Recently, there's been a lot of buzz from moms about HelloFresh, a meal kit delivery service that sends healthy and simple pre-planned dinners to your door. I'd been meaning to try it, but I'm always worried about adding another thing to my list, even if it does promise to make my life easier. Could it really make delicious meals so simple? It wasn't until a friend swore that HelloFresh has all but eliminated her stress around meal planning that I decided to give it a second look. She said that since adding the HelloFresh family plan to her weekly menu, she now orders less take-out, spends less time at the grocery store, and gets her family to sit down to dinner almost nightly. To be honest, it sounded like a dream come true. With the kids soccer practice, my new yoga classes and the first day of school just around the corner, I knew that if there were ever a time to try a meal delivery service, now would be it.
HelloFresh is America's top rated meal kit, and for good reason. There are three different plans to choose from--Classic, Family, and Veggie--and plans differ depending on the number of people and number of meals you select. Every week, I get to preview the upcoming menu and decide between a variety of recipes. As the most popular meal kit, they now offer the most choice in recipe options. This is perfect for me and my family of picky eaters! I'm no expert cook and I've been preparing a lot of the same recipes for years, so adding a few new techniques to my repertoire could only help. True to its name, the food is fresh--I try to buy organic or from the farmers market when I can, so knowing the produce is locally sourced is an added bonus. My favorite part? The convenience of it all! I can choose meals based on the time it takes to prepare and there's minimal prep required. Everything is individually packaged and pre-portioned, making it easy to put a bag in the fridge and find the color-coded labels later in the week.
The first meal we tried was the Cowboy Style Chicken Pizzas. My kids love pizza and anything with barbecue sauce, so I knew they'd be interested in something that combined their two favorite foods. One of the toppings was jalapeno but because everything is packaged separately, I had the option to keep those on the side. The kids helped me sprinkle cheese on the pre-rolled pizza dough before I put it back in the oven to melt the cheese. I threw together the rest of the ingredients and dinner was ready in under 30 minutes. The whole family sat around the table enjoying the first home-cooked meal we'd had together in a while. Talking with my family over a delicious and healthy meal, is something we always want to do more of, so this was nice.
Now, I'm one of the moms spreading the word about HelloFresh. Just look at the ratings - HelloFresh has 6x 5-star customer reviews than any other meal kit company. We order the Family Box and get 3 nights of dinner for 4 people. I'm so relieved that I no longer have to fret over the proverbial question, What's for dinner? Plus, my cooking skills have actually improved, so on the nights when I cook dinner sans HelloFresh, I have plenty of inspiration these days. My husband and I love how much variety there is and how we can alter the meals to something both the kids and the adults will enjoy. And it works with our schedule--it's easy to stop and start our subscription depending on school vacation or holidays when we're out of town.
I never thought it was possible but thanks to HelloFresh, dinner time went from being the most hectic time of day to a time when we sit down together as a family. It's nice to know that now I can do dinner in 30 minutes and it's easy. With a new school year coming up, I have one less thing to worry about.
Update: The folks at HelloFresh are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to get your first 12 meals free!
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As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.