The Finances of Eating and Living Healthy

by Erica Starr 5. June 2013

Healthy Produce

When it comes to considering the cost of food, most people generally go for what’s the most affordable and convenient at the time. It’s understandable, right? We all know that fast food isn’t the ideal healthy meal, but between dropping the kids off at school, getting to work, taking the dog to the vet and getting the kids to their soccer games, the McDonalds Dollar Menu starts to become a more attractive option with every passing day. Going to the gym? Forget about it…didn’t you just see what my typical day looks like? Let’s not forget to mention tight household budgets and the perception that you have to take out a small loan to eat healthy, and BOOM… many of us are forced to let healthy living habits fall by the wayside. Or are we?

So let’s do some math:

Equation Today:
Crazy family/work/social schedules + Dwindling household funds + Higher priced “healthy” foods - Daily exercise = Fast, convenient and unhealthy meals

But wait...what everyone tends to overlook is the future value of that equation. Let’s fast forward a few years and take a look at that equation again:

Equation Tomorrow:
Crazy family/work/social schedules + Dwindling household funds + Higher priced “healthy” foods - Daily exercise = Fast, convenient and unhealthy meals + Higher healthcare costs + A preventable chronic disease diagnosis

According to Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, “About 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in annual health care costs in the United States is from chronic diseases that can often be reversed or prevented altogether by a healthy lifestyle.” In plain English, investing in your health is very similar to investing your finances. What you invest today (eating well/getting daily exercise), can and will save you A LOT of money in the future – and not to mention tack on a few extra years to your life.

Here are a few tips on how you can start investing in your health today.

Yes, organic is better – but not EVERYTHING has to be organic.

Meat, dairy and any vegetable or fruit with soft skin (apples, berries, carrots etc.) are the most important foods to buy organic as they are more highly exposed to pesticides. If you have to, you can probably get away with eating non-organic bananas and other produce with thick and protective skin. Check out sites like ewg.org to help you decide which foods to go organic with and which ones you can go the cheaper route with.

Buying in bulk and freezers are your friends.

Wholesale clubs like Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club are in business for a reason - it's usually cheaper to buy in bulk. If you can, start buying some of your favorite foods in bulk and freezing what you don’t immediately use. That being said, you still need to be strategic and smart about which bulk items you purchase. Buying a 132-ounce jar of pickles for 2 people is getting a little out of hand. Also, don’t forget the bulk-buying rule of thumb: only buy in quantities you’ll use within 3 months. The most expensive food is the food you buy and never eat.

Summer is upon us – HELLO Baltimore farmers’ markets.

With the summer months quickly approaching, Baltimoreans are lucky enough to be in the middle of what seems to be a sea of local Baltimore farmers’ markets. Contrary to popular belief, farmers’ markets are often much more affordable compared to supermarkets, especially if you are opting to go organic. According to The Atlantic, studies show that organic items are almost 40% cheaper when purchased at a local farmers’ market. How can you go wrong with 100%, just came from the ground fresh fruits and veggies?

Grow your own.

That's right; grow 'em if you got ‘em. The benefits of having your own garden go far beyond cost savings nowadays. Having your fruits and vegetables come from your very own backyard can pretty much eliminate the risk of pesticides and/or other chemicals coming into play. While it might be a lot of work up front, a garden can really be a great way to save some extra cash and be healthy at the same time.

Get out and move!

It's not rocket science. You know the deal…it’s calories in vs. calories out. The more you move, the more you lose. The sayings go on and on but the bottom line is this: regular daily exercise can help prevent you from getting heart disease, high blood pressure, noninsulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, stress etc. and can even help increase your mood. We’re not saying you have to go out and join a gym (although you can), just get outside, start moving and enjoy the nice weather. We can take it from there…

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Is Growing a Garden "Worth It"?

Tricks to Throwing a Budget-Friendly Barbeque

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

 

Top Ways to Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in Baltimore

by Erica Starr 8. March 2013
Top Ways to Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in Baltimore

It’s that time of year again. St. Patty’s Day in Baltimore - March 17th… Baltimore’s most celebrated unofficial holiday of the year. A day when, like it or not, everyone is Irish.

Green beer, the Baltimore St. Patrick's Day Parade, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirts, tent-lined streets, the Baltimore Shamrock 5K, and even the occasional random bagpiper walking the streets of Baltimore have all become traditions here in Baltimore around St. Patrick’s Day.

Last year we went around to try to find the top things to do in Baltimore on St. Patty’s Day. This year we did the same thing, and as we suspected, you won't be at a loss for ways to celebrate. Each neighborhood in Baltimore has its own way of celebrating. With that being said, we again went to our branches to ask them for recommendations on what to do this St. Patty’s Day in their neighborhood.

"The official 1st Mariner Baltimore St. Patrick’s Day Guide 2013 – What to do in Baltimore"

The 58th Annual Baltimore St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Shamrock 5K

Thousands of Baltimoreans will gather at the Washington Monument and line the sidewalks of Charles Street as they help Baltimore celebrate Irish culture, song, music and dance at Baltimore's 58th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade kicks off on March 10, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the Washington Monument and continues to Pratt Street and Market Place. 1st Mariner Bank is a proud annual sponsor of the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The Baltimore Shamrock 5K is another option that takes place on March 10th. For several years, over 5,000 runners take the streets of Baltimore to support St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations, Inc. Starting at Charles and Franklin Street and ending with a celebration at Power Plant Live, the Shamrock 5K is a great way to get your endorphins moving, stay healthy and support a good cause. Unfortunately, every year this race fills up fast so if you haven’t already signed up, you’ll have to settle for standing on the sidelines and cheering on the runners.

Dennis Finnegan, Executive Vice President, Retail Banking’s Recommendation: Claddagh Pub

Just as he suggested last year, our President of Retail Banking, Dennis Finnegan is sticking with his St. Patrick's Day go-to. "As always, my faviorite place to spend St. Patty's Day is Claddagh's Irish Pub located in Canton. For the past few years, [Claddagh Pub owner] Mike Clarke always has a stool and a Jameson waiting for me as soon as I walk in the door."

Other local Baltimore Irish Pubs and Restaurants:
Looney’s Pub
James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant
Slainte Irish Pub & Restaurant
Cat’s Eye Pub
Tir Na Nog Irish Bar & Grill
Patrick’s of Pratt Street
J. Patrick’s Irish Pub
Mick O’Shea’s
Ryan’s Daughter Irish Pub and Restaurant

Our Annapolis Branch Recommendation: Galway Bay Irish Pub

Galway Bay gives you an immediate sense of feeling right at home as soon as you walk in the door. We'd highly recommend Galway Bay as a place to check out on St. Patty’s day. They throw quite the celebration!

Other local Annapolis Irish Pubs and Restaurants:
Fado Irish Pub
Castlebay Irish Pub

Our Cockeysville/Towson-Loch Raven Branch Recommendation: An Poitin Stil

An Poitin Stil, or “The Still” as the locals call it, is probably one of the most “authentic” Irish pubs in the Baltimore area. They have live Celtic bands playing on most days of the week, and their St. Patty’s Day Festival is epic!

Our Perry Hall/White Marsh Branch Recommendation: The Twisted Harp

As Perry Hall's only major Irish pub, The Twisted Harp is bound to be a place of interest for the residents of the White Marsh/Perry Hall area on St. Patty's Day. Their corned beef and cabbage is delicious, and they serve a variety of other authentic Irish food as well.

Other local Baltimore County Irish Pubs and Restaurants:
Patrick’s Restaurant and Pub
The Tilted Kilt

Our Bel Air Branch Recommendation: Sean Bolan’s

Judging by the countdown to St. Patty's Day on their homepage, Sean Bolan's is where you need to be if you happen to be in the Bel Air area on March 17th.

Other local Harford County Irish Pubs and Restaurants:
Looney’s Pub
MaGerk's Pub & Grill

With all of these options, you’d think that we strategically placed our branches to be in close proximity to the Irish pubs and restaurants of Baltimore, right? We’re sure there are plenty of other options out there that we’ve forgotten to mention, but at least you now have a decent amount of possibilities to choose from when it comes to your 2013 St. Patty’s Day celebration.

Regardless of what you choose to do, just remember one thing…everyone is Irish on March 17th!

You're Engaged, Yay! Now What? Wedding Planning!

by Erica Starr 22. February 2013

 

Relax and enjoy the moment.

Wooohoo! He asked, you said yes…welcome to the wonderful world of wedding planning! But not so fast - before you start envisioning your wedding day place settings, stop, take a deep breath and ACTUALLY enjoy the moment. Too often, brides-to-be don’t take the time to actually enjoy being engaged, and before they know it, they’re up to their eyes in wedding planning and wedding costs. So why not REALLY let yourself experience the engagement phase before jumping into the wedding planning phase? Trust me, there is a huge difference. You’re only doing this once, remember? Enjoy it!

Call your mom.

Believe it or not, she’s been waiting for this moment for as long, if not longer, as you have. As a matter of fact, call everyone that is important to you and your new fiancé. Yes, CALL (read: a voice conversation) all of these important individuals before you even consider hitting the social media highway. As much as Aunt Cathy likes to keep up with what is going on in your life via Facebook, finding out that you are recently engaged is NOT one of the things that she’d like to discover. Trust me, Christmas dinner will never be the same.

Get the ring insured.

What’s the first thing people ask when they find out that you are engaged? They ask to see the ring. This ring, ladies and gentlemen, will be the single most important ring of your lives. It symbolizes your love for one another and all that will come in your future life together. That being said, what can go wrong most likely will at some point or another. While nothing will ever replace the sentimental value of “the ring” if something were to happen to it, it’s always comforting to have peace of mind knowing that IF Murphy’s Law occurs, you can at least get money towards a replacement.

Contact your insurance agent to price out getting the ring added to your homeowners or renters insurance plan. However, many homeowners and renters insurance policies only cover up to a certain amount. If this is the case for you, you can look into a personal property insurance policy extension that covers particular items. Another option is to look into insurance companies that specialize in jewelry items. Whatever your preferred plan of attack, don’t take the risk of waiting…he put a ring on it, so you’d both better make sure there’s an insurance policy on it.

Ballpark your date.

The second most popular question that you’ll hear after getting engaged is, “Did you set a date?” Do yourself a favor and at least have a ballpark estimate of when you’d like to get married. It doesn’t have to be a specific date - it can even be an entire season (i.e. summer of 2014), but at least have some sort of answer for your fan club.

Start a tentative guest list.

Ah, the guest list...depending on the size of your families, the guest list can be the most fun or the most stressful part of the wedding planning process. Either way, you’ll want to get an early jump on it. The earlier you figure out your “tentative” guest list, the sooner you can start looking at venues (depending on the size of your wedding, some venues may not be big or small enough), pricing out menus and playing the lovely game of “Do we REALLY need to invite so-and-so?” Most importantly, once you have a tentative list you can begin to develop your budget.

Develop a budget, prioritize and start saving (in that order).

At the end of the day, the budget that you, your fiancé and your families come up with will be the deciding factor in all future decisions to come. I strongly encourage sitting down with both the bride and groom’s families to have an initial conversation about who is paying for what. While traditionally the bride’s family is mainly responsible for the wedding, nowadays the groom’s family often takes on more responsibility as well as the bride and groom themselves. It’s very important to have all involved parties on the same page early on in order to prevent any drama or misunderstandings moving forward.

Next, prioritize, prioritize and prioritize some more. Depending on your budget, you will more than likely have to start sacrificing the less important things for the more important ones. For example, if you both have big families, you may have to sacrifice the expensive venue in order to pay for everyone you care about to be invited. Is having a full open bar at the reception important to you and your fiancé, or will beer and wine work? These are all conversations and decisions that you’ll come across as you move down your wedding planning checklist.

If you and your fiancé have been discussing getting married in the near future, chances are you’ve probably already started saving for the big day. If you haven’t, now is the time to start. If you are like most people, after the sticker shock of the average cost of a wedding in 2013 wears off, you’ll quickly realize that you have drastically been under budgeting for the past twenty or so years of your wedding day fantasizing life. Sit down and talk with your fiancé about the best approach to start a wedding fund. There are lots of flexible interest-bearing savings accounts out there that make it extremely convenient to start putting money away for the big day.

Rinse, repeat and revisit your budget.

Before you know it, you’ll quickly start to move down your wedding planning checklist. From finding a wedding photographer to spending endless hours on “wedding ideas on a budget” boards on Pinterest, you may find yourself so caught up in the fairytale that you forget to consult your budget. Every time you are tasked with making a wedding related decision, always, always, always consult your budget before falling in love with the idea. Wedding planning is emotional enough. Don’t set yourself up for heartbreak by not reminding yourself of your financial priorities and limitations.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out these related articles:

I Do...But Maybe I Don't Want to Share My Money

The Imaginary Mortgage - Fake It Til You Make It

The Cost of Love



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