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.

Carbon Footprint Estimate #1

Now that we’ve doubled our household members, I want to calculate my family’s carbon footprint . As promised, I’m planning to test out several calculators to make sure that I’m getting an accurate baseline to track our progress.

The first is the EPA’s Household Emissions Calculator , here are the results:

As described on the page, it was pretty quick and only took me about 15 minutes once my energy bill averages were on hand. It was really intuitive and seemed to cover all the household basics. It included our house size, number of family members, gas/electricity bills, car miles and mpg, and recycling habits. According to the calculator our household emits an average of 1,021 pounds of CO2 per person, while the average American emits 20,750.  Yet, it seemed too good to be true, and based on the info I provided it just doesn’t compute.

The calculator automatically identifies that ways for you to reduce your footprint and estimates how much money and emissions you would save per green action. In fact, when I promised to do every action suggested, it calculated that we would have negative annual carbon emissions. We may try to live green, but that’s ludicrous. Talk about bursting my green bubble! My family is a long way from living a net-zero lifestyle, certainly a trek from the off-the-grid cabin where I first grew up.

However each energy savings step was pretty interesting. It calculated that if we replaced our energy hog of a refrigerator we could save $51 annually, 479 pounds of CO2, and reduce our total emissions by 47%. If I were to manage hang drying half of our laundry we could save $40 a year, 375 pounds of CO2 and reduce our total emissions by 37%. I couldn’t think of hang drying our clothes until our Girly is potty trained from her cloth diapers (I’m barely managing to get the ironing done as it is!) But it is very helpful to see specific steps and the expected results from each actions, it makes them as simple to take as they really can be.

So, while not entirely discouraging, I’m glad that I set out with the plan to test various online calculators, hopefully we’ll find the best of all calculators. 

Have you used this carbon calculator and get accurate results?
Did it help your household habits?

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

Tax Refund Time

You may still have a month left to file your taxes, but in our household they get done as early as possible, mostly because we usually get money back. We just had the discussion again whether or not we should adjust our deductions so that fewer taxes would be taken out on a monthly basis. We both agreed that for us it feels better to get an annual “bonus” than an unbudgeted bill to pay. On a daily basis I do my best to not fret over taxes, so why would I want to stress every spring? 
Since the invention of TurboTax, my Hubby has taken the lead on our taxes. I have to say that it’s a relief to have this annual chore taken care of, plus I think Hubby secretly looks forward to accomplishing. Coming home from work last week, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he had filed our taxes while taking care of our feverish/cranky/teething BabyGirl. Talk about multi-tasking…way to go Daddy-O!! (Yes, I did promise to thank him publicly for his chivalrous acts of parenting and tax prep.)
The better news came when he told me that we are expecting a $4k refund! I have to admit that the first thought that crossed my mind was “Denmark,” returning to my adopted homeland. Yet, Hubby promptly burst my bubble by reminding me that our first family financial goal is to increase our emergency savings fund back up to $10k. We would reach that goal if we saved our tax refund. An emergency fund doesn’t scream family fun, but financial peace of mind in times of layoffs is worth it. I also know that we pay our share of taxes, but I’m not about to balk at funding essential social services. You’ve already heard my rant on green taxes.
Is your family getting a tax return? 
How do you plan to spend/save it?

Sustainable Family Finances 
This blog is the story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Heartfelt holiday

Call me married with children, but my heart just doesn’t pitter patter over Valentine’s Day like it did when I was a girl. It feels like the holiday is more about consumption than companionship.
Yet, I’m not entirely anti-cupid. After all I have two cherubs and a loving Hubby. I was a bit surprised when he asked me if I wanted to go out, since I can’t recall the last time we went out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. Here are some suggestions for how to create a more heartfelt and finance-friendly holiday:
  • Homemade dinner – I’m planning Hubby’s favorite – Italian stuffed shells.
  • Chocolate chip cookies – the kids will have more fun baking cookies than with any heart-shaped box.
  • Fresh cut tulips – I love roses as much as the next girl, but paying for an overpriced bouquet doesn’t make me gush.
  • Nursery gift certificate – If a supermarket bouquet doesn’t cut it, try a gift certificate for a perennial that will have a lasting impact on your sights and senses. Daphne is one of my favorites, because it blooms so early and smells so sweet.
  • Library or used books – Share the story of St Valentine with your kids with library books or a some used books.
  • Classmate Valentines – We made simple heart-shaped cards with zigzag scissors, a fancy silver pen, and some stickers. I’d like to buy a rubber stamp or two when the kids get a little older, but in general I plan to take their lead on interest level and creativity.
  • Babysitter – We’ve been lucky to develop relationships with co-workers who want an occasional “grandma” fix. We exchange by inviting them to dinner before we head out. If you want quick privacy, hire a babysitter to take your kids to the park.
  • Birth Control – I’m very pro-family, but birth control can help you make decisions for your family planning. Following kids, I’m a fan of the Mirena IUD. No need to remember a pill daily.
How do you plan to celebrate your lovers’ day?
Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Solo family account

We are moving slow and steady toward our goal of simplifying our family finances.  We added Hubby to our local community bank account last week, and now our next step is to start the transition of all the direct debit accounts.
The beauty of automatic bill pay is obvious, but it is a hassle if you ever decide to merge accounts or switch banks. We identified six accounts linked to Hubby’s old corporate bank.
  • Paycheck deposit
  • Mortgage
  • Car payment
  • Insurance
  • Savings account
  • Netflix
Given the monthly ebb and flow via deposits and debits, I also calculated how much is being taken out by these transactions each month so that I can transfer enough funds into to our joint account to make sure everything is covered until Hubby’s paycheck deposit kicks in.
I know there is still more work ahead, but I can hardly wait until I can look into one account to find out how much we have available to meet our family needs and wants.
Are there any accounts that you choose to pay the old-fashioned way?
Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Green Police

Have you been accused of being the so-called Green Police in your family?

In our household college football reigns on high, so the Super Bowl is seen as purely superficial and watched mostly for the entertaining commercials. Apparently this year they were even more sexist than usual, but I was glad that Hubby called me in to watch this one with the “Green Police.” If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s absolutely hilarious. I’ve fantasized about the potential of green police, and love the part about the compost infraction.

I’m sure that Audi’s Green Police is thrilled with the buzz it’s created, there are several more videos you can check out about how you only need one napkin per sandwich/burrito/hoggie or anteater that sniffs out environmental contraband. I’d be interested to hear some of the conversations that it’s sparked amongst the football watching crowd.

I try not to be eco-preachy with my family, and just lead by example. But I did find it intriguing that extended family members have told me that my face pops into their mind whenever they don’t/can’t recycle something, like some green guardian angel.

Do you think societal pressure plays into people’s decisions about whether or not to take green actions?

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