Author Archives: Darcy Cronin

About Darcy Cronin

I'm a Mother/Coach/Blogger/Business Adventurer from Portland OR. My family consists of my Hubby of 12 years, our 8yo Kieran, 5yo Makenna, and 1yo Teagan. I love dreaming about a better future, and making it happen.

Blue Sky Benefits

I wrote last year about signing up for Blue Sky, my electric utility’s renewable energy option.


Recently I got an update about how my participation has made a difference, and it’s pretty impressive:


Avoided 5,814 pounds of CO2 or 5,911 miles not driven or 68 trees planted


I don’t know about you, but I certainly haven’t come close to planting 68 trees on my own initiative. It is a relative offset to our current miles driven as well.


In trying to find out what others think, I found a fun blog called “Retire by 40” that shares their perspective on the program.


Have you signed up for your local clean energy program?


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

Zipcar Goes Public

I happened to peek at the Wall Street Journal business section in the lunch room, and found an article about Zipcar going public on the stock market this week. 


I know this is a family finance blog, but I’m really an investment virgin. We have no stocks to our name, and I have no clue where to begin (beyond adding more money to my retirement fund). My Twin Sis is the investment chic in our family, and she once made over $50k by investing in Hansen’s soda as they came out with a new energy drink.


But the prospect of investing in Zipcar has me excited. The price will determine what we can afford to invest, but I finally feel like we have the stability to begin investing and Zipcar is a company I trust and enjoy myself. A third party study estimated that “From a $350 million industry, the study says, it will grow to become a $3 billion industry by 2016.” Plus, here’s 3 reasons to buy ZIP.


Just last week the Christian Science Monitor hyped all the benefits of Zipcar, and other car sharing options (notably they didn’t mention Portland’s Get Around).  


Speaking of car sharing, we are still in debate about going carless. It’s a big jump, we just can’t seem to take the leap just yet…plus it’s still not truly biking weather in Portland yet!


Would you invest in Zipcar? 


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

EcoMaids Chi

There’s no doubt I now have a favorite day of the month, which coincides with our EcoMaids cleaning service. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s such a relief to come home to a spotless house. It just puts my mind at ease for the entire weekend, and I simply don’t have the angst that I used to – either feeling guilty for putting off cleaning or too exhausted to clean in my precious spare time.


The monthly cleaning service doesn’t get me off the hook entirely, but it gives substantial relief. I am much happier to sweep regularly than to haul out our “beloved” vacuum and Shark steam mop


The irony is that my moment of cleanliness bliss is often abruptly stopped short by the inevitable kitchen spill or misplaced potty attempt (which despite a few floor accidents this weekend is still going very well). We tease each other about this fate, but I’d still much rather clean up a fresh spill.


It’s not even really the absence of cleaning that elates me, it’s how that time is freed up to do any given family oriented activity. For example, this weekend instead of cleaning together all day (yes, it does take all day with two small kids “helping”!), we were able to spend the morning at a t-ball breakfast fundraiser, then a t-ball game and after nap we headed to the Pearl to hit the REI member sale and grab some Cool Moon cones at Jamison Park…all before heading to a friend’s b-day party! It was a delightful day, and truly courtesy of EcoMaids.


Having a clean home also allows me to focus on the “feng shui” details that create a peaceful home. Instead of scrubbing the tub, I’m able to pay attention to accumulating clutter. It seems that we are constantly putting things back where they belong, but on our “clean” weekend I usually take on one type project to improve our “chi”. This time I put fresh flowers around our home and replanted our big front porch pot and hanging baskets for the season. Again, these projects simply wouldn’t get done if we had to spend our time off cleaning.


On a previous post, I was criticized for spending family money on such an ephemeral luxury, rather than saving/investing the money. I understand the argument, but at this point in my life I think it’s well worth the percentage of my paycheck. I’ve literally earned it. Although that’s not to say that we couldn’t live without it, and surely under the sugar mama scenario the service would be dropped until we could afford it. It’s not something I take for granted, but it sure is nice to look forward to each month.


Do you think a cleaning service is a worthy family expense?


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

Keeping up with the “Greens” – Personal Energy Reports

My grandmother’s maiden name was Green and married name was Jones, so I find it funny that “keeping up with the jones'” is so out nowadays. Whether we like it or not, peer pressure causes social change. Society is creating social pressure to be greener than your neighbor.

A friend of mine showed me a “personal energy report” she had gotten the mail from her utility, NW Natural. The idea of analyzing your own energy usage isn’t novel, but I find it really interesting that the utility would compare your energy usage to your own neighbors

As you can see, her energy usage is much better than her neighbors (she’s also single and energy conscious). Note the smiley faces…I’m curious if they are absent or greyed out when you are “more than average”:



They also showed her last year’s usage, and showed how much money she saved, which provides additional incentive to continue saving energy. $1,253 is sure worth it!



With a little searching, I found out that this is a pilot program, and these letters were mailed to 60,000 Portlanders at random. Here’s a quick news clipped where they interview the Energy Trust of Oregon about the pilot. I sure hope it turns into an industry standard!


Does your utility provide a personal energy report?
How do you think you’d compare to your neighbors?


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