Is Healthy Eating Cost Effective?

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

Even many out there, myself included, could be found guilty of the occasional dietary splurge, I think it’s safe to say that a good chunk of people at least aspire to be more health conscious when deciding what to eat. It’s definitely not an easy task, nothing worth doing ever really is, but to compound the issue even further, paying for this healthy lifestyle is perhaps more difficult than the dietary changes themselves. However, when we take all factors into account, and obviously making note that there is a humongous gray area between the extremes of the totally healthy and unhealthy diets, which of the two lifestyles really brings with it the highest cost?

In plain monetary terms, a study from the Harvard University School of Public Health found that, on average, a healthier diet costs about $1.50 more per person per day as compared to a unhealthier one. For a small example, healthy diet foods used for this study included nuts, fish, fruits and vegetables while processed foods and meats, along with refined grains were foods heavily featured in unhealthy diets. If kept up for a whole year, this cost difference would amount to about $550 per person, which for some lower income households may amount to a difference they cannot afford. However, the study does make the point that although they are in the short run more expensive, healthy diets can help to prevent and/or combat diet related chronic diseases such as Type-2 Diabetes, heart disease, high, blood pressure, and obesity, all of which can amass costs far higher than that of a healthier diet in the way of treatment and medical bills.

There are currently countless sites and lists across the internet full of healthy, low cost foods for you and your family to evaluate. So it is easier and cheaper than ever to put the right things into your bodies. Sure, you're probably going to cheat from time to time, so is everybody, but by just adjusting your diet a little bit in the right direction, and maybe by absorbing the cost of a couple of extra bucks on your grocery store trips, it will, in the long run, make you and your family healthier and happier. Twist my arm and I'll still have a few Oreos though! 

Best Apps for Financial Management

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

As much as some may resent it, it becomes harder with each passing day, month, and year to deny the enormous part that technology plays in all of our daily lives. From getting a ride to finding a place to eat, there is an app available on any smartphone for nearly every want or need, and what more important need to take care of then planning for your financial future. You guessed it, there's more than one app for that as well, each one catering specifically to your exact fiscal needs.

First up is Mint, from Intuit Co., who's name you might recognize from TurboTax or Quicken Loans. The app allows you to bring all your financial responsibilities to one convenient place. That includes credit/debit cards, bills, tools for budgeting and tracking spending, and so much more. It notifies you when you need to make pavements to avoid late fees and can even give you budgeting tips based on your spending habits. Its basically the best app for managing your finances overall.

Next up is You Need a Budget (YNAB), far and above the best app for eliminating debt, all based around the simple principle that every dollar you possess has its own specific job. It even helps you adjust your budget as time passes if you get a little off track. There's a small monthly fee, but with the average user shaving off $500 in debt in just the first month, it may be worth shelling out for the monthly subscription if you want some extra help getting rid of unwanted debts.

The last entry on our list is designed specifically to aid with savings. Its called Acorns, and it makes saving ridiculously easy. Every time you make a transaction with a card you've connected to the app it rounds the purchase up to the nearest whole dollar and invests the difference in a number of low cost exchange-traded funds that you have selected based on the level of risk-reward you are comfortable with. Users claim they barely notice the pocket change missing, and who doesn't love a couple hundred extra dollars appearing in their account at the end of the year. 

These are all extremely helpful apps for your finances, but of course they are by no means the only ones out there. Search through the internet and the app store and you're sure to find an app that can help you and your financial situation.

BBQin' on Memorial Day!

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

There's no better way to spend a summer day outdoors than with your family and nothing better to do outdoors with family and friends then to have a barbecue and it's no better time to barbecue then on Memorial Day Weekend. We will remember and celebrate the brave men and women who have passed in the service of our country, all the while thanking them for the freedom we have which they have fought to protect.

So with the unofficial beginning of the summer only a few short days away, how are you planning to serve up the season's best burgers, steaks, chicken or weird tofu thing, if you're into that? The answer, besides, you know, good food, delicious recipes, and the ability to cook, is of course with the best BBQin' equipment on the market. AN excellent follow up question to that would obviously be "well, just what is that best BBQin' equipment on the market?" If you have read these blogs before, you may not be so shocked to learn that I know the perfect equipment to grill up your favorite eats, and that I have compiled a list as well. I really like to mix it up, I know. So lets go piece by piece through the necessities of barbecue to get you and/or your family grill master hooked up to make this summer the most delicious one yet.

The beginning and the end, the alpha and omega of all barbecues is the grill. Without a grill, you're all just sitting there eating baked beans and potatoes. A solid meal, for sure, but that is no barbecue. The best grill to get for your buck is the Weber kettle, a smaller gas grill that can grill, roast and smoke all for an incredibly low price compared to other grills with similar features. However, if you don't have a gas grill, there can be nothing more frustrating than trying to light that charcoal or wood grill, especially with a lot of empty stomachs waiting. To the rescue comes the Looftlighter Electric Firestarter, which can light any grill in under 60 seconds, so you can the party started and fight off the dreaded 1000th asking of "is that food done yet?".

So now you have the grill, you've got it lit, but nothing to flip the meat with. Not if the 18 inch stainless steel BBQ spatula with LED light from BBQguys.com has anything to say about it. It as everything you need to flip meat, including an LED light, which only the true experts know is absolutely essential to the complex functions of a spatula. Anything without the LED light has been rendered obsolete. So now, finally, you have completed the perfect barbecue. The grill is off, the food is gone, and just as you go to shut the top of your grill you notice. The unthinkable has happened. You have forgotten to clean your grill top, but your belly is full from the multitudes of delicious food which you had spent hours preparing for your countless guests and family members. You look for someone, anyone, to beg to help you, but everyone else is either fallen into a meat induced slumber, or has sprinted the scene of the crime, knowing full well that there was kitchen cleaning to be done. Have no fear, you and you're full belly can sit and relax while the Grillbot cleans for you. It is essentially a roomba for your grill top. Unneccessary? Perhaps, but it was far too cool to not include on this list. So there you have it, you are all set for the perfect barbecue this weekend.

Have a Happy Memorial Day weekend, enjoy the good times with friends and family, and don't forget to keep in mind the real reason we celebrate every last Monday in May. 

Happy Mother's Day!

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

There are countless holidays, large and small, throughout the course of the calendar year, and although there are the big ones like Thanksgiving, New Year's, and Fourth of July  that will make their arguments, perhaps no holiday is more important than this Sunday, Mother's Day. Firstly, and obviously, this holiday is huge because we, believe it or not, celebrate our moms, grandmoms, or any other maternal figures in our lives, who we know would do anything for their children and their families. We really cannot thank them enough for everything they have done and will do for us. We love you. Secondly, if your family is anything like mine, if you don't do Mother's Day right you may be in immediate and real danger. So with our love for (and fear of) the amazing mothers, grandmothers, and any other amazing women in our lives, here's a list of cool things to do on Mother's Day to show your appreciation and gratitude while also keeping you safe for at least another 12 months.

1) Breakfast in Bed

Ol' Reliable. As cliche as this one may seem, its a pretty awesome way to start the day, and its definitely one that mom will appreciate. There's a reason popularized ideas like this one exist. Its because it works. Only way this isn't a great start to a great day is if you absolutely destroy the food. Just swallow your pride, look up cooking videos on the internet, you're gonna be fine.

2) Take her to a movie

or the theater or a baseball game or anything else you know she will enjoy and appreciate. This one is pretty open ended as no two moms are alike, but you get the general idea I think. 

3) Schedule a Massage or Spa Day for her

"I just want to spend time with the family today, nothing special." The classic mom line for birthdays and Mother's day, but don't be fooled. As much as you love your mom and she loves you, every mom needs a little bit of time to herself now and again, so maybe give her some relaxing alone time by setting up an appointment. Obviously, every mom really does want to be with the family on this day, so make sure to hustle her out of her relaxing massage hour afterwards and bring her back into the craziness of your family.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms, Grandmoms, Aunts and other loving, caring, and extraordinary women in all of our lives. We really, really could not survive without you. Thank you so much for everything you do. We love you. 

 

The Kentucky Derby and Horsepower

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

It’s a common theme in these blogs, but it never gets any less shocking just how fast the years fly. On that note, its already the first week of May, which of course brings us to the 144th Kentucky Derby. Whether you can't get enough horse racing or you only watch for two minutes every first Saturday in May, almost everybody tunes in to the Kentucky Derby. This year's favorite is Justify, who has opened at 3-1 at the beginning of this week.

While we’re on the topic of horsepower, let’s talk about a dilemma which is far more important to the vast majority of us (excluding the occasional horse trainer or jockey which I assume read this blog), the always looming choice for each and every car buyer, to buy or to lease. Like any tough decision, there are pros and cons to both sides. Leasing, for example, allows the customer to trade up every few years to always have the latest technology and styles, while also saving money, particularly in the short run, over paying full price to buy a car. Also, never having to worry about selling your trade-in and having your car most likely covered under warranty for the entire time you’re driving it definitely doesn't hurt either. However, there are a few downsides to leasing, from mileage restrictions and wear and tear fees to the excellent credit that is necessary to even get the lease to begin with.

On the flip side, buying a car has its benefits in the opposites of the cons previously listed. Meaning, lower or no monthly payments, no mileage restrictions or wear fees as well as a much more lenient credit restriction. Whiles the negatives include more expensive costs, particularly up front, and the unpredictable possibility of your vehicle depreciating in value. At the end of the day, there is no right answer, and what you should do relies completely on your current credit and financial situation. So be sure to have all the information you need to make an intelligent decision when car buying. Or you could win big betting the long shot on Saturday. After all, it might land you a nice new ride.