Staying Fit and Eating Healthy on the Cheap with Andrew Mohrmann

8 min read
April 15, 2015


We're continuing our spring series on getting fit and staying healthy -- all while minding your wallet -- with the help of financial planner and XY Planning Network member Andrew Mohrmann.

Andrew MorhmannAndrew Mohrmann is a fee-only financial planner who left the ranks of high net worth wealth management to found Modern Dollar Planning, where he helps 20 and 30 somethings set a new financial trajectory. He is dedicated to helping his generation make smart financial decisions and believes they should have access to objective guidance, regardless of their current assets.

Andrew was kind enough to chat with XYPN to share his tips on getting fit without busting your budget -- and how to stay healthy on the cheap.

XY Planning Network: Can you share a little about yourself? What's your background?

Andrew Mohrmann: I’m a 29 year old financial planner is St. Louis, MO. In December, I resigned from my job with a large planning firm to start a new firm called Modern Dollar Planning that offers financial planning to my generation.

I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and over the past couple years it became clear to me that my peers didn’t have anywhere to turn for quality, objective advice because most financial firms want to work with clients that already have money. Instead, I want to help young people accumulate and use money to build the life of their dreams.

In November, I learned that my wife was pregnant with our first child. Some people thought I was crazy for leaving a steady job with a bright future behind as I’m about to be a father. I viewed it a little different, however. Learning I would be a dad was a great motivation to take a risk and show my child that they don’t have to settle.

I’m thrilled to be helping shake up an industry that has had trouble finding a way to serve young people in an unbiased, objective fashion.


XYPN: How did you develop a passion for finance?

AM: It might sound cheesy, but a professor of mine in college had us read Rich Dad Poor Dad. Since then, I’ve focused on making intelligent financial decisions. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of "financial independence," which means having enough passive income to choose not to work.  I look forward to helping others create this mentality as well.


XYPN: How did you develop your passion for fitness and healthy living?

AM: When I got to college and my days of daily high school sports practices stopped, I started noticing myself getting out of shape. Alcohol, pizza, and bad sleeping habits had me heading in a direction I wasn’t happy with.

During my junior year I found myself enamored with a late night infomercial for P90x. I did the 90-day program over the summer and came back to school in great shape.

Since then, exercise has been an important part of my physical and emotional well being. I’m amazed at the difference it makes in my life when I keep it a priority. It creates a confidence that makes my thinking more positive, lifts my mood and transforms so many aspects of my life.


XYPN: How can Gen Y and Gen Xers get fit and healthy on the cheap?

AM: I’m a big believer in variety. For me, there are two keys to working out consistently: having a plan and finding things you enjoy doing.

If you wander into a gym or try to begin a home workout plan, you must have a schedule of what you’ll do on your workout days. You don’t want to be trying to figure it out on the fly. Follow a set routine so you don’t have to think about anything but your training.

And find activities that you look forward to! If you hate running, don’t do it! Instead swim, try an interval workout or get on your bike. If you dread your activity you won’t be successful! When things get stale and tired, switch it up.

A quick Google search can yield many free workout plans. If you’re looking for a new yoga routine to try at home, check out YouTube. Try a search for a plan to run your first half marathon.

I like to throw in swimming when I get bored or want something easier on my joints. When it’s warm, I bike trails in the area. Take advantage of activities that fit with the season.


XYPN: Are there options for someone who wants to get fit but can't afford a gym membership or fancy home-gym equipment?

AM: You can get started right now, for free, with a plan like this. It’s a great place to start for people of any fitness level. You can start getting fit in your living room right now!

Gym memberships don’t have to be a stress on the budget. If you live in an area with a community center, it can be very affordable. Mine is $225 for the entire year. That’s less than $19/month.

There are also gyms that charge as little as $10/month with no initial investment. A membership at a gym of this cost paired with an online workout plan can be an effective and affordable option.

Or if you’re interested in running, why not train for a half marathon? You can find free training plans and you can use the running shoes already in your closet.

Get a friend to join you. I find that working out with or at least having an accountability partner keeps me much more motivated.


XYPN: How can you eat healthy on the cheap to keep grocery costs low?

AM: It may sound cliche coming from someone with the word "planner" in their job title, but the key to eating healthy on a low budget is planning ahead.

You will not be successful if you get home late from work on a Tuesday night already hungry and open the fridge with no clue what you’ll eat that night. That’s a scenario that leads you to grab your keys and head out to Chipotle for a burrito bomb.

Carve out some time each week to set a plan for what you’ll eat. Create a grocery list around meals: stir fry on Tuesday, crock pot chicken on Wednesday and grilled meat and veggies on Thursday.

If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll find yourself eating out or ordering pizza more often than you’d like, which isn’t healthy and can add up significantly over a month or a year. If you're like me, you go to the store without a list and end up with a bunch of random items that don’t really amount to a menu of meals. (My is wife smart -- she won’t let me go to the grocery store unless I have a list ready.)

It’s a simple process. Brainstorm meals you’d like to eat over the next week. Create a list to make those meals. Stick to the list at the store. When we do this, I’m often shocked at how much less goes into our cart on the weekly shopping trip.


XYPN: What are your favorite tips for saving on healthy food?

AM: You could try "meals for a month." On these plans, you spend a whole day buying, prepping, and freezing food for an entire month.

Instead of spending hours every week planning and prepping, you can devote a day and be done for a month.  Look for a class like this one I found in St. Louis -- just search for one based on your location. It could transform how you shop, cook and eat.

We also subscribed to EMeals for awhile to build up an inventory of healthy meal plans. For about $5/month, you get a 7-day dinner plan sent to you each week that includes a menu, cooking directions and the entire grocery list. It doesn’t get much easier than this.

You can even select focused diets: low-carb, clean eating or paleo. We paid for a year and were able to switch our plan several times to build up an inventory of hundred of different meals.


XYPN: What other advice would you provide someone looking to get fit and eat healthy on the cheap? 

AM: It always seems like there is a new book, diet, or fad coming onto the scene. Whether it’s low-carb, low-fat, paleo, or clean eating, there are so many choices.

When planning my own foods, I unofficially score my meals on 3 dimensions: health, ease of prep and cost. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to find meals that score well in all three areas. Here are a few of my favorites. Try them or maybe it’ll inspire an idea of your own.

IMG_2828Seared Tuna, Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Kale Salad

I bought a bulk package of frozen ahi tuna steaks from Sam’s. After thawing, I seasoned with salt and pepper, seared for 90 seconds a side then topped with a low-calorie sweet hot mustard.

I sliced a few sweet potatoes, tossed with olive oil and rosemary and baked for 30 minutes. Finally, I chopped a few leaves of kale and lightly tossed with some fresh ceasar dressing and pepper.

This meal is easy to prep, nutritious and also very affordable.

IMG_2835Slow Cooker Chicken with Quinoa, Brown Rice, and Peas

Take some chicken tenderloins and slow cook for 4 hours in your favorite sauce (here’s a honey garlic version).

Pair it with a quick microwave pouch of brown rice/quinoa and a $.70 can of peas. Pretty tasty and cheap!

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Couscous

IMG_2843Although they have more calories, chicken thighs are cheaper and more juicy than boneless breasts.

I like to grill them and serve with a mix of couscous, peppers, onions, feta and a lemon garlic vinaigrette.

This one takes a little more time than the others, but it’s perfect for a slow-paced, nice-weather Sunday.

One Minute Oats with Blueberries and Almonds

For breakfast, I like the old fashioned big jug oats that don’t have all the sugar that the individual pouches contain. IMG_1986I like to throw in some blueberries and almonds.

It’ll leave you satisfied much longer than a nutritiously empty bowl of cereal.


Want to learn more about Andrew Mohrmann? Visit him at Modern Dollar Planning.