Kiva Credits

Last year at Father’s Day I wrote about my “Green Dads”. I also wrote about  giving them both $25 in Kiva loans for Father’s Day.

This year my father has passed, but his Kiva credits remain. In fact, the El Salvadoran cook I sponsored in his honor has repaid the loan entirely. (The Bolivian mechanic is 71% repaid). Plus, somewhere in the middle of the year when the first loan was repaid, I committed to two more loans, a farmer from Tajikistan has already repaid his loan and a women’s co-op from Senegal is currently investing in cattle with the funds from this original loan. 

Now I have $32 in credit to re-lend, and I’ve decided to support Tres Esquinas Group, a 34 year old woman from Peru who decorates events with cloth. Since I happen to be turning 34 on Saturday and love hosting parties, it seems like the perfect match.

It’s pretty awesome for an initial gift of just $50…imagine the impact around the world!

In case you aren’t familiar micro-lending, here’s a great video on  Kiva micro-lending. If you want something more in depth and inspiring, here’s a video on  Investing in Women.

Here are the basics from Kiva’s website:

We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Learn more about how it works.
Since Kiva was founded in 2005:
  • 592,634 Kiva lenders
  • $221 million in loans
  • 98.79% Repayment rate
We work with:
  • 133 Field Partners
  • 450 volunteers around the world
  • 59 different countries

Do you give the gift of Kiva loans?
Use this link to lend your first $25 for free!

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

Travel Gift Policy

As our family heads off to Denmark, on our first international family vacation with kids, I’ve started to consider the topic of gifts.  When it comes to travel, gift giving often hits you coming and going.  Unless you are headed off to a resort, in most cases of international travel you may likely have reason to provide your host with some kind of a gift.

In our case, I have beloved host families whom I’ve lived with and care for deeply.  We’ll also be staying with several families over the course of our trip, and thus obviously want to provide a thank you for our hosts.  I won’t give it away entirely, as some may be readers, but I’ve managed to find some lovely options at our local Saturday Market.  When it comes to buying outbound gifts, the main guidance is to find something that represents where you are from (hopefully locally made as well), isn’t too weighty or delicate, and shows appropriate thanks to your host.

On the flip side of travel, is to consider what works for you in terms of buying gifts for friends and family as you return from your adventures.  While clearly it is nice to share goodies from your travels, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind when souvenir purchases:

  • Don’t go over board!  It is very easy to want to buy something for everyone. From my experience, most people aren’t actually expecting something, and will respect that you would rather share stories than t-shirts.
  • Not everyone actually wants a souvenir from a place they’ve never been.  They would likely appreciate something thoughtfully selected, but to buy something just to check it off your list is likely just a waste on both sides.  Not everyone wants a wooden rhinoceros.
  • Have fun!  Shopping and finding goodies to bring home from travels is supposed to be fun, so don’t feel like you have to buy anything for anyone, including yourself.  Markets and shopping can be some of the most interesting experiences in any country, but not becomes significantly less fun if you have an agenda. 
  • Be conscious of what you buy for yourself.  Likely you’ll want to keep whatever it is that you get for a lifetime to remember your trip.  If you travel a lot, it is easy to end up with a pile of trinkets.  My sister, who travels abroad frequently, advises to find something utilitarian that will add value to your life in a useful way.  This most often ends up to be something kitchen related, or an easy buy of jewelry, which is lightweight and adds to your style.  
  • You’ll also likely appreciate the memory of shopping for the item as much as you will the item itself!

What gifts do you bring for hosts when traveling?
What are your favorite souvenirs?

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

Mama’s milk

I can hardly believe that it’s been a year since I weaned Girly. I wrote before about the many health and financial benefits of breastfeeding . I also feel strongly that breastfeeding helps with the bonding process, which you can’t put a price tag on.

Truthfully, I kind of miss the closeness and the down time that nursing demands. It’s important to take pauses in your day, especially since I’m so apt to go-go-go. But i t is truly awesome to have such portable and free “food.”

I know not all moms can breastfeed, but that why I also love the idea of breast-milk banks. There’s a formal bank (by a friend of Hubby’s) called NW Mother’s Milk Bank In Portland there is also a Facebook group started by another friend of mine called   Local Breast Milk   to connect moms with/without milk.  

I found this video awhile ago, and I love seeing moms nurse their babies. We are nursing our future…

Did you breastfeed? 
Do you miss it at all?

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

Financial Infidelity

It’s been a while since Hubby and I had a true “money honey.” We finally managed to have a date night (god bless visits from grandparents!), but our only financial discussion was more big picture than day-to-day bills. 

At any rate, I was a bit taken aback when Hubby called me up at lunch to discuss our bank balance. I had recently paid our two credit cards and paid a delinquent T-mobile bill to my sis…more on that topic soon. I hadn’t actually hidden any expenses, but the truth of the matter is that I have made several purchases lately. With the exception of some summer clothes, all of the items were discussed in advance. 

Yet, I do have to admit that I was somehow hoping that he wouldn’t notice the $1k missing for the initial vet bill. We discussed the cost in advance, and I agreed that I would call him before making a decision about any potential surgery. The truth is that I knew Hubby wouldn’t be happy about the cost, but I felt like it was my call (and our responsibility) as a pet-owner to get x-rays done to find out his situation.  I’ve also decided that we will opt out of the surgery, partly based on the x-ray results that show arthritis in both knees and hips and partly because Hubby couldn’t stomach the cost.

But the whole situation leaves me wondering how much leeway I have as a spouse to make decisions that I feel are best for our family. I think my version of so-called financial infidelity is more family oriented than the shop-aholic who hides purchases…yet I think there is always a fine line when it comes to purchases you know your spouse may not agree upon. 

Are you financial faithful?

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

Benefit Comparison

Prior to family life, I would have never imagined myself spending a late Friday evening comparing health care benefits. It’s been a family goal of ours to thoroughly compare benefit packages (here’s a previous post on maximizing benefits).

Mostly, I feel very lucky to be in a position where both of us are benefit-eligible. For the past several years I’ve taken advantage of my employer’s opt-out option. Since I can prove insurance coverage for a spouse, I get $62.50 per pay period as a pay off for my employer not having to ante up full coverage. It’s been really a win-win.

I didn’t question it until last summer when Girly was having digestion issues and I wanted to take her to a naturopath…frankly, I had gotten to the point where I thought our whole family could benefit from this intuitive medicinal approach. I had known several of my co-worker went to a naturopathic clinic near my office, so I didn’t think it would be a problem to set up an appointment. Yet, it turned out that Hubby’s insurance didn’t cover naturopathic care. So, I started down the path of trying to see a more traditional nutritionalist, but it turned out that wasn’t covered either (since it was “preventative,” even though I hardly think that treating chronic diarrhea should be called preventative!) So, long story short, our only option was to get a series of tests done by a gastroenterologist, which only ever ruled out some causes and never gave us true answers (thankfully gut-maturity has helped out and unless there are bugs going around, she is fine these days…)

Alas, I would still like to see a naturopath, but I’ve determined that since Hubby’s insurance out of pocket is very similar to my own it makes more sense to use the “bonus cash” of $1500 annually toward any naturopathic appointment, it’s unlikely to exceed that amount. Mostly it won’t feel as expensive knowing that my employer is still in essence paying for any extra appointments that aren’t covered by Hubby’s standard insurance. 

Do you have the option to “opt-out”?
Does your insurance cover naturopathic care?

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