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.

Inheritance Changes Things…

Sahalie Falls at headwaters of McKenzie River

Hello again and seasons greetings from Darcy at Sustainable Family Finances!

I hope you’ve had a joyous and restful holiday season. I’ve certainly enjoyed the time to play with my family and celebrate all the season’s traditions together (I started to write this on the 26th and now both my Twin Sis and I have been down with the flu for three days now…starting to feel a little less miserable).

It seems like ages since I’ve written for SFF, and it has actually been a few months. I needed a break to reflect on our next financial goals, and  I have honestly been at a tough place in relation to writing about some big financial changes. I don’t want to appear like I’m bragging, but also don’t think I should be ashamed either.  But I’ve come to a point where I’m ready to take our goals to the next level and continue writing about our journey.

I recently received an inheritance from my father Wally, who passed away this last May. Most of the money was actually from my grandparents, and my grandmother’s estate hadn’t yet even settled when he passed away. Naturally, receiving money in such a way is bittersweet and it’s taken me a while to come to terms with it. I feel like I have a new personal decision-making metric to evaluate whether they would have been happy with my choices.   Thankfully, I had a loving relationship with all of them, and it makes me feel like my decisions are making them proud.  

Moments ago I pushed the “confirm” button to make the final payment for my student loans, all $43k worth. I was elated, despite the fact that it ate up almost half my inheritance. I will be thrilled to no longer have $300 siphoned from my account monthly (I’d been paying for 11 years already…which means that I’ve paid $40k already…most of it interest!) I feel like I have a huge burden lifted and we’ll finally be able to start saving for our kids’ college tuition.

Our next big family financial decision was to finally buy a minivan. Our thoughts of going carless have vanished, but we are still considering renting our car through Get Around, the new private car lending program that just launched in Portland. We ended up buying a 2012 Toyota Sienna. We still owed $6k, and managed to get $15k for trading in our Subaru Forrester (2008 with just under 30k miles). But instead of going into debt again, we were able to pay the remainder in full. This was a huge financial relief, and we are thrilled to no longer have a $400 monthly car payment.

We are also now 1/4 owners of a post office, which will generate a monthly rental income. My aunt, sister and I have developed an LLC to run the business, and named it after the waterfalls where our family’s ashes are scattered, Sahalie and Koosah Adventures. The “adventures” part is because we want to make sure that any venture we take together should be fun too. 

Obviously, these changes have changed our financial outlook significantly. Like my aunt said, we are now officially “ahead of the game, which is a place most people never reach.” It feels very good indeed.

I’m also still trying to get my head around what our next financial goals will be, but I feel strongly that having more money hasn’t changed who we are. We still have the same values, and despite succumbing to a low mileage vehicle for the duration of having young kids, we will continue to do our best to decrease our negative impact and invest in ways that bring us true joy. 

Wishing your family abundance in 2012!

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

Story of Broke

I’ve been a not-so-secret admirer of Annie Leonard “Story of…” series since just after I started my blog. Her latest “Story of Broke” really makes me motivated to take action. 

After watching it, I kept thinking about how outraged I was when I first learned how much the government spends on warfare compared to education. There was a graph that made it appallingly easy to under that our 
national budget was completely ill-prioritized. The thing that makes me sadder today is that was almost exactly 20 years ago (I vividly remember being at the Eugene Celebration and visiting all the environmental and social justice booths. I soaked it in like a sponge.) I also somehow naively thought that once I was old enough to start voting that things would get better…

Watching Annie’s latest video in the midst of an Occupy movement that will likely be moving to a different level (at least past the emcampment here in Portland) makes me finally believe that we may be gaining enough momentum to transform the economy. It’s time to move more than the deck chairs on the Titanic. I still feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole situation, but I certainly am not willing to wait until my kids start asking me why we spend our common money on all the wrong things.

Most of all, I love Annie’s message that we aren’t broke!! It’s really the kind of mental shift we need to make in order to realize that we do have the power to fix our situation. It’s both very simple and very complex, but I also believe that it’s very much worth us all doing what we can to take action. Watch the quick video, and I think you’ll agree.

“The United States isn’t broke ; we’re the richest country on the planet and a country in which the richest among us are doing exceptionally well. But the truth is,  our economy is broken.”

Story of Stuff
Story of Citizens
Story of Cosmetics
Story of Bottled Water
Story of Electronics
Meeting Annie Leonard

What action does Annie inspire you to take?

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

I am so happy…

Several years ago my Twin Sis turned me on to a life visioning practice that I’ve done a few times. Neither of us remember where she heard the idea, but we both like it.  Basically all you do is write a wish list for your life with the words “I am so happy now that…” at the beginning of each sentence, as if your life already has everything you desire. (Even though this specific practice doesn’t come from him, I encourage you to check out Mike Dooley‘s newest bestseller, Leveraging the Universe, it’s been just what I need to reflect on my life lately.)

I first wrote such an “happy vision” for my life in fall of 2007 (age 30, our Big Guy was 9 months). Now my life was pretty darn happy at the time, but I had a temporary job that didn’t pay much more than enough to cover child care costs and my student loans. At the time we also wanted to have another child soon, and our tiny house would have been hard pressed to fit a fourth family member. So, while life was very good on many levels, and I certainly didn’t have much to complain about, there were some nagging financial fears on the horizon. But I basically envisioned what my ideal life would be like. 

I consider this to be highly personal, my own version of Living in BlissI really debated about putting it out to the world, but hopefully you will respect what makes me happy…

November 2007

I am so happy now that I am creating an abundant and balanced life. I am so happy now that I am working to create sustainable communities in Portland, and making the world a better place. I am so happy now that I am working with creative and talented people who share my values. I am so happy now that Kieran is thriving in daycare, and enjoying a nurturing learning environment. I am so happy now that we are living in a beautiful and comfortable home in a friendly and vibrant neighborhood. I am so happy now that my yard and garden are gorgeous, and I am able to create joy and abundance in own my backyard. I am so happy now that I am creating a joyful social network of people who care about me, my family, and our values. I am so happy now that I am deeply connected with my extended family, and share with them my joy and enthusiasm for life. I am so happy now that we are traveling, and experiencing beautiful places in our region and around the world  I am so happy now that we can visit friends and family in Denmark. I am so happy now that I am fit, strong and energetic. I am so happy now that I am at peace in my mind, body and soul. I am so happy now that I am continuing to grow and learn as a person. I am so happy now that my college loans are paid off, and I’m saving for my children’s education. I am so happy now that we are driving a car that gets great mileage and is an example of environmental-friendly technology. I am so happy now that I listen to my inner desires, and make them manifest in my life.

February 2008
I am so happy now that I am able to proactively create my instincts in action. I am so happy now that I am living a balanced life, between a joyous family, effective and meaningful career, connected community, and expanded spiritual growth. I am so happy now that my financial priorities reflect my values, and I have enough abundance to create my own sustainable environment and share the joy of living with those in my life.  I am so happy now that I can live in the present, while planning for the future.

Fast forward a few years, and I can see that while my life circumstances have changed, my values are still exactly the same.

October 2011
I am so happy now that my family is living life to the fullest and growing up together. I am so happy now that our kids are in excellent school environments and developing their full potential. I am so happy now that Hubby and I have regular dates nights and occasional getaways. I am so happy now that we can spend more time together as a family and with extended family. I am so happy now that my career is established, and I’m able to use my talents and expand my influence in positive ways. I am so happy now that our home is as sustainable as possible, and our garden is flourishing. I am so happy now that my student loans, and car loan and mortgage is paid off.  I am so happy now that we have financial security.  I am so happy now that we have a beach house/retreat.  I am so happy now that we are able to invest in exciting projects and give to causes we care about. I am so happy now that we volunteer in our community together, and are connected at Grace. I am so happy now that we have a deep social network of friends we love spending time with and celebrate life. I am so happy now that we are able to take family trips to places we are passionate about and discover the world together. I am so happy now that I’m living with grace and ease, while making my dreams come true.  

Now the best part is that I actually feel like I am on the verge of having this entire statement be true! It will naturally be a process, and I don’t expect that any of it will happen overnight. I’ll need to be continually proactive, but with patience and perseverance, I have no doubt it will all be true.  

What makes you happy…how does your sentence end?

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

Inside Job

Hubby and I finally had a chance to watch Inside Job, an academy award winning documentary about the implosion of the economy (and how there were plenty of warnings that went unheeded). While infuriating, the film showed how the housing bubble was created by greedy bankers willing to gamble the so-called American dream. Yet, a systematic deregulation of the financial industry was also to blame. Not to mention appointing the fox to guide the hen house (and giving them tax breaks to boot!)

The filmmakers manage to make a complex issue very simple. They also make it engaging, although I wish there were some specific action that I could take. I’ve personally been detached from the Occupy Wall Street movement…with my comfortable job, I’ve been far too been to get involved. Yet, this film really makes me think twice and want reform:

While Occupy Wall Street is a fledgling movement, it should remind all of us that we have a say in what happens in our economy. More than that, we have a responsibility to hold our leaders accountable.

We highly recommend Inside Job (narrated by Matt Damon.) 

What did you think of the film?

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

Zulily Sales

If you’re in the market for high end kid and mama stuff for sweet prices, Zulily is the place to find great deals. I first started shopping Zulily last fall, and have found some great buys.

I’m mentioning them again now because there are two current deals (until 10/8) for new Mamas that I highly recommend. You can purchase FuzziBunz cloth diapers for over 50% off, which were one of my favorite cloth diaper brands (my cloth diaper tips too!) 

They also have Zooper strollers on sale ($200 instead of $300). While we don’t have the model they have on sale, but they truly make quality products, so I would still vouch for it. And even though $200 may seem like a lot to shell out for a stroller, if you use it for two kids (or sell on CL) this product will last for several generations. We bought ours on CraigsList because the previous owner needed a double stroller, so we managed to get our for about 50% off retail, and it was still totally worth it used. (I’m actually disappointed to see that they don’t have any model comparable to ours, it’s really a hiking stroller…we’ve hiked up to 7-8 miles with it…gone over downed trees, mud, and pretty rough terrain!) 

I find the trick with signing up for Zulily is to have all the emails directed to a special inbox (like other retail stuff), then you won’t be tempted by the latest daily sale. But then when you are looking for something specific (they have great shoe sales!), you can quickly find a bargain. I also shop Zulily for baby shower gifts , because you can look as is you are splurging without spending too much.

What good Zulily scores have you found?

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