Category Archives: abundance

Inheritance Changes Things…

Sahalie Falls at headwaters of McKenzie River

Hello again and seasons greetings from Darcy at Sustainable Family Finances!

I hope you’ve had a joyous and restful holiday season. I’ve certainly enjoyed the time to play with my family and celebrate all the season’s traditions together (I started to write this on the 26th and now both my Twin Sis and I have been down with the flu for three days now…starting to feel a little less miserable).

It seems like ages since I’ve written for SFF, and it has actually been a few months. I needed a break to reflect on our next financial goals, and  I have honestly been at a tough place in relation to writing about some big financial changes. I don’t want to appear like I’m bragging, but also don’t think I should be ashamed either.  But I’ve come to a point where I’m ready to take our goals to the next level and continue writing about our journey.

I recently received an inheritance from my father Wally, who passed away this last May. Most of the money was actually from my grandparents, and my grandmother’s estate hadn’t yet even settled when he passed away. Naturally, receiving money in such a way is bittersweet and it’s taken me a while to come to terms with it. I feel like I have a new personal decision-making metric to evaluate whether they would have been happy with my choices.   Thankfully, I had a loving relationship with all of them, and it makes me feel like my decisions are making them proud.  

Moments ago I pushed the “confirm” button to make the final payment for my student loans, all $43k worth. I was elated, despite the fact that it ate up almost half my inheritance. I will be thrilled to no longer have $300 siphoned from my account monthly (I’d been paying for 11 years already…which means that I’ve paid $40k already…most of it interest!) I feel like I have a huge burden lifted and we’ll finally be able to start saving for our kids’ college tuition.

Our next big family financial decision was to finally buy a minivan. Our thoughts of going carless have vanished, but we are still considering renting our car through Get Around, the new private car lending program that just launched in Portland. We ended up buying a 2012 Toyota Sienna. We still owed $6k, and managed to get $15k for trading in our Subaru Forrester (2008 with just under 30k miles). But instead of going into debt again, we were able to pay the remainder in full. This was a huge financial relief, and we are thrilled to no longer have a $400 monthly car payment.

We are also now 1/4 owners of a post office, which will generate a monthly rental income. My aunt, sister and I have developed an LLC to run the business, and named it after the waterfalls where our family’s ashes are scattered, Sahalie and Koosah Adventures. The “adventures” part is because we want to make sure that any venture we take together should be fun too. 

Obviously, these changes have changed our financial outlook significantly. Like my aunt said, we are now officially “ahead of the game, which is a place most people never reach.” It feels very good indeed.

I’m also still trying to get my head around what our next financial goals will be, but I feel strongly that having more money hasn’t changed who we are. We still have the same values, and despite succumbing to a low mileage vehicle for the duration of having young kids, we will continue to do our best to decrease our negative impact and invest in ways that bring us true joy. 

Wishing your family abundance in 2012!

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

It’s Only Stuff

In what I think will be my last specific post related to my father’s passing, I feel the need to share my reflection on dealing with all his worldly stuff.

On top of the intense state of grief that comes with the passing of a close loved one, you have to deal with all their stuff…which really doesn’t help matters. I feel kind of lucky that my Twin Sis and I each grieved for a few days before we got to his house to start the task of sorting through everything.

While on the surface my father wasn’t a pack rat, he still had more possessions than I realized…probably average for any American living in one house for 25 years. His stuff did reflect what he loved, mostly lots of books, music, guitars, and outdoor sports gear. Plus, in the last year of his life he had started to collect furniture, lots of nice secondhand pieces. When we first took a look around to evaluate the task ahead of us, we were understandably overwhelmed. It looked like it could have easily taken a month or a year to go through it all…and we had a week max.

We were honestly very systematic and somewhat detached about it all, simply because we had to be to get the job done.  We only stopped to get sentimental over a box of old slides taken when we were 3 years playing in a front yard of fallen leaves (see photo: yes the fro is real!).  But after the first night of sorting and packing past midnight, we looked at each other instinctively with the same thought “It’s only stuff!” 

Amazingly we plowed through it all (with the help of close friends and family), and in two days time we had everything from the upstairs emptied and ready to sort through to give away to his closest friends. We donated all his clothes to Sponsors and the last of the furniture to St. Vincent De Paul. In less than six days, his place was entirely empty.  

This was a big life lesson in many ways, and here are a few tips to consider in your relation to stuff and the hear-after:

  • Be generous now – share what you have with those close to you before you go…it will make it easier for everyone and you may even enjoy it 😉
  • Let It Go – I hear it all the time from my favorite minimalist blogs, but if something isn’t beautiful or useful to you right now, let it go. I know it’s easier said than done, but simplifying your life, especially in retirement, will bring you a great sense of ease and will truly help your loved ones deal with your passing better.  
  • Give directions – If you have valuable items you want to hold on to, do your best to be explicit about what you would like to go to whom (in that will you’re finishing up!). Thankfully, we didn’t squabble over anything, but my sister’s in-laws have had some bad blood for years based on feeling slighted after the passing of an Aunt who wasn’t clear about who she wanted her belongings. I don’t think anyone wants feuding, but it happens. 

In our case, the task of going through everything was part of the healing process and it was weirdly a bonding experience for those closest to our father. But I feel lucky that we managed to accomplish it all so swiftly, with generosity, and with love. Everyone close to him got something, and many felt like righteous gifts that would continue as subtle reminders in daily life of his presence.

In total, we each gathered approximately one box worth of stuff, a combination of sentimental and practical items (my steamer basket had been busted for months!). I got some items for the kids, a Lincoln Log set, wooden baseball bat, and Wally’s most well-played guitar. A jar of marbles we played with as kids and a vintage bottle fish now sits in our entry way window, as it did his. Wally had also recently bought me an antique roll-top desk and a tandem bicycle, and I will inherit his 19-foot wooden Lightning sail boat…which I will need to lovingly restore! It’s not that I’m ungrateful for these new-found possessions, but I have an even deeper appreciation for them…knowing it’s just stuff in the end.

What stuff really matters to you?

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

Wally’s Way

As my close friends and family already know, my father Wally passed away, and just last Monday I was busy hosting a wake in his honor. Needless to say, it’s been a surreal experience to both mourn and celebrate his life.

Like perhaps most daughters, I now realize how much I took him for granted. But I also realize how much his direct influence has shaped my life, especially when it comes to pursuing my passions and speaking my truth. And I feel deeply that his memory will only make me a better parent, friend, and person.

Reuniting with and meeting many of his friends has given me pause to think about the value of my friendships, and my desire to invest my energy into them more readily. Let’s face it, relationships take lots of time and energy, but my father never hesitated to make himself available to friends. Upon his death, it was abundantly clear that he had hundreds of friends touched by his friendship. I can only hope that I will be so lucky to have such genuine love poured out when I go, and the whole experience makes my heart feel more open.

More than anything, Wally was an oral historian for his community. He listened to people, he learned, and he shared. He had his own unique “Wallyisms,” but everyone loved him. Like his life partner said, “He was the best. The best Wally he could be.” And in my opinion, that’s best anyone can aspire to…being true to yourself and having people who love you for you.

In reflection, I’ve also been thinking about how much my father was really the definition of hippie and he created his own sub-culture:

  • Dropped out of college to live in Haight-Ashbury
  • Hitch-hiked to Woodstock
  • Smoked a joint with Janis Joplin
  • Lived off the grid (just gravity fed piped water…like the Bull Run)
  • Lived in a house truck (his father built a homemade RV on a pick-up truck to travel to Alaska for a month when he was ten years)
  • Founding member of Hoedads Treeplanting Cooperative – planted trees and picked cones (for seedlings) for 25 years
  • Charter member of the Oregon Country Fair
  • OCF Recycling Crew member for 25 years
  • Dated Jerry Garcia’s wife, Mountain Girl, until she returned to him following health issues
  • Renaissance man – Taught skiing at Mt Bachelor, t aught himself to sail, t aught himself to play guitar
  • Called Eugene his home – as one friend put it – “Wally was a Eugene Icon
He was obviously one-of-a-kind in an era of much social change, but I know that he felt like his true legacy was leaving behind twin daughters who are simultaneously working to live authentically, while sharing our passions with the world. I feel like my true legacy will be raising children who are willing to express themselves with such openness and love.

What legacy will you leave behind?

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

Blessed is This Life

Between celebrating Earth Day and Easter, I didn’t have/give any time to our finances this weekend. Instead of worrying about goals, I savored the blessed abundance of our family. It was truly a marvelous weekend. 

My favorite quote from our Big Guy was right after we had said grace, “I love this world we live in!” I couldn’t agree more.

Here’s a video of one of my very favorite songs, which feels like my personal theme song lately – Blessed by Brett Dennen:

How do you feel blessed?

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

Scarcity & Finances

When I reviewed the Energy of Money book last week, I forgot to mention an important topic that really resonated with me: personal perception of scarcity.

Scarcity is all about your outlook and often has little to do with your actual situation. Over time your sense of scarcity becomes so ingrained that it almost becomes part of your personality, like being perpetually optimistic or pessimistic. This personal view of life tints your entire financial scenario and reflects your perceived scarcity or abundance

One of the first book exercises asks you to reflect on is your family’s financial circumstances at the time of your birth and when you first remember learning about your family’s financial standing. Personally, I grew up quite poor , but always felt like we had enough and knew others who had less, so I felt well taken care of even though we often lived paycheck to paycheck. Hubby grew up in a pretty affluent family, but he didn’t think about it much either way and mostly took his family’s financial status for granted.  Some people in the book remember thinking their family was really poor until they found out they were actually well off, but their parents simply feigned scarcity constantly.  It made me wonder what early lessons our kids are learning about scarcity.

I realized after our last “money honey” talk, where Hubby was exclaiming about how “we’re hemorrhaging money“, that we simply have two different perspectives on scarcity. Based on my family background, I don’t panic unless we don’t have enough to pay the bills. Hubby’s family finance experience says that if we’re not saving/investing quite a bit more than we are making, then something is wrong. Obviously there is a big difference. It’s not that I wouldn’t prefer for us to be getting ahead rather than treading water, but we clearly are coming from different places on the scarcity spectrum.

Upon more reflection, I realized that food is an area where I often “feel” scarcity. My family never was hungry growing up, but we did live a forty-five minutes from a big shopping center, so we only did a big shopping trip once a month. So even though I can walk to a supermarket in 10 minutes, I still shop as though I need to have enough to feed our family for two weeks. It’s partly because I have the habit of shopping at several different specialty stores, where I buy certain things at each one – so I know if I go to TJs that I’m going to buy cereal for the month! The verdict is out as to whether this actually saves us any money or time, but I do love my weekly organic delivery. And even though he had plenty growing up, Hubby seems like my perfect match, because he gets anxious when we start to run slightly low on food. Likewise, it used to be a pet peeve of mine when we got low on something he would say that we needed to use it up (so we could buy more), but my thought was always that we should make it last as long as possible before replacing. 

But I am guilty of feeling scarcity when it comes to kids clothing. I have this sense that suddenly they’ll outgrow stuff and I’ll be stuck shopping in season at full price. So, my habit is to buy in advance for the season or year ahead on sale. I’ll buy a whole bunch twice a year and almost nothing in between. Our Big Guy is a big grower, and early on was growing out of clothes in no time flat. So I rightfully felt like he always needed new clothes. On the other hand, Girly’s growth is more average and she’s actually in clothes sized for her age. Out of my shopping habit, last fall I bought Girly clothes in the next size up thinking that she would grow into them in a few months. Consequently, I realized the other day that she probably has enough new clothes in her closet to last her another year! Obviously, we have no true scarcity in the clothes department, but my perception is driving our purchases. I also realized that I’ve felt the need to buy almost all new clothing our kids because Hubby’s family was always very well dressed, and I want him to feel a sense of pride and wealth in seeing our kids in nice clothing. With this enlightenment, I’m committing myself to buying more used than new and not buying more clothes until they truly need them…a big personal revelation 😉 

What’s your view on scarcity?
Does it differ from your partners?

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