- Sledding – Pure fun can be had by careening down your nearest bunny hill. A great way to introduce kids to the snow.
- Snowshoeing – Snowshoes have become pretty inexpensive (yes, if you watched The Story of Stuff, the price has been externalized). You can also find them second hand or rent gear.
- Cross-country skiing – Swedish family friends I stayed with would go out for a quick twenty minute ski season to get some exercise and fresh air.
- Hot chocolate picnic – Pack up some special snacks, a thick comforter and hot drinks for a special wintertime outing. We usually plan a picnic with our snowshoeing trips.
- Snow Angels and Snow Families – Creating in the snow can get very imaginative, and it fun to come up with special traditions around snow storms. As a kid I remember using a particular apron and always making a snow woman, sometimes a whole family.
- Pay Our Family Bills – We both work full-time in order to pay our mortgage, household expenses and put organic food on the table. Theoretically our bills could be lower if we lived elsewhere, so it’s also a lifestyle choice.
- Graduate School Debt – My goal was to finish graduate school before starting a family. I was thrilled to announce that I was pregnant at graduation, but I was also deeply in debt, $60k.
- Long Term Net Loss – My Masters’ degree meant that my career was poised to advance. Even accounting for childcare costs, I’m fairly certain that if I had left my field for 5 years that my career would have suffered a long term net loss.
- I love my work – I’m fortunate enough to do work that I truly enjoy, and I couldn’t quite imagine my life without feeling a greater sense of community contribution.
- Early College Prep – Paying for quality care now may even be a better investment than college (at least they are only chugging milk and they aren’t ditching class!)
- Social & Emotional Development – Group child care provides an intuitive knowledge that cannot be taught by a single care giver. They know we love them deeply, but we can’t teach them to be friends. With two kids a nanny could be more slightly more affordable, but we prefer the group teaching setting.
- Location, location – While there are many factors that play into where your child should receive care, location is a big one. Located in my lobby, we pay a premium for this convenience.
- Light at the End – We’ll feel rich when we stop having to pay for child care, even though I know the costs just get redistributed to summer camps and activity fees. I’m hopeful that we’ll manage to gain some ground once they hit grade school.
What decisions have played into your child care choice?
Do you have similar justifications or a differing view?
- Reduce – You don’t ever have to throw something out if it never enters your home. It can also be thought of as “precycling,” continually evaluating how much packaging an item comes in to consider its long term implications. It can also be seen as ReThinking. Do you really need it? How long will you benefit from it? Is it recyclable?
- Reuse – If you think creatively enough, almost anything can be reused. You can also donate for reuse. The School & Community Reuse Action Project (S.C.R.A.P.) accepts donations of all sorts to be used in creative reuse projects, like turning CDs and records into clocks. Portland’s ReBuilding Center has been very successful at tackling a big waste source; building waste accounts for at least 20% of landfills. I also found a national organization, ReDo Reuse Development Organization that accepts donations for a variety of items from across the country and helps match you with more local reuse centers.
- Recycle – Not surprisingly, the biggest factor that helps us stick to one garbage can per month is recycling everything possible. We have large roll carts for co-mingled recycling, and we do have pick up service every week, although we usually put it out every other week (no need to make the haulers stop if its half full.) If you don’t already, get to know what materials are accepted in your local market. With a little research you might find that some materials can be dropped off special places (like sour cream tubs and plastic bags). One last recycling tip, make sure any plastic bags get separated since they can ruin most recycling conveyor belts.
- Compost – Food scraps typically make up 12% of garbage, and is completely and naturally recyclable. Exchanging garbage for soil is really and environmental no-brainer. There are more and more municipalities offering compost/yard waste pick-up, and even downtown offices have composting.
- Remember – Sometimes it’s easy to loose sight of how some handy convenience will lead to a heap of trash and why it is so important. The best reminders for me are age one and four. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to only take the trash out once a month?!
8) Use Home Delivery Services
Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.