Tuesday, July 14, 2009

That's all folks!!!


... everyone for reading the blog. Knowing there were people out their taking an interest in what we were doing helped us keep going when times got really tough.

Thanks Mum, thanks Dad and thank you Hannah. Thanks for putting up with rubbish birthday and Xmas presents.

Thanks to all my friends for their support.

Thank you ?WhatIf! for stopping me from starving and paying me a slalry to do something i truly love

And the biggest possible thank you goes to Amy. You are truly my best friend. Thank you for loving me even when I’d been a total overbearing, penny pinching, control freak idiot. Let's do amazing things together.

(I can't believe typing this made me cry - boy has it all been emotional)

Goodbye and happy saving xxxxxx


NO one..

I can't believe writing this made me laugh! (boy it's been emotional)

Ok ok...

I would like to thank the people out there that posted wise, smart, funny and inspirational comments when life was incredibly hard.

I'd like to thank Gareth's family for being so supportive, considering I don't think anyone from my family read the blog even once ;)

I'd like to thank Gareth for forcing me to to this because now it's OVER and we're really happy so it makes it all worth it.

I'd like to thank blogger (it's a dope app that's free ;)

I'd like to thank Gareth again, you have changed my life, become my best friend, made me laugh through all the tears, been an amazing support system and a fantastic partner.

Fair well and we'll miss you ;) xxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, July 13, 2009


Getting engaged
The trip to Morocco was amazing and I loved the party we had in the UK to celebrate (the ‘help I’m in debt’ ‘and engaged’ t-shirts still make us laugh). The proposal itself might not have been perfect but when we finally splash out and get Amy her real engagement ring I’m sure I’ll find myself down on one knee somewhere (no smutty comments Steve).

Learning to love writing
There have been a few unexpected side effects from ONB. The main one is my new found love of writing. Forcing ourselves to try and write something everyday on the blog ignited a passion in me that has resulted in loads of poems, short stories and comedy sketches. They are all a bit odd and not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ (edible children and pork loving pigs) but writing them keeps me out of mischief. My aim for between now and Xmas is to try and get an agent.

The readers of this blog
We have had over 20,000 visitors to this blog which is a huge amount. Seeing that number creep up has always given us encouragement and we loved the comments people posted. Seriously these small sentences did no end to lift us up when we were down. Those of you who have ever posted a comment probably have no idea of the impact you had ☺
In addition to the blog some people were very kind to donate money to the cause! We put the button on jokingly. In total we kindly received – drum roll please - $60!!! Thank you – you didn’t have to but every time we got $5 or $10 we felt ten feet tall.
Now that we are through the whole experience we have decided to donate your $60 to someone who needs it much more than us. We hope you don’t mind. It’s going to go to a young mum whose mother passed away this week. They are as poor as church mice and sadly haven’t got enough money to pay for the funeral which must be a truly horrible situation to be in.

Watching Amy grow
I thought Amy was pretty amazing when i met her and she just keeps getting more and more so...

...the way she has been kicking ass and taking names at work - building a team from scratch and earning numerous payrises in the process
...the way she has got her art back on track and is being the most productive she has been in 3 years (and the work is good, very very good)
...the way she became a mortgage expert overnight and fought tooth and claw to get us the best deal possible - one mortgage broker actually asked me if Amy worked in finance because she seemed to know so much
... the way she has managed to climb the Everest that is giving up smoking

With Amy I know i've backed a winner!!!

Learning to appreciate everything
From all this financial fasting my ta$tebuds have intensified!
Every magazine I now buy is more glossy and interesting
Every beer tastes more beery
Every meal is a special treat.
You get the idea – the list goes on and on!
Right now I’m not taking anything for granted!!! Long may it last.
I think this experience is going to be a great story to inspire our kids with. We won't ram it down their throats but hopefully it will have the same effect my dad's 'sunglass selling' story had on me.

Ending it in style
About a year ago I think we realised there was a real chance we could crash out of ONB and end up owning our own place (especially when the housing market collapsed). We wanted it to be a real ‘we’ve made it’ moment and it was. Signing the largest check of my life was a real rush when it came time to put down the deposit - It was the most zeros I have ever put on a check!!!!
It has truly been the happy ending we so wanted it to be ☺

Sunday, July 12, 2009



Meeting Gareth.... for only $40 bucks!

Living with Gareth - knowing that we could cuddle up every night with each other and that no matter how many trips he was on he'd be coming home to me.

Watching Gareth grow emotionally, he's always been very responsible but watching him learn to ground himself in reality was/is magic.

Getting engaged - even though Gareth thinks 'he did it wrong' it was very magical and I will treasure the first time he asked me to marry him forever!!!

Traveling to Morocco, Costa Rica and Panama and having the most amazing adventures for really really cheap!

Learning to bake apple pies - yeah!!

Learning to budget my money - I've never been HORRIBLE with money but I must admit I did want to ignore my student debt. Gareth taught me how to face it ;) And now I feel more than capable and responsible with my money; instead of wasting it on a 'this and a that' and finding out you have no money at the end of that month and nothing to show for it ;)

Doing everything we said we were going to do - when I first me Gareth I think I said, "I can't stand people that are all talk and no action!" Ha ha Gareth proved to be ALL action, yeah!


On a side note: Serendipity and synchronicity:

Unbeknownst to us we: had JUST enough money to pay for the down payement, litterally it left us with $74.00 in out accounts.

Unbeknownst to us we took a storage place six months ago about two blocks away from our new home.

Unbeknownst to us we emailed our broker "Is their any chance the apt in Park Slope will become available again, it's still on-line posted' the very same moment he called my cell and told me that the other buyers in Park Slope had pulled out and the apartment was ours!!

Unbeknownst to us I have a childhood friend living a half a block away!

Unbeknownst to us, at the time, we are expected to leave our current sublet on the exact same date we are expected to 'close' on the apartment.

It really does feel like someone somewhere was looking out for us :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009


AMY SAYS... (Ok this went up blank cause I was being too reflective and the automatic post that GARETH scheduled went up too quick before I could think of my low-lights!!!)

Living at 'ass-juices', really her name was Anju, she was a french model with really long hair extensions that stole our money.

Living in the Ethiopian crack den in Brooklyn for 3 months.

Losing some (pretty lame) friends cause I kept saying 'no', guess they weren't really friends anyway if they took off so easily ;p

The 'Big Wobble' sucked, lot's of tears :(

Living at my moms, but in hindsight it really wasn't that bad - in fact I kinda miss her ;)

Feeling like we lived on a mattress, similarly to the grandparents in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory (the original ;)

Sleeping on the air mattress for 8 months.

Getting Salmonella ON AN AIR MATTRESS ( I think my toxic gas broke it ;)

Gareth traveling something like 108 days during ONB and having to do it alone ;)

Eating tuna fish everyday and thinking I had mercury poisoning.

Quitting smoking during the whole thing - this ended up being a good thing but the giant mountain I had to climb during ONB I think made me a little looney tunes (that's over now thank god!)

Friday, July 10, 2009


Cycling in the rain
There was one day that really sticks out as a lowlight of ONB. It was pissing it down with rain and i had to cycle home with a trash bag of leftover food over my shoulder. Wet and eating a meal of scraps was not a particularly great day.

The two sublets in Brooklyn and the East Village
We hated hated hated these places - crappy crappy crappy. Hanging out in the office at weekends because it was nicer than home was pretty depressing. I guess you get what you pay for.

Lack of privacy
The hardest thing about living at Amy's Mum's was the lack of privacy. I remember getting very excited when i hired a tiny locker at the YMCA for $10 a month. My own little bit of Gareth space!!! It made me feel kind of pathetic.

Having to say no all the time
Ohhhhhh that was so depressing. No you can't come and visit. No i can't do ot for a drink. No i haven't got you a present. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

The reveal
When I first heard the total figure of the debt I think i went into shock! My brain went blank - not one single idea in it not even having a Plan Z. I was totally stumped.

Tax back
The government changing the tax laws for foreigners on New Year's Eve and making it retrospective for last year was a bit of a blow. We had been hoping on - make that relying on - a big chunk of change coming our way. The accountant had actually done all the sums and told me i could expect $8000. The next week he called me up and said it had all changed and i actually owed teh government money!!! Arse.

The big wobble
We never wrote about this on the blog but there was a big almost relationship ending wobble last November. We survived. We moved on. We learned. We grew.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lesson Number 13 (errr unlucky for some): Agree the boundaries


Most of the arguments we had during ONB came from us not talking about things enough.

Make sure you are on the same page about how you are going to save.

One person’s essential is another person’s luxury.

Just talk loads* and you won’t go too far wrong.

*(Yes male readers we have to learn to talk more!!!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lesson Number 12: Get creative


Great ideas cost nothing.

If you asked yourself questions like:

“How could we eat for free?”
“How could we live for free?”
“How could we have fun for free?”

… and if you got really creative with your answers you might just surprise yourself (and save you a lot of money).

We ended up...

... collecting leftover food from friends who worked at meeting venues.
... winning food in free raffles
... gate crashing parties
... living in the world's smallest room at Amy's mum
... blah blah blah - you've been reading the blog you know the lengths we've done!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lesson Number 11: Share the scare


There is a lot of stigma attached with being in debt.

ONB would have been impossible if we had tried to keep it from our friends and family.

So we were very vocal about it!

We even started a blog ☺

The more people who knew the better as the fewer awkward situation we found ourselves in - it can get very depressing saying ‘No’ to things all the time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lesson Number 10: Know why you’re doing it and remind yourself constantly


Regular readers of this blog will know that I decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Amy after only knowing her for six weeks.

It was this desire that drove me to push for ONB (Amy wasn’t too keen about living at her mum’s) – I knew how I wanted my future to be like.

I wanted to have Amy as my wife.
I wanted the debt gone.
I wanted to live a life filled with adventures.
I wanted us to start a family.

Know why you are doing it and carry a bright Technicolor picture of it in your mind.

The brighter the picture the easier it is to put your head down and keep crawling forward.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lesson Number 9: Be open to the lessons


One of my bosses said to me recently that ‘you keep learning the same lesson until you learn it’.

We learned so much stuff during the past year and not all of it came from the experience we ourselves were going through.

We saw what was happening to people close to us and would often ask ourselves…

“How can we make sure stuff like that happens to us?”

… or …

“How can we make sure stuff like that doesn’t happen to us?”

The chats these two questions inspired are going to prove invaluable going forward.

Life comes without a manual but if you look around you hard enough (and keep your mind open enough) you’ll quickly learn everything you need to know.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lesson Number 8: Take it in turns to be at the front


ONB was exhausting and draining.

The way we got through was to carry one another – sometimes Amy was at the front leading the charge and sometimes I was.

We both got down doing it but thankful the ‘down-ness’ never overlapped too much – there was always one of us with enough optimism to dilute the others pessimism.

I think that’s what a true partnership is all about.

Afterall, you’ll never find two people who are always in the same place emotionally and physically – if you do… RUN - they are probably androids.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Lesson Number 7: Keep it light


When you start worrying about things like money life tends to get very serious and the more serious something becomes the more you worry – it becomes a vicious circle.

So keep it fun.

Here are a few things we did to inject some lightness into the whole scheme…

We gave it a name. Referring to ‘the debt’ all the time would have gotten very depressing. We called it Operation Night Brace because of what Amy used to do as a kid. She’d wear her night brace to school so her teeth got straight faster. ONB was all about doing something unpleasant as fast as we could so the name worked ☺

We made our save-o-meter. At the start we had a large thermometer that we would slowly color in the amount we had paid off.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lesson Number 6: Embrace planning


Spontaneity is the enemy of saving and I think that is what I missed the most during the whole Operation.

Every penny mattered so you couldn’t just jump in a cab or go to the cinema whenever you fancied.

Plan ahead and you’ll find it easy to save – it is not as sexy as spontaneity but fear not that will always come back once you’ve achieved your goal.

PS Learn to love spreadsheets (they’re awesome at maths so you don’t have to be)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lesson Number 5: Pad the ride

When you are going to trying an intense period of saving make sure you don’t go straight into it. You need to prepare.

We decided in early April to do ONB starting May 1st.

That meant we could set up a few things to look forward to over the summer and autumn.

We brought tickets to a number of gigs and paid for a holiday.

These things were the spoonful of sugar that made saving easier.