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!
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.
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!
Okay, so you took the time and set yourself up to grow for the new year! Great job! Yet, now so soon into the new year you might be feeling a bit discouraged, realize the true impact of your goal, or you may just not know how to go about making the change. We understand all of these situations. We also love to meet goals and do better, so as you work on you – we’re on your team! Here are some simple tips that can hopefully help you in sticking to your resolution.
Find accountability. A lot of people suggest sharing your resolutions with friends or a support group working towards for similar goals. This can feel a little scary because speaking it means you are responsible for it. Yet, friends and support should be ready to cheer you on – so there’s little to fear. Having someone to check in with you weekly or monthly can help you process what you’re doing, and perhaps what you could do more of, or better. Find the right folks to help you get motivated and encourage you.
Try to have tunnel vision. It’s usually best to focus on one goal, but if you’re like me you’ve got plenty you want to do. So, if you made more than one resolution that doesn’t mean your off the hook for this one. It means you need to plan out some events/ support groups that will help you in each goal: perhaps divide your resolutions up into sets of months (one resolution gets two months, then you start with another), or simply spend time reflecting on your progress on each one individually.
Track progress/ success. One of the biggest downfalls for trying to change or create new habits is that people don’t realize how difficult it is to do what they want to do. Beyond that, when we don’t achieve what we thought we would – it’s all the more discouraging. A great way to combat this is to write down your small wins and progress. Journaling isn’t the only way though. You can reward yourself with a treat when you reach a milestone or have friends celebrate with you!
Be okay with stumbling. You will falter. That’s okay. Accept that as learning, lean into what it can teach you. Give yourself some time, evaluate where you slipped, and then try again. There’s no shame in that. The most thorough successes are met with a tried and true path. Learning looks a lot like missing the mark but that way it sticks with you and you understand truly earning it.
Ask for help. Trying to make a fitness goal? Ask a friend to register with you for a 5K. Add people to your goal. It’s so much better when you aren’t alone. Perhaps you have a friend that really excels in a direction you are trying to go – ask them for their tips and tricks. You probably have more resources and support available than you realize.
Change is hard, but 100 percent worth it. You can make those resolutions a reality. Take small steps, accept when you trip, and enjoy the ride. It’s going to be quite the year!
With the internet and how sophisticated listings are today, buyers are more and more likely to purchase a home without viewing it or going through traditional channels. Now, certain situations may warrant someone buying without viewing – but we highly discourage it. There are just certain things you can only get a true feel for by visiting. What kind of things you might ask?
Learn the location and neighborhood. Photos don’t always tell you enough about a neighborhood or area. They can’t give you a feel for what’s butted up against the home. They won’t show you how the homes surrounding your potential home look. They don’t tell you about the best wing restaurant being just up the street! The places around your home are quite important – learn your proximity.
Talk to the neighbors (if there are any). When we were looking at our house, one of the neighbors introduced themselves and told us about the previous owner’s work to the home and how they enjoyed the area. This was a big encouragement to us. Another place we visited, the neighbor stared at us the whole time with a scowl watching where we parked. My point is, neighbors matter. Whether they tell you a place is great, not so great or just show you with their attitude, it can make an impact.
Seasonal changes. You can’t tell what homes look like in and out of season. You still won’t visit the home each season probably, but you can get a feel for some different aspects. Perhaps when you visit the home and it’s raining, and you notice some flooding or pooling or water that needs to be addressed. Maybe you see it at sunset and notice where the light falls in the house. You could even see a meadow behind the home you didn’t see in the summer photos because the leaves hid it – the list goes on. See your potential home in a variety of situations, times, and weather if possible.
Look out for problem areas. Visiting a home will allow you to see potential problem areas. Big problems could include soft spots/ water stains or alike damage in the home. Bad electrical or plumbing may be evident by trying light switches, outlets, and looking for leaks or slow draining of water if it’s turned on. These items are quite expensive and can be an unwanted hit to your wallet. Figure out what you’re willing to fix and what’s too much.
Let your imagination take hold. Visiting the home allows you to dream. It helps you see where your kids can play, or your grandparent can sit, or where you’ll spend most of your time entertaining. Walking through a home helps you visualize your family living there and even how you can decorate it! It helps the dream materialize a little more.
An informed buyer is a happy buyer. With any home, even a brand new one – there will be some surprises and things to deal with- it’s just part of the responsibility of being a homeowner. However, if you can alleviate yourself from some of these things, why not do it?
Many opinions and ideas have been taken as fact when it comes to mobile homes. But as manufactured housing continues to evolve and gain popularity, it’s important that these myths are eliminated.
If you’ve seen one model, you’ve seen them all.
Maybe 30 years ago this statement had some grounds, but not now. Mobile homes are no longer built all the same. There are a wide variety of models with traditional to upscale layouts and materials. Mobile homes are evolving and changing.
Just look at the popularity of small manufactured homes. The whole idea of smaller homes is to provide a small, efficient space. There are mobile homes for a variety of budgets and lifestyles.
A mobile home can the home you live in all your life, especially now. In the past, mobile homes were sometimes considered transitional, temporary housing. Today, they are an investment for many families.
We are often told we have to have a bigger or more expensive home and that we should not be satisfied with the first home we buy. But when it comes to your home, you decide. If you love your home, then you love it. You don’t have to have a bigger, newer home. Your home has character. Your home is YOURS.
Mobile homes aren’t built well.
Manufactured homes are built indoors, which helps to protect the home from weather during the building process. Also, mobile homes are typically built on sturdy, steel frames. They are built to comply with federal HUD Code building requirements, which enable builders to build with consistency and quality. Check out code standards.
They are not built to withstand storms.
No home is indestructible, but manufactured homes are built with weather in mind. Manufactured homes built to HUD Code must be built according to which wind zone the home will be located in. There are three wind zones based in the United States. Coastal areas are in the highest wind zone, Zone 3. Zone 3 homes are built to be able to withstand 110 mph winds. Wind Zone 2 are built to withstand up to 100 mph. Zone 1 homes are located in more interior areas of the country. In these areas, the threat of hurricanes is much lower, so Zone 1 homes are built to withstand lower wind speeds. Get educated about wind zones!
When it comes to financial planning some people want to run the other way, while others make a list that they never apply to their situation. But plans are nothing without specific goals to achieve before that year is out. You’ll find too that even if you’re unable to achieve a goal – you’ll have set yourself up to getting closer to it just by knowing your endpoint and moving towards it. With that in mind, let’s look at some practical ideas that help you move forward.
Raise your credit score __ points. You decide how many points feel feasible. This goal is helpful because instead of just saying better your credit score – you can measure your success. Don’t know how or where to start? We’ve got you covered with some ideas on how to build your credit.
Save a certain amount. Pick a number and set up the guidelines of how to reach it. Base it off of your budget and income – don’t reach for something unrealistic, but don’t make it easy either. Have something in mind for what you’ll save. Think something like: saving to pay off a piece of debt, to pay for a home update, to fix a car, to be generous, or to give a special gift. Starting from scratch? Let’s get that budget figured out!
Pay extra towards the principal of a piece of debt. We all know interest is crippling, right? So, why not try to get ahead of it a little bit? Some loans will allow you to allocate where your money goes. You might try to allocate an extra $50 to your monthly payment directly at your principal. This reduces the overall amount and lessens what you pay interest on. It can also cut time off the life of your loan.
Write down purchases/ balance your checkbook. Tracking what you spend isn’t a blast, I get it. However, with the digital transformation of our money it’s so important to keep track of where it’s going. Not only is this a good habit to combat over-drafting or cutting it close, but also it can help you realize your spending habits. Sometimes we don’t realize what we regularly spend on that isn’t needed. This is a good place to trim the budget.
Spend less in one specific category. If you discover that you overspend in one area or you already know a problem area, give yourself guidelines for how to do better in that certain area. Either cut yourself off completely, make a budget for how much you can spend, or make smarter purchases within that category.
Start with simple investing. Investing can seem hard to get into but there are low-impact things you can do first. Start by researching, asking someone you trust how they invest, or consult a professional. Never make an investment you feel unprepared for.
We hope that these ideas get you inspired and hopeful about reaching accurate and helpful goals. Remember a step is a step and we commend any progress. Take a step by focusing on your financial planning.