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.

Clean Energy Works Oregon – Poster Family

Last spring I shared about our participation in a pilot program called Clean Energy Works, to provide low-interest loans for home energy upgrades. Check out all the details in posts 1, 2 & 3, and my initial energy evaluation.

With the success of the pilot program, a statewide non-profit has been created to provide the services to all Oregonians (and, yes, we do hope to export this model nationally). When we first learned the program was expanding, we were eager to help out by sharing how comfortable and cozy our home as a testimonial. We were also asked if we would be willing to photographed for the promotional materials they would need to market the program, and we happily obliged. 

So, if you check out the Clean Energy Works Oregon program webpage, you’ll find our smiley family. P rofessional photographer, Sally Painter, took the photos. Here are a few of us (I have a feeling these goofy ones won’t be marketed, but they are still fun to share!) :

Our staircase is now cozy…it used to feel like a wind tunnel!

Family poses don’t often work out…

Checking out our online utility bills…really they were!

Our old fashioned radiators work like a charm (with an efficient boiler), but now that the bump outs are insulated from below, the heat doesn’t escape!

We got the new efficient range hood as part of the loan, which means LED kitchen lighting too!

On a side note, here’s a good article about the trend of new green upgrade home loan programs.

Would you participate in Clean Energy Works Oregon if you had the opportunity?

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

Eco Shower Curtain

I try not to buy into our consumer culture by putting off purchases as long as possible. But after hearing Hubby bug me for months about buying a new shower curtain, I was finally ready to shop. 

After watching Blue Vinyl, a documentary about the environmental and health hazards of the vinyl industry, I knew that I wanted a PVC free shower curtain. This Green Planet also explains how vinyl curtains are bad for your family.

Instead of trying my luck at the most convenient big box store (Target last time), I decided that I could likely find a more   eco-friendly option shopping online .

I quickly found a lot of great options, here are my favorites:

Our family bathroom is a bright orange sherbet hue, and our last shower curtain was a bright world map. So, I really like the colorful/playful/teachable style. We also agreed that we’ll need a new world map for somewhere else in the house.

I want to reiterate that I did my best to keep our previous curtain clean and presentable for as long as possible. I diligently washed it, but once it started to tear, Hubby insisted on replacing it. I found some great tips on cleaning shower curtains from Create Plenty, a new group in Portland that is teaching these type of eco-life skills.  Apparently most households replace their shower curtains every 1-2 year,  I feel pretty good that I managed to use our for 3 1/2 years. 

So, if you’re still mulling over a new Earth Day commitment, how about washing your old curtain or buying a new “eco” curtain?!

Does your family you have an eco shower curtain?

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?

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

Tax Time…that is, if you’re not rich!

I had half forgotten that taxes are due tomorrow, since we filed our taxes months ago, but then I read the local Willamette Weekly cover article on  9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You to Know About Taxes .

It’s really in depth, and pretty darn infuriating. Since I know you all won’t take the time to read the full article, here are the tax myths that he tries to dispel:

  1. Poor Americans do pay taxes
  2. The wealthiest Americans don’t carry the burden
  3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes
  4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all
  5. And (surprise!), since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income
  6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same – less taxes
  7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs
  8. Republicans like taxes too
  9. Other countries do it better

Not surprisingly, it was the last section that really got me going, wondering for the umpteenth time why I live in a country that likens taxes to torture and can’t understand how creating a system of mutual support is a good thing I wrote last tax season about green taxes and  taxing priorities , and have made my socialist tendencies known. Call me socialist, but I’d happily pay into a system that provides a safety net and makes many predictable expenses less expensive. Instead families are stuck wondering how to budget for unpaid maternity leave, save for college and retire with a reasonable standard of living.

What gets me is that all these tax myths are being created by those who pay the least proportionally. Obama is proposing a  modest tax increases on the wealthy , but it’s still no where near equality. I try to be an optimist in my personal, but politics lately are getting under my skin, and the tax debate reminds me of how much better I think we could do for our families. 

Would you pay more taxes for more services?

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