre of the plate i stuck an upright pointy carrot.

It made Amy laugh and it tasted alright.

Quote of the meal came from Amy: "Do you think if we ate enough of this it would make our poo go white?"

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Who needs wrapping paper when you have a free local paper and a roll of sellotape


I might have scrimped on the wrapping but i didn't scrimp on what's inside! Ho ho ho!

Gareth get's lucky with an oyster (but sadly not that kind of oyster)


So i am now back in the UK for Xmas (Amy is still busy at work but will be coming over on Boxing Day).

Today i had to do a bit of traveling around London. I pulled out my 2 year old Oyster card and was delighted to find it still had 6 quid on it. Sweet. A day of free travel for Gareth which is great thing as it costs a fortune getting round London without an oyster card - a single bus fare is now 2 pounds up from 70p when i lived here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008



This site gives you practical money saving tips relevant to our lives. But hopefully the takeaway is not only the small facts but the big idea that when you put your mind to something you can do anything!! From the small tidbits, e.g., making large vats of soup or shopping in bulk, to the large takeaways, e.g., using every resource you have, living with your mother if you have to!!!

After reading this you may also think to yourself, 'I know that, that's why i read it!" Duh!

Ok - so here is the reason for my post today...

My friend came up to me at work and said, "You know, because the financial meltdown I really think you guys should publish your blog as a book, I would use it!!"


A friend of a friend perhaps...???



This last Xmas after Amy flew home having met my family for the first time.


I can see it being a Xmas No 1

G xxx

Friday, December 19, 2008

Exchange Rate Worries (Second time lucky)


What the hell is happening to the pound????

I still have some savings in the UK that i'd love to put towards a deposit on a flat in New York but with the pound collapsing quicker than a granny on an icy path i have lost 25% if i bring it over to the States. Bah Humbug.

But as they say every cloud has a silver lining! If i was to convert my dollar salary into pounds i'd be 25% richer.

Oh how tempting it is to play the currency game :)

But when you look at what happened to Iceland i think it is best to stick to what your really know. They got into a lifetime's worth of trouble for taking loans out in foreign currency. Doh!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There must be an easier way to make a living


After having spent both Saturday and Sunday doing stuff for work projects, I got up Monday morning at 4am and flew to Atlanta. A full day of meetings and conference calls followed. Got to the hotel at around 10pm ready to run a training course there the next day. Finish work on a document for a client at midnight.

Wake up at 6:30 on Tuesday to run the training course only to find out that there has been a miscommunication and I am in the wrong venue – thank goodness I didn’t set up last night.

Taxi to correct venue takes ages to arrive. I panic and persuade the night manager of the place I stayed at to drive me there for $20.

Arrive at correct venue 45 minutes late. Set up and run a full on session until 6pm.

Jump in a taxi to the airport.

Flight back to New York is delayed. Panic again, I have a 7:40am flight to the UK from JFK which I must catch for my Visa appointment on Thursday.

Flight keeps being delayed.

Finally they line us up to board the plane and then realise they don’t have a crew so that delays us another few hours. Honestly how can you not realise you don’t have a crew!!

Delayed over three hours in the end. What should have been an 8:20 flight ends up being an 11:35 one.

Arrive back at Newark and get a taxi to work to drop off the kit.

Finally get home at 2:30am on Wednesday morning.

Wake Amy up as I climb into bed – oops

Set alarm for 4:30 and try and get some sleep.

Alarm clock goes. Jump in the shower, gather up my cases and leap into a taxi to JFK.

Arrive at Terminal 4 to fly back home with Virgin Atlantic only to find out they aren’t flying from JFK.


Retrieve email confirmation on laptop and there it is in black and white – Depart JFK Terminal 4 at 7:40am.

Can’t find anyone to talk to at the terminal.

The Virgin America staff said it wasn’t there problem.

Try phone Virgin US helpline and get sucked into a world of automated phone messages.

Desperate I phone Virgin in the UK and a one hour phonecall begins which includes the following questions…

Didn’t anyone tell you that we now operate out of Newark?
Errrr Noooooo. I was just there 5 hours ago I could have just stayed there if I had known!

Can you get back to Newark before 6:40?
Errrrr Noooooo. I’m not superman. It is over an hours drive.

I got put on hold a lot but I tried to stay calm. Rob the Virgin employee was my only hope of getting to my Visa appointment (if I missed that I couldn’t work in the US and I have commitments I need to keep).

Rob tells me that they are looking to get me onto an American Airlines flight from JFK.

I jump on the Skytrain and head from Terminal 4 to Terminal 8 as this is where all the AA flights leave from.

Rob confirms they have got me a place on the flight. I wish Rob a very very merry Christmas.

I get to the AA check in desk and queue and queue and queue and queue . The staff are so fucking unhelpful. I waste an hour in the queue. The staff seem more interested in chatting amongst themselves and patting passengers dogs than getting us checked in.

My new flight is leaving in 60 minutes. Panic.

AA employee finally says to me: Don’t wait here. You’ll miss the flight.

Whattttt???? Now you fucking tell me!!!

I jump out the queue and go to self check in.

I swipe my passport and enter in my destination.

IT IS TO LATE TO CHECK IN FOR THIS FLIGHT appears on the computer screen.

It was 58 minutes before it was due to take off.

I go bonkers.

No no no. This can’t be happening.

I go up to the first class area and the security guard sees from the look in my eyes that I’m not joking and let’s me in.

Find semi nice AA employee who checks me in but tells me I should get to the airport earlier. I smile and say thanks rather than releasing both barrels of fury about the amount of time her co-workers wasted making me queue up.

Security, for once. is fast.

Walk straight to the gate and get on the plane.

Arrive at Chris’ house in North London at 11pm.

Lots of chatting and cups of tea.

Sleep on the sofa.

Set alarm clock for 6am so that I can get to the US Embassy for 7:30 (30 minutes before the appointment is what the paperwork tells me to do).

Make it through security and get give a ticket - 10019.

Wait an hour until my number is called.

I go up to the counter and get told: "You've got the wrong number. You need one with a 2 at the front.

Steam starts coming out my ears.

I go and get a new number and wait again.

I end up waiting around for 2.5 hours. Answer lots of questions and surrender my passport - Yippeeee i can stay in America for another 2 years.

I then jump on a train back to my sister’s.

At last I can relax. Shame about the 3 hours of conference calls schedule for Friday – the first day of my holiday.

Between Monday and Thursday I have had about 12 hours sleep, I have wasted 7 hours of my life in airports, spent almost 8 hours in the air, easily talked for more than 6 hours on the phone, spent 12 hours in meetings and visited one embassy where I sat on my arse for 3 hours.

There has to be an easier way to make a living.


And how much money did you spend?? ;) Well at least now you can get some rest (sounds like my trip to Florida that never happened ;)



... for the weird random blogs recently. Life has been crazy (see the entry above to see just how crazy) and i have fallen victim to scheduled posts!! Stuff i had as notes to write something interesting about have just popped up by mistake. Sorry. Normal service will now be resumed :)

The Xmas Gift Exchange

Hi guys,

It's getting to be that gift shopping time of year again... if you want to
be part of the ?! holiday gift exchange then please draw a name with Lori
starting today (or if you're not in for a while shoot her an email and she
can draw for you). If you don't want to participate this time around please
email her so she knows to take your name out.

Theme: East Village (you interpret)
Cost: $20 max
When: we'll exchange gifts day of our holiday party (yay!)


Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Xmas Help


Ian sent me this today...

"Here's a good way to save money this Christmas: make sure you get the gift exactly right. see attached." 

It made me laugh

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bah humbug


Today is the Xmas party at work.

We are doing a secret santa where you have to spend $20 on someone drawn at random from a hat.

It was completely optional so i decided not to opt to do it.

I am the only person not doing it.

I feel like scrooge.


It is exactly 19:56 in NYC and in the room downstairs everyone is doing their secret santa presents. I have snuck out hoping that no one will miss me. Hmmmmm i don't think it was worth saving $20 over this. It feels terrible being on the outskirts of something. Next year i will buy 2 secret santa gifts to make up for it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"It's raining chicken wings"


On the way home last night a small box was forced into my hands. In it was a hot and very tasty chicken wing. Ho ho ho Christmas has come early.

PS And no they didn’t give it to me because they thought I was homeless! They were giving them out to everyone.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008



This is an email I sent out to my family today ;) (Stinky is my niece)

So it’s that time of year again and we are all strapped for cash!!!

So here is what I propose...

Price: $20 MAX

Any gift that you buy canNOT cost more then $20...if it does, you have to return it!! It must be thoughtful so we all still feel loved :) That being said, you can offer to do a chore for someone, or make’s completely up to you as long as it’s NOT over $20!!

One family member to a gift: here’s the list I propose – it’s not etched in stone, we can swap too! But only one gift per person!

Amy takes Susan
Jen takes Mom
Susan takes Jen
Mom takes Gareth
Phil takes Amy
Gareth takes Phil

Wrapping: Apart from Stinky...wrapping paper costs way too much as it is...USE the Sunday Times...if we all do it no one will look cheap, and you can pick an interesting story to wrap it all up in as a bonus!

Lastly, your gift can also be a contribution to the family feast we will have, whether it’s a bottle of wine, ingredients, flowers...

Everyone gets Stinky something...

I know I know ....The Gareth monster is about to pop out of my flesh ;)

But I think this will calm our nerves about spending loads of cash over the holidays.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nights away


By the end of the year i will have spent just under 100 nights away from New York (mainly with work but with a few holidays chucked in).

Although there is a big downside to this (i.e being away from the one i love) there is actually a pretty good upside! As a non-resident i don't have to pay State Tax on the nights i am out of New York State. Roll on January and a big refund - it will be a few thousand bucks!!!!


But I miss him :(

Monday, December 8, 2008



Well, I thought I was a pretty strong lady and pretty cool for making it through 7 months of ONB BUT when I read an email from our friends who just birthed a beautiful baby boy and it read, "8 Hours of an all natural drug free meditation birth" I thought - no freakin' WAY!!!

I will sleep on an air mattress for 7 months...
I will live with my mother....
I will sleep in a bed with a farting dog...
I will spend no money...

....BUT... an all natural meditative birth, HOLY CRAP, I do NOT know if I could swing that!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008



Bugger. I got my sums wrong and have gone $600 into the red with my checking account.

Fuckity fuck.In the US you get charged $35 per transaction that pushes you into the red.

I phoned them up and it works out i have two transactions i will be getting fined for - my YMCA membership and a Credit Card payment.

I squealed 'UNNNFFFAAAIIIRRRRR" on the phone to a lovely woman from HSBC and as a one time courtesy they will let me off the $70.

Thank you HSBC.

It pays to ask folks. You never know what might happen.

I can't believe it happened. I am so on top of my finances it is unreal. I have learnt my lesson and thankfully it was a free one.


Ding Dong Gareth ;)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Home for the holidays


Thank the Lord for airmiles and Visa renewals!

We are both going back to the UK for Xmas. My flight is being paid for by work as my two year visa is about to run out and Amy's flight is being paid for with airmiles!

Sweet! I much prefer spending my money on presents rather than flights. Speaking of which i need to get on the case with Amy's presents. Time to dig out my notebook where i have been scribbling down all the hints she has been giving me!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sale Madness


I read in the papers a few days ago about the WalMart employee who was crushed to death unlocking the store doors as 100s of people pilled up to snap up a Black Friday bargain.

Has the world gone mad? Is $10 off a screwdriver set really worth killing someone for? I know times are tough but let's all try and relax a little.

Shoppers crush Wal-Mart worker
Herald News Services
Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Wal-Mart employee in new york state's long island died Friday when a throng of shoppers surged into the store and physically broke down the doors, a police spokesman said.
The 34-year-old man was at the entrance of the valley stream wal-mart store when it opened at 5 a. m. and was knocked to the ground, the police report said.
The exact cause of death was still to be determined by a medical examiner.
Four shoppers, including a 28-year-old pregnant woman, were also taken to local hospitals for injuries sustained in the incident, police said.
the Friday after america's thanksgiving holiday is known as Black Friday and marks what is traditionally the busiest retail day of the year, kicking off the christmas shopping season. U. s. stores across the country opened in the early hours of Friday to offer discounts to consumers hit by a contracting economy. hundreds of shoppers waited before dawn at some locations to secure deals on holiday gifts



We found this article on the BBC website..ta!

Britons 'saving money with sex'

Snuggling under the duvet could also save on those heating bills
As the credit crunch bites, Britons may be turning to sex as a cheap way to pass the time, a charity says.
A YouGov survey of 2,000 adults found sex was the most popular free activity, ahead of window shopping and gossiping.
The Scots were most amorous with 43% choosing sex over other pastimes, compared with 35% in South England.
Aids charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, which published the survey, also welcomed recent figures showing an increase in condom sales.
Around one in 10 respondents to the survey, carried in November, said their favourite free activity was window shopping and 6% chose going to a museum as the cheapest way to pass the time.
But the sexes differed on their priorities, with women preferring to gossip with friends while men had sex firmly at the top of their list.
Safe sex
Publishing the results to coincide with World Aids Day, the Terrence Higgins Trust reminded people to practise safe sex and pointed out that a packet of condoms costs a fraction of the cost of a night out.

Rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are on the up so when you snuggle down with a partner, make sure you do it safely
Lisa Power, Terrence Higgins Trust
Lisa Power, head of policy, said: We're glad that people are finding ways of relieving some of their credit crunch woes, but if there's one thing it's worth forking out for, it's condoms.
"Alternatively you can get them free from family planning and sexual health clinics.
"Rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are on the up so when you snuggle down with a partner, make sure you do it safely."
Rebecca Findlay, from the Family Planning Association advised: "If anyone's having more sex at the moment whatever the reason, do think about your contraception, your condoms and any testing you might need for sexually transmitted infections.
"And you can get all of these for free on the NHS."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A way with words


10 great quotes about cash.

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."
Woody Allen

I have never been in a situation where having money made it worse."
Clinton Jones

"All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
Spike Milligan

"Money is something you have to make in case you don't die."
Max Asnas

"What's the use of happiness? It can't buy you money."
Henry Youngman

"The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money costs less."
Brendon Francis

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."
Oscar Wilde

"I've got all the money I'll ever need if I die by four o'clock this afternoon."
Henry Youngman

"If there is anyone to whom I owe money, I'm prepared to forget it if they are."
Errol Flynn

"I've been rich and I've been poor: Rich is better."
Sophie Tucker

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Escape Plan


We are moving out!!!!

On January 15th we are moving into a one bedroom sublet in Brooklyn, right next to the beautiful prospect park.

Privacy at last! We have been going out now for 13 months and we have spent more than half of that time with her mum, her sister, her mum's dog and a bedroom door that likes to open by itself! Arghhhh. Finally i can go back to watching telly in the nude!!!!

To help us make up our mind about the move we did a list of pros and cons...


It is only for 3 months
It is fully furnished
She seemed lovely
It is near the subway
It seems quiet
It has everything we need (bike storage, laundry room)
We only have one bill to worry about so it is easy to budget for.
It's a good base for exploring Brooklyn and our future options
There are 3 pretty good supermarkets nearby.


It is $2000
It is small
It feels like a step backwards - It's something I would have lived in at college as a 21 not a 31 year old
It is not near many nice restaurants or bars

We pay Amy's mum $500 a month at the moment so the luxury of having or own place is an extra $1500 per month - $4500 in total. And we just had a bit of good news - AMy has got some freelancing work that will help pay of quite a lot of that so we can still save, save, save!

Ahhhhh Home Sweet Home.

We only have another 6ish weeks to survive in the Upper West Side.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

House sitter


I'm house sitting at my friend Michael's until next week while Gareth is away. He lives like a king!
Apart from a crazy stereo, wash + dryer in the apartment he gets groceries delivered until 10pm
a giant tub and two bathrooms!!! I am in the lap of luxory till next Monday!

He also said I could order groceries on his account for the week...cause I'm taking care of his dog!

What a great break! anyone esle need me to watch their pet from Dec. 17th-26th ???

Monday, December 1, 2008



It is always interesting to see how people stumble across our blog, the weird searches people do, the links people click on etc.

Thanks for the plug 'Evil Yoda' whoever you may be.