Money Honey Chat

As a busy working mom, I’m always amazed by how quickly the weeks pass…here it is Easter! I’m also surprised by how easily the weeks pass without truly connecting with Hubby on our family affairs (especially if anyone gets sick!) That’s why I’m truly grateful for our Flex Fridays together.

This past Friday we reconnected on several important goals that had stalled out with the busyness of life lately. Here are the main topics we discussed:

  • Going carless – With April’s car payment already made and a four day conference trip planned in May, we looked at our family calendar and made the decision to sell the car before the June payment.
  • Buying ZIPcar Shares – After some discussion, we took the plunge and decided to invest our first $1k in ZIPcar stock. Hubby admitted to being a bit fearful of the risk involved, knowing that his parents lost a sizable share of their estate with the last down turn. He also wants it to be a means to an an end, not an indefinite investment. So we agreed that we would both be fine with divesting when we need a down payment for our dream property at the beach.
  • Estate Planning – We submitted the final contact info required for signing our estate documents and set up an appointment with our lawyer (& friend!)
  • Passport applications – We scheduled a lunch date with our Big Guy at City Hall to submit our passport applications. It’s hard to believe that our trip is now just four months away…by the time we get our passports, I’ll be mentally packing!
  • Savings transfer – We transferred money from our checking to savings account. I forgot to mention a few months back when we open accounts for the kids, we also opened a savings account. Prior to merging accounts to our “Eco-Bank” (now One PacificCoast Bank), we had always had independent checking accounts and a joint savings account. Somehow when we opened our new account, we were convinced that since the interest rates were so puny that we should just do a checking account (which incurred  no fees for online banking). But after trying it out for a year, Hubby and I agree that we like having a mental separation between checking and saving. It somehow felt wrong to have all our money lumped in one place!
Lastly, we enjoyed lunch together and the rare quiet moment in our home. Once we have our money honey talks, I have feel a bit more at peace knowing that we’re on the same page and progressing toward our family goals.

Do you have “money honey” talks?

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

Tax Time…that is, if you’re not rich!

I had half forgotten that taxes are due tomorrow, since we filed our taxes months ago, but then I read the local Willamette Weekly cover article on  9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You to Know About Taxes .

It’s really in depth, and pretty darn infuriating. Since I know you all won’t take the time to read the full article, here are the tax myths that he tries to dispel:

  1. Poor Americans do pay taxes
  2. The wealthiest Americans don’t carry the burden
  3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes
  4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all
  5. And (surprise!), since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income
  6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same – less taxes
  7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs
  8. Republicans like taxes too
  9. Other countries do it better

Not surprisingly, it was the last section that really got me going, wondering for the umpteenth time why I live in a country that likens taxes to torture and can’t understand how creating a system of mutual support is a good thing I wrote last tax season about green taxes and  taxing priorities , and have made my socialist tendencies known. Call me socialist, but I’d happily pay into a system that provides a safety net and makes many predictable expenses less expensive. Instead families are stuck wondering how to budget for unpaid maternity leave, save for college and retire with a reasonable standard of living.

What gets me is that all these tax myths are being created by those who pay the least proportionally. Obama is proposing a  modest tax increases on the wealthy , but it’s still no where near equality. I try to be an optimist in my personal, but politics lately are getting under my skin, and the tax debate reminds me of how much better I think we could do for our families. 

Would you pay more taxes for more services?

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

Blue Sky Benefits

I wrote last year about signing up for Blue Sky, my electric utility’s renewable energy option.

Recently I got an update about how my participation has made a difference, and it’s pretty impressive:

Avoided 5,814 pounds of CO2 or 5,911 miles not driven or 68 trees planted

I don’t know about you, but I certainly haven’t come close to planting 68 trees on my own initiative. It is a relative offset to our current miles driven as well.

In trying to find out what others think, I found a fun blog called “Retire by 40” that shares their perspective on the program.

Have you signed up for your local clean energy program?

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

Zipcar Goes Public

I happened to peek at the Wall Street Journal business section in the lunch room, and found an article about Zipcar going public on the stock market this week. 

I know this is a family finance blog, but I’m really an investment virgin. We have no stocks to our name, and I have no clue where to begin (beyond adding more money to my retirement fund). My Twin Sis is the investment chic in our family, and she once made over $50k by investing in Hansen’s soda as they came out with a new energy drink.

But the prospect of investing in Zipcar has me excited. The price will determine what we can afford to invest, but I finally feel like we have the stability to begin investing and Zipcar is a company I trust and enjoy myself. A third party study estimated that “ From a $350 million industry, the study says, it will grow to become a $3 billion industry by 2016.”  Plus, here’s   3 reasons to buy ZIP .

Just last week the Christian Science Monitor hyped all the benefits of Zipcar, and other car sharing options (notably they didn’t mention Portland’s Get Around).  

Speaking of car sharing, we are still in debate about going carless. It’s a big jump, we just can’t seem to take the leap just yet…plus it’s still not truly biking weather in Portland yet!

Would you invest in Zipcar? 

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