Monthly Archives: October 2010

Zero Dollars Per Gallon

This has been an invigorating week for me, and it isn’t just the beautiful fall weather that has me beaming a little brighter. I’ve biked with the kids 5 of the past 6 days. 


As I wrote in late spring, I finally got myself geared up bike with a toddler seat. Well as much as the cheap bike seat worked for Girly, it left me with a Big Guy who still isn’t big enough to bike downtown. Plus, I really needed to be able to haul all the stuff that I typically tote on the bus every day. 


So, I was ever so grateful when my Father picked me up a Burley trailer from Craig’slist. It handles so nicely that I almost would never guess that I’m trailing almost a hundred pounds of cargo. It hooks on/off really easily and is light weight enough that I can lift it up the stairs by myself. I truly wish that I would have brought down and bought one years ago!


My best story of the week was when I was inching my way up the long steep hill home, and a huge red pick-up truck came along side me…I saw this buff guy’s arm come out and I wondered if he was going to yell some obscenity, but to my delight he smiled and yelled out “Way to go! Keep pedaling!” So when I slowed to a crawl today, my sweet Big Guy yelled out “Mommy, you can do it!” Experiencing bicycle culture helps make any extra effort feel worth my while. 


While I’m not really saving any money by bike commuting instead of busing, we did save save a little gas money on our neighborhood trips over the weekend. Plus, it’s free exercise and a fun way to start and end my office work day.


I don’t know how much we’ll manage to bike once the weather turns, but I’m setting a goal for myself to get on my bike at least once a week. I used to bike in all weather, and I know the most important thing is to wear the right layers.


Lastly, if you want to pick up your own $0.00 9/10 shirt for yourself, I found a sweet one on Etsy.


Beyond the MPG, what benefits to find from biking?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Secret to Finances

I’ll be the first to admit that in terms of film production The Secret is pretty darn hokey, but the message is what matters. Here’s a quick video clip from the film.





Just remember that living your dreams is only a thought away, plus the baby steps…


What are you dreaming into reality?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Closet Time

As promised last week, I spent some quality time simplifying a small corner of my life. With the changing season I decided to start with my own closet, since it tends to get done last...I only had two hours to dedicate, but it felt good to tackle it.


The task wasn’t exactly enlightening, but I set the mood by blaring some Brett Dennen. Then I created two bags, one for consignment and one for Goodwill donation. Everything seasonal was consolidated to fit in one big bin. Alas, my closet still doesn’t look like this, but it is significantly better.


On an ongoing basis my best green closet practices is to limit dry cleaning, and I’ve been using these easy tips for washing “dry clean only” items. Washing and ironing at home certainly saves us each month!


Here are some green storage tips I found for preventing moths and mildew. Thankfully we don’t have many moths in the NW, but once my Twin Sis lost half her closet to mildew in a cramped, cool, and dimly lit apartment closet! Now that was a huge waste of money 🙁


How do you create a greener closet?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Energy Evaluation

The crisp autumn weather has made us feel cozier than ever in our newly insulated home. Last spring I shared a three part series (1, 2, 3) on our participation in the pilot phase of the Clean Energy Works program. I wasn’t planning a final evaluation until after a winter’s worth of energy bills, but I feel like I need to defend the program after a pretty critical article in the Tribune.


The Portland Tribune criticized the program and concluded that it was shy on results. While I agree with some points, we are still among the many satisfied customers of the program. I know that our family would have dipped into our emergency fund in order finance the home improvement, and we were glad to take out a micro loan that will be paid off mostly through improved home efficiency.


Here’s the skinny so far from a finance perspective:

  • We’ve been paying $49.24 extra since the loan was processed (Our previous average was $97, and went up to $146.24 in April)
  • When the annual average was reevaluated, we received a $3.90 credit in September
  • We’re on an equal pay bill plan, but it easy to see that our bill will go down further
  • And that’s even after signing up for the Smart Energy program.

We first turned on the heat on October 15th, and we’ve all felt too hot at night at 67 degrees! Yes, we used to turn off our heat at night, but with radiant heating it’s more efficient to keep the temp relatively constant. But it does feel strange not to feel the wind inside any longer 😉 Insulating your home is really a smart investment, and probably the one that will give your family the most comfort for your buck.


Have you been satisfied with Clean Energy Works?
Do you wish it were available nationwide?


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The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.