Is Growing a Garden "Worth It"?

by Renee' Anderson 20. March 2013

Grow Money

It's official - spring is here! As the weather is getting nicer and the daylight is lasting longer you are likely beginning to awaken from your winter hibernation and venture outdoors! Maybe you wandered out to your backyard to find a big empty plot of grass. "Hmm," you think to yourself, "Maybe I should start a garden." Then you start to think about how much work it would probably entail, and you wonder whether or not it would be worth it. So is growing a garden worth it?

It depends on your purpose.

Do you want to garden because you think you'd enjoy it and it would make for a nice hobby?

Or, do you want to garden simply because you're looking to save money?

Figure out your purpose. Gardening is very time consuming and is not for those who don’t enjoy breaking a sweat and getting their hands dirty. Gardening is also a lot about trying things until they work; although, with the internet at our fingertips, you can certainly do some easy research before experimenting.

Either way, gardening differs from state to state (i.e. climate), county to county (i.e. potential predators), and backyard to backyard (i.e. soil composition). So, you can do all of the research you want, but trial and error is inevitable. Why do I bring this up? Because, if you don’t have a certain level of interest in gardening, you likely will not do the appropriate research and will become frustrated with the experimenting process.

It’s hard to come up with an accurate cost analysis since conditions vary from garden to garden. For example, let’s say you plant 6 tomato plants at $1.47 apiece, but you live in a wooded area and deer ate 3 of your plants. Your neighbor may have put a fence up and had no problems with the deer, but how much did it cost to put the fence up (don’t forget labor)?

You see what I mean? There are lots of considerations to factor in when gardening, but the bottom line is- if you want to start a garden simply to save money, it’s not worth it, unless you put in a decent-sized garden (at least 30’ x 50’), and expect to take a money loss the first 1-3 years. In the long run, a large garden will pay off, but it takes some time to get your garden into tip top producing shape! Once your garden has become a vegetable producing machine, you will not only have enough to feed your family, but enough to share with neighbors and enough to can, freeze, or dry/dehydrate.

On the other hand, gardening is a great hobby, even if you’re not saving a ton of money. For me, gardening is a hobby that gives me some exercise, a way to de-stress, and a feeling of self-accomplishment. Since gardening can be hard work, I also find it very self-fulfilling to walk out and see my plants thriving in the sun, and to pick fresh vegetables that I grew myself. It’s also a huge plus to know exactly where your food comes from and to know if there were chemicals used, etc. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh asparagus picked directly from your backyard!

That being said, gardening, to me, is worth it! I might not be saving hundreds of dollars a year, but I’m certain not losing hundreds either, and I thoroughly enjoy it!

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

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Spring Break Travel Tips

by Stacy Tharp 13. March 2013

Spring Break Travel Tips

If you have a fun trip planned for Spring Break, good for you – you deserve it! Traveling, however, can be stressful, even though the reason for your trip is likely to get away from stress! So, in order to keep your vacation as relaxing as possible, follow these simple steps BEFORE you leave!

1) Let your financial institutions know you’ll be traveling.

In order to protect you from fraudulent activity, financial institutions monitor your “normal” spending activity, including the geographic location of your usual purchases. A charge to your credit or debit card that occurs far away from your “normal” location could be flagged and blocked if the financial institution did not receive word that you would be traveling. Of course, you can call your financial institution and get things straightened out, but who wants to be bothered doing this while on vacation? Get it done before you leave!

2) Make a list of important phone numbers.

It's easy to get lost when you are wandering unfamiliar territory. Additionally, tourists are a perfect target for pickpockets and con artists. It’s best to be prepared ahead of time by noting the phone numbers of local cab companies, the hotel or resort where you are staying, your financial institutions and the local police station. If you are traveling abroad, make sure you know the phone number to call for emergency services. Storing these numbers in your cell phone is a good start, but you will want these phone numbers listed somewhere else as well in case your phone is lost or stolen.

3) Double check your account balances, credit limits and card expiration dates before you leave.

The last thing you want to deal with on vacation is money problems. Make sure you have more than enough available funds/credit before you leave so you don’t have to take a break from relaxing in the sun.

4) Enroll in Mobile Banking.

Just because you brought more funds than you really need, doesn’t mean you should spend everything you have. Sure, on vacation you are likely to spend a little bit more than you would at home, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on how much you’re spending. Mobile banking allows you to do just this with virtually no hassle. If you have a smartphone, check and see if your financial institution offers a banking app, which would allow you to check the balances and recent transactions of all of your accounts. If you do not have a smartphone, look into other mobile options such as a mobile banking brower or text message notifications.

5) Carry a variety of payment options.

Your checking account may be stocked with funds that you responsibly saved up specifically for this trip, but if for some reason your debit card decides not to work, you’ll want to have a backup plan.

6) Do not pack more than you need.

While it’s smart to have a backup plan, you don’t need to overdo it. It’s a good idea to clean out your wallet before you leave to make sure you have nothing more than you need, and to make sure you know exactly what you have with you in case your wallet is lost or stolen. Your drivers license, medical insurance cards, two credit or debit cards and some cash will probably be sufficient.

You also don’t want to overstuff your suitcase. Give yourself enough time to pack so you aren’t haphazardly throwing in every article of clothing and every piece of jewelry that you own. If you don’t remember what you brought with you, you will be more likely to leave things behind when packing to return home. Additionally, extra suitcases (or an extra heavy suitcase) can result in extra airline fees. Finally, in case your suitcase decides not to get on your flight with you, the less you’ve packed, the better off you are.

7) Make sure at least one person at home has your travel itinerary.

In case of an emergency, it’s important that people know where they can find you and how they can reach you. Sure you’re planning on bringing your cell phone with you, but in case your phone is broken or lost, you left your charger at home, or you are in a no service area, you need to have a backup plan. Not to mention that knowing where you are will give your mother some peace of mind.

8) Use common sense.

Stay with your group, know exactly what you are drinking, be weary of strangers and potential tourist scams, and remember that what happens in Cancun/Miami/Ocean City/etc. does NOT stay there, especially in today’s world of cell phone cameras and YouTube. If something or someone seems a little off, trust your instincts.

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!



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