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.

Snow day…well sort of!

Snow is pretty rare in the valleys of Oregon, and we only really get a snow event every few years at best. In great anticipation of the “big” snow day that we are expecting, I’m frankly not focused on our finances at the moment.  Instead I’m reminiscing about childhood snow days, which are priceless.

I recall the bunny hill that seemed so treacherous, and the numb feeling of thawing out after finally retreating to the warmth of home. Hot chocolate was a must, along with soup and grilled sandwiches. I must have been an early feminist, because we always insisted on making a snow woman 🙂 

Snow days also have a funny way of changing our priorities, and suddenly nothing seems as important as savoring the snow and playing as hard as possible. I’m looking forward these kinds of traditions and memories for my kids.

Last year I wrote about cheap ways to enjoy a Winter Wonderland.

I also found a couple some fun snow day ideas on ParentDish, Snow Day Fun, and 5 snow day favorites.

As it turns out there really wasn’t much snow to celebrate, but it has been fun fantasizing…

How do you celebrate the snow?

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

Who’s Managing Your Family Finances?

Do you have a head penny counter in your household? 

After writing about our early family finance habits, I was curious to see if I could find any videos on the topic. I found an interesting video from on  Who’s managing your family finances? 

He discusses a recent study that shows how couples thrive better if the person who is the best at numbers takes the lead on finances – not just the person who takes charge or gets stuck with the finances. It only really makes sense, but relationships, especially with money, aren’t always rational.

They give a quick quiz, and I was relieved to pass. Hubby has always thought that I was more numerate that him, although I think we’re about equal and somewhere in geometry he became less confident. But I can’t claim that we made an intentional decision for me to lead the management because of math skills, and it probably had more to do with us not wanting a traditional arrangement where the person who earns more makes the decisions.

Do you think the most “numerate” spouse handles your finances?

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

Finances Pre-Kids

We started off the weekend by going over several “money honey” items. We discussed our budget for Denmark and we’re on track for saving another $4k for the trip, although we hope not to spend that much! Despite our ability to save for the trip, Hubby was still aghast at our credit card bills. But after I showed him that almost all our regular bills are on the miles card now, and how they are paid off monthly, he stopped panicking a bit. I also paid a couple of health related bills, and per our  family goal we compared our health care plans. We decided will be opting to go on my plan come the new FY, since the deductible is less and we can get more preventive and naturopathic care.

Over the weekend I also did some much needed filing and I happened upon a notebook where we tracked our expenses when we first moved in together back in July 2000.  It’s hard to believe now, but we literally used less than a half page to track our monthly budget!

We were both insistent on splitting our expenses 50/50. So we tracked our receipts with initials next to who paid and noted who had paid more, which was then rolled over the credit/deficit to the next month’s expenses.

In our first month, we went to the grocery store four times for a total of $154.85. Our phone bill was $46.43. Insurance $38.00. Car oil $4.95. We each paid $122 for everything! In subsequent months our expenses increased slightly: $13.79 newspaper, $36 electricity, $50 for new sheets, $151 car fixed. Our most expensive grocery trip was for $103.85 in December, and I’m certain that it was for hosting our very first julefrokostThe funniest was a note for $2.69 for pancake mix!

Our rent was $900, and we had a sweet converted garage right on Ladd’s Circle: one bay for our bed/bath, two bays for dining/living. It was very cozy, but we loved it. One bonus was that it was so small we didn’t need to buy much furniture, we had a card table and folding chairs. Most of our household supplies were bought at garage sales. I bought a futon once I managed to save up the $600 – we still have it on our back porch with a recovered outdoor cover.

We didn’t go dutch for meals though, and we alternated who would treat and they got to choose the location (or at least the price range 😉 This worked well for us. Notably, we also split cooking/cleaning duties 50/50, and whoever cooked got off from dishes and vice versa. This only really lasted for the first year though…now I do more cooking and he does more cleaning. Thankfully there still is a balance, even though our finances are finally fully merged

Back when we were dating, we really were intentional about tracking our finances. Neither of us were making much, so it was truly important. But the bigger goal was that we wanted a relationship where we could communicate openly about our finances It is nice to know that we are back to talking about our finances/goals regularly. 

Our finances certainly aren’t as cheap these days. But this reflection does give me hope that we’ll continue to be successful setting financial goals and simply enjoying life together along the way.

What were your “family” finances like before kids?

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

Groupon and Living Social Hiatus

I’ve raved before about the great deals I’ve found on Groupon and Living Social, but since the new year I’ve been taking an intentional hiatus from online deals.

Sometimes the bargains seemed too good to pass up, and I got caught up “saving” money…all the while spending too much!  Thankfully, I can truly say that the majority of the deals were at local places where we already enjoy going, and I think that we saved some money eating out. 

But Groupons/Living Social deals are tricky for budgeting because you spend the money sometimes long before you ever use the service.

Then there’s also the issue of expiration dates, which has been the biggest hassle for me. I find myself strategically planning our weekend around where we need to use a Groupon. It’s certainly not a stress I need in my life.

In full disclosure, I felt the need to tally/share all the Groupons I’ve bought in the past year. Like I suspected, the expense really does add up. It shows how easily a well meaning budget conscious person can spend a lot to save a little. 

Current Groupons:

  • $40 Soluna Grill – paid $20
  • $80 Fish Window Cleaning – paid $40
  • $25 Pistils Nursery – paid $10
  • $60 Pixie Project – paid $30
  • $25 Hash Restaurant – paid $12 –                                                  Subtotal=$112

Past year – used already:

  • $50 Nordstrom rack – paid $25
  • 3 Santa photos – paid $10
  • Pumpkin patch Oregon Maize – paid $7
  • $10 SuperDog – paid $5
  • $15 Pizza a go go – paid $7
  • $15 Habibi Lebanese – paid $7
  • $25 Ukiyoe Japanese Restaurant – paid $12
  • $15 x2 Elephant’s Delicatessen – paid $15
  • $8 x2 Wayne’s Chicago Red Hots – paid $8
  • $25 Concordia Ale House – paid $12
  • $13 Posies Cafe – paid $6
  • $10 Cafe Brioso – paid $5
  • $45 Strut Salon – paid $20
  • $35 x2 Chameleon Restaurant – paid $30
  • $15 x2 Bella Faccia – paid $14
  • $25 Pizza Fino – paid $12
  • $50 Spud – paid $25                                                                   Subtotal =$220

Living Social current unused:

  • $30 – Cup and Saucer – paid $15
  • $20 – Homebrew exchange – paid $10
  • $35 – One hour massage at Ruby Violet
  • $25 – Brow shape – paid $12.50                                                  Subtotal=$72.50

Already enjoyed:

  • Skamania Lodge – $169
  • Hot Stone massage at Written on the Body – $30                         Subtotal=$199

GRAND TOTAL=  $603.50

As you can see, it really adds up over the course of a year. I’m not planning to abandon these deals altogether. I just need to use more discipline. So I’ve developed a set of criteria for purchasing any online deals:
  1. Must be in our neighborhood or a favorite place of ours.
  2. Must have/make plans to use within the next month – not just by the expiration.
  3. Must truly save us money on something we would regularly buy.
  4. If in question, check with Hubby – he’ll almost always tell me not to buy it…unless it’s someplace he can’t resist either…

Lastly, while I’m little scared to sign up for it, the site Mind. Body. Green is supposed to be the new Groupon for Greenies…

Have you become addicted to Groupons?

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