Category Archives: money honey

Skamania Get Away

As an early b-day present, and last holiday hurray – Hubby and I headed out to a night sans kids at Skamania Lodge in the Gorge.  We thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful view of the Columbia River, and it was a wonderful way to start the new year…I soaked in the spa and sweat in the sauna, while Hubby indulged in new year’s day football – so we got the best of both worlds. Plus we went on some beautiful hikes the next day. 

I splurged on a “deal” at Skamania Lodge through LivingSocial, which cost us $169 and was valued at $339. We received a $35 bottle of wine, $25 breakfast, and $25 resort credit on top of the accommodations.

In theory, it was a good deal with these add-ons, but you always need to read the fine print. Taxes and resort fee were not included. Neither of us were in the mood for a spendy new year’s day dinner or a huge brunch, so our meals weren’t too much. For dinner, taxes and the resort fee, we spent an extra $63.17. But I roughly calculated that if you splurged on dinner, brunch and a single spa service, you could easily walk away with an extra tab of $175 plus.

We also paid for gas and lunch on the way out, so our whole trip cost us about $270 In my mind this was more of a luxury get away than a bargain, but it was certainly worth it.  Funny enough, we were both a bit boozed out after the holidays and opted to save the bottle, so we still have it to savor.

The real highlight of the weekend was having real conversations over meals…I love our kids, but uninterrupted conversations is not part of our daily reality! 

Do you spend weekends without your kids?
How much do you spend?

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

Simple Money Honey

Our recent “Money Honey” chat was really a series of chats following up on some financial loose ends for our short term goals. I’m happy to share that Hubby finally closed out his primary bank account! It took so long, because instead of simply transferring all the money over to our single account, he opted to just switch the bills/deposits over and use the leftover cash for his spending money. The amazing part is that it took him almost six months to drain the account! He’s a pretty frugal guy. I also suspect that he was hanging on to his last vestige from his former single life 😉

Hubby also just closed a credit card that he only used for back-up purposes, so the $40 annual fee did not make any sense. Instead, we’ve added him on to a frequent flyer platinum card that offers some real benefits. I also have this account set up to pay some monthly expenses and autopayment.

Lastly, we recently met the threshold for removing Private Mortgage Insurance. This has been like a monkey on our backs for the past two years, and it will be so nice to no longer waste our money on PMI. We are also looking into the option of refinancing and will let you know if we go that route. After that we’ll need to set some new goals…

Have you chatted lately about your finances with your spouse?
What helps you set the mood?

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

Income Gap

After our abysmal family leave policy, the thing that ruffles my feathers most is the income gap for working Mamas.

A new study by the University of Chicago shows that working mamas earn $.73 for every dollar a man earns, compared to a $.90 for childless career women. 

Moms’ Rising was interviewed on Good Morning America about pay discrimination for working mothers. The founder talks about the need to transform our 1950s workplace policies.

I was really excited to see the Moms’ video, so I searched to see what other coverage there has been recently. The Atlantic had a pretty disheartening article condoning paying men more because they care more about their careers, while working mothers are busier as caregivers.  I don’t dispute that mothers still have more parental responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean I deserve to be paid less.

In our household, I earn less money and I know somehow Hubby feels good about earning more. Yet, I do like to point out that I earn more than he did at my age, but there is a seven year age gap. I’d be very curious whether there is the same gap between comparable professionals in our graduating classes.

Do you feel the income gap?

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

Talking Priorities

Finding time to talk about your family’s financial priorities isn’t easy. Despite my best intentions, our “Money Honey” talks are still sporadic and briefer than I wish.  Yet, we happened to have two recent talks about our financial priorities. 

Our first chat teetered on mushy. Perhaps I’m disclosing how mundane we are, but on a “date” night over a nice Italian meal our conversation wandered to a pretty lengthy chat about our long-term financial priorities and how we hope to reach our goals. It may have been the red wine and puttanesca, but our talk was really gratifying. It’s nice to put things into perspective and realize that we have already achieved our most meaningful life goals: adorable kiddos, meaningful careers and a beautiful home. Yes, they all require our constant investment, but the effort is paying off.

However, our second talk just one week later had quite a different tone. Hubby and I needed to discuss two home improvement projects that had each been researching, and coincidentally we both had bids in hand. Hubby wants a deluxe wooden screen/storm door, and I want energy-efficient window coverings to keep our home cooler in the summer heat.  We weren’t altogether argumentative, but it was clear that we each wanted dearly to convince the other that our project was the top priority.  The irony is that both improvement will make our home more comfortable and efficient, and we both want all the improvements made eventually. The heart of the matter is prioritizing our limited surplus income on the project that will have the most immediate benefit. The verdict is still out, but I sense a compromise on the way…

How do you talk about your priorities honestly and respectfully?

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

Money Honey #3

Our recent “money honey” chats have been centered on the process of simplifying our accounts and merging into a single bank, the  very sustainable ShoreBank Pacific . We eagerly await the day our finances truly become easier and greener as a result of our efforts, but for now it feels like an exercise in patience and perseverance.
Here are the steps we’ve mapped out:
  • Open joint account
  • Open EcoKids accounts
  • Each fill out a direct deposit form
  • Transfer money from two separate ING savings accounts (this will give us a surplus in our checking to cover expenses drawn from the new account until our direct deposit kicks in)
  • Switch automatic payroll savings transfer
  • Switch account info for each of our auto-pay accounts Hubby – mortgage, car loan, insurance, Netflix
  • Track when direct deposits and each auto-pay kicks in
  • Close each individual account once we are certain no more bills are linked to our old accounts
  • Shred old check books – purge old finance files
  • Celebrate!
No doubt, there will be more financial conversations than normal as we try to bring our merging process to closure.

Do you feel stuck with your bank, because you don’t have energy to switch?

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