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.

Just in case

I’m not one to dwell on the negative, but after creating an emergency kit for my family it got me thinking about the other tasks that ought to get on my to-do list (perhaps yours too!) 

  • Will & Testament – It’s important to make sure to plan for your kids, just in case. If your estate isn’t complicated, you can use basic software and fill in the blanks (really no harder than online taxes). You need two people to sign as witnesses who aren’t listed in your will, so we signed over coffee with good friends. We now need to update ours to include our Girly. It’s not something you want to think about, but it feels good to have it taken care of. (Now I need to get my parents to do the same!)
  • Life insurance – Here’s where you can get cheap life insurance quotes.
  • Keep an eye on your credit – Identity theft happens quicker and more often than you’d think, and the harm can be lasting. Protect yourself and your family: shred, then recycle.

I’m realistic and know that it takes an effort for a busy family to pay attention to these long-term “what ifs” of life, but hopefully if we pay them some head now we won’t have to deal with something more challenging in the future. 

What other big-picture housekeeping have you done for your family?

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

Family Emergency Kit

Typically I wouldn’t put myself in the category of “survivalist,” and I was pretty sure that the whole Y2K scare was a marketing ploy to sell stuff. Yet, as a Mama I’ve grown into the idea of needing to prepare my family and recently I’ve been a little obsessed with the task of gathering together a 72-hour emergency kit.

Just like how each family is unique, your kit is likely to be different than others, but to help getting you thinking about what you might want to include. We did put everything in a new rolling trash can, but I didn’t label it (found photo) Heres’ my list:

  • Emergency Plan – including important phone numbers and planned reunion locations, copies of insurance info and driver’s liscence, family photos for identification purposes and passports
  • Emergency device – multipurpose crank radio, flashlight, compass and several features I’m pretty sure I’ll never use for $25
  • Cash – in small denominations (I put a $100+ to start)
  • Food & Water – lots of canned goods, we’ll add more water as we get containers
  • Old backpacking stove with fuel, backpacking water filter
  • Clothes and sturdy shoes – no fashion statements here just lots of fleece; we’ll strip if it’s summer (just kidding)
  • Solar powered flashlight – bought 2 at Costco, one for the car (small car kit too)
  • First aide kit & t oiletries – including some TP, big diapers, baby wipes
  • Misc – Dust masks, work gloves, pocket knife, tape, scissors, papers (reused!), pens, local map
  • Extras – dog food, old sleeping bags and towels, playing cards, candy, bottle of wine

Many of the items on our list we already had on hand, but the extra expenses (including food) were around $100. Totally worth the investment.

I actually started the task before the tragic earthquake in Haiti struck, and as I wrapped up the last of the supplies I heard news of the devastation in Chile. My heart goes out to everyone impacted.  

While I hope my family never needs these emergency supplies, I imagine that I will be relieved that I listened to that voice inside telling me prepare for the worst and plan for the best.

  • Are you prepared for a natural disaster? 10 ways you could be
  • Mormons reall know how to prepare: Prepared LDS Family

  • Here are a few more good references on this topic:

    Does your family have enough supplies to last 72 hours? 
    What else does it include?


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

    Manage Your Money Challenge

    I’m excited to share with you a family finance challenge for March called the  Manage Your Money Challenge that is being done by the Enemy of Debt blog.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled over the years trying to make sure all our bills are paid at the right time. Life is easier now that so many of our bills are paid automatically, but keeping track of when everything is paid still boggles my mind a bit.

    The challenge promotes at a calendar-based budgeting system called pocketsmith, and offers a free trial of the program. After a month I’ll let you know what I think. If you check it out, let us know what your thoughts are.

    Do have a good system for tracking when your bills are paid? 
    Are you going to give pocketsmith a try?

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

    Addicted to Saving

    I’m officially addicted to Groupons. I’ve never been much of coupon lady, since they mostly seem to expire or get lost when I need them! Yet Groupons are different.

    I was skeptical at first, but I’m a true convert.  Through collective buying power, they are able to offer you steep discounts for local restaurants and services. You get an email of the daily Groupon, most discounts are over 50% of the regular prices. I truly love them because there are great deals at local places and services where I go already, so no driving to the burbs for a bargain!

    Here’s what I’ve bought so far:

    • $45 haircut or mani/pedi at a new salon, Strut Salon, just two blocks from my house (paid $20)
    • $50 organic grocery delivery from Spud! (paid $25) – A service I’ve used for years
    • $70 at a favorite swank place, Chameleon, where I’ve met with Mama friends before. My friends bought too so now we’ll plan a night out! (paid $30 for 2 Groupons)
    • $25 for delicious pizza in our old neighborhood, Pizza Fino. I emailed a friend and she bought 2 Groupons, now we’re going to reconnect! ($12)
    • $30 at a pizza place haven’t tried, Bella Faccia Pizzeria. A colleague saw the Groupon and her husband loves their East Coast pizza, maybe we’ll meet up too! (paid $14 for 2 Groupons)

    If you don’t get what all the excitement is about, check out a little video about how Groupon works:

    Learn How Groupon Works! from The Point on Vimeo.

    I didn’t realize that you only get the deal if enough people buy, but that hasn’t been a problem so far. It’s been super popular in Portland and my new local salon sold over 700 haircuts/mani-pedis at $20 in 7 hours! The minimum for the deal was 50, and I can guarantee you that this small local spa has never seen such sales in one day. While obviously people will use their Groupons over time, it will also likely bring them many return customers.

    Plus, in addition to all of the other fabulousness of Groupon, they also offer a great $10 referral deal.  That means that I’ll get $10 for each of you who sign up through my referral link, and you’ll in turn get the same when you pay it forward to your friends.

    Have you used Groupon yet? Any fun stories?

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

    Diaper Duty

    Diaper duty comes with the tasks of parenting. It’s a resource incentive chore in all regards costing time and money, while impacting the environment.

    Funny enough, I was dissuaded from trying cloth the first round from another green Mama friend who had been overwhelmed by them with her new born (If you’re intimidated, plan to wait a few weeks or until they clearly fit). In my experience, once you’ve got a routine down cloth is pretty simple and worth the extra effort.

    I love the fact that I can now go to Costco without throwing away another $50. BumGenius claims that you can save up to $1,200 and 1 ton of landfill waste.

    In our family we’ve tried several different methods, so I’ll share a bit about our experience (Round 1 = BigGuy, Round 2 = Girly):

    Round 1 

    • G-Diapers – We bought from the first batch of G-Diapers  to hit the market (which is a hybrid of cloth and a flushable/disposable insert). We had mixed results regarding leaks and blow-outs, but used them most of the time for the first three months. Unfortunately, they weren’t kind to our vintage toilet and after a $200 plumbing bill on a Sunday, we decided to take the plumbers advice and not risk replacing our toilet in an effort to be “green.” 
    • Seventh Generation Diapers – When the G-Diaper cloth shells were soiled we used 7th G brand diapers. We were really pleased with how they functioned. (I just heard that 7th G has  reduced online prices for bulk purchases .)
    • Kirkland Diapers (aka Costco) – After a year of trying to do the “right” thing, economic reality set in for us. I was between jobs and we bought a case of generic diapers at Costco. This led us to buy a membership and sprint toward potty-training.

    Round 2

    Cloth Diapers – Partly because we felt we had sold out, and partly because our (then) child care center offered a free cloth diaper service, we chose to try out cloth diapers when Girly was born.

    • Cloth diapers have become advanced technology these days, and I think you’d be surprised by the options and how great they work. The fact of the matter is that blow-outs happen, and I’d say they are pretty even on that ranking.
    • All-in-one cloth “pocket” diapers – Cloth diapers first got a bad rep because they didn’t work well at night and often leaked, but these diapers are super soft and fleecy and work terrific as night diapers. Even if you only used them at night, if your child was potty trained by 2 1/2, you’d still save almost a thousand disposable diapers! They are spendy up front, around $15-20 and I’ve bought some on Craigslist and at resale shops. Plus, they are designed to fit from size small to large, so they are worth the cost. These are my favorite brands: BumGenius , Fuzzibunz , HappyHeinys .
    • Wraps Thirsties is the best diaper cover I’ve found, partly because they have a new “duo” line that makes it so you don’t have to buy sm/md/large. They function really well, and once solids were introduced, we can usually use just one wrap per day (yes, changing the cloth regularly!) I like Bummis  too, they even has swim diapers and training pants, which are super expensive as disposables!
    • G-Diapers – Even though the flushables did work for us, we did use the cloth diaper portion with cloth liners with good results. My Mom even made fleece inserts that worked great. This was definitely more affordable than the flushable inserts too.
    • Flushable liners Bio-liners collect all the solids and can be flushed down the toilet. These are the secret weapon for poopy diapers!   

    Random Cloth Diaper Notes:

    • I bought enough diapers so I only do 2 loads of diapers per week
    • My “diaper pails” consist of airtight plastic tubs. I have a big one next to the laundry and two smaller ones that I transport a day’s worth of diapers from the bedroom and childcare. They really are airtight and smells open briefly when you open (remember that disposables stink too!)
    • At 8 months my Girly started at a childcare without a diaper service. I carry a tote bag with a small plastic tub. It’s not very heavy my BigGuy even helps carry it to the bus sometimes. The hardest part is the one mid-week laundry load, but now that I have my routine it’s pretty easy to manage. While not the norm, the childcare teachers have been open to learning the new routine and respect my choice.
    • Buy Larger Clothes – If you opt for cloth, remember that clothes are now sized for disposables, so figure that your child will use a size bigger than expected.   
    • Less Trash, but More water/power – Cloth diapers have helped us with our one garbage can per month service. We also have an efficient washer and dryer that helps keep the water/electricity impacts and cost down.

    If you want to read more, the best post I read was from a Dad’s perspective on CashMoneyLife , it was just written and he’s a big fan of cloth. There’s also a bit of discussion taking place on the EnviroMom blog. Consumer Reports , and Labor of Love blogs have some decent pro/con lists to consider, although some of the cons against cloth diapers are outmoded, like diaper pins. Thankfully, diaper pins are a thing of the past, I used them as a babysitter and there isn’t much harder than trying to not poke a wriggly baby!

    Have you used cloth diapers? 
    Do you have any tips?

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