How This Family Paid Off Debt Using Unusual Tactics.

It seems the media is full of impressive testimonies on how couples paid off debt by tightening their financial belts. But none of these tales come close to matching the hardship and ingenuity of Brad and Angie Dickerson, of  Parsimony, New Jersey.

The Dickerson family knew they were in trouble when they no longer had money at the end of the month to pay the mortgage on their 4,000 square foot home.

“It was rather alarming,” Angie said, “I’m not sure how it happened. Brad and I have always been frugal.”

The Dickersons point to how they chose the base model Porsche Cayenne, skipping certain luxuries so the ticket price would hover around $60,000.

“And restaurants? We never use valet parking. We park our own car and walk. Even in the winter,” said Brad.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. The Dickersons knew their credit score would be squashed if their lifestyle continued. So they cut back.

“The first thing we did,” Brad stated, “was sell our house. Got rid of that pesky mortgage for once and for all. The only problem, though, was that we realized after the closing, we didn’t have anywhere to go.”

The Dickersons went to the nearest homeless shelter, where they were warmly welcomed.

“We were each given a cot, so we pushed them together to make our own queen sized bed.” Angie said, “it was romantic, in a depressing sort of way.”

The next step? Unloading the Porsche and Angie’s BMW. The Dickersons soon found themselves in a quandary: they had no way to work now that their vehicles were sold. The Dickersons brainstormed and decided to try public transportation. But there was a problem.

“Do you know you have to pay for public transportation?” Brad was incredulous, “have you ever been on those buses? Why would anyone pay to ride those things?”

The Dickersons went back to the drawing board. They decided to rely on friends and family.

“I started asking friends for rides to work, or asking to borrow their car,” stated Angie.

Cell phones, with hefty service plans, were another financial drain on the Dickersons. They quickly cashed those in and now communicate through the use of Native American smoke signals.

“It is inconvenient,” Brad admitted, “especially when I’m in a meeting and see Angie signaling me. I’ll have to excuse myself and go outside to answer her.”

Food bills are no longer an issue for the Dickersons. The homeless shelter provides free breakfast, and most churches offer lunches and dinners.

“It requires a lot of networking,” Angie admits, “the Methodists are fond of baked hams on Tuesdays, while the Protestants? Turkeys on Thursdays. Non-denominationals are anybody’s guess.”

But there are certain things the Dickersons can not part with, such as their Hyannis beach house and membership to the Tennis Club.

“I mean, come on,” said Angie, “we may be thrifty now, but we’re not stupid.”

 

The Underground Writer Reporting

 

A Strange, New Form of Home Security

Residents across the nation have turned to a new type of home security: surprise parties. As with many inventions, the creation of Surprise Party Theft Deterrent was accidental. John and Linda Sandford of Marietta, Georgia hosted a family birthday party for their four year old daughter. That night, an intruder broke into their home.

“I thought I heard someone,” Sandford said when interviewed, “and when I went downstairs to investigate, there was a man standing in our living room! The bizarre thing was, he saw all the party decorations that were left up from my daughter’s birthday party and he thought they were for him! He forgot all about stealing our stuff.”

The Sandfords proceeded to wake up their children and defrost leftover birthday cake.

“It turned into one big, happy event,” Sandford said, “we decided to leave the decorations up in case it happens again.”

Initially, police were skeptical of this rather unorthodox home security system.

“Honestly? I thought they were all a bunch of nut jobs,” Lieutenant David Jefferson of the Los Angeles Police Department said, “but then I heard it started working. Don’t get me wrong – I still recommend a traditional home security system over this surprise party thing.”

Surprise Party Theft Deterrent can also be a rewarding experience. The Sanfords formed a relationship with their home invader and have since invited him to family dinners and holiday gatherings. Aside from a missing laptop and some “misplaced” silver, their home intruder is like a member of their family.

“Sure, we don’t leave him alone near the checkbook .. or let him borrow the car … but he’s like family to us!” Sandford states.

One criticism of Surprise Party Theft Deterrents is the possibility of the home intruder being armed with a deadly weapon – and using this weapon if startled by the surprise party.

“I’d be lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind every time I crouched behind the sofa, waiting to jump up and yell, ‘Surprise!'” Peter Anderson of Mesa, Arizona confessed, “but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.”

“Especially when you see the look of astonishment on their face,” Esther Anderson chimed in, “why, after a rash of break-ins in our neighborhood, one intruder started to cry when he climbed through our den window and was welcomed with noisemakers and Peter and I yelling, ‘Surprise!’ He said no one had ever thrown him a surprise party before.”

While the expense of maintaining traditional home security systems can be what drives some people to use surprise parties as theft deterrents, others do so for different reasons.

“Personally, I find home security systems a bit … alarming with their obnoxious sirens. It could easily disrupt an individuals inner chi.” said Destiny Light of Woodstock, New York.

Surprise parties were the perfect solution for Light – even though crime is rare in her neighborhood.

“Never the less, it is simply delightful to have my kitchen decorated for a birthday party every day, said Light.

There are some downsides with Surprise Party Theft Deterrent. Having your house decorated for a birthday party year round can be a hassle. It’s also confusing for children.

“Every morning when my son woke up, he kept thinking it was his birthday,” Heather Burns of Grand Rapids, Michigan said, “and when it finally was his birthday, well, the birthday decorations didn’t excite him anymore.”

Sagging crepe paper and deflating balloons can not only be a nuisance, but also an additional expense. But not nearly as much as the monthly fees charged by home security services.

Reactions of home intruders to this new form of theft deterrent vary.

“At first, I be like, ‘whats that?” Larry Johnson of Southtown, Illinois said when interviewed in the Greater Illinois Detention Center, “they all be going, “Surprise and sh-t! I there to rob a house, ya’ll. If I wanted a party, I’d go to a party! So I say, “Gimme that flat-screen! Gimme that Macbook!”

The result?

“The old lady? She starts bawling. She starts saying, “He was supposed to like the party.” What do I look like? A four year old? Like I say, If I wanted a party, I’d go to a party. I there to get stuff!”

Andrew Anderson  had a different response.

“I loved it! When I pried open that screen, and climbed through that window, and there was a party waiting for me? And not the police? I’d have to be crazy not to like that family.”

Party City stocks have soared since the introduction of Surprise Party Theft Deterrents.

 

The Underground Writer Reporting

 

What Dogs Think About Humans

“I’m a bit concerned,” she said.

The dogs sat on the couch. Talking dogs. Seriously. I had been asked to interview four talking dogs on a rather delicate subject matter. They wanted their voice (non-barking) heard, and they thought my blog would be the best venue. (Who knew canines read The Underground Writer? Who knew, for that matter, dogs could read?!)

“About what?” I ask.

Daisy is a mixed-breed. A cross between a Boxer and Pittbull. She shakes her head – her dog tags clicking together.

“My humans. My ownersThey’re … getting … strange.”

“Not mine!” the Golden Retriever interjects, “my humans are the best.”

“Well, of course you would think so. You think everyone is the best. All Goldens do.”

The Golden Retriever is suddenly distracted, his snout raised in the air, sniffing.

“Do you smell bacon?” he asks.

Daisy raises a furry eyebrow at me and leans forward, her front paws sliding on the slipcover.

“As I was saying … my humans adopted me from the animal shelter, which was great! I love them, really, I do. But now … but now they’re acting like they’ve saved the world! All over their minivan are bumper stickers that read ‘Rescue Dog Mom’ and ‘I Rescued My Fur Baby’ and ‘Don’t Breed – Adopt.’ As though taking me into their home has made them better people.”

Daisy glances at Trixie – a Yorkie who has started gnawing on an old running shoe.

“Then there are my humans,” Ace – a Siberian Husky – says. “Bought me from a breeder. Paid a fortune, I might add. Now it’s like I’m their kid. I have to go in their car all of the time. They call it ‘car rides.’  They’re always taking my picture with them. ‘Smile Ace!’ they say, ‘smile for the selfie!’ Apparently I even have my own Facebook page – whatever THAT means.”

“I love going for car rides!” says the Golden Retriever, “My humans have a bumper sticker that says their dog is smarter than your honor student … what does that mean?”

“So what exactly is the problem?” I ask, “Daisy, you would rather have been left in the animal shelter? And Ace? You have a problem with being so loved?”

The dogs (except for the Golden Retriever, that is now licking his genitals) all shake their heads.

“I told them not to hire The Underground Writer for this!” Daisy hisses.

“You’re right,” Ace whispers, “she is a little slow.”

“The problem,” Trixie says, after she has swallowed a tattered shoelace she managed to dislodge from the running shoe, “is how the humans view us. My great grandpa Oscar used to tell me about sleeping outside on the back porch, or eating table scraps. Now I sleep on some fancy thing called a ‘dog settee’, and my human buys me organic dog food.”

“Speaking of food,” Ace interrupts, “have you seen what they feed us? What happened to meat? I like to eat out of the garbage can whenever I get the chance.  And if it’s really smelly, I like to roll in it. Now, my humans feed me froufrou stuff they think will taste good.”

As if to prove his point, Ace nods towards the packages lined up on the table next to the couch.

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“Pumpkin and Berry flavor? Gluten free? I just want a bone with some ham still on it!” Ace starts to drool, his saliva forming little pools on the slipcover that is now coated with dog hair.

“What’s with the vanilla sandwich cremes? I’m a dog for crying out loud! And apple cinnamon flavor biscuits?” Daisy asks, “why can’t they make stinky fish flavored biscuits? Or steak flavored?”

“Ohhhh! I LOVE stinky fish!” the Golden Retriever sighs.

“It’s like … humans are trying to make us human,” Trixie says.

“Human are trying to make dogs … human?” I repeat.

“Yes!” Trixie, Ace and Daisy say in unison.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Trixie continues, “I do love my humans, especially the kids. But sometimes I think the adults forget that I’m a dog.”

“Just look at the picture my human bought.” Daisy turns and looks at the picture hanging on the wall behind her.

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“I think that’s great,” the Golden Retriever says. He is scratching his left ear with his hind paw. “I can’t wait to teach my humans how to fetch, and sniff stranger’s crotches, and beg for apple cinnamon flavored biscuits.”

Daisy, Ace and Trixie exchange looks.

“Exactly.”

 

Photo Credits:

Froufrou Dog Treats – Underground Writer venturing into the crowded pet food aisle of local store.

“Everything I Learned In Life…” picture: Google Images/Etsy.com