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.

Income Gap

After our abysmal family leave policy, the thing that ruffles my feathers most is the income gap for working Mamas.


A new study by the University of Chicago shows that working mamas earn $.73 for every dollar a man earns, compared to a $.90 for childless career women. 


Moms’ Rising was interviewed on Good Morning America about pay discrimination for working mothers. The founder talks about the need to transform our 1950s workplace policies.


I was really excited to see the Moms’ video, so I searched to see what other coverage there has been recently. The Atlantic had a pretty disheartening article condoning paying men more because they care more about their careers, while working mothers are busier as caregivers. I don’t dispute that mothers still have more parental responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean I deserve to be paid less.


In our household, I earn less money and I know somehow Hubby feels good about earning more. Yet, I do like to point out that I earn more than he did at my age, but there is a seven year age gap. I’d be very curious whether there is the same gap between comparable professionals in our graduating classes.


Do you feel the income gap?


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

Frugal Lessons

I’m catching up on few of my favorite blogs after being offline for over a week. Always more to learn from and reflect on. 


The Simple Dollar wrote about 48 Things Frugality has Taught Me. I would agree with many of his lessons. Here are my personal reflections on my favorite:




4. Young children are usually more interested in the free packaging or other freebies than any item you might buy them.
So true, we try to stick to simplicity with our gifts. Less is often better. Our kiddos b-days are in January, and we typically save a “Christmas” gifts for another month just so they aren’t overwhelmed.
5. A tall glass of pure water is the best first line of defense for many ailments.
Water, plus a neti pot and some tiger balm.
8. Fixing a toilet isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds.
I’m not afraid to say that Hubby has called me “toilet lady,” because I’m the first one to fix any leaks. In case you’re still intimidated, here are some easy instructions on fixing a leaky toilet.
10. You disagree with your spouse a lot less if you don’t have a pile of debt stressing you out.
As parents of young children, we know there’s enough stress already, why make life any harder?!
11. YouTube and a pile of old newspapers can entertain a four year old and a two year old for several hours.
Our kids also love sending/getting e-cards, way more fun and interactive than paper cards.
15. Every time I let go of something I used to like, I have more room for the things I enjoy now.
Note to self…purge closet!
21. Our city’s parks and recreation department has more fun stuff going on than our family has time to participate in.
We are park fans, and this summer has been packed with urban park adventures. Swim classes are our favorite and we love being able to walk five blocks to the pool.
22. Netflix streaming (at $9 a month) combined with free over-the-air digital television provides better television viewing options than a $50 monthly cable bill.
Absolutely, not having cable is worth every penny.
35. Getting rid of stuff you don’t use can be painful, but it feels exhilarating once you’ve started doing it.
This makes me want to purge more things, particular baby stuff that it no longer useful to us, but could bring others joy. Now I just need to find the time to go through it all…
38. Cloth diapering isn’t as scary as it sounds.
Really! It becomes just as routine as disposable diapering, although like all parents we are looking forward to being done with diaper duty.
40. The less activities you jam into a vacation, the more enjoyable and relaxing it usually is.
Going with the flow and relaxing is really the point of it all.
41. The more you talk to children about money and wise money decisions, the more they emulate those decisions with the money they have.
Money hang ups begin early and are hard to change, and I hope to share sustainable skills. 
44. Used paperbacks and books from the library are just as fun to read as new books from the bookstore.
After college I had a new book fetish, but I’ve gotten over it. I also don’t feel the need to hang on to more than a bookcase worth…need to purge some.
48. Most of the things that genuinely make me feel good – exercising, playing with my kids, holding my wife – don’t cost anything at all.
So true. I try to remind myself every day of all the free family fun we can make together.

What has frugality taught you and your family?


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

Cheap Get-away

I’m back: rested and rejuvenated from a much-needed anniversary trip to celebrate eight years of matrimony. 
It was our first vacation without the kiddos, and they enjoyed time in the country with their grandparents.


We camped at Lake of the Woods, Jackson F. Kimball State Park, and Crater Lake National Park. The highlights included hiking every day, swimming nearly every day, drinking from headwaters, pleasure reading, no “bed time,” and beating Hubby at Scrabble with my all time high score of 327! The only misfortune was a freak hail storm that left our hood with 15 dents, thankfully we had just gotten off the trail!


We are saving up for our big trip to Denmark, so we needed to keep this trip cheap. Here’s the run down on our budget:


Camping 4 nights (17,10,26,26) = $79
Gasoline = $84.91 (1/3 tank leftover)
Groceries = $119.65 
Eating out ($20 brkfst, $12 drinks, $130 anniversary dinner at Lodge, $6 ice cream) = $168
Bear book for kids = $8


Minus dinner tab = $330.56
5 day camping trip = $459.56
7 days, including family meals en route = $529.46


$75 per day is pretty good for a family of four. Back when we did our first cross country road trip seven years ago we averaged about the same, although it penciled out better when we didn’t have rent/bills to pay back at home.


We surely could have saved if we hadn’t shopped at a small town grocer, but I somehow feel obliged to support the local economy even when traveling on the cheap. Plus, about a third of the food wasn’t eaten up on the trip itself.


What’s the budget for your trips?


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

Ebb and Flow – Weekly Recap

Next week we’ll be on vacation for our anniversary. Kiddos will be at g-p’s and we’ll have our first week as a couple in two years! Looking forward to getting reconnected and rejuvenated. Have a great week!


Wrapping up another week…


Heating Up – Are you taking action on 10/10/10?


Burgerville – Can fast food really eco-family-friendly?


Cash, Debit or Credit? – What’s your pleasure?


Boring Sack Lunches – Ideas please…


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

Boring Sack Lunches

I don’t know about you, but I’m in a rut with my standard boring sandwiches. I’m diligent about making a sack lunch, but it gets very  monotonous: basic cheese/lunch meat sandwich, chips, fruit. I often crave something different, but I’m so used to my basic routine that I make the same lunch week after week.


Our kids still eat in childcare, but I do have this nagging fear of unhealthy school lunches and worry about how I’ll manage to make lunches they’ll want to eat every day. I’ve been sending emails to legislators, and am thrilled that the Healthy, Hunger-Free bill passed in the Senate, and now we need to get the House!


I would love tips from readers about sack lunch ideas…hint, hint…


Here’s a quick video on creating a $2 lunch:



Do you make sack lunches?
How do you keep them interesting?


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