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.

Global Gratitude

After writing about the importance of asking for more money , I feel the need to reflect on how grateful I am for gainful employment and a gratifying career. It’s important to remind myself just how rich Americans are in the global picture, and how fortunate we are to have such a high standard of living.

Where do you rank on the global rich list ? I found this brilliant site where you simply input your salary and it ranks your global wealth.

I double majored in International Studies and Environmental Studies, and recall first learning about colonialism and the so-called Third World. Here’s a quick video from a Princeton professor who discusses the need to reframe the global economy to meet the needs of the poorest billion people. Don’t worry, it’s not overly academic.

How do you help your children understand just how lucky they are to have fresh vegetables and comfortable shoes? I found a very talented graphic who created some genius graphics from the statistics about what the world would look like if it were a village of 100 people. I am definitely going to save this for the day when my kiddos ask me to explain the inequality of the world.

Do you feel rich?
How do you get global perspective?

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

Ask For It

The world is abundant, but you still have to ask for want you want and need.

A few weeks ago I happened to get an interesting article on women and negotiations from a co-worker. It made a great case for why part of the pay disparity between sexes is because women simply don’t speak up and ask for it.  This should peak your attention especially if you have a daughter. The NYT article wrote about how we need to teach young girls the skill of negotiating and asking for what you want. It referenced a really intriguing  program aimed at teaching these skills to girls and women

It dawned on me that I actually didn’t know when to expect my next merit increase, as my manager had mentioned when I returned from maternity leave that my absence would affect it. It turns out after talking with HR that the leave did not affect when an increase would be allowed, and that I was actually due retroactively back to January. The kicker was that if I hadn’t asked before the end of the fiscal year I would have lost it!

I ended up with a stellar performance review and the maximum 4% increase.  Thankfully I didn’t have to learn the hard way, but it did teach me to speak up.  I will certainly keep this lesson in mind with our Girly, and work to model the skills that I’m learning mid-career.

This isn’t just a personal story or women’s issue though, its a family one. Most families need two incomes to make ends meet. Wage disparity hurts families and perpetuates inequality. If we don’t ask for change, who will?

Do you have tips for asking for raises or negotiating salaries?

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

Preserving Primer

Canning, and food preservation in general, is finding its way back into busy modern lives. Whether you preserve your own backyard harvest or simply store up the fresh farmer’s market flavor for a colder season, food preservation is both more sustainable and more economical.

Unfortunately, there’s also good reason to can for your family’s health. Many commercial canning companies line cans with an epoxy resin containing the BPA chemical .  I’ve known for several years about the potential harm from BPA laced baby bottles , but it was only this past winter that I realized that all my handy tomato cans contained BPA.

This has renewed my motivation to become a confident canner. I’ve only dabbled in canning really, but have fond memories of making blackberry jam. I was eager to do more than just freeze this past summer, but with an infant the learning curve seemed too steep. 

So, I’ve been educating myself lately, well in advance of the harvest peak. A month ago I attended a lunch brown bag at the library, then gleaning some wisdom and recipes from my mom’s group, and an evening class on “ preserving the harvest .”  The most important thing I’ve learned so far is not to be intimidated! If you preserve in smaller batches it doesn’t take as much time as you’d think. Make it part of your lifestyle and have fun with it!

I also checked a few books out from the library  Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More

There will be more posts throughout the summer on food preservation, and I would love to exchange ideas with other newbies, dabblers and veterans.

What are your favorite foods to preserve for your family?

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

Simple Savings

While the best savings advice is to simply direct money from each paycheck into your retirement and savings accounts, what about saving up money for fun stuff like travel?

After spending a year in Denmark after high school (Rotary Exchange program where I earned the program fee through community fundraisers), I continued to travel each summer in college. Friends would always ask me how I managed to travel while working just part-time in a low-wage job. My answer was that I simply made travel my financial priority. At the time my heart longed to travel so much that there was little to distract me from saving. Plus, I didn’t have kids to cloth or a house to fix up, but here are some fun and easy saving tips that I put into practice:

  • Be critical of your commute. It may cost you more than you think. In college I wrote my bike everywhere and didn’t own a car, this practically paid for my trips (if I would have been earning enough!) If you have two cars, think about how you could cut down to one. ZipCar is a great urban option for reducing your commuting bill.
  • Mind the bar tab. I don’t recommend not having a social life in the name of saving cash, but when you go out consider whether you really an extra drink. Saving $5-10 each time you go out adds up over time, over $500 in a year without that much effort. Plus, you might enjoy other things more than getting a buzz.
  • Save the change. When my Mom saved up for our first trip to Europe, she managed to save up enough for her and I to visit my Twin Sis in Finland after just a year of saving on a teacher salary. One of her best tricks was only pay in cash. Then each time she broke a $20 bill she would save all the change, dollars actually. It made her think twice before spending and the cash savings did add up.
  • Picture It. I just heard this idea recently, and I’m trying it myself. Print a photo of what you’re saving for and stash it in your wallet so you see it each time you’re ready to spend.

What simple ways do you save money?

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

Denmark or Bust

With any luck, and a bit of fiscal discipline, our family will be in Denmark this time next year. It’s actually been a goal of ours for some time now, but we’ve been busy with a young family. Even though we are year away, it finally feels like a reality now that I am sharing this goal with you.

Thankfully, I have plenty of host families and friends who are eager to share their homes with us. One of my host sisters has even offered her Copenhagen apartment with views of the Baltic! Another close friend lives about a half hour away from Legoland and has a son just a month younger than our Girly.

I’m obviously excited about this trip and reconnecting with family and friends. I am also looking forward to sharing the adventure with you. I am planning to write about once a month on trip planning and strategies for saving money for family vacations. While we are there I will share about the Danish culture, which is about a generation ahead of the U.S. in terms of sustainable living. If you’re interested in following this topic, just check out the “Denmark” category.

My first travel tip is to use Travel Math to plan your next vacation. It quickly calculates the cost driving in a place like Denmark where gasoline costs $6.92. It also calculates your travel emissions and lots of other handy features.

Do you have a big trip you’re dreaming of?
How you plan to afford it?

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