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.

Goal #3 – Simplify Family Accounts

I should have heeded my high school teacher’s advice long ago: K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid. After ten years together, it’s time for Hubby and I to merge our money.

I understand that there are some people who are philosophically opposed to having joint accounts. Initially in our relationship it only made sense to keep our finances separate on the principle of fairness alone, and I recall that during our first year of living together, we dutifully divvyed up everything 50/50. Yet, over the years we’ve co-mingled our finances beyond recognition. Since we’ve been married, we’ve technically had joint accounts, but have managed them separately which has become an increasing hassle for the CFO of the family. Aside from the fact that when we finally merge our money, it really won’t make any difference to our family’s bottom-line.

When you share kids, sharing finances doesn’t seem like such a big deal in comparison. It’s only actually been since our lives became overwhelmed by the hectic pace of family responsibilities that I’ve felt the urge to merge our finances. Since returning from maternity leave this fall, I’ve wanted to up my automatic payroll savings, but how much do I really have available to save? I’ve also been trying to sort out how many we can afford to tithe for our church, but I obviously don’t want to put us in financial jeopardy in the name of charity.

When I take the time to check my account online, I want to be able to quickly assess where our family stands financially. I feel like I’ve been in the dark lately not knowing whether we have the money there to spend or to save. (And, yes, I have tried using Mint, and initially was very excited in a nerdy kind of way about it, but unfortunately it doesn’t work with my community bank) I need to be able to answer these questions to have financial peace amongst the chaos of family life.

It’s also a trust and solidarity thing. I want to feel like my income is helping buy our home, not just pay for child care and the household expenses. I hope that merging our money will continue to build the foundation of trust that truly supports our family.

Lastly, yes, it will take a little juggling for Hubby to merge his auto-pay and auto-debits into my (our) account, but I promise to show my eternal gratitude and not nag him nearly as often.

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

Goal #2 – Let’s Talk Money Honey

It’s maybe not what Hubby has in mind for a so-called date night, and certainly not the sexiest pick up line I’ve used, but talking money as a couple needs to become a priority. As everyone knows, money can be a primary source of a couple’s discontent…sometimes even leading to the dreaded “D” word. So, it’s definitely time well invested to have frequent heart-to-hearts with your significant other.

Thankfully, hubby and I have pretty similar notions about what we should and should not spend money on, and have only ever had minor quibbles over cash. While I would probably have to confess to a financial fib or two, at least we are not committing “Financial Infidelity” – there’s a bit scary video from the Wall Street Journal that my sister just posted on her DINKs Finance blog.

Our greatest downfall is that we both have a tendency to want the best for our family: all organics, no cheap fast food, nice clothes…the list seems to go on and on. We’re also generous, and would give to more causes in a heartbeat if we could afford it. Yet, there’s only so much money to go around, and often we are faced with decisions about what we want/need for our family.

So, in theory it’ll be pretty simple. My first step is penciling in time on our calendar, and I’m going to choose the third Sunday of the month. That will give me enough time to pay bills and update the budget during the first half of the month. Ideally we would meet while the kids are napping, but as parents we know how little control we actually have over these small beings. So, we’ll probably have to wing it half the time, but the important thing is that we dedicate time regularly to discussing our family’s financial matters.

I’ll also dedicate some time to reflecting on these meetings, and sharing with you any insights that might be gleaned from these monthly pow-wows.

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

Goal #1 – Get the true big picture

While perhaps not the loftiest of financial goals, everyone has to start where they are. I think virtually every finance guru out there would agree that tracking your family’s money is the only way to create a budget that reflects your true starting point.

It used to be simple to track my budget, I remember in college I just had my checkbook, some crumpled receipts and a notepad. Oh, those were the days…

Adding family members complicates things, and I’ve been struggling since my Girly was born almost a year ago to keep tabs on what feels like the exponential growth of our family expenses. Unfortunately, our income has barely risen. (Although we are more grateful than ever for our career choices and sheer luck in this recession…we truly count our blessings!)

Yet, budget wise, it’s the things you “didn’t know you didn’t know” that make you blissfully (or painfully) oblivious. I want and need to know the true story of where my family’s finances stand. While it may intimidate me to calculate that I should be saving $500 per child each month to contribute to just 35% of a private college tuition, that doesn’t mean that I can afford to be paralyzed by fear either.

My first step was to borrow a budget template from my sister’s DINKs Finance blog. I have to admit that it was far superior than the template that I found earlier in the fall, and even though I had to scrap all the time I put into tweaking, I was ready to start fresh. I worked last Friday (on my Flex day off) to fine tune, and I’m optimistic that with a little elbow grease each month that I’ll be able to get the weight I’ve been carrying off my shoulders.
So, wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted with my progress, insights, and lessons learned.

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

Inspiration from the Universe

Inspiration can come in all forms, but if you gain nothing more from following this blog: when you get inspiration from the universe, take action!

A few months ago I was talking with my twin sister one Saturday morning when Hubby and BigGuy were out running errands and I was left with a napping Girly and mounds of laundry. I was lamenting to her about how much our children’s new childcare center is costing us (nearly $2k a month!) and how hard it is to make the time to manage our finances. I went on telling her about how I feel like we really need to focus on making sure that our spending reflects our family’s values and maximizes our children’s growth, both now and in the future. And how certain I am that we’re not the only family out there trying to balance it all.

My sister’s response was seemingly simple, yet a slightly intimidating suggestion: “You need to start a blog!” At first I was skeptical. How could an income-generating mother of two young children could add writing a blog to her to-do list? When she told me how much her DINKs Finance blog earns…nearly the price of our childcare tab…I realized that she might be on to something. This might be what my father-in-law loves to call a “twofer”: get my finances together and earn our family extra income. Plus, anyone who knows me, knows that I love writing and researching, and gabbing with anyone in earshot.

Once I got off the phone, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea. And by my son’s nap time I had jotted down a list of over forty topics that I could easily write about, some repeatedly. Yet, over the past few months I’ve had my doubts and wondered whether I committed to this idea before my coffee had really kicked in and if I was really up for such a public challenge.

I know myself though, and family finances in itself doesn’t truly get my creative juices flowing. Part of the reason I’ve never been overly focused on my finances is because I’m so concerned about environmental issues and how to recreate society (or at least my community!) to deal with climate change, for starters. So, I need this blog to also share my struggle to live a more sustainable life.

I want to write this blog because I believe that I’m not alone in my quest to find balance for my family. I want a forum where I can start to make sense of my own life’s paradoxes. I want to be able to share with others, both whom I’m connected to locally and also virtually. At times, I’m expecting to ask for your help…and I hope I will get it. At times I hope I can be your source of inspiration, like my sister was/is for me.

I also want to give my sis extra kudos, because while I will be the blog author, she has agreed to be my partner and will be working behind the scenes to help make this the successful financial venture that I hope it will become! Thanks sis!

I hope that you will follow me on this journey, share with your friends and family, and together we will be able to create sustainable family finances. And, again, even when it takes courage or work, or both: take action!

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