Category Archives: money honey

Busted…Caught Overspending

I’ve been busted. Hubby caught me in the act with an overdraft notice.

The truth is that lately the buying bug has caught me. It started on our spring break vacation, which was an expense in itself. We were buying lattes and pastries, and generally enjoying ourselves along our travels.

There’s nothing wrong with that if you have the money. The problem is that we don’t at the moment. We only have one income, which thankfully is enough to pay the mortgage, utilities, and general bills. However, it’s not enough to pay for the “extras” that we are still frankly accustomed to buying.

I am a spender by nature (as opposed to Hubby and my Twin Sis who are definitely savers). If I have money, I will find a way to spend it. My father was this way. As a tree planter for most of his life, he barely made ends meet. Yet, every time he was paid for a contract, he was suddenly flush and ready to make up for the lost time spent scrimping.  

My intentions are good, and my justifications are many. But if I’m honest with myself, I have gone overboard lately. Here’s a list from our credit card balance:

  • Jeanne Verger Necklace – $71 (An early Mother’s Day present)
  • Foster & Dobbs – $4.89 (coffee and croissant)
  • Laurelwood Public House – $52.65 (unplanned dinner out after b-ball game)
  • Jr Rock Star Camp – $440 (for two kids – plus we’ve signed up for two other camps)
  • Little Big Burger – $7.50 (lunch by myself…it was delicious but we had leftovers)
  • Bridges Cafe – $19 (Treating Kieran to lunch after a Dr. appointment)
  • Overstock – $649 (3 rugs for bedrooms)
  • McMenamins’ Yoga + Michael Franti/Brett Dennen Concert- $134 (B-day tix with Twin Sis)
  • Garden Fever – $153 (Plants for patio and hanging baskets)
  • Books for coaching – $61 (I could only get two from the library)
  • Bill Sullivan books – $38.90 (present for Hubby and book for cabins)
  • Multnomah County – $21.45 (months of overdue fines…dreaded missing books) 
So, I obviously need to stop overspending. Today.

I’ve agreed with Hubby to start tracking my spending, and to stop spending on things we don’t really need. Even though I love earning miles on my credit card, I’ve also decided to spot buying with the card for at least the next two months. Even though we pay it off at the end of every month, obviously this past month we overspent and this next payment will be coming out of savings. That hurts. None of my spending is worth the stable nest egg that we’ve built to keep us out of debt.

So, here are the things I committing to doing publicly (please hold me accountable!)
  1. Track my daily/weekly/monthly spending using a simple tally system.
  2. Not spend beyond my $50 monthly allowance (save toward summer spending)
  3. Only use my debit card (no card until at least July 1st)
  4. Plant our garden seeds…harvesting kale and spinach now!
  5. Water my business seeds and start to earn an income.
Lastly, I’m committing to blogging regularly again. I’ve actually been in the process of drafting several blog posts and have been brainstorming ways to really relaunch this blog, but the key is to post regularly. So, that’s my first step, writing two posts per week. One will be a finance heart-to-heart and the other something that is inspiring me, and hopefully will inspire you too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you ever overspent? 
What did you to get back on track?

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

Sugar Daddy Budget Comparison

Long-time readers and friends may recall that when my Hubby was faced with a very potential layoff a few years back, I got busy creating a Sugar Mama Scenario

So, when I set my sights on working for myself part-time from home after baby #3 arrives, it meant reviving the old budget and creating a comparison with our current/anticipated finances. This was partly to validate my own assumptions about our budget, but more to convince Hubby that I’m not going to put our family in financial jeopardy by pursuing my dream of blogging and being a Simplicity Parenting Group Leader (more on those plans soon…)

Thankfully, our financial circumstances have improved significantly in the past few years. We no longer have my student loans and we own our Swagger Wagon. These two line items used to be nearly $700 of our monthly expenses. We have also been diligent about saving for a rainy day, and have enough savings to live on no income for several months if we ever faced that hardship.

Childcare has been our biggest monthly expense for some time now, even with our Big Guy now in grade school and only needing after school care and summer camps. Adding another childcare tab would bring our budget way out of balance: a full 3/4 of my income would need to pay for childcare. This was the most convincing aspect of the whole budget comparison, but once Hubby could see that we could still be in the black each month on his income, he was able to understand my perspective on our finances.

Honestly, since I became pregnant (now 27 weeks), Hubby has been a bit panicked about our finances. The idea of one more mouth to feed terrifies him. It’s also because I’ve been quite seriously “threatening” to leave my financial secure career for a part-time pursuit of my passions. For me, the dream of having a third child came at the same moment as wanting a complete shift in my life and creating an independent career.

So, I was relieved that our recent Money Honey check-in went so well, especially given the level of changes we are planning for with a growing family. Hubby’s fears haven’t gone away entirely, but his confidence is growing. Through this process I’ve reflected more deeply on our divergent views on scarcityIn my mind, abundance and wealth is all about your perspective. 

Has your family made the shift to a single steady income?
What were the challenges and advantages?

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

Takes a Village to Throw a Wedding

When I first started this blog two and half years ago, I brainstormed at least fifty topics that I wanted to write about related to trying to raise a family with sustainable values. I came up with ideas that both immediate and more long term. One was the desire to share a special thank you on our 10th anniversary, and I’ve had this post scheduled for over a year now.


Any guest will tell you, our wedding was unique, just like us. It was an organic blend of East coast meets West coast. My tribe of family friends outnumbered Hubby’s closest family visiting “Or-re-gon” for the first time by a 5-to-1 ratio. Yet, every mingled joyfulness, and it made for an entertaining evening ๐Ÿ™‚

When hubby and I married, we were already committed to living our sustainable family values, just minus kids. We wanted our wedding to be as eco-friendly as possible, but we also needed to have a frugal wedding. We wanted an all-out party complete with an eight piece swing band, but we didn’t have a bank to break.

As shared a bit before, I was raised by hippie parents and communal giving second nature. So when it came time to plan our wedding I didn’t hesitate to ask family and friends for favors, and by the time our wedding day came, we were both totally blown away by how many wonderful people were a part of making our day so special.

My mother did all the flowers, including an amazing bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, and centerpieces. Many of the centerpiece flowers were given to her by neighbors, including buckets blooming hydrangeas. My mom also coordinated all the decorations exactly according to my vision of “simple and elegant.” My mom also bought my wedding gown, which I had fallen in love with on day-one of shopping (then drug one of my bride’s maids around for a second day of shopping, continuing to tell her about the dress I found on the first day, and at the last shop of the day, they pulled out “my” dress after I gave them a description of what I wanted ๐Ÿ™‚

My father, Wally, really wanted it to be a party and insisted on paying for an eight-piece swing band, the Easy Valley Eight. Most of the band members were over 70, but they were classic and truly authentic. Wally also wanted to buy the beer, and we all enjoyed local Caldera Brewing. I knew one of the brewers, so that made it even better.

My parents splurged for the venue, the Schoolhouse Retreat and Cultural Center, located just outside the City of Talent (where Hubby was the city planner). It’s beautiful little school house from 1929 with Wagner Creek flowing through the grounds, in the valley below Wagner Butte. The grounds were perfectly manicured, and we loved it at first site.

Our catering was very personal and delicious: when our parents got married their reception was located at the Tiller Tavern, and the owners put on a big spread. They later moved back to the Boston area, and started a catering business (Jimmy and Betsy are now a real estate team). But they never forgot their beloved Oregon and every summer they would come back for a few weeks, and often cater a big party for friends. So my mom wondered if they might be interested in catering our wedding, and to my amazement family friends who I didn’t even really know as an adult put their hearts into creating an amazing menu, some of the dishes from recipes that I picked out. I naturally had to do a lot of coordinating to put on a dinner for 150 people with caterers from out of town, but it turned out to be fun picking up all the food from the local farmers’ market. I managed to buy the free-range chicken and wild salmon from a friend’s restaurant at cost. Our friend, Javelin, who owns Promise Natural Foods in Canyonville baked the bread and prepped the salmon. Long time friends and organic farmers, Susie and Robbie Lee, contributed fresh melons and peppers.

Our wedding cake was a homemade gift from a dear family friend, Susanna. When my sister and I had our seven birthday, she made us the most amazing carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and we both begged her to make our wedding cakes. It turned out that she really honed her decorating skills. Before the wedding, she asked me to send her an image of what I wanted the cake to look like. To my amazement, our cake was an exact replica, only I’m sure much tastier ๐Ÿ™‚ Susanna also went on to make my Twin Sis’ wedding cake too ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Our pastor was my 4th-5th-6th grade teacher, “Mr. A” who had taken up ministering to prison inmate as his form of community service.

Our music and wedding helpers were more close family friends, Mike and Ruth, my grade school music teacher and librarian/Sunday school teacher/college prepย adviser.

Our photographer was the school’s sports photographer, Shelly, who was trying to build her portfolio, and who charged us just $200 for her amazing services, including the negatives.

Our rehearsal dinner was hosted by my beloved in-laws, Mary Ellen and Neil, at the beautiful Ashland Springs Hotel, where they also put us up for our wedding night.

Our honeymoon was a gift too, a work associate of Hubby’s offers us her rustic cabin on Lopez Island for a week, and we cherished every minute.

Everyone truly pitched in, and I want to give a special thanks to my Twin Sis, Miel, who worked to make everything perfect (including decorating our Subaru ๐Ÿ™‚ We teased that “it takes a village to throw a wedding!”

Lastly, we were also passionate about keeping it local, so we had Valley View Pinot Gris, King Estate Pinot Noir, BJ’s ice cream, and Endangered Species chocolate as wedding favors. ย 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped out in our wedding, especially by celebrating with us!

Here’s a link to a “top 10” slideshow of photos!

Darcy

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

Financial Infidelity

It’s been a while since Hubby and I had a true “money honey.” We finally managed to have a date night (god bless visits from grandparents!), but our only financial discussion was more big picture than day-to-day bills. 


At any rate, I was a bit taken aback when Hubby called me up at lunch to discuss our bank balance. I had recently paid our two credit cards and paid a delinquent T-mobile bill to my sis…more on that topic soon. I hadn’t actually hidden any expenses, but the truth of the matter is that I have made several purchases lately. With the exception of some summer clothes, all of the items were discussed in advance. 


Yet, I do have to admit that I was somehow hoping that he wouldn’t notice the $1k missing for the initial vet bill. We discussed the cost in advance, and I agreed that I would call him before making a decision about any potential surgery. The truth is that I knew Hubby wouldn’t be happy about the cost, but I felt like it was my call (and our responsibility) as a pet-owner to get x-rays done to find out his situation. I’ve also decided that we will opt out of the surgery, partly based on the x-ray results that show arthritis in both knees and hips and partly because Hubby couldn’t stomach the cost.


But the whole situation leaves me wondering how much leeway I have as a spouse to make decisions that I feel are best for our family. I think my version of so-called financial infidelity is more family oriented than the shop-aholic who hides purchases…yet I think there is always a fine line when it comes to purchases you know your spouse may not agree upon. 







Are you financial faithful?


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

Money Honey Chat

As a busy working mom, I’m always amazed by how quickly the weeks pass…here it is Easter! I’m also surprised by how easily the weeks pass without truly connecting with Hubby on our family affairs (especially if anyone gets sick!) That’s why I’m truly grateful for our Flex Fridays together.


This past Friday we reconnected on several important goals that had stalled out with the busyness of life lately. Here are the main topics we discussed:

  • Going carless – With April’s car payment already made and a four day conference trip planned in May, we looked at our family calendar and made the decision to sell the car before the June payment.
  • Buying ZIPcar Shares – After some discussion, we took the plunge and decided to invest our first $1k in ZIPcar stock. Hubby admitted to being a bit fearful of the risk involved, knowing that his parents lost a sizable share of their estate with the last down turn. He also wants it to be a means to an an end, not an indefinite investment. So we agreed that we would both be fine with divesting when we need a down payment for our dream property at the beach.
  • Estate Planning – We submitted the final contact info required for signing our estate documents and set up an appointment with our lawyer (& friend!)
  • Passport applications – We scheduled a lunch date with our Big Guy at City Hall to submit our passport applications. It’s hard to believe that our trip is now just four months away…by the time we get our passports, I’ll be mentally packing!
  • Savings transfer – We transferred money from our checking to savings account. I forgot to mention a few months back when we open accounts for the kids, we also opened a savings account. Prior to merging accounts to our “Eco-Bank” (now One PacificCoast Bank), we had always had independent checking accounts and a joint savings account. Somehow when we opened our new account, we were convinced that since the interest rates were so puny that we should just do a checking account (which incurred  no fees for online banking). But after trying it out for a year, Hubby and I agree that we like having a mental separation between checking and saving. It somehow felt wrong to have all our money lumped in one place!
Lastly, we enjoyed lunch together and the rare quiet moment in our home. Once we have our money honey talks, I have feel a bit more at peace knowing that we’re on the same page and progressing toward our family goals.

Do you have “money honey” talks?

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