Traveling Tips: keep the costs low and the fun level high

by Renee' Anderson 21. May 2012

Piggy Bank on Beach

Coming from a large family, vacation budgeting is something I learned young. Vacationing is about spending time with the people we appreciate, not about blowing all your cash in just a few short days. There’s no reason to break the bank over your summer vacation. If you’re traveling with people you enjoy, there’s a cost saver right there. A lot of your entertainment will simply involve playing games, laughing, and unwinding with good company…that’s all FREE! For example, instead of going to an amusement/water park for the day or going out on the town for the night, make up your own activities.

Here are a couple ideas to get your started:

Olympic Games

Set up teams before the trip to give everyone time to prepare with team names, uniforms, strategies, etc. There are plenty of games that can include everyone in a large group (relay-style events, timed puzzles, team sports). Be creative and prepared with a master score board (a big piece of poster board works well) and all of the props you will need.

Murder Mystery Night

Playing a murder mystery game is a great form of free entertainment. You can find guides online that are good for groups of various ages and sizes. Check out http://www.host-party.com/Home/Default.

And a few more things to think about...

1) Set a realistic budget and don’t go over it!

2) If you’re traveling with a group, share a room or house. It’s generally cheaper to get one big house that shares common space but has enough bedrooms for everyone. This way, you can afford a nice house for less money; just make sure you have your own personal space to escape to if necessary (like when you’ve had enough of crazy Aunt Susie for the day)!

3) Eat in! Bring as many non-perishable food items that you can pack, and then hit the grocery store when you arrive at your destination. If you are traveling with a group, take turns cooking, and have each person cook their “specialty” so you’ll get a unique, delicious meal each night. If there is a nice restaurant that you just HAVE to check out, go for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch will be less expensive, but you still get to experience the restaurant.

4) Look for coupons, either in an Entertainment book or online. Try doing Google searches and see what comes up for your destination. Following that same train of thought, if you’re staying in a hotel, ask for promotions and/or a room upgrade!

5) If you are flying somewhere, travel during low season and book early. This could save you hundreds of dollars.

Last but not least, don’t be uptight about your money while you’re on vacation. Stick to your plan, but enjoy yourself! It’s a VACATION!

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

Tricks to Throwing a Budget-friendly Barbeque

How to Stay Cool When Temperatures are Hot

A Phtoographic Tour of Baltimore's Star-Spangled Sailabration

Organize It, Toss It, or...Shred-It!

by Renee' Anderson 9. April 2012

1st Mariner Bank's Shred-it Day FlyerThere's something about spring that is refreshing.  Maybe it's the air blowing through the open windows, the smell of fresh cut grass, or the colorful flower buds popping out of garden beds. There’s also something refreshing about a clean house! As you do your spring cleaning, keep these three categories in mind:

1) Organize It

Whether you're going through the shoes in your closet (boots in the back, flip flops up front please), or sorting through old papers, now is a good time to organize it! Take those papers that you've let pile up on your kitchen counter, pull out things that you know you want to hang onto (i.e. important files from the year), and take them to the file cabinet or desk drawer and label it.

2) Toss It

Some things just need to get tossed. Those winter boots that have holes in them won’t do you any good – toss it! Old mail containing no personal information that you’ve held onto for whatever reason (expired coupons, outdated catalogs or magazines), just toss it!

3) Shred It

This one doesn’t apply to shoes, but it is very important and often overlooked for papers.  While going through your papers that you don't need, separate anything that has any personal information on it (name, address, account number, etc.) and shred it! It is important to protect your identity.

Don’t own a paper shredder? We got you covered. 1st Mariner will have a Shred-It truck at the Cockeysville and Dundalk branches on Saturday, April 14th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Just bring any unwanted documents, and we’ll do the rest.

 

Happy spring cleaning!

Spring Forward With These 5 Energy Saving Tips

by Renee' Anderson 9. March 2012

Breakdown of Your Energy Bill

Saving energy was one of the original purposes of Daylight Savings Time. With the days being longer, it’s thought that you use less energy to light your home. Well, that’s one way to save energy in your home, but according to Energy Star, lighting generally only accounts for about 12% of your energy bill.  I don’t know about you, but I could use some other ideas! With my spring project list expanding, I would really love it if my BGE bill would lighten up ($50 off my BGE bill = $50 towards my new deck).

Here are some tips on how to save energy:

1. According to Energy Star, heating and cooling accounts for close to half of the average household’s total energy use. Keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees or lower in the winter and 78 degrees or higher in the summer to see your energy bill decrease.

2. As we finish out the winter season, open your blinds during the day to let the sun in. As the weather gets warmer, you got it – do just the opposite and keep the blinds closed.

3. Wash your clothes using cold water, and run your washing machine and dishwasher at night to take advantage of off-peak hours. Some newer dishwashers have timers that you can set to run at night.

4. Take shorter, cooler showers.  Besides saving energy, this is also a refreshing way to cool off on hot summer days.  If you can’t live without your hot showers, keep reading – we’ve got you covered.

5. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.  While they cost a little bit more than conventional incandescent bulbs, they are a huge energy saver.  According to The Home Depot, compact fluorescent bulbs use approximately 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last about ten times longer.

You can get a more detailed guide to saving energy in your home from BGE Home’s Energy Saving Center.

Be sure to click on the Energy Saving Tips link, and download this brochure.

The tip that was screaming at me? Stop waiting for warm water (before your shower, washing your hands and face, etc.). Waiting for warm water can waste thousands of gallons a year. A hot water circulator pump and timer can provide instant hot water and help reduce your overall water usage.

Looks like I need to look into one of these hot water circulator pumps!

What are you going to do to save energy in your home?



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