Five Herbs You Should Grow at Home Instead of Buying at the Store

Cooking with fresh herbs is infinitely better than using the dried out flakes you’ll find at the grocery store. Not only are they packed with much more flavor, but they’ll also save you money in the process. Sure, there are some herbs you probably won’t use very often and should just keep a small jar of them in your pantry. However, certain herbs are so useful that it’s worth having on your window sill to pick from when you need them.

If you’re thinking about starting an indoor or outdoor herb garden, here are the best herbs to put in it that will spice up your recipes and save you money at the checkout line.

Basil

Number one on our list is sweet basil. Basil can be chopped up into sauces and salads, or it can be used whole on pizzas and sandwiches. For a great snack, toss some olive oil with chunks of tomato, mozzarella, and chopped basil. It’s the perfect combination of tangy, sweet, and refreshing.

Basil is also great for making tea and has a strong and pleasant aroma. If you start running low, you can start a new plant with clippings from an old one. As you pick from the plant, be sure to remove the leaf node (the stem part of the leaf) fully so your plant keeps producing more leaves.

Parsley

A good herb to pair with basil is parsley. It goes great with pasta dishes, sauce, pizza, or eggs.

Like basil, parsley can be harvested as needed. Simply cut the outermost leaves for use and leave the inner leaves to mature. However, parsley is also easy to dry and store.

To dry parsley, hang it up in a warm place that has plenty of shade and ventilation. Test it by seeing if it crumbles in your hand. Once it does, crumble the rest up and store it in an air tight jar.

Thyme

Arguably one of the the prettiest herbs on the list, thyme fills its long stems with small flowers and fills the air with a pleasant scent. Thyme goes well with many vegetables and types of seafood and is also common in many teas.

If you live in a temperate climate, you could also try growing some thyme as an ornamental and aromatic shrub in your yard.

Mint

As you would suspect, mint smells and tastes…minty. To impress everyone at your summer cookout, place some mint leaves from your garden into their ice cold drinks.

Like many other items on the list, mint is also great in tea and can be paired up with basil, lavender, and many other herbs to make a great herbal tea concoction.

Lavender

Lavender is another pretty flowering herb. However, due to its size, it’s best grown outdoors.

You can make several homemade items from lavender including soaps, fragrance sprays, tea, and more. However, be sure to read up on caring for lavender plants as they require a lot of sunlight and well-drained soil.

To make use of its size and aesthetics outside, you can plant lavender along walkways in your yard or garden.

Boost Your Chances of Buying Your Dream Home

Let’s face it – paying monthly rent for your tiny apartment is no longer feasible. Instead, you need a bigger place to live, i.e. a house that you can enjoy for years to come.

As a first-time homebuyer, exploring the real estate market may sound like a fun, exciting opportunity – and it is! However, you need to prepare for the housing market, and by doing so, you’ll be able to improve your chances of finding your dream residence quickly and effortlessly.

So what does it take to find the right home? Here are three ways to boost your chances of buying your ideal house:

1. Save Money Before You Buy a Home.

You’ll likely need to find a lender that can offer you a mortgage with an interest rate that fits your budget. And if you save money before you buy a house, you could improve your chances of getting a mortgage with a lower interest rate.

Typically, having enough money to cover several months worth of a home’s mortgage may make you a better candidate for a mortgage than other potential homebuyers.

It also is important to keep in mind that saving money now may help you pay closing costs and other fees that frequently arise during the homebuying process.

2. Look at Both Your Income and Debt.

Ideally, you’ll want to establish a budget as you prepare to explore the real estate market, as this will allow you to determine which houses you can afford.

When you create your budget, be sure to consider both your annual income and outstanding debt as well. Evaluating these factors will enable you to better understand your yearly expenses and ensure you’re able to search for homes that fit your budget perfectly.

Don’t forget to consider your future earnings as you develop your budget, too.

For instance, if you’re a student who already has a job lined up after graduation, you may be able to handle a larger monthly mortgage payment. On the other hand, if you have a baby on the way, you may want to account for the expenses associated with a newborn as you pursue a residence.

3. Monitor Your Credit Score.

For homebuyers, your credit score reigns supreme in the eyes of lenders. Thus, spending some time monitoring and improving your credit score may make it easier for you to move one step closer to landing your dream house.

Remember, you’re eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) annually. And if you review a copy of this report, you can understand where your credit score currently stands.

If your credit score is low, you can improve it by paying off any outstanding debt. Furthermore, if you find an error in your credit report, be sure to notify the agency that provided the report to you to ensure you can fix this mistake; otherwise, the error could impact your ability to buy a house.

Being a first-time homebuyer sometimes can be challenging. But if you use the aforementioned tips, you may be able to bolster your chances of purchasing your dream residence.

3 Reasons to Buy a Home in a Big City

Do you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city? If so, you’re sure to enjoy a city home.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to consider purchasing a home in a big city, including:

1. You can enjoy quick, easy access to public transportation.

Let’s face it – owning a car sometimes can be problematic, and the costs associated with fuel, insurance and maintenance can add up quickly. However, you may be able to cut out some of these expenses if you live in the city.

Many cities feature public transportation systems that make it simple to travel from one location to the next. That way, you can avoid the hassles commonly associated with car ownership.

2. You can check out a broad assortment of attractions and entertainment.

The lights are always brightest in the city. Here, you can visit museums, historic landmarks and other attractions any time you choose.

For those who live in the city, you should have no trouble accessing a massive assortment of attractions and entertainment. From live theater performances to sports events, you can enjoy fun experiences in the city year-round.

3. You can visit a wide range of high-quality restaurants.

Foodies rejoice! Cities are home to some of the world’s best restaurants, guaranteeing you can sample gourmet cuisine that you may struggle to find elsewhere.

Whether you appreciate traditional pub fare or elegant French dishes, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for at a city restaurant. Plus, many city restaurants offer take-out menus, ensuring you can get first-rate cuisine delivered to your home.

How can you obtain a home in the city?

You don’t need to be a millionaire to purchase a city home. In fact, here are three tips to ensure you can acquire an outstanding city house at a price that meets your budget:

1. Browse the housing market closely.

New homes reach the real estate market every day. As a homebuyer, you’ll want to explore the housing market closely to find a residence that you can enjoy both now and in the future.

Examine the prices of recently sold homes in the city. Also, be sure to check out a variety of residences in-person. By doing so, you can understand what you can afford and map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Meet with multiple banks and credit unions before you begin your search for a city house. This will enable you to get pre-approved for a mortgage and kick off your home search with a homebuying budget in hand.

3. Work with a real estate agent.

Hire a real estate agent who understands a city’s real estate market. This real estate professional will offer honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. That way, you can accelerate the homebuying process and avoid the risk of spending too much on a city home.

Use the aforementioned homebuying tips, and you can move one step closer to securing your dream home in the city of your choice.

The Best Ways to Help Your Child with Homework

Parenting is a full-time job. Unfortunately, most parents have other full-time jobs as well, making it difficult to spend as much time as they would like raising their children. Part of the cultural doctrine around being a good parent is helping your child with their homework.

In a fairy-tale world, your child arrives home from school, eats a healthy snack, and sits down at the kitchen table eagerly awaiting you to help them with their homework. You join them and the two of you gleefully accomplish math problems, history trivia, and grammatical conundrums.

In real life, we know that this situation plays out a lot differently. Most kids aren’t in a rush to do their homework and most parents don’t have the time to spend hours helping with it, or–as their kids age–the knowledge to explain the work.

Fortunately, there are better ways to help your kids succeed. These ways involve taking a less active role, and being more of a guiding hand for your child as they navigate their way through school.

You’re not the teacher…

And you shouldn’t pretend to be. You may notice, when your child is as young as seven or eight, that they are learning things differently than you did. This isn’t a bad thing. Learning evolves with our society as we discover more practical ways to teach kids.

When your child comes home from school and gets ready to do their homework, make sure you’re not undoing the work their teachers do all day by trying to teach them a different way of solving the problems. If your child is struggling, seek out extra help from the school or the teacher who will be able to find the best way to help your child succeed.

Setting up the homework environment

The place where your child does homework should be relatively distraction free. Choose a well-lit room with the TV off. Make sure your child has eaten before homework time and make sure they take breaks as needed. If your child is struggling with homework, don’t get upset with them. Try to be understanding and to work together to find a way to help them complete the assignments. Just like you have the occasional bad day at work, your child will have the same experiences with their homework.

Don’t be a dictator, be a helper…

Setting extremely strict rules about homework has been shown to make a child dread school even more. Find a schedule that your child works best with and follow that schedule.

If your child needs to play outside or watch a favorite show after school, give them this time to unwind. If they react better to getting homework out of the way as soon as they get home, choose this route. Either way, you’ll need to have a discussion with your kids about setting a homework schedule that you are both happy with.

When it comes to being actively involved with teachers, PTAs, field trips, college prep, or choosing high school courses, have a discussion with your child about how much of a role they want you to play. Research shows that different students have different preferences when it comes to how active a role their parents play in their education. And studies have shown that being very active doesn’t mean your child will do better in school. Your role should be to help as much as your child would like you to, otherwise the best way you can help is to point them toward resources like their advisors and school guidance counselors.