Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lesson Number 4: We’re all works in progress


Living together in quite an intense situation has helped me to realise that we are all ‘works in progress’ – nobody is perfect and nobody is ever finished.

Everyday we are shown ways in which we can be a better person.

We can either ignore or embrace these opportunities.

But it's not easy.

Sometimes you have to be shown something several times before you embrace it.

This all sounds a bit hippy dippy but it really helped me to roll with the punches knowing that everyone is simply a 'work in progress' (including myself)

Lesson Number 3.1: Reflection


Wow it has been a crazy journey - up and down left and right. I remember an email Gareth sent me after, I think our third date or so, it read, "You've turned my world upside down." To which I responded "Inside out and upside down ;)" Well, we really HAD NO idea how upside down and inside out our world was about to become!!

It's been filled with excitement, fear, relentlessness, tears, laughter, breakdowns, break-ups, make-ups, shake-ups, raises, courage, adventures, escapes, mistakes, successes and failures....

...but through all of this, one thing is certain Gareth and I took a deep breath, jumped head first straight through the center of the earth...we refused to let go no matter how big the frown...

...'and came out the other side, where people walk upside down...'

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lesson Number 3: Go as fast as you can for as long as you can (but make sure the wheels don’t fall off)


Do we regret doing ONB?

Looking at where we have ended up – a flat of our own and only $60k left of the debt (with a clear calm plan of how we are going to pay it off) – I’d have to say no but there were certainly times when we came close to a disaster.

It was (in places) just a little too extreme.

We became so obsessed a lot of things suffered in our lives.

We kept pushing ourselves harder and harder.

The initial plan was to pay of the private debt and then stop but we kept going and going.

We’re lucky to have made it through.

This has definitely been a relationship forged in a fire – we’d only been together 5ish months when the madness began.

Living on less than $20 a day in one of the world's most expensive cities was ridiculous!!!

Be inspired by our story but don't do it the way we did.

Chunk it down.

Take baby steps.

How about one month of saving every other month?

How about having a different spend target for weekdays and weekends? You get the idea!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lesson Number 2: Don’t ignore it


Debt thrives in the dark.

The less you think about it the stronger it becomes.

Get it out on the table.

Shine a light on it and come up with a plan of action.

When I met Amy she was paying $15 a day in interest!!! If we’d have done nothing the debt would now be about $9k more – yikes.

Whatever you can do today - no matter how small - will make life tomorrow a little easier.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lesson Number 1: You're amazing!!


No matter how tricky the situation is you will find a way out of it.

When I first heard about how big the debt was I totally freaked and had no idea what to do.

But if you don’t give up and take it little by little a solution will appear.

It’s like escaping from a prison by removing each break – the first one is the hardest and then it gets easier and easier.

Before you know it you are outside breathing fresh air.

Always have faith in yourself and know that that the cliché is true – "if you really put your mind to something you can do absolutely anything".

So what now for Operation Night Brace?


Operation Night Brace will soon be officially over.

And with that this blog will end to.

We started it to share with our friends and families our journey to getting of rid of $180,000+ of student debt.

Living on little more than air for over a year made for some interesting stories!

But now things are returning to normal and we are just like everybody else with regular jobs and a 30 year mortgage (although the people who know us probably wouldn't ever associate us with the word 'normal').

We can't really see how saving up for a sofa can be quite as impressive as trying to pay of all of Amy's debt in a year. We will spare you the dullness. Ha ha ha.

It has been an absolute blast and over the next two weeks we are going to look back on the amazing adventure we've had since May 1st 2008 when it all officially began.

We managed to save $183,500.

We paid off $120,00 of the debt and put $63,500 down on a home!

We feel like we've won a gameshow and it makes everything we did worthwhile.

"But what about the rest of the debt???" I hear you cry.

We have a plan.

Everything we make above and beyond our regular salaries is going to go towards the rest of the debt.

At a regular steady SENSIBLE pace we should be student debt free within two years.

But the irony is we now have a mortgage - which is a far bigger debt than the student loans!!! It adds an strange symmetry to the story.

Now if only we could pay off the mortgage in a year.

Hmmmmmm Operation Home Free! Now there's an idea!!!

Only joking. We've had enough of 'Operations', 'Nights' and 'Braces' to last us a lifetime.

Enjoy your last few posts from us. Thanks for being part of it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009



PS it's not as big as it looks - that is trick photography by the sellers!!!

PPS That's a communal garden - it's not all ours!!!!



"The Contract is signed and on the way back to me (voice mail form seller's lawyer)"

We're so excited, We just can't hide it
We're about to lose control and we think we like it
We're so excited and we just can't hide it
We know we know we know we know we know we want you

We added the lyrics - they weren't in his email!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two hurdles left???


According to the brokers website the property is 'In Contact' although our lawyer hasn't heard that the Sellers have officially signed yet.

It's looking good but we are still holding our breath.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The three hurdles


Before the apartment officially becomes our love-nest three things have to happen...

The Sellers - They have to sign the contract we signed on Saturday. Hopefully this won't be a problem as the price has been agreed. As soon as they sign the property is officially off the market.

The Banks - They have to give us a mortgage. We've been pre-approved so hopefully no problems here.

The Co-op - They have to say that they like us and think our financials are healthy. Fingers crossed here but i think paying off the debt and doing Operation Night Brace will certainly help here.

Phew. We're so close. We've done everything we can and now the ball is in everyone else's court.

Fingers, toes and teeth crossed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

We just signed a contract on an apartment!


We can't believe it!!! We have landed on our feet but are shattered by the whole experience. If you remember back in February we stopped paying off the debt but kept saving. Between then an now we managed to save just over $60,000 which is pretty much the remainder of the loan!!!!

We had managed to save enough money to pay of the entire debt in just over a year - we had done what we set out to do with Operation Night Brace. But rather than pay off the debt we decided to do something to bring some much needed stability to our lives and that something was buying an apartment.

We have so much to tell but for now we are exhausted and curled up in bed watching bad movies - it's 3pm on Saturday here in NYC.

(Long) Drum Roll Please!!!


Just a few more hours!

Monday, June 15, 2009



Something amazing has just happened!!!

We are pinching ourselves and wanting to make sure it is 100% definite before we share it with you.


Friday, June 12, 2009



This is disturbing on so many levels I don't even know where to begin!!

Considering that Gareth and I conserve food like it's going outta style... this is pure insanity!

oink oink

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ash or grind?

Amy says...

Well our new home is great. It takes me exactly 6 minutes to get to work on foot, not like the asshole that is spending 7 hrs commuting!!!!! Sorry dude - that's just dumb ;)

Anyway...we live inbetween one of the best coffee houses in Manhattan and a funeral home.

Yesterday, I bought a thermos so that I can enjoy a cup of coffee during my 6 minute commute...I went to the back of the coffee shop and asked the guy behind the counter if he could wash out my thermos and fill it with coffee. He did it gladly and when I handed him two dollar bills he grabbed only one and gave me $0.40 BACK!!

$0.60 for a whole thermos full of coffee? WTF??? are they using the ash from next door?

There's gotta be something wrong with it...but nope, an amazing cup of coffee for $0,60 is on my block as long as you bring your own cup! Ha!

What a deal!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The crazy things people do for love!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

£150 a minute


No that's not the cost of the new sex line Amy and I are running! It's the money you can earn writing material for comedy shows - sweet!

My friend Chris is working on a pilot for a new sketch show and he needs material. If i manage to write something that makes it on to the show they will pay £150 for every minute that the material features.

I've got a few ideas so we'll see what happens - my fav is a character that speaks really slowly and takes 15 minutes to tell one joke (hmmmmmm somehow i think the producers might see through that one).

It is time to put pen to paper or rather finger to keyboard to see what i can make happen.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The joy of spreadsheets


I love spreadsheets. Amy doesn't quite share my passion for them.

We are now entering a brave new world and it involves spreadsheets.

In the past the $20 a day budget was pretty easy to remember but not much fun to do.

That's gone.

A moment's silence please for the $20 budget...

Now we have a new budget but it's a bit more complicated than the old (and very extreme) 'any spending = bad' model.

We have created various pots for various things - rent, bills etc. We even have one called 'fun' which is the one we are most excited about.

Our fridge has been converted into budget central with various sums and scribbles stuck up on it. It's a bit 'Sleeping with the enemy' but it's just to get us going i promise.

I think amy is a bit overwhelmed by it all but i'm pretty confident that (when we get in the groove) it will be pretty painless.

We'll be able to save (at a sensible rate) and have a life.

Hello brave new world. It is very nice to meet you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Amy says...

We're in!!! We have:
Cable TV
a comfy bed
bed side tables
a couch!!!!
plenty of closet space
sun sun sun and more sun light
a huge bathroom
a toilette that flushes
a shower that works!!!
high speed Internet
plenty of storage
a kitchen
peace and quiet

this is AMAZING!!!!!!!!

holy shit!!!!