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 “date” night (current average 3-4 months)
a.   Find good babysitters
b.   Flex 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 😉

Happy Christmakwanzakkaholstice! 
See you in 2011.

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


“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”
– Leon Suenes

This quote feels so true; I’m ecstatic because w e bought our tickets to Denmark!  

Just a year ago, before starting this blog, I honestly didn’t have much faith that we’d be able to afford such a trip. But we saved up by investing in our family’s dream, not the consumer-driven American dream.  Sharing my love of all things Danish with my own family is worth any superficial sacrifice.  Experiencing life to it’s fullest is far more valuable to me than any “thing.”

Hubby commented as we bought our tickets how it’s a shame that Girly will be too young to remember the trip, but I don’t feel the same way. During these early years, experience is learning and this trip will help form her own values and beliefs about the world. Our Big Guy will hopefully remember some of the beautiful places and people will visit. They will begin to form bonds with my host families and friends, and that will be priceless.

So, here’s the skinny on the tickets.  My goal has been to get our tickets for under $4k, and we bought our four tickets for $3991.68. 

I’ve been researching on and off for several months, and Icelandair is by far the best deal from the west coast (by $300-400 per ticket). Icelandair has a great reputation, and the true reason for the savings is the fact that the trip over the arctic requires less fuel than other routes to Europe. So, we’re also saving on our carbon footprint. They also have an Iceland Carbon Fund, which I plan on using the offset our trip.

And yes, for the critics out there, we did save our entire $4k tax return. We’ll also soon be setting other financial goals for the upcoming year together.

I’m so excited that our dream is now a reality!

What’s your dream trip?

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

Party Planning

We’ve been hosting our annual “julefrokost” (Danish-themed holiday party = Christmas lunch) for ten years now, so we’ve got it down to a science by now. Apartment Therapy has some great articles on how to maximize your party space, and how to throw a great party.

Our new “secret” is that this year is that we timed our monthly cleaning service from EcoMaids for the day before our shindig. We didn’t take advantage of it, but they had a deal that if you got a clean before, they’d give a free fill-in service after your house guests leave! Hubby usually does most of the cleaning, but it will be handy to have him available for Daddy-duty and wear the kids out for a good nap 😉 

Instead of buying plastic silverware, we opt to use silverware. That’s why we have a dishwasher after all. Plus, guests only really need spoons for my traditional potato leek soup. We bought the most durable “disposal” soup bowls, and we’ve now been washing and reusing for five years.

As far as our budget goes, I always splurge a bit. I figure that this is our big gesture of generosity and friendship, and social capital is worth it. We certainly don’t go overboard though, like this:  DINKS Reality – Holiday Party Budget . I think the most important thing is to keep thing simple and not try too hard to impress. Partying is supposed to be fun, not stressful.

IKEA has made our menu easier and more authentic; I couldn’t get Icelandic shrimp before. By definition, a julefrokost is all about eating, and Danes are known to eat for up to four hours at them…and then drink all night! The beauty with my menu is that there’s lots of prep, but very little time-consuming cooking:

  • Potato leek soup – host mother’s creamy recipe
  • Potato chips, dill dip, veggie tray
  • Smørebrød (open-faced sandwiches) with meats, cheeses, shrimp, eggs, tomatoes, remoulade, crab pate, laks, crackers and breads
  • Meatballs/sauce, mini-hotdogs
  • Æbleskiver (special spherical pancakes, dipped in jam and powdered sugar), chocolates, gummis, cookies
  • Glögg, Carlsberg, Snapps
The soup is always a hit, and is a cheap way to fill bellies. The most important thing is that everyone gets that hyggeligt (cozy) feeling inside! That’s priceless.

Even though our kids rarely watch movies, we find that a few hours of classic Rankin Bass films is just part of the tradition.  We are also trying to get a babysitter so that parents don’t have to be on watch as much. We’re also planning a few simple activities to keep them from bouncing off the wall from too much sugar!

How much do you budget for parties?

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