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.

Receipt Shuffling

I’m so tired of shuffling receipts. It’s both a big waste of paper and colossal waste of energy.


One of the reasons why I look forward to completing our bank account merger is because I’m dog tired of fumbling crumpled paper to update our budget. Our current system consists of me checking my accounts online to update my half of the budget and then going through a stack of Hubby’s receipts for the half (and assuming that everything else is on auto-pilot). It’s time consuming, and surely causes errors. Plus, Hubby is always teasing me about having a “George Costanza wallet” with receipts spilling out.


Once we finally have everything in one place, I’ll be able to  update everything from the computer without having to organize and subtotal each line item of receipts. Our new system will be to file away any long term household purchase receipts/info, tally up cash purchases by receipt, and then recycle the rest. Hopefully there will soon be more places that will ask you if you want a receipt. Each time I’m able to say “no thank you” it feels like a little victory.


If you’re tired of receipts, you can sign an online petition asking retailers to limit receipts. According to AllEtronic “600,000 tons of thermal receipt paper used by stores each year. It takes 15 trees, 19,000 gallons of water, and 390 gallons of oil to make a ton of paper.” If you use these numbers, it would mean that 9 million trees, 11,400,000,000 gallons of water and 234 million gallons of gasoline. Wow, I really never realized how much all those small pieces of paper add up!
 
Do you avoid receipts? Reuse them? Anything creative?


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

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Solar Savings

I’ve always been hopeful for the day when solar energy would be affordable for my family and no longer be considered an “alternative” to coal generated power. I was totally psyched when I found out about an effort to purchase solar panels in “bulk” through my neighborhood organization dubbed Solarize NE (Portland that is…here’s the Oregonian article). It’s very much a DIY effort and there are a series of workshops to inform residents about net metering and other solar lingo.


Through a bulk purchase, residents can expect a 25% discount and when you tack on tax incentives, a 3-kilowatt system would cost you about $3500. Depending on the system you install, you could have a return on your investment in just a couple years. Tax incentives can vary by state, but you can save up to 80%! Interestingly, I just happened across an article about how solar energy has become so widespread in California that there is a legislative bill trying to put a cap on net metering (solar energy sold back to the utility.) This would be a big disincentive for families looking to save money and live green. Alas, most parts of the country don’t have this problem yet.


I met for my home consultation with the Energy Trust rep this past Friday (on my Flex Day) Our meeting turned out to be pretty brief, because it turns out that roof simply doesn’t work with current solar panels (the Victorian style is a hipped gambrel roof with multiple steep angles). I was told that you need at least 200 square feet minimum for a cost-effective solar system. It’s really too bad. She calculated that after state/federal tax incentives, a 2.5 kw system would cost us only $1,788. 

The silver lining is that she still thinks that a solar water heating system might fit on our small roof angles. There are also incentives water heating systems, since they typically suck 14-25% or your household energy use. An electric system saves 1,800-3,000 kWh/year, and would save you $150-300 in energy costs per year. With current incentives and credits the return on investment would be about 10 years. I’d obviously want to look into the specifics of our household bill to make sure these estimates match, but it could be worth looking into.

Has your family looked into solar savings? 

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

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Living Local & Green

After a weekend of preparing our spring garden, and enjoying the oddly rare Pacific NW winter sunshine, I came across this short video from a panel on supporting your local economy and living green. She rambles a bit, but shares a few things that have inspired her, which in turn inspired me, which I hope will inspire you…


Let me know what you think…

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

Beyond being thankful for meaningful work and earning a steady paycheck, I’m eternally greatful for the “invention” of Flex Fridays. Getting every other Friday off makes getting up early and putting in long days totally worth it, especially when for the most part our kids remain in child care. Now we’ve got a double bonus, since Hubby was just approved for a Flex schedule (after six months!). And no, I’m not lounging around in a hammock, but this image does make me smile even if it is a fantasy.

Now how does our work schedule relate to family finances? On top of fewer miles to commute/pollute, there are plenty of financial implications regarding your work schedule:

  • Time to run errands = more time for family fun
  • Time to exercise = better health and wellness. fewer sick days
  • Time together as a couple = paying for a babysitter less often
  • Time for extended holiday weekends = fewer vacation leave used
  • Time to do house cleaning = not needing to hire a maid

  • Time to do laundry = constant chore made a bit easier

All this time is valuable for busy working parents, and there’s a movement afoot to shift our entire culture toward flexible scheduling. MomsRising, my favorite moms activism group, has flexible work as a top priority on their policy agenda. I couldn’t agree more and 89% of employees think that flextime or telecommuting are an important factor in evaluating a prospective position (LifeMeetsWork). 

I know that in the scope of history, we have things pretty good, but I truly believe that flex schedules are the next wave of labor policy. It’s really essential for productivity both at work and home. If you think there’s a chance your employer might be receptive, there are some good tips to requesting a a flexible schedule.

Do you have a flexible schedule?
How does it help your family and your finances?

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

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Green is the New Black

Trends change, and lately they are turning a darker and darker shade of green. In college I met an environmental lecturer who said that we would know that we were reaching a sustainable society when the clothes on our backs no longer destroy local cultures and environments. Apparently the darker the dye the worse the practices, and I happened to be wearing a brand new pair of black pants and eggplant purple top; I felt chagrined.

The runway shifts may have begun with a few local “trashion” shows, like Portland’s Junk to Funk, which shows how reused materials can become fashionable. Now the hot handmade online trading site Etsy has it’s own Trashion network for crafters with a knack for upcycling. A quick search also came up with a list of the Top 50 Green Fashion and Design Blogs…I’m definitely going to have to take a peek.

This week the Seattle Times had a interesting article on how “Green is the New Black.”  Apparently even during the recession earth-friendly apparel is moving fast. I find this interesting, because despite the appeal we can’t afford Patagucci or local boutique baby clothing. I bought an overpriced bamboo shirt two years ago, and I still feel a twinge of guilt. I also have a little bit of mommy-guilt around this issue too, because my Mama sewed our clothes until we started asking for store bought in grade school. Yet, as a busy working Mama, I can barely manage to keep my kiddos in clothes that fit them, none-the-less sew them myself!

Does your family purchase eco-friendly attire?
Or would you if it were more affordable?

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