Do you wince every time the utility bill comes in the mail? Do you feel like you could be saving energy and cash? Saving energy can get expensive with new appliances and products. Often those are great investments but for those on a tight budget they aren’t realistic solutions.
Below are ways you can have a more energy efficient home without spending a lot. Feel free to research more – there are tons of resources on this topic! Make it a goal to try 5 of these tips consistently and compare your bills for the next few months.
Drying dishes saves time and energy!
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are a great, energy efficent replacement for tradtional bulbs.
Air Conditioner: Turn your COOL/HEAT up or down when you are at work or gone from the house for a while, depending on the season. Then put it on a comfortable setting when you are at home. Consider improving or adding insulation.
Air Conditioner Filters: Replace them when suggested.
Doors: Purchase door draft stoppers “snakes” that will ensure a snug seal and keep air from escaping or entering.
Leave bedroom doors open for maximum circulation.
Windows: Caulk windows to seal them. Use a caulk gun to apply, a scraper to remove old caulk, and a flat tool to spread it out on the window seam.
Open windows to utilize outside air – great in spring or fall!
Fireplaces: Board up the flue or install doors to the front of the fireplace to keep air from getting in from the outside.
Outlets: Use a power strip and switch it off when you’re gone out of the house for a while. Plus, it’ll give you more outlet space!
Dishes: Hand wash and air dry dishes in between meals, then when you have a lot to wash use the dishwasher. Open your dishwasher and let dishes air dry instead of using the drying function.
Washer: Machine wash clothes on cold – it costs less and colors are less likely to bleed.
Lighting: Invest in energy efficient bulbs like CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamp).
Fans: Use box or rotating fans to circulate air and keep the temperature regulated.
Roof: Install a roof cap or apply a roof coating to reflect sunlight and reduce heat
Want to invest into making a more energy efficient home? Compare bills after trying these ideas and use the money you saved to start a home savings account. Then try to save that amount every other month. Next time you want to make a bigger purchase you’ll have some cash set aside!
Given the fact that you may be spending more time at home – I’ve compiled a list of things that will help you stay productive and healthy. From my family to yours, all the best!
Deep Cleaning/ Green Cleaning Guide for Your Kitchen
Let’s start with those gritty places we forget!
Sink and shower drains
Shower curtains/ liners
Oven/ detachable heating elements
Now, let’s talk cleaners. I understand wanting that fresh-knock-you-over scent, but it may be harming you and your family. Simply consider making your own cleaners or purchasing a safer alternative. It’s always better to know the ingredients behind what you use and how they affect you and your skin. Making your own cleaners may not smell the same, but it certainly costs a lot less and won’t leave you feeling lightheaded after a deep clean.
There are three things in every green-product maker’s toolbelt:
With these things you can rule the deep cleaning world and not get a headache!
There are tons of ideas that can help you get started! As you transition to green cleaner – invest in some strong sponges and steel wool. You’ll have to add a little more elbow grease since you’re not using harmful chemicals, but with a little effort you’ll get a better, safer clean.
Now, let’s freshen our home!!
Open windows each evening to air out stale smells
Wash the window treatments and hang them up to dry, then press them if needed
Is your closet out of control? Come on, I’m talking you can barely shut it, you wear the same jeans every day because you can’t find anything else, and you’ve got shoes from middle school. It’s okay – I’m talking from experience – my closet has been messy, too. But a small closet doesn’t have to equal small organization. Need a plan? Let’s get started!
The checklist below is in order – tackle one, then on to the next! Go over this list every season to ensure you’re keeping up with your organization.
Try it on! Have a little fashion show and figure out what still fits. You can also plan some outfits during this time and get ideas of what you want to keep.
Donate it! If it doesn’t fit or you’re not into it anymore – donate it or give it to a friend or family member.
Door Start with the back of your door – add a hanging rack or an over the door organizer. You can use both sides of the door if needed. This is a great bit of space that most people forget.
Floor Stack shoes and place out of season shoes in the back. You can also put them in a bin somewhere else if you have the extra storage. Add a shoe rack if you’ve got a lot of shoes!
Hanging space Do you need to add an extra rod or dowel for storage? Doubling your hanging space is a great way to organize clothes better. Don’t forget accessories – special hangers or closet squares add space!
Height Check the height of your closet – are you using it? If not, you may want to consider putting in a shelf. This is a great place for out of season clothes or accessories.
I hope this has helped you transform your closet and discover space you didn’t know you had! Go ahead – wear those shoes you forgot you had through the house and reward yourself! I would!
Six Ways to Enjoy the Best of Spring
Spring is here and I am actually super excited about it this season! There has been so much illness across the country and bitter cold that makes us me thankful for the turning of the seasons. Spring feels like the most obvious and shifting season because the earth splits from frozen to growth. It’s also rather quick and not gradual like the other seasons can feel. So, with my very best: I welcome spring!
Below I’ve compiled a list of ways to celebrate the sunshine and growth all around!
Spring clean!: Cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore – pull up the blinds, open the windows, and listen to your favorite album! Pay careful attention to areas that don’t get much attention, like the inside of appliances: ovens, refrigerators, microwaves, etc. Wipe off interior and exterior of windows. Dust fan blades, wash curtains or blankets that you’ve used all winter, and sweep in hard to reach places. Check out our Pinterest board for cleaning tips and tricks!
Seasonal Separation: It’s time to go through your home – particularly your closet and get rid of some things. I try to make it a practice at the turn of each season to evaluate what I have and if I use it or if it just sits there. So for clothes that you don’t wear or that don’t fit – donate them. If you haven’t worn it in a year you won’t miss it.
Plant something!: There’s something rewarding about taking care of a plant and watching it grow or even sometimes yielding from it. You can easily make an indoor herb garden by getting a large pot and placing three or four different herbs in it. They often do well indoor or outdoor with partial shade. Plus, they really add to your cooking.
Start walking: I can’t tell you how much better my day is when I just take a fifteen-minute walk. Just walk a little bit on your breaks from work, walk with your family when you get home from work and put little ones in the stroller, or do it as fitness and speed walk. It’s easy and every little bit can help you feel good.
Go fishing: As a kid my favorite thing I got to do with my dad was go fishing. Most of those times were only in a local pond or standing on the edge of a small river. You don’t have to go to a lake or have boat to enjoy fishing. It’s a great hobby that teaches kids and adults alike to be patient and wait for a good thing. Licenses required in each state will vary. Get started!
Enjoying the Weekend at Home Ideas
Go hiking: If you need an all-day event, or your looking to spend some energy with your older kids or your pets this option is made for you! You can stay active and enjoy the scenery – talk about the best of both worlds!
Exercise: Clear some space and build those muscles at home.
Take lunch to the park: Instead of staying inside, take lunch outside! Heck, it can be your own backyard!
Have a candlelit story time: Put the phones and electronics away. Light some candles and turn the lights off. Read the kids a book by candle light. You’ll feel like your back in the day and get to focus on one thing at a time for change!
Volunteer: Easy, free, and it helps someone else! This is the best one on the list. It’s never too early to teach your kids to put others’ and their needs first.
Break out the board games: Work together or enjoy a little friendly competition playing some games. This is great for those kiddos that need a little break from technology.
Go outside and draw what you see: Take another look at your backyard or your front yard. Draw your best rendition! Be sure to include all the color you see!
Look for your next home: Check out vmfhomes.com! Find your dream home!
So, you’re wanting a place to call your own? That’s exciting! Have you done your homework? It’s going to take some preparation and research to purchase a home. We want you to be well-informed and encourage you to be your own advocate while researching and making home purchase decisions.
We’ve gathered some resources and information about being a first-time homebuyer and have provided them below. While by no means all-inclusive, we’re hoping these resources will help get you started!
You’re probably familiar withFHA Loans. These are loans insured by the government, more specifically the Federal Housing Administration. FHA Loans generally require lower down payments but do require the payment of mortgage insurance premiums which protect the lender if a borrower defaults.
If you’re an active or previous member of the military, a VA Loan may be something to consider. These loans are offered to credit qualifying veterans, or their surviving spouses if service and entitlement requirements are met. There is a VA loan no down payment option.
If you’re interested in living in a rural area as designed by the USDA Rural Guaranteed Housing Program, a USDA Home Loanmay interest you. USDA loan programs are designed to improve and grow rural areas and you don’t have to have a farm.
If you’re interested in living in an energy efficient home, you might want to consider programs that finance energy saving home improvements as part of the mortgage. Some are offered to first-time homebuyers.
Lastly, check your local home loan options! Inquire with local lenders who know the area in which you would like to live for financing options. You might be able to find a local down payment assistance program, or other alternative program that fits your needs!
Investing in a mortgage is a big step. It’s one of the biggest financial steps an individual will take in their lifetime. So it’s important to weigh it carefully. Don’t be discouraged by the size of the choice – instead be encouraged by the variety of resources you can tap into.
Down payments will vary among lenders and in amount, depending on the loan program, type of loan, home price, credit score and budget. Below we’ve crafted some questions that will help you evaluate and analyze your ability to save for a down payment.
Is now the time for me to purchase a home? In a society that favors the word “now” over the word “later,” this question may seem silly. But it’s not. Purchasing a home means saving consistently, making payments, paying additional bills, maintenance responsibilities, and more. Check out listings near you and see what’s out there. If you aren’t in a place where you can save or you haven’t been saving. It may be time to wait. Be honest with where you’re at.
2. What down payment can I afford? The possibility of purchasing a home is exciting. However, often our eyes are bigger than our wallets. It’s important to be practical. Consider how much you can pay out of pocket for a home. That may mean going with a cheaper home or being stricter with your spending.
3.What monthly payment does my income allow? Simple. How much do you or your household make in a month? What will your house payment do to that number? If it doesn’t cover the cost now – it won’t later. Consider picking up odd jobs or making a bigger down payment, or trying the next question.
4. What changes in spending do I need to make? Everyone needs to evaluate their spending before purchasing a home. Sometimes we need to prioritize the way we spend money. Leisure spending may not always be an option. If purchasing a home is a goal, consider how you can cut spending or alter your habits.
5. What method will I use to save money? Automatic saving accounts are the most widely recommended method of saving. Usually free, they can be drafted from your pay without effort from you. Banks sometimes have programs for first time buyers or you could invest. You could even try putting a dollar or change in a jar or bucket every day and depositing it every so often.
6. Do I need to ask for lower rates? If you’ve tried everything above and you still need some wiggle room – evaluate you bills. Are you paying high interest rates on credit cards? Has your car insurance been the same for a while? Consider calling and asking for lower rates. This could put more money in your pocket.
Congratulations, you’re doing your research and preparing well! Are you ready to start saving or do you need to work on one of these questions?
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Credit is complicated. There are no two ways about it. The best approach to dealing with credit is to educate yourself. This takes time and sometimes it means making mistakes, but don’t let the past dictate your future, push forward.
If you’ve had a hard time with telling the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to credit — this sheet is for you.
– Credit reports list your payment history
–Credit reports from the three nationwide credit bureaus can be obtained free once a year
– Credit scores are separate from credit reports, however credit scores are typically generated by credit bureau reports
– If YOU check your score, it does not lower your score. If a lender does, it can lower your score
– The number of credit cards a person has boosts their credit
– The higher the income, the better the credit
– Paying bills late will always lower your score
– Bad credit is forever
From fiction to fact…
“The number of credit cards a person has boosts their credit”
Your credit score does not factor in how many credit cards you have, but it does factor in credit card balances, credit history, late payments and the amount of credit card balances in relation to total available credit. Having more credit cards provides an equal opportunity to pay on time and to miss payments. Again, it all goes back to responsible and timely spending. It’s the quality of your spending, not the quantity.
“The higher the income, the better the credit”
How much income a person makes does not correlate to how they spend it. Your credit report shows if you pay your bills on time and the frequency in which you do so. While making more money may help you meet your payments, a credit score is dependent on how you practice financial responsibility.
“Paying bills late will always lower your score”
Don’t make paying bills late a habit. Most credit card lenders provide a grace period after the due date to make a payment. However, when paid after the grace period late payments are generally reported to the credit bureaus and can lower your score.
“Bad credit is forever”
Bad credit does last, but not forever. It usually ages off credit reports after 7 years, but that time can be extended if you have been through bankruptcy. That’s a good amount of time, but you can pay off debt.
When we started our mortgage, I was shaken up by the number of years and total of payments behind owning our home. It seemed so big, and I could only see it getting bigger with interest. In the first year of owning, we tried to simply get used having our monthly payment. But after researching I wanted to be a little more proactive in paying off our home.
Pre-paying your mortgage is situational. It’s not a one size fits all, but it can save you a lot of money in interest if you are in a financial position to do it. For me, it makes sense to pre-pay an extra fifty dollars a payment to cut time and interest off my total amount owed. Let’s dig in and look at when paying ahead can be beneficial.
If you’ve found your forever home. If you know you plan to stay in this home for a long period of time, then paying it off faster may be worth it. That way you are putting money into something that will benefit you and your family for years to come.
You’re in a financial situation where you can focus on debt. When you boil it down, the difference between paying off your mortgage sooner or later is when you want/need to have more money. What I mean is that if you are in a tight spot financially now with lots of bills and financial responsibilities you probably would benefit more from paying your regular payment.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot of bills or financial responsibilities and you’ve got savings you may want to pay down your mortgage debt now. This may give you less money in the future, but you also will have less debt. It’s always a catch 22. Moral of the story: if it won’t hurt you to add even 10 dollars a month, it may be worth considering. If it’s going to hurt you financially it’s not worth it – this is voluntary, not mandatory.
You want to eliminate as much interest as possible. In light of my own financial philosophy, reducing the amount of interest I pay over the life of the loan is a major motivation. Interest is a quiet debt, and for that reason I like to address it head on. The extra amount you end up paying by letting interest compound is significant. So, whenever I see an avenue to reduce my mortgage debt and the amount of interest I owe on that debt – I’m willing to do it. Even if it means having less money to spend now. I’d rather have less or no debt now than more money, but everyone is different.
You have some savings. It’s important to have some cushion. If you’ve been able to save, then pre-paying may also be appealing to you. That way you’re not spending the only money you’d have for emergencies and you are focusing on prioritizing your funds. Many people recommend having 3 – 6 months of earnings in savings, but this isn’t realistic for everyone. You should know based off your budget how much you might need if an emergency happened, and you needed enough money to last several months without a paycheck.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it does cover some of the main motivations behind pre-paying your mortgage. Remember the amount does not have to be big. You’d be amazed what pre-paying 10 dollars a payment for a year could do to decrease the total interest you will pay on your mortgage loan over time. Would pre-paying be a good option for you?
Mobile homes that are placed on pier and anchor foundations can be vulnerable to shifting if they are not set up properly or not maintained. It is a good idea to discuss your home’s foundation with your licensed installer before your home arrives.
The main cause of sinking foundations is due to the ground shifting. This usually happens when the weather changes. Freezing temperatures, rain, and humidity all effect the dirt underneath your home and change it by expanding and contracting. While you cannot control the weather, preventing moisture from accumulating underneath your home will help prevent the soil and foundation from shifting. According to a Manufactured Housing Research Alliance publication, these are some of the main preventative actions you can take.
1. Shed Water
Ensure that your property can shed water. When your land is being prepped, make sure the land is graded so that water will shed away from the home. If not, water could pool underneath the home causing damage. It is also important to be sure your gutter downspouts drain water away from the home. Gutter downspout extensions can be attached to the end of the downspout after your home is placed.
2. Ground Cover
There are a few other things that deserve your attention underneath the home. A proper ground cover under your home will help prevent moisture in the crawl space from entering the home through the floor. Make sure this is installed when the home is initially placed and have the barrier inspected by a professional periodically. Have the vapor barrier repaired or replaced if the inspector finds any tears. Do not attempt to inspect or fix the vapor barrier yourself. Only a professional contractor should go under your home.
Lastly, it is important to keep your skirting in good condition. Skirting keeps critters out and protects the underbelly of the home (pipes included) from the elements and moisture. If you notice a hole or have damaged skirting– consider investing in an update.
There are reasons other than water or moisture that can be the cause of your homes’ sinking foundation. However, these are the most common and preventable reasons. Once your home settles, it can become un-level. Look out for creaking floors, sticking doors, and buckling in the walls or floors. These could be signs of a foundation issue. We hope this helps!
These items are designed for professionals. So please ask your contractor or those placing your home to be sure these items are done by someone who can expertly and safely perform them. Doing these items incorrectly can damage your home.
Credit. It’s a six letter word that packs a punch. It helps us buy a home, allows us to learn financial responsibility, and sometimes it gives us a little more freedom than we were ready for. If you’ve had a bad experience with credit before – take a deep breath and relax. Your days of fearing a number are over. You are in control of your credit – not the other way around.
So you’re thinking, “Where do I start?” Whether you have no credit or bad credit – understand that building it doesn’t happen overnight. Just like building anything else, it’s a brick by brick process. Let’s jump in!
Get organized This is the key. Without it the cycle continues. Buy a calendar or make one just for your bills. This will help you become aware of your due dates so that you make a habit of paying on time. Set reminders on your phone and/or computer. Do all three – remind yourself however you need to. Keep a wall of post it notes with payment dates.
If you get paper statements—highlight what you owe each pay period. Keep a file folder with “To pay” and “Paid” labels. If you don’t have paper statements—keep up with upcoming payments on a whiteboard. This is the easiest way to tackle debt and stay on track. It’s important. Make a system and stick with it.
Set your max spending (and stay under it) Credit cards and loans are great—they allow us the opportunity to own something we probably couldn’t before. Yet, they sometimes can feel like free money. Where we get in trouble is when we forget we have to pay everything back—with interest. So how do you control that spending?
Discipline. Give yourself a ceiling. For example, a card or company may allow $500. Tell yourself, my max is $100 and stick to it. You will still build credit and you teach yourself how to be responsible. Credit is designed to prove you are financially responsible. Use it to learn money maintenance and focus on necessity spending instead of purchasing luxury items.
Keep up When it comes to your credit and payments—you are your own advocate. Know where you stand.
Consider a credit card with cushion (Secured /Authorized user) Not all credit cards are the same. So if you struggled with one variety—don’t feel discouraged. There are more options. One option is a secured card. With a secured card you pay a deposit to hold the card. Your credit limit is the amount of your deposit. Essentially, it’s a safeguard should you fail to fulfill your payments. It’s good discipline because then you understand how much money is behind your card, and you have a strong reminder to make payments because you pay into it.
Another option is to become an authorized user on someone’s credit card. Find someone who is first and foremost financially responsible. The best person to do this with is someone you can learn from. Think of them as a credit mentor who can help you spend well and keep you accountable.
You may have noticed while reading our blog that we have a great website with a huge inventory of mobile homes. Over the years, we’ve looked for the best ways to evolve and connect our customers, who are potential homeowners, with resources that fit them. Facebook is a reservoir of growth and sharing, so it only made sense to put our products where our customers were.
We regionalized our Facebook pages into multiples pages, “Used Mobile Homes of the Midwest”, is one example. This served us and our customers well for a while as we were able to advertise to the areas specific of those who liked the page. This was quite important as we have homes across the United States, and we wanted to serve customers with solutions in their area.
Our “Used Mobile Homes…” pages were the best way, we felt, to share inventory on social media. Now, we’ve found an even better way to share our inventory. We are combining all the pages into one page: “VMF Homes”. This will allow us to share everything we have with you, and it will be easier for our customers to find our brand. This will also streamline our ability to respond to you, update pricing, and give you the best information.
Keep an eye out for changes! Also, go ahead, if you’re a fan of our older pages, and like VMF Homes today!