New Baby & Partner!

Miel & Darcy (left & right!)

I’m excited to announce a new partnership. In truth, it’s really the furthest thing from a new partnership since we’ve truly been best friends forever, but it still feels like a new relationship and all sorts of new possibilities.

My Twin Sis, Miel, is finally having her first child. She’s due in early June with a baby boy (she actually got pregnant as soon as she returned from my daughter’s birth). Ever since she got peed on a stick, everything has changed. Instead of talking about her international trips or trapeze lessons, now we’re talking about cloth diapers and her registry list. 

We’ve also been colluding about blogging together. Miel has been a very successful blogger, building up DINKS Finance with her husband James. They’ve also bought several other finance blogs, but she isn’t writing there nearly as much as she once did. And, very very soon, they will no longer be true DINKs (Double Income No Kids). So, we’ve been brainstorming how to make this blog a joint venture, and share both of our stories here.

Aside from being qualified as my Twin Sis, Miel is very savvy with her finances. After the Peace Corps, Miel moved to Washington D.C. to pursue a globe-trekking career working non-profits from Afghanistan to the Congo to the Philippines and back to Africa more times than I can count. She briefly got into credit card debt as she moved from Oregon to D.C., but she once she landed a job, she managed to pay it off in record time and developed some great money management habits in the process. Miel and her hubby, James, have invested wisely in real estate in the District and recently sold a tiny studio for a pretty penny. They also are in the “Millionaire Club” and diligently track their net worth (I’m still a bit squeamish about this idea for a couple of reasons…a topic about our differences for another post) Yet, suffice it to say, Miel is my personal money adviser and I’m excited to be sharing our diverse perspectives about finances and family matters.

Together, we would love to write about several topics:

  • Motivating each other – Making more money and saving toward goals
  • Marriage and money – We both have Hubby’s who would love to save every penny, so Money Honey chats will still be a big topic.
  • Cost of Kids – They are expensive people, but it’s also about raising them to have a healthy positive relationship with money. How to motivate and manage responsibility as they grow up (My son is now 8 and anxious to get earning!). 
  • Planning for retirement – Saving goals so we can retire at the same time!!
  • Owning vacation rentals – We still haven’t share the full story about our beach cabins and all that we are learning about this family investment.
  • Becoming a solo-preneur – Reflections about working for myself and launching my coaching business.
  • Organic Living – Continuing to share our efforts to live a greener life.
You can look forward to double the fun of Sustainable Family Finances, with unique perspectives from our dynamic duo. As you’ll discover, we may look the same, but everyone handles money differently. This couldn’t be more the case in couples and family related finances. We look forward to sharing the journey with you and growing our readership. Feel free to pass on to your friends and spread the word, and follow along the journey.


Darcy (and Miel) 

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Sustainable Family Finances 
Growing abundance while living down-to-Earth

Getting Back on Financial Track

It’s been about ten days since I made my confessional about overspending. I’ve been diligently tracking my daily expenses in a little paper notebook, and I can honestly say that it’s made me much more aware of my spending. I went online to double check, but overall I kept a pretty good tab. It feels really good to be getting back on financial track.


I also managed to leave my credit card at home. I cringed a bit when I paid for gas with my debit card, knowing that I wasn’t earning miles. Yet, it felt great when I just went online to check our account, and realized that I didn’t need to log on to two other credit cards in order to get an accurate view of our current finances.

Aside from my overspending, we had also realized that one of our cash flow problems was that I had fallen behind on getting reimbursed for pre-K tuition. When I was earning a salary, our reimbursements went into our vacation fund. So it didn’t matter that we weren’t caught up on submitting claims (unless we had a trip coming up!) But now that the flexible spending is taken out of Hubby’s paycheck for the $535 monthly tuition, it matters that we get paid back. It turned out that I hadn’t submitted a reimbursement since the new year, so we had $1500 ready to be paid out. It’s almost like an extra pay check!

So here’s my list of expenses for the past eleven days. It’s obviously not a perfectly balanced ledger, and doesn’t include regular household bills. But it is a glimpse at my spending habits/priorities.

$9.35 – Post office – ship to Miel and Kelly

$10.00 – Rotary (breakfast, brag, cookie from exchange student)
$2.00 – Coffee for two hour work session
+ $32 – Exchanged Hubby’s broken watch for a cheaper one
$0.00 – New glasses bought entirely with my REI rebate (normally $49.95)

+$100.00 – Sold Hubby’s unused beer making kit
$47.00 – Shandong family dinner out
$47.00 – Ace – Lock box, key copies

$175 – Ace – Chair patio set and Welcome mat (Staging photos for AirBnB/Kid & Coe)
$6 – Washman car wash
$38.11 – Costco (Pizza, salad and snacks for beach trip)
$66.66 – Gas to drive to the beach cabins

$13.50 – Swirl frozen yogurt

+553.00 – AirBnB weekend reservation
$49.95 – IKEA high chair & blanket
$10.98 – IKEA meatballs

$5 – Rotary meeting
$10.35 – SCRAP (A crafty reuse non-profit for mosaic supplies)

$58.03 New Seasons (Pdx local grocery store)
$3.79 New Seasons – coffee & muffin

$29 – Oregon Children’s Theater, Fancy Nancy Tickets

While in my mind, I was very thoughtful about my spending, it’s obviously not a strict cut back (Hubby would prefer that I leave my wallet at home entirely…but that’s not going to happen!). I had several things I had already decided to buy, and felt were still priorities. Like tickets to see Fancy Nancy with Girly for earning 100 chore points or a cheap high chair for the patio. And I bought a chair set for the patio and extra blanket for hosting through AirBnB/Kid & Coe (more on this very soon!). Like I’ve said before, I’m VERY good at justifying my expenses. 

So, the next step is to continue to make sure we have the income to pay for all of the wants in life.

How do you prioritize your spending? 
How do you balance your “wants” with your income?

Darcy

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

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. 🙂

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.

My New Title: Mother/Blogger/Coach/Small Business Adventurer

I finally did it. I quit my “day job.”

The writing had been on the wall for the past year and a half, after I made the first tiny leap by sharing the seeds of my new dream, and then proceeded to plant them. It took many months to convince Hubby, and my Sugar Daddy Scenario helped him see that I wasn’t going to send our family off a personal fiscal cliff.


So, after taking my full unpaid maternity leave, I sent my farewell email to coworkers, which included a quote that I had posted on a vision board my cube:


Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. – Steve Jobs


I had a very sweet outpouring of replies from coworkers, but this one is a quote that I will keep forever as a reminder of why I am taking this leap of faith to pursue my dreams:


Please do not stop being part of something bigger. Your kids are clearly your joy and you are a wonderful mommy and earth friend. Sharing those parts of yourself really helps those of us totally clueless to find little bits and pieces we can start changing to be better.


Take care and bless you for making the choice right for you. I hope it is everything you wanted and is a lifetime of joy.


This came from a coworker who is on leave battling cancer, another reminder of how we only have this one life.


So, I am embracing a new title: Mother/Blogger/Small Business Adventurer


And while I haven’t earned a penny yet, I feel more abundant than ever before.


I hope to finally have the time and energy to bring this blog to the next level, and would love ideas from my few faithful readers.


What’s your personal title? What quotes inspire you?


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

50th Kiva Loan!!!!!

My total Kiva “investment”

My Kiva Experiment is working…I’m excited to share that I just lent out my 50th loan through Kiva.

As you can see in the image to right, my initial deposit of just over $1k has been relent over and over to total $4,550 in value…now that’s what I like to call return on your investment! 

I’ve now lent money to 50 groups of people in 26 countries. Eventually I would love to give loans to people in all 73 Kiva Countries, but the truth is that I’m called to lend more in some areas of the world, especially Africa. I’ve also decided to be rather random and spontaneous in my selection process, so it often depends on who happens to be featured first. If it’s a vocation/place that I would like to support, I’ll often lend to the first one on the list, like I did this time.

However, I do take enough time to read through the lending details, since I would rather give to lenders who have loan terms of more than 18 months. If I can find a loan that six-months, then it means that money can be lent twice in a year. That’s not my only criteria, but my aim is to keep the average loan length under a year.

When I started my experiment, I also decided to only lend out in increments of $100 dollars. I figure that keeps ten loans going at any one time, and that’s plenty to keep tabs on.

Lastly, giving this last loan really made me smile. It was a loan to the Hodari Group in the Congo. The groups buys second hand clothing in large bales that has been shipped from around the world. When I visit sis in the Peace Corps in Ghana, we went to the second hand markets…the direct translation was “Dead White Guy Market,” since they figure the person must have died to give away such nice clothes! My Twin Sis has also worked a great deal in the Congo and I have an inspiring friend in my Rotary club, so I’ve made several loans to the Congolese. It’s such a beautiful war-torn place…if you really want to help there, you can donate to my friend’s EduCongo project to build schools.

Have you started lending with Kiva?
Use this link to lend your first $25 for free!

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