Category Archives: budgeting

Organic Home Delivery

As a busy working Mama, I’m constanting adding items to my grocery list and am rarely as willing to head to the store. Because we take the bus to work, I can’t stop to grab something on my way home from work (which is probably a theoretical convenience.) So, I’m left trying to stock up for the week on Saturdays, which usually blows at least two hours of “free time.”

I love budget-friendly solutions…drum roll please…sign up for home grocery delivery! Spud is our local home delivery grocer of choice, and I’m actually just getting back into this practice (I actually got a Groupon for $25 to get $50 worth).

Previously they only offered produce and though delicious we had a hard time guaging how much we needed, especially during harvest time. I’m very excited by how much they have added lately; they now offer milk products, eggs, meat, baked goods and lots of pantry staples. Now we can order enough for a weekly delivery without feeling like we’re forced to eat nine fruits and veggies a day, not that it would be a bad thing for us… 

If you haven’t used a home delivery service before you may wonder – How can delivery save your family money? How can you trust the quality? How is this a more sustainable option? Here are my top reasons:

  1. They guarantee fresh produce, and it’s always fresher since delivery from field to your house is faster. I was really astounded with my first delivery.
  2. They create a weekly price comparison to prove that you are getting a real deal (in Portland with New Season’s and Safeway).
  3. They tell you how many miles your food has traveled, which is sometimes impossible to find in grocery stores.
  4. Buying online is really easy, you can set recurring items (weekly, every other week, etc.) and since I know that my family will always need certain items, this really a no-brainer. You can make lists, like for your pantry, snacks, etc. Once you’ve got it set up it should take you less than the time it probably takes to get to the store. Plus, you can plan family meals better and you’re not as likely to forget key items.
  5. They offset the carbon footprint of delivery, which actually lower with delivery than it would be to get goods from one warehouse to multiple grocers and shoppers driving too.
  6. I find it much easier to stick to a budget and not over-purchase. Lately I’ve been stopped by a Whole Wallet near our local library for a few items, and I can never get out of the store for less than $50!

If you’d like to try Spud out you can save $25 over your first 4 deliveries. Simply go to and sign-up using promo code CR5-147718. (They have delivery in Portland, Seattle, San Fransisco, Los Angeles and several Canadian cities).

Have you tried a home delivery service?
If you try them out, please leave a comment with your experience!

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

Doggy Debt

Many families wonder, what would it cost to own a dog? Well, since last summer we’ve been finding out for ourselves.

Last July we adopted our loving Doggy, a very large purebred black labrador who needed a family who would give him lots of exercise and lovin’. Our decision  was somewhat on a whim, so we were pretty naive about it all and I hadn’t given much thought to how much he would add to our monthly budget. Thankfully he hasn’t broken the bank yet, but here’s the rundown on things you might want to think about as a new dog owner.

Adoption:  Adoption is definitely the most cost-effective option. Unfortunately, due to the recession there are still many pets who have been given up and need a new home. The good news is that there are a lot of terrific pets available, and you’ll save a lot. Our Doggy was almost 5 when we got him, and had complete vet records which clearly showed that even a healthy puppy can be pretty expensive. We saved ourselves a lot of initial costs, and didn’t even end up paying a shelter fee because we adopted through a co-worker.

Supplies: While you have to really assess needs versus wants, there are still several supplies that come with dog owner territory: tags, leash, bowl, bed, brush, soap, chuck it, Frisbee and a Kong. You’ll also need several ongoing things: dog food, treats, dental bones and peanut butter for the Kong. We checked out books from the library, and researched online. Our start-up costs were almost $200, and our ongoing expenses average $40-50 per month.

Boarding: We’ve really lucked out on boarding, since I have a dog loving co-worker who has generously taken care of our Doggy on several occasions (we had several weekend trips planned before we adopted). I did spend $50 on a yoga gift certificate over the holidays as a token of our appreciation. If we hadn’t had such social capital handy, we would have to pay $35 per night. 

Vehicle: Truthfully, it first really crossed my mind as we driving to meet our beloved Doggy that we might need to purchase a larger vehicle as a result of our new family member. This is especially true because of our love for camping, which as a family of four means a car packed to the rooftop. We are both a bit reluctant to buy a minivan, but our Doggy may push the issue earlier than we had hoped. We are going to try out a large rooftop carrier first…we’ll let you know the verdict after a cabin trip planned for May.

There are plenty of extensive resources on the costs of dog ownership if you want to consider it further. 

Lastly, the decision to own a dog is not all about the expense though, and there are may “payoffs” that can’t be accounted for. We love going on walks as a family with our Doggy and playing fetch in the backyard. He provides free daily exercise and a mental break, as Hubby wakes up at 5:30 to walk him (part of the reason this blog is always set to post at 5:30). The first Girly giggles and BigGuy lessons are priceless. Plus, he’s now family.

Does your family have a dog, what expenses have surprised you?

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

Money Honey #2

I’m barely to Connecticut Avenue, and my goal of monthly money meetings with Hubby is already proving a challenge. I doubt you noticed, but we missed our “scheduled” February meeting. It’s not that we didn’t try, but you know how life gets in the way, and the springlike winter weather hasn’t helped (but our yard is looking darn good!).

The good news is that since starting this blog, we have been chatting more regularly about finances. Nothing formal, but at least we’re keeping tabs on our priorities and communicating more than usual.

We also had a bit of a breakthrough. This past Flex Friday we went to sign our loan documents for the Clean Energy Works program. The program is financed through Shore Bank Pacific, a unique local and “sustainable” bank. (I’ll share more about them tomorrow) Long discussion made short, we agreed that this is the right bank for us. Despite the fact that it’s going to take us even more effort to merge our money , it feels right to switch to a bank with environmental and social values. Believe me, switching all our accounts  is not really something I want to spend my “free” time doing, but feel like it will be worth the time investment both personally and societally.

Otherwise, we’re still getting the kinks worked out with our new budget template and I’m hoping to unveil it once my sis gets back from the Congo. Thanks for your patience!

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

The New Affluence

I’m a big fan of public television, and I often watch programs while I’m writing. The other night I was excited in a nerdy kind of way to find a program with financial expert Jonathan Pond (I admit I hadn’t heard of him, but I am pretty new to this whole finance arena). At any rate, he has a new book called The New Affluence: Achieving financial security in a changed economy.

It turns out that I really liked his approach to managing your finances; he spoke of the need to simplify, live a life of abundance of your own terms, and create a secure financial future for your family. Despite the occasional investment jargon, he was speaking my language!

Here are my copious notes:

  • Redefine affluence and change our investments accordingly
  • Redefine investment risk – safety, simplicity, predictability
  • Living debt-free is the new holy grail, not tax deductions

Day-to-Day Financial Life:

  • Stop conspicuous consumption and ask whether you need to buy so much stuff
  • Automatic savings transfer – make it easy to forget you ever had it to spend
  • Eliminate debt – imagine a debt free life, be realistic and reduce slow and steady
  • Career – excel in your current career, assess future options and determine whether you need a career change, consider a meaningful career – make a positive difference

Your Home and Family:

  • Making your home a true investment – make extra mortgage payments when possible, owning your home is best retirement plan, if you’re not a home owner – now is a great time to buy
  • Pay for college – look into state and community colleges, choose an age-based investment option
  • Use life insurance as a nest egg – build up cash value, continue making premium payments, consider whole life insurance rather than term
  • All-in-one fund – target date, lifestyle
  • Municipal bonds – short term better, due to prospect of inflation
  • Savings tip – set aside a small amount regularly “good for the soul”

Hopefully you’ll get something out of my notes, it was definitely an effort on my part since it was pledge week and I had to sit through it while researching/writing. I did end up renewing our OPB membership with small monthly deductions so that I could get his book and personalized financial planning consultation. I’ll write more once I get his personalized planning report! Thanks OPB!!

Does any of Pond’s advice resonate with you?

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.