Monthly Archives: June 2014

Darcy’s Money Story – Life After Death

A photo of us at Wally’s wake, held at Sam Bond’s with barely enough room for all his friends.
The photo I’m holding still hangs in the bar.

One way to identify your own limiting beliefs is to ask yourself “If money wasn’t an issue or if you “won the lottery” today, what would your do with your life?”I’m sure that I had done this little self-growth exercise along my journey, but it wasn’t until my father passed away that I was able to answer it deeply.

  • My (Our) father, Wally passed away suddenly three years ago. His passing was one of the most surreal and transformational experiences of my life. It was heartbreaking, but in a surprising way. Instead of feeling depressed or lonely, I felt like my capacity to love had been expanded tenfold. In the days and weeks after his death I felt a vibrancy and aliveness like never before. I also felt a deeper joy (even in the midst of sorrow) and a deep gratitude for everything in my life. Wally had soooo many friends, and the outpouring of love that came from our friends and family was truly amazing. It was also sensing the preciousness of each moment in life.
  • Above all else, Wally was a friend to everyone. He lived life on his terms and defined his own success. He was a ski bum in his teens, then a college drop out hippie, but he didn’t feel the need to seek other people’s approval. He was unapologetically easy-going. Our Mom called him lazy growing up, but we enjoyed just hanging out playing cards and listening to him play his guitar. While his lack of money was embarrassing at times growing up, it wasn’t something we held against him as adults. Our relationship/friendship grew as we hit adolescence and deepened as we explored the world, with him always being so eager to learn from our travels. He always loved to listen and debate, and even when we disagreed with his perspective, it helped us think through our own position better.
  • I remember lying in bed grieving, my mind racing with intense feelings and thoughts. I didn’t know the exact total, but I knew that I (we) would be getting a large inheritance, via our grandparents. So, I asked myself the question, “What would I do if money weren’t a concern?” I immediately realized that I wanted to have another child. I felt like, similar to my father, that my true legacy will be found in how I grow as a person through parenting and in turn through my children’s own legacy. I didn’t think of quitting my job, even though the thought of working half-time did appeal to me, versus the very hectic schedule with 9 hour days for two full-time working parents we had been managing.
  • Receiving an inheritance also felt like a big values test. I didn’t want to blow the opportunity or make choices that my grandparents would have disapproved of (although they were veerrrry frugal, so I’m sure I’ve made a few splurges that they would have questioned). So, initially I made simple choices like paying off my student loans, and then buying our Toyota Sienna outright.
  • We still kept to our exact vacation budget on our already planned trip to Denmark, and truly didn’t splurge in advance of our inheritance actually being deposited.
  • Knowing that the money would be coming did shift my money mind frame in some ways though. I certainly wanted to be more generous now that I was “able.” About a month after Wally passed away a community member I had been working with to bring sculptures to Pittman Addition HydroPark sent me a link to her campaign where she was raising funds to do an art project with kids at an orphanage in Honduras. She’s one of the most bubbly and vivacious people I know, always ending conversations and emails with “Have a blessed day!” So I couldn’t help but want to fund her project, plus she was offering a unique “Destiny Map” session if you donated $100. So I did. But even though I felt great about my choice to sponsor her, Kevin completely wigged out when we reviewed our credit card bill during our “Money Honey” chat (which also included a thousand dollar vet visit that he was furious about). I realize now that I glossed over this part of our conversation, I guess mostly because $100 didn’t seem like much money in comparison. But the reason money issue is/was that I am intrinsically more generous than Kevin. We’ve always had this rub in our money relationship.
  • Prior to getting an inheritance I was already donating small amounts regularly, but once I had more money I certainly felt the desire to tithe/donate more. I set up auto-donation through my employer for my top five favorite charities (Rotary International, International Medical Corps, Oregon Environmental Council, Friends of Trees and McKenzie River Trust). They each got $5 per paycheck, so it was a total of $50 a month, $600 a year in extra donations. We were already tithing a small amount to our church, Grace Memorial Episcopal, but we finally upped past a $100 donation. Altogether we weren’t donating nearly a true 10%, which is something I would like to do. At the time our childcare bill was so expensive that we figured out what we could afford after all our expenses.
  • Another “donation” that I started was to lend out $1000 through Kiva in what I dubbed, The Kiva Experiment. So far that thousand dollars has been relent over 60 times, and made a $5k impact around the world to aspiring entrepreneurs who wouldn’t have a chance at a traditional loan.
  • Upon returning from an amazing trip back to Denmark, I also decided to join the Portland Pearl Rotary Club. Joining the club was/is a big commitment in terms of both time and money. I volunteer regularly through the club and pay a monthly dues of $550 a year, plus an expectation to donate at least $100 to the Pearl Fund and $100 to Rotary International. We now donate a rental our beach cabins to the annual auction as well.
  • While growing our family has been a long journey, I couldn’t be happier with my initial instinct to have a third child. Teagan brings us such joy every day. (We even had a new babysitter last night, and she agreed that she’s never met such a happy baby. She literally woke up and played with her for a full hour and half before she even started to wonder where we might be). Yes, she will cost us more, but any potential sacrifice would be worth it.

After Wally’s death, we (being my sister and his best-ex, Karen) came up with a way to reference things through Wally’s unique lens on life. We called it WWWW: What Would Wally Want?? We’ll talk about this in our next shared post.

Have a blessed day!

Miel’s Money Stories – Life or Death

Click here to buy at Powell's
Buy @ Powell’s

I realized while reading this morning that I have a big money story that completely escaped me while going back in time.  I am reading Monique and The Mango Rains, Two Years Living With a Midwife in Mali. While the author, Kris Holloway, was a volunteer ten years before I was, village life across West Africa transcends time.  Following along her story brings me back repeatedly to my own experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana.

The money story is one that involves life and death.  In my case the story actually included my twin sis Darcy, who was visiting me for several weeks in Ghana at the end of my service.  She was there to see my enstolling as Queen Mother and got a glimpse at what my life was like as a PCV.

The story begins close to dusk, when we were returning to my house after being away for most of the day.  We ran in the caretaker of my compound – the larger family house that I inhabited two rooms that were once the library of a big man in my village who had passed away in the late 80s and left three wives and 14 children.  He took care of the house, though often slept in the village with his wife and family.

We greeted the caretaker, customarily asking after his family and such.  He said that his youngest son, who his wife was pregnant with when I arrived in the village, was not doing well.  He had come to get his bible to pray through the night because he didn’t think he would make it until the morning.  
I of course began to inquire about the specific symptoms to see what I could do.  From my trusty guide of Where There is No Doctor, my best guess was the possibility of tetanus.  Knowing the seriousness of this, and believing that he would not make it without intervention, we sprang into action.
Buy @ Powell’s
We went into the village to meet the child and assess the situation further.  We called the old guy from the clinic and got an injection, I think of penicillin, while we sorted out transportation.  My village was one stop away from a road that didn’t go through, so villagers tracked the movement of vehicles to determine whether one would pass again that night.  We were in no such luck.  The only vehicle that sometimes slept in the village was out of gas.  
This meant our only hope was if a car happened to pass unexpectedly.  The odds of this were low.  We waited for several hours, while watching out for cars.  Then we saw the headlights off in the distance as the noisy truck approached.  I stood on the road, the only white lady for miles (except now with my twin) and tried to flag down the truck.  They were barreling down the road and I realized they had no intention of stopping.  They were our last hope.  Gauging their speed, I went for my last ditch effort and stood right in the middle of the road, which was not wide enough for them to pass me. I knew I would retreat if indeed they failed to stop, but managed to get them to stop at the very last minute.  
They thought I was crazy, I may have been at that moment, but still didn’t want to help.  Eventually I negotiated to charter the truck and paid about $20 for them to take is to the hospital about 30km away.  The parents, child, my sister, and I set out for the hospital, by now around 10 at night.  
We admitted the child into the hospital and all prayed for the best.  We visited him the next morning but then had to leave to get my sister on a plane back home.  I ensured that we would take care of the medical bills and transportation costs.
In the end he had cerebral meningitis, which was just as life threatening or more than the possibility of tetanus.  He was in the hospital for a month before he returned to the village.  My sis helped to cover part of the bill, which was $80 for everything, but was more than a month’s salary for me and out of the question for his parents to afford.  It was the difference between life and death.

When I sit now, nursing my first child, I can’t imagine being in a position where I couldn’t afford to save the life of my own child.  It makes me feel ever so fortunate to have so many opportunities that are often easy to take for granted.

When the child returned to the village, he clearly knew I had connected with him.  While I had lots of kids who admired and hung around my house, suddenly he was there at all hours.  When I awoke in the morning he was there shortly after (maybe even before).  Previously kids had kept a certain distance, but he was now up in my lap as often as he could be.  
I was at the end of my service and finally started to tell the kids that I was leaving the village.  His response was to tell the other kids that he would be leaving with me.  As a single 22 year old I knew this wasn’t an option for me or for his family.  When I did leave my village I had to take him from clinging onto me to get in my car to leave.  It was heart breaking.
Not as heart braking as the case of Kris Holloway’s story.  The outcome was not as kind, and the child passed away of malnutrition.  Having seen some of the worst possible cases of malnutrition in Africa, I can truly imagine.  I know all too well the fragile hold they have on life.
I am forever grateful for the opportunities I have in life, including the opportunities I have to give back.

Miel’s Money Stories – Marriage

Every couple has their own quirks and dialogues about money. Generally these are pretty repetitive. Our marriage is no different. What I have noticed in this post is that what shows up is certainly more “story” than “the story”. The relative present is much more laden with story than what happened years ago.

  • The first thing that has been a bit different about our relationship with money is that James and I have been blogging publicly about money since just before we were married, on  There are very few couples who write about finance jointly and have shared publicly about their finances as we have. This may not change certain aspects, and not everything is aired out publicly, but a public persona related to finance does change your relationship with money in some ways.  You can check out a recent interview at
  • James and I are both more financially minded than your typical couple, particularly when it comes to goals. We started working towards joint goals pretty much as soon as we moved in together just over ten years ago. We have definitely recognized that when we don’t have a common goal established that we don’t achieve nearly as much. We’ve just recently agreed to a goal of saving $50k over the next year. When we started out ten years ago we could manage to save at least $20k a year when we were making considerably less, so I have faith that we can do it even with a new addition to our family.
  • Despite our working together towards joint goals, we’ve actually maintained much of our finances separately. Last year was the first time we’ve finally established a joint household account where we both put in a set amount and then the rest of our paychecks go into separate accounts that we still maintain ourselves.
  • On day to day finances we most often go with the easiest option of giving each other relative autonomy to do as we like with our own money. However any couple who takes this route knows that it doesn’t always work.
  • Generally speaking this comes about with one of us being annoyed with some financial decision of the other.  Namely James not agreeing with my household purchases and me being annoyed by James paying more than necessary on fees and related expenses that don’t provide value.  Here are two good examples of this repeated dialogue going on lately.  
    • On James’ side he doesn’t agree with my recent purchase of a BBQ. My story is that I’ve wanted a BBQ for 3 years, ever since we moved into our place with a gorgeous private rooftop deck. I finally broke down and got a small $100 tabletop style from Costco. For right now we are at a standoff in our disagreement on the BBQ. My story is that since I know that James will disagree about most household purchases, that when I do decide to get something I make sure that I want it enough to stand by my decision.
    • On my side, I am highly annoyed with James delaying changing over to my family plan for his cell phone. If he had cut his contact a year ago and paid the penalty, he would have started saving money in the second month. He refused to do so, even though it would have saved $130 a month. So we wait until the end of his contract in April and I’ve been hounding him to transfer his account since then. In the mean time he has lost over $1500 in dragging his feet, and it still remains outstanding. While on a much more expensive level, it is very reminiscent of early money dialogues when I would get annoyed about James constantly getting dinged for late fees on DVD rentals (back when we had to deal with those).  This issue came up again last night, as James started to deal with it and again didn’t finish through.  I realize how raw this story is, for both of us, and how pervasive it is.  Neither of us willing to give it up.  My friend recommended just that, give it up, but there is still a big part of me that can’t be complacent about flushing money down the drain.    
  • While the two examples above are typical financial interactions between James & I, I try to consider my father Wally’s advice, in that life is too short to argue about money. We also tend to live by this in the sense that we are more likely to throw money at the problem to fix it than we are to actually spend the time arguing about it.
  • We also disagree about savings, in that for me it is important that we have an emergency fund to tap into if needed, and James doesn’t feel this is as critical. We tend to meet somewhere in the middle to make us both feel secure.
  • We actually spent the early years of our marriage with me as the sugar mama. James started his Ph.D. studies the year before we got married and quit his full time job a few months before we were married. James had a research position and invested in dividend producing stocks to pay for his incidental expenses, but I picked up the groceries, utilities, going out, clothing, and travel expenses for around four years. When I worked in Afghanistan for a year, in our second year of marriage, I sent him back an allowance of $1k a month.
  • I find it interesting in that while I didn’t love having to cover so many of our expenses, I was also more comfortable being the one giving than I would have been receiving. Even as I am now on my second week of maternity leave, I have still managed to work it so I have enough saved to cover my household contributions for the next six months. While clearly it isn’t a matter of fairness or deserving, I still feel better having that financial autonomy.  
  • Another thing that intrigues me is that while James is very financially driven, he is fine with me making more money than him. In fact, even being two years older and having a second masters, I still make 25% more than he does. My sis noted that her husband wasn’t comfortable with this possibility.  
  • We also calculate our net worth regularly, and while we only post our joint net worth, we still calculate the separately and then combine. Both my retirement savings and inheritance have meant that my balance sheet has been the larger of the two for some time. While James would love to see both of ours grow, he doesn’t begrudge me my success either.
  • Speaking of inheritance, one of the things that we put into our prenup was that inheritance funds would be separate even if they are used for joint purposes. Without this in a prenup it means that if you take your family out to dinner on inherited funds that suddenly the entire amount is now half your spouse’s.  
  • This doesn’t mean that we agree on my use of inherited funds. Darcy and I have built our dream beach cabins, but to James he has a harder time seeing the value in the projects since we aren’t cash flow positive from day one. We have 15 year mortgages on the place and will have them paid off by the time we are 50, so I feel good about the long term investment. They have also appreciated well in the short term for their paper value.
  • One of the unique aspects of our marriage is that we are also business partners on several fronts. We’ve owned and managed rental properties throughout our relationship. We just recently sold one of them, so now have two remaining. It takes a lot of work and partnership to keep them running and not to get stressed when things come up, because they always do. We also own a blogging business, which has developed and expanded over the last 8 years. James’ story, which is often too accurate, is that I have been an unreliable partner in that I might very well fly to the edge of the earth at a moment’s notice and drop off the face of the planet in terms of my connectedness. I can’t really deny this, as I know it has happened many a times, even with my best intentions. So when I go to Oregon for three weeks in July, I have made it clear that I will be on vacation and won’t be planning to work on our businesses. He still doesn’t see this as a priority, but for me it is. I took only one week of maternity leave before working from home full time, so I figure it is fair enough.
  • Travel is clearly an area that costs money and is more important to me than to James. I have handled this by making it a priority for me and that is that. There are times when this creates conflict, and say James isn’t thrilled with me spending a weekend with friends in Zanzibar instead of saving the cash, but looking back there isn’t an example where I would rather have the cash. James has been so used to me covering plane tickets that I think for awhile he thought that frequent flyer miles grew on trees. I’ve paid for more of his flights on miles than most people will accrue in a lifetime and a half.
  • As our newborn is only two weeks old, we are still getting used to a child being part of the equation, so I am certain there will be a learning curve. At least we are both in agreement for minimizing excess kid stuff and using second hand when we can, which I appreciate. I do know that James is interested in private school, which is okay on one level and yet I have a problem with the cost of it as well. We’ll see how that ends up panning out, either way I know our child’s education will be a priority, so that is what matters. We are also both in agreement with kids developing a good work ethic and savings ethic, as well as service.


Darcy’s Money Stories: After Kiddos

Each chapter of my life brings a ton more stories…here we go…looking forward to getting this all off my mind to be able to start focusing on manifesting money for our current family dreams. 🙂

  • Having gotten pregnant while wrapping up graduate school, I was happy to have completed my higher education, but I felt like my career was just beginning (hence the whole next section will mostly relate to my career progression). I was tired of working at non-profits to barely pay the bills, and felt like I would be the most effective working from the “inside” at the local government level. I had set my sights on working for the City of Portland before going back to graduate school, but still wasn’t exactly sure how that would play out.
  • Applying for jobs while newly pregnant was an adventure. I had the mixed feelings of being anxious to prove myself in my career while becoming a loving new Mama. There were so many unknowns about what my life would be like in barely six months. At one point I ended up getting very close to a job offer, but in a third interview the employer still felt a hesitancy in me that they couldn’t explain. I admitted that I was pregnant and they basically told me that I would be given ZERO maternity leave (aside from the few sick days that I could have accrued in my first five months).
  • Realizing the complete lack of maternity leave, I ended opting to stay at my current p/t non-profit job organizing environmental lectures until they could find someone to take over for me. Then I work for a temp agency for about two months before Kieran arrived (10 days overdue!). I did a week’s worth of filing at PDC (where Hubby now works!) and then several weeks of mindless data entry for Regence. It was the first time in my career where I had a job with virtually no decision making, and it felt very strange to simply punch in and punch out each day. (They kindly offered me a long-term job, which I very politely refused…over my dead body could I work in such a mindless cube job!)
  • Before quitting my job to go on truly unpaid maternity leave, I had budgeted out my various options. Childcare is very expensive in Portland, and in some ways it could have been smarter for me to simply stay at home, but I also felt like that I had a critical career window to apply my fresh graduate school skills. Plus, as much as we loved our starter home, I knew that there was no way could possibly afford a larger home on a single income and that we couldn’t possibly fit more than one child into our tiny place (While the place was 1200 square feet, the second bedroom was a glorified closet).
  • My grandfather passed away when I was pregnant with Kieran, and I was given a gift of $10,000 from my Grandmother from his estate. Thankfully I was able to pay my student loan and my phone bill for about a year with this money. I was very grateful, since I didn’t want to dip into our savings in order to take a maternity leave.
  • After taking three months of leave I started looking for job prospects, and quickly came across a part-time job at the City of Portland, coordinating their River Renaissance Initiative. Even though it was technically a paid internship, I was filling in for the Program Coordinator. So, the duties were fulfilling but the pay was minimal. When I accepted the position they didn’t know whether it would be funded for more than six weeks, but I proved myself valuable, and they kept me on a temporary basis for ten months. I quickly found some expensive childcare downtown so I could nurse on breaks, and during that time I basically lost money on weeks with holidays (since I wasn’t paid any vacation/holiday), but I felt like it was a foot in the door at the City. I was pretty crushed not to land the permanent position (mostly because they were trying to hire someone who could do my manager’s job who literally only got paid to schmooze for long lunches and approve my work. I was actually kind of bitter about this at the time, because as nice as a person as he was, my manager showed up late and left early, earning over six figures, while I worked passionately to prove myself. He did give me one piece of solid advice: When someone calls or emails, return their message within an hour to let them know you’re on it, even it takes you longer to track down the answer. Customer service is key with community outreach projects, so I’ve tried my best to follow this rule).
A few weeks after starting my new job at the City of Portland, I was asked to help organize an educational river cruise. It was a great gig, and I even took Kieran along…the first of many community meetings and events for our kids!
  • I left this job at the City when Kieran had just turned a year and stayed home with him for almost six months. Initially, there was someone I had met on a river cruise from the private sector who continued to try to recruit me for a position. He even took me out to Higgin’s (a lovely upscale restaurant where lots of business types do lunch), and was eager to tell me how family-friendly the position would be, how flexible my schedule would be, and that I’d be able to work part-time and earn twice as much. In the end, the contracts didn’t pan out (and I don’t think I would have been the right fit anyway).
During my time “off” between jobs, I worked on several small home project like stripping and repainting this door (with six small bevels on each window pain!). I loved the tongue-in-cheek paint color: The Ego Has Landed. 🙂
  • Our home projects, which I was mostly the foreman on, were all done with the idea of adding enough value to our home to sell at enough of a profit to be able to afford a bigger home. Literally as soon as Kieran was born, Kevin started itching to move. Our chimney was falling down, and we spent somewhere around $8k to fix it. Meanwhile our tiny cottage was feeling smaller and smaller. This put pressure on me to find a job that would help make our dream home a reality.
  • With some serendipity, I found out about another temporary job at the City, helping out in the community outreach group at the Portland Water Bureau. Again, I knew that I was skilled enough to do the job of any of the permanent staff members, but needed to get my foot in the door once more. This time I at least negotiated for enough to earn a few dollars after childcare tuition was paid, I think I started at $19 an hour with no benefits.
  • Eventually, after interviewing for a half dozen other City jobs, I landed my first full-time permanent position since I had left college. It was about time. The job ended up including several interesting community projects, and I was finally saving for retirement. Just the other day I was in a conversation with Miel about my desire to start saving for retirement again and I quickly realized how sensitive I’ve felt about this subject…knowing that Miel has socked every spare nickle while I’ve either been lagging on the career end or overpaying for childcare to the point that I couldn’t afford to save much more. So this is definitely a money story I need to clear up.
  • Plus, I feel like I/we need to clear up how much kids cost. Our largest kid related expense has certainly been childcare. I don’t even want to tally up the tens of thousands of dollars that we’ve spent. Partly because I ran the math between working and staying at home, I’ve always felt like it was my salary paying for tuition. I remember getting into a little debate with a someone who commented on this blog about why we didn’t “share” this expense. It was really more of mental division than anything, just like how I always wanted to be the one to pay my own student loans back. In the end, I’m very happy with the caring and educational environment that my two oldest kids were essentially raised in during their early years. However, I am very happy now not to be paying tuition (just one more year of Kindergarten tuition…although I do plan on hiring a p/t nanny in the fall to give me dedicated time for coaching calls).
  • For the most part I feel like we’ve been fairly frugal. I’ve overspent on cute clothes, but also bought pretty much everything on sale. I’ve bought more books than I “should” have, but we’ve kept the toy purchases to a minimum. We’ve chosen to prioritize experience expenses, like swim or dance classes. These “non-essentials” do make new neural pathways, on top of simply being fun.
  • I can’t recall specific arguments we’ve had about money related to kid expenses, but there have been debates/spats about how much things costs and both of us lamenting that kids are expensive. This may be a “fact,” but only if we convince ourselves of it.
  • We were able to sell our first home within just a few weeks while I was newly pregnant with Makenna. I worked overtime to get everything decluttered and perfect (it didn’t even look like a child lived there because we knew the new owners wouldn’t have room for kids!). All our work paid off, and we were able to earn $70k in equity in just three years in our starter home.
  • We essentially plunged every last dime into our next (and current) home, where we have lived for almost seven years and plan to live for the foreseeable future.
  • When we moved into our new home, which is 1665 square feet, it was obvious that we had very little furniture to fill it. Our second-hand couch went straight to the basement, and for over a month our living room only had a lawyer’s book case, some plants and a lamp. Our tiny cheap dining table went to the backyard to use as a potting bench. Despite our desire to have nice antique furniture, IKEA soon became our friend. Over the fall we bought and assembled a dining tables, chairs, coffee table, entertainment console and twin bed. Thankfully, they actually look pretty decent and we haven’t regretted our purchases or are anxious to buy new stuff once the kids get better…they now have a distressed character with fork marks and kid tracks.
  • What we had already accumulated was a ton of kid gear, and now that our youngest is almost a year old, we’re getting anxious to purge our basement once and for all…
  • Thankfully our “new” 1904 home had already been fully renovated and initially we only had a few repairs to make. Almost seven years later and we are now gearing up for some major repairs to replace the roof and finally make the basement dry.
  • Otherwise, back to life with kids, once Makenna was born (a lovely and inexpensive home birth), we tried to keep our expenses down, knowing that childcare for two kids would be like having another mortgage payment.
  • Just as I was returning to work full-time was when I first got the idea to start writing this blog. I had gotten a wedding invite for a close friend in Denmark for the following summer, but even with such advance notice, I knew we couldn’t afford it. It made my heart sad and I was frustrating thinking that I didn’t know when we could ever afford such a trip. Miel’s DINKs Finance blog was becoming very successful and earning around $2k each month, which was basically what I was taking home after my childcare bills. Miel had continued to tell me that I should start writing a blog, but I had always shrugged it off…but admittedly once I learned how much she was earning, I thought long and hard about the idea. I brainstormed topics that I would want to write about and started making plans.
  • To date this blog hasn’t earned more than a few random ads. I had agreed to do the writing, which I did diligently for the first several years, but Miel was too busy making life better for others around the globe. I honestly could never fault her for wanting to travel/work in Africa instead of help me make my blog earn an income, but it is something that I suppose I should fully forgive as in some ways it feels like we are restarting this venture five years after we first set out. She has still been my biggest fan and I’m truly excited to see what we can accomplish together.
  • Now back to that time just after kids, I guess it feels like it was a time of getting our financial systems down. I took the time to set up all our accounts on autopay, but was also very good about monitoring our budget as we set about saving up for our big trip to Denmark. We had regular “Money Honey” chats, which were probably just as important for our marriage as our bank account.
  • Thankfully, we were able to reach our savings goal, and afford our $7500 three-week vacation to Denmark. It’s still amazing to me that we were able to save so diligently and that our budget was so accurate. Very soon I’ll be coming up with a budget for a trip we plan to take back to Europe next summer, and I’m actually looking forward to saving toward the goal…that’s just the incentive I need to save money. Somehow saving to the replace the roof just doesn’t inspire me the same way! 😉
  • One “last” note here is that we have had a challenge of not wanting my Mom in particular to spoil the kids with stuff. I wrote about our “official gift policy” first four years ago, and it can still be a challenge at times. My Mom (who is completely loving and generous!) does her best to comply, but it means that she often saves stuff up to give for the holidays and she loves bringing the girls second hand clothes that she’s scored, which are adorable but not always necessary.
Lastly, in retrospect, having kids hasn’t really changed who we are or what we prioritize in life. We still want to live as down-to-earth as possible, avoiding the consumer culture as much as we can. We believe spending money on experiences and travel is more important than buying stuff.
In my next post I’ll reflect on life after we received a family inheritance, since it has changed things for us financially…although plenty still feels the same…
Have a beautiful day,

It’s my Birthday too!

Darcy and I are blessed to not only share our Birthday with each other, but we also share it with Paul McCartney. This means that on radio stations across America you will hear “You say it’s your Birthday”, to which the other replies, “Well it’s my Birthday too!”


Unless you are a twin, odds are that your Birthday is yours alone. This gives us all the opportunity to celebrate ourselves and get some love from friends and family. We loved having a summer Birthday, often overlapping with swim lessons, our favorite.

Having recently given birth to my first child, it definitely gives a different perspective around Birthdays. It makes me wonder why we don’t celebrate our moms on our Birthdays. So thanks mom, from both of us.

One of the ingenious things that our mom did was got us to buy into having a bigger party on milestone Birthdays, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 18, instead of doing something big every year. We always celebrated in some way, but this was actually a nice way to make some years more special.
Happy Birthday Sis!