Money Honey #2

I’m barely to Connecticut Avenue, and my goal of monthly money meetings with Hubby is already proving a challenge. I doubt you noticed, but we missed our “scheduled” February meeting. It’s not that we didn’t try, but you know how life gets in the way, and the springlike winter weather hasn’t helped (but our yard is looking darn good!).


The good news is that since starting this blog, we have been chatting more regularly about finances. Nothing formal, but at least we’re keeping tabs on our priorities and communicating more than usual.


We also had a bit of a breakthrough. This past Flex Friday we went to sign our loan documents for the Clean Energy Works program. The program is financed through Shore Bank Pacific, a unique local and “sustainable” bank. (I’ll share more about them tomorrow) Long discussion made short, we agreed that this is the right bank for us. Despite the fact that it’s going to take us even more effort to merge our money, it feels right to switch to a bank with environmental and social values. Believe me, switching all our accounts  is not really something I want to spend my “free” time doing, but feel like it will be worth the time investment both personally and societally.


Otherwise, we’re still getting the kinks worked out with our new budget template and I’m hoping to unveil it once my sis gets back from the Congo. Thanks for your patience!


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

Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green

Reading is one of our favorite family activities, and as much as we love reading books over and over and over, it’s nice to keep things fresh.  Visiting your local library is really the best option for reuse and your wallet, although I do have to admit that I’ve had a few fines in my day. There are some classic books that you want to read year after year and I occasionally justify a new book, because could there ever be too many kids books in the world?!


As much fun as we have exploring, I always try to manage expectations by choosing our books in advance. I’m in the habit of placing holds at the library once a month, and tend to get books that relate to the current season or holiday. This is a must for us, because our local library branch is really small and as kids get older they want really specific books and you don’t want a trip to disappoint.


When we plan a special trip to the local bookstore (Powell’s in our case), I almost always prepurchase and then pick up in the store. Prepurchasing saves shipping costs, saves time and gives you more time to experience the trip together. I’ve also found that many of the sale books are in the warehouse (not bookstore shelves) and searching by price online makes it really easy to find great deals.


Here are some of our favorite “green” children’s books, most springtime ones:


All Time Favorites:

  The Carrot Seed
  The Flower Alphabet Book
  Jack’s Garden
  Planting a Rainbow
  The Gardener
  Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden

 This list goes on….I’ll continue to add to this list as the seasons go by.


What are your family favorites?


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

The New Affluence

I’m a big fan of public television, and I often watch programs while I’m writing. The other night I was excited in a nerdy kind of way to find a program with financial expert Jonathan Pond (I admit I hadn’t heard of him, but I am pretty new to this whole finance arena). At any rate, he has a new book called The New Affluence: Achieving financial security in a changed economy.


It turns out that I really liked his approach to managing your finances; he spoke of the need to simplify, live a life of abundance of your own terms, and create a secure financial future for your family. Despite the occasional investment jargon, he was speaking my language!


Here are my copious notes:

  • Redefine affluence and change our investments accordingly
  • Redefine investment risk – safety, simplicity, predictability
  • Living debt-free is the new holy grail, not tax deductions

Day-to-Day Financial Life:

  • Stop conspicuous consumption and ask whether you need to buy so much stuff
  • Automatic savings transfer – make it easy to forget you ever had it to spend
  • Eliminate debt – imagine a debt free life, be realistic and reduce slow and steady
  • Career – excel in your current career, assess future options and determine whether you need a career change, consider a meaningful career – make a positive difference

Your Home and Family:

  • Making your home a true investment – make extra mortgage payments when possible, owning your home is best retirement plan, if you’re not a home owner – now is a great time to buy
  • Pay for college – look into state and community colleges, choose an age-based investment option
  • Use life insurance as a nest egg – build up cash value, continue making premium payments, consider whole life insurance rather than term
Investments:
  • All-in-one fund – target date, lifestyle
  • Municipal bonds – short term better, due to prospect of inflation
  • Savings tip – set aside a small amount regularly “good for the soul”

Hopefully you’ll get something out of my notes, it was definitely an effort on my part since it was pledge week and I had to sit through it while researching/writing. I did end up renewing our OPB membership with small monthly deductions so that I could get his book and personalized financial planning consultation. I’ll write more once I get his personalized planning report! Thanks OPB!!

Does any of Pond’s advice resonate with you?


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

Just in case

I’m not one to dwell on the negative, but after creating an emergency kit for my family it got me thinking about the other tasks that ought to get on my to-do list (perhaps yours too!) 

  • Will & Testament – It’s important to make sure to plan for your kids, just in case. If your estate isn’t complicated, you can use basic software and fill in the blanks (really no harder than online taxes). You need two people to sign as witnesses who aren’t listed in your will, so we signed over coffee with good friends. We now need to update ours to include our Girly. It’s not something you want to think about, but it feels good to have it taken care of. (Now I need to get my parents to do the same!)
  • Life insurance – Here’s where you can get cheap life insurance quotes.
  • Keep an eye on your credit – Identity theft happens quicker and more often than you’d think, and the harm can be lasting. Protect yourself and your family: shred, then recycle.

I’m realistic and know that it takes an effort for a busy family to pay attention to these long-term “what ifs” of life, but hopefully if we pay them some head now we won’t have to deal with something more challenging in the future. 

What other big-picture housekeeping have you done for your family?

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

Family Emergency Kit

Typically I wouldn’t put myself in the category of “survivalist,” and I was pretty sure that the whole Y2K scare was a marketing ploy to sell stuff. Yet, as a Mama I’ve grown into the idea of needing to prepare my family and recently I’ve been a little obsessed with the task of gathering together a 72-hour emergency kit.



Just like how each family is unique, your kit is likely to be different than others, but to help getting you thinking about what you might want to include. We did put everything in a new rolling trash can, but I didn’t label it (found photo) Heres’ my list:

  • Emergency Plan – including important phone numbers and planned reunion locations, copies of insurance info and driver’s liscence, family photos for identification purposes and passports
  • Emergency device – multipurpose crank radio, flashlight, compass and several features I’m pretty sure I’ll never use for $25
  • Cash – in small denominations (I put a $100+ to start)
  • Food & Water – lots of canned goods, we’ll add more water as we get containers
  • Old backpacking stove with fuel, backpacking water filter
  • Clothes and sturdy shoes – no fashion statements here just lots of fleece; we’ll strip if it’s summer (just kidding)
  • Solar powered flashlight – bought 2 at Costco, one for the car (small car kit too)
  • First aide kit & toiletries – including some TP, big diapers, baby wipes
  • Misc – Dust masks, work gloves, pocket knife, tape, scissors, papers (reused!), pens, local map
  • Extras – dog food, old sleeping bags and towels, playing cards, candy, bottle of wine

Many of the items on our list we already had on hand, but the extra expenses (including food) were around $100. Totally worth the investment.


I actually started the task before the tragic earthquake in Haiti struck, and as I wrapped up the last of the supplies I heard news of the devastation in Chile. My heart goes out to everyone impacted. 


While I hope my family never needs these emergency supplies, I imagine that I will be relieved that I listened to that voice inside telling me prepare for the worst and plan for the best.


  • Are you prepared for a natural disaster? 10 ways you could be
  • Mormons reall know how to prepare: Prepared LDS Family

  • Here are a few more good references on this topic:


    Does your family have enough supplies to last 72 hours? 
    What else does it include?

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