Category Archives: abundance

Cost of Christmas

Christmas already feels like months ago, but our family budget is just bouncing back. We tried to keep our expenses reasonable, and bought gifts we hope will entertain, educate, and endure for years to come.

We also had lots of fun signing carols, exchanging cookies, and spending time together.

The grand total did surprise me though, perhaps because I’ve never actually calculated the cost of the holidays. I don’t feel any real buyer’s remorse, and some of our “expenses” were for charity. But I do plan to get creative next year to cut down the tab…

Big Guy
WeeRide Pro-Pilot Bicycle Tandem Trailer  – on sale for $99.99
Frosty the Snowman – $9.99
Green Toys Jump Rope – $8

Smart Gear Smart Balance Bike (on sale from Zulily) $49.99
Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star  – $5.99
The Animals’ Advent – $4.49

Oregon football hat – $22.98


Eco nail polish $14
Adidas workout outfit – $52.50 (Hubby)
Kitchen Kabooble – food processor – $46.80 (Kiddos)

Twin Sis’ stocking
Eco nail polish $14, World Map notebook $10
Second-hand outfits $40

Cousin’s gift exchange
Ecoist clutch – $35.84

Christmas Charity
Toy Drive  $10 (two puzzles from Ross)
Sponsor-a-family clothes $65.95 (coat, hoodies, jammies from Ross)
Extra tithe for Grace – $100
Plus canned food drive

Christmas tree permit – $5
Holiday cards – $131.25 (Hubby loves his traditional cards, but next year we’ll either make them or go electronic…)
Annual julefrokost – $230 (lots of food and booze, but lots of fun too πŸ˜‰

TOTAL: $1018.24 ($446 on gifts)

Note – the total is approximate…p lus stocking stuffers…p lus Christmas dinner…

Do you know how much you spent on the holidays?

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

1st Blogoversary

Wow, I can hardly believe that it’s been a year since my first post to Sustainable Family Finances! Kind of surreal, like a kids’ birthday…it feels like yesterday and years ago at the same time πŸ˜‰

Maybe you’ve been keeping tabs since day one or you likely just happened upon my blog…either way I’m glad you’re here! 

I started off as “ Green Mama ,” not quite sure that I really wanted go on record about my own finances. But through the year my voice grew stronger and writing came with ease, and I shared Darcy’s Utopia

Along the way I’ve learned a lot, mostly I feel like I’ve just got better at taking small steps and reflecting on our progress. I still have to pinch myself at the thought of being in Denmark next summer, and in general I just feel less angst around dealing with our finances. It’s still work, but at least it feels like more fun now.

My 12 Favorite Posts:

Clean Energy Works Evaluation
Eco-Healthy Child Care
Family Footprint
Global Gratitude
Frugal Family Camping
Get Growing
Homemade Kids Kitchen
Living Your Dreams
My Sustainable Community
Ode to Green Mamas
Valuing Progress
Zero Dollars Per Gallon

Let me know if you have any topics you’d like me to explore in the new “blog” year.
Thanks again for reading!

Plus….Go Ducks!

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

MetroParent Family Finances

I was already geared up for a great new year, but I was so thrilled to see my first blog-related article in Metro Parent January 2011 –  Money Matters – A Primer on Family Finances by Julia Silverman.

A big kudos to my friend Courtney for suggesting that Julia interview me (and for being a loyal blog reader!) Even though blogging has some instant gratification, it’s different to see your words in print.

I also enjoyed reading about the personal finance perspective of other moms, since talking about our finances is often taboo in mom circles. The financial advisor had some great advice too. While I’ve heard about breaking your budget into fixed and unfixed expenses, I like how she suggests analyzing and separating your  nondiscretionary fixed,  nondiscretionary unfixed, discretionary fixed and discretionary unfixed expenses. I think this little exercise would help me gain some more perspective, and perhaps some insights…I’ll let you know.

I naturally suggest that you pick up your own copy or read it online, but here’s a sneak peak of my favorite quote:

    “Just start where you are and don’t waste time feeling guilty or wishing you were further down the path to sustainable abundance,” Cronin says. “Begin by making goals that motivate you, then take small actions each week.”

The article is indeed a   great primer on family finances , and the magazine includes a few other great articles that I’ll write more about later this month…

Thanks again to Metro Parent, Julia and Courtney!

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

2011 Family Goals

Happy 2011!

I hope you are feeling refreshed and renewed for the new year.  After a peaceful holiday season, we are feeling more blessed than ever before. And  I’m definitely looking forward to continued financial success and sustainable progress in the year ahead. 

I don’t get wrapped up in resolutions, but we do set our annual family goals at the new year. Our goals cover three main life areas: financial, family, and sustainable home. I’ll share our financial goals with you:

1)   Continue to track family finances and take action to reduce expenses
2) Meet monthly to discuss finances and progress
3) Complete savings for trip to Denmark ($3k more, $4k spent already on tickets)

4) Complete mortgage refi (save for rainy day, split between home maintenance and saving for a beach cottage)
5)  Double family rainy day fund to $20k (saving 2010 tax returns, plus refi surplus)
6)  Update wills – our old wills don’t include Girly or our current home
7)  Evaluate Car/Mini-van/ZipCar alternative
8) Evaluate health care costs and coverage
9) Sell baby stuff in spring sale – pre-sale for friends – proceeds for DK trip

While this blog may help us focus on our family finances, our family’s success is not defined by external things or superficial status. Setting goals helps us make sure that we are on the same page and have similar expectations for the year ahead. Mismatched expectations are the root of disappointment, and goals need to be set to be achieved.

Sustainable Home Goals:

    1)  Track carbon footprint – gasoline, natural gas, electricity, etc.
    2) Bicycle more – average 2x weekly for 2011
    3) Install water heater blanket
    4) Install drip irrigation system
    5) Grow vegetable garden – potential as a yardshare
    6) Buy blinds for the house – increase comfort and efficiency
    7) Prune tree and roof maintenance
    8) Recycle aluminum storm windows – replace screen door  
    9) Reupholster yard-sale find chaise lounge

We also have family goals. Obviously these are pretty personal, but since sharing your goals is key to achieving, I figure that I may as well share away:

1)   Investigate school options for Big Guy – get into best school
2)   Potty train Girly – solve/improve digestion
3)   Retrain Doggy – watch training videos
4)   Volunteer in the community:
a.   Friends of Trees
b.   SOLV beach Clean-Up – Spring Break
c.   Big City Mountaineers
d.   Grace Green Team/Campus Master Plan
e.   Adopt family for holidays
5)   Recreation: Plan family trips
a.   Sledding/Snowshoeing
b.   Trip for Great Oregon Beach Clean-Up
c.   Silver Falls State Park
d.  Cabin Trip
e.   Oregon Country Fair
f.    Denmark Trip
6)   Relationship: Plan bi-monthly β€œdate” night (current average 3-4 months)
a.   Find good babysitters
b.   β€œFlex Friday” afternoon date/hike/bike
7)   Local Recreation: Plan special family days
a.   OMSI once a month
b.   Complete Portland Hill Walks, Wilderness Hikes and Portland City Walks
8)   Spiritual: Attend monthly Grace Family Services

Here’s good post from The Simple Dollar on financial resolutions , and how they often fail us and how to move beyond forgotten resolutions . So make sure that your goals inspire you, you share them with friends and family, and celebrate your small successes.

Wishing your family a prosperous 2011!

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

Happy Solstice!

This will be my last post of 2010.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back in 2011.

I love the fun-filled and slightly hectic holidays, but w hen winter comes it’s time for me to reflect and recharge. I always schedule some serious down time following all the festivities. I take time to appreciate all the abundance in my life and plan for the year ahead.

I’ll be meeting with Hubby to set our family and financial goals. I’ll review our holiday related spending.  This year I’ll also be reflecting on this past year of blogging and set goals for 2011. 

I’ll also fit in a little snowshoeing and a trip to Skamania Lodge with Hubby sans kiddos! Got a great deal on Groupon πŸ˜‰

Happy Christmakwanzakkaholstice! 
See you in 2011.

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