Understanding What Makes Up Your Credit Score

Part of accurately building your credit is by understanding it. That begins with a breakdown of the factors that play into your score. The assumption by many is that credit is based solely on our ability to pay back money. While that is an aspect – it’s important to look at the collective.

Let’s elaborate on the 5 components of credit. Below we’ve got some examples to further help explain what each section means. These are made up examples and do not pertain to actual people or advice.

    1. Payment History: How well you’ve done with paying back your charges – based off consistency of repayment. Example: Debbie pays a little over her minimum payment before the due date. 
    2. Amounts Owed: How much you owe compaired your credit limit. Example: Debbie’s credit limit is $500 and she has a balance on her credit card of about $50 at a time. This is 10 percent of her limit, so her ratio of credit to amount owed is pretty low.
    3. History Length: How long you’ve had your credit. Example: Debbie has a credit card that she’s had for about 10 years. It shows over time how she’s used the card and done with making payments.
    4. New Credit: Based off opening new lines of credit. Example: Debbie opened a credit card, got a car loan, and opened a store credit card all in within two months. This could cause her score to drop.
    5. Credit Mix: Diversity and amount of credit lines. Example: Debbie has 5 lines of credit now: a department store credit card, a car loan, a secured credit card, a credit card through a bank, and a major credit card.

Check out This Credit Infographic

Source: https://www.equifax.com/personal/education/credit/score/how-is-credit-score-calculated

5 Attitudes to Help Keep Your Financial Info Safe in the Digital Age

Today’s society is a digital one. It’s hard to escape – even when you want to. We trust the internet with a large amount of information about us, especially our finances. It makes sense – who doesn’t love online shopping? Performing financial transactions online is quicker, environmentally-friendly, and less to keep up with versus handling in person or via paper, which is not always convenient. You can’t pay with a check if you buy something online, after all. However, with the internet being the storehouse for all our bank transactions and financial processes, we have to be careful with how we interact online and what we share.

So, how can we use the internet and keep our finances safe? Let’s look at 5 attitudes that will help you deal safely on the internet:

Be a skeptic – If you sign up for a card, account, or loan ask how your info will be used and who will have to ability to see it. Read paperwork or online terms that you sign or agree to and ask questions about what confuses you. If someone on the phone, through email, or text asks for personal info – do not provide it without reason. If you did not contact them first, ask to see them in person or to see paperwork before sharing personal information. No one dealing legally with finances will demand personal information or ask for it immediately.

Be knowledgeable– Don’t be the one who doesn’t catch fraud because you never check your accounts. Log in at least weekly and be sure you can account for charges and that proper deposits have been made. Alert your financial institution immediately if you lose a payment card or fear illegal activity.

Be selective – When shopping online, don’t just buy something from a site you’ve never heard of or researched. Read reviews and research brands or companies online. If you don’t find any information, or you find bad information – don’t purchase from them. Never have your payment card information stored in a store’s website – even if you trust it.

Be thorough – Change your passwords regularly, and make them complex. Update security questions regularly as well.  Try to use multi-factor authentication to log into your accounts and applications where it is available – this means that you will have to take an additional step to gain access after entering your login credentials. Set up alerts on  your accounts and devices to notify you of sign-in activity that happens in uncommon locations versus your usual location. These steps may feel annoying, but they can discourage hackers.

Be unpredictable– Be aware of the patterns in your log in or spending activity and try to change it up from time to time where you can. Log out of email, social media sites, and other sites and applications after browsing sessions. Don’t post or list where you bank or live.

Adopt just one of these attitudes and you’re on your way to being safer online. Read more below!

Keep Your Info Safe!

Painting Vinyl on Gypsum Walls in Your Mobile Home

Some mobile homes will have vinyl walls. Typically, they will be vinyl on/over gypsum (VOG) or paper on/over vinyl (POG). It’s important to understand what you’re working with – especially if you’ve never painted this type of wall before. Adding a new paint job is a great, affordable facelift. I’ll show you some of the steps to help you do a great, lasting paint job!

Sources, like this one, stress the importance of proper technique when painting vinyl on gypsum walls. These walls are (as you are probably aware) –  a waxy, smooth texture because they are made to resist water. Read more on the home maintenance site about VOG walls and why they are such a practical choice for mobile homes.

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Find your perfect color scheme!

It’s important to note that before starting any new home project, you should always consult with a professional.

  1. Clean. You’ll need a safe, gentle cleaner and a rag or sponge to wipe down the entire wall area where you are wanting to paint. You may need to give it a few passes with the cleaner. You can let it air dry or go back through with a dry cloth. Either way, you want to make sure you give ample drying time.
  2. Quality. When it comes to selecting primer, paint, and application gear you’re going to want to pick the best you can. Many sites that give a tutorial for this project, recommend selecting the highest quality you can. This is because VOG walls may not hold your paint as well as other walls – so getting something that’s high quality ensures a better outcome. You MUST get primer for these types of walls. Keep that in mind when pricing things out before you shop. There is a 2 in 1 option, but ask the paint professionals what best fits you. Don’t forget to get good quality brushes and rollers as well.
  3. Prep.
  • Fill in holes in the walls
  • Tape off the area so you don’t get paint on the ceiling or trim.
  • Lay down old sheets or tarps to protect your flooring.

4. Battens – to keep or not to keep. Many VOG walls have battens that hold the vinyl       panels together where they join. These can be removed for painting and then filled           and smoothed over. It gives a fancy final look but adds a lot of extra time and work           unless you are used to this process. You can also simply paint over the battens. They           are visible still, but it will look nice, too.

5. Start with light coats. When applying both primer and paint use thin, light coats.          More than likely, you’ll need 2 or 3 coats to cover the wall, so over applying is                      something to be sure to avoid. This makes for easy application and quick drying!

For a little different order on the process and some more tips, check out this home site’s recommendations. You may find their approach more fitting for you. I hope this helps you get acquainted with the process and gives you confidence to keep researching and start your own painting project. For a little inspiration, check out the quiz below. This can help you find your perfect color pallet!

How to Clean Vinyl Siding

Vinyl is the exterior material used for most mobile homes. However, its popularity isn’t limited to mobile homes – many manufactured homes and site built homes utilize this versatile material. Even though it’s relatively easy to maintain, vinyl gets dirty pretty quickly.

Below are some practical ways to clean your vinyl siding. Most options are cheap and use household items/ cleaners.

First things first – before you begin utilizing these cleaning solutions and methods, be sure you test one small area of the siding before taking on the whole project. There are many different types of siding and you want to be sure your siding reacts well.

vinyl siding on mobile home

The Basics—

In a resource section of their website, The Vinyl Siding Institute – America Sides With VinylSM, recommends using a soft cloth or regular long-handled brush with soft bristles to clean vinyl.  It is suggested that you should clean from the bottom up and cover any brick on the home below the siding to prevent possible staining from runoff.

For mold and mildew, The Vinyl Siding Institute recommends a water/ vinegar mixture that is 70/30. For small areas,  Windex ® or a similar commercial cleaner can be used.

The following can be used for Stubborn Stains—

1/3 cup powered laundry detergent

2/3 cup powdered household cleaner

1 quart liquid laundry bleach*

1 Gallon of water

**Please exercise CAUTION when making any cleaning solution and be sure to NEVER mix bleach and ammonia.**

If you’ve got a garden or great landscaping around your home, you want to be sure to preserve the area while cleaning.

For a mixture that is Landscaping friendly—

Some websites suggest using a gallon of water mixed with a much smaller amount of an eco-friendly cleaner like oxygen bleach.

If these solutions aren’t for you – there is always pressure washing. It’s a little pricier to rent the equipment, but paired with one of the cleaning solutions above it will make for a powerful clean!

Pressure washing—

Most expert sites agree, that when pressure washing, it is best practice to pair with a cleaning solution. Be sure to tend to landscaping accordingly. Also, when washing keep the sprayer eye level for best results. This keeps water from getting behind the siding.

We hope this has been helpful!

Watch for Cleaning How To!

Energy Saving Tips for Your Mobile Home

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.

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.

Check Out Insulation Options!

  • 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!

How to Help Prevent Your Mobile Home’s Foundation from Shifting

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.

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The best prevention is being aware of how your home is being placed and having communication with the team that is doing the work.

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.

3. Skirting

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.

Your Home From Water

The Truth about These Mobile Home Myths

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.

Search Homes Now!

They are starter homes.

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.

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Your forever home is right here.

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!

Can Mobile Homes Build Equity?

Why Checking Your Credit Report is the Best First Step

Honestly, I didn’t care about credit until I went to buy a home. Then it mattered – greatly. Unfortunately, I found it to be true “no credit is equal or worse than bad credit”. It’s a good idea to check out your credit score and report before buying a home. After reviewing your credit report and score, you might choose to pursue a home purchase or you might try improve your credit score first.

By law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Unfortunately, some folks don’t know this and end up paying for what they didn’t have to. Also, some websites claiming to sell credit reports and scores are not legitimate. Be sure to check out this site to be sure you don’t get fooled by an impostor website.

You can visit one website to get your free credit reports from the three major credit reporting companies – AnnualCreditReport.com. You’ll have to input some of your personal info to retrieve your report. This is the same if you call or mail your request. If you create a myEquifax® account, you can get two free credit reports a year.

Credit reports offer you a lot of details – from debts and when you paid them to old addresses. Plus, things like payments, accounts, and actions within them that you may not know about. That’s why credit reports are always good to look at– because they may show information about potential fraud or identity theft and things that you may not be aware of. This may help you protect your credit score and history by letting you see whether all the information and account details are accurate. Then, if they are not, you can freeze your credit, place a fraud alert, or dispute inaccuracies.

What you may be surprised to find out is that credit reports do not list your credit score! Weird, huh? You’d think for sure it would.

According to Equifax®, there are a couple of ways to see your credit score.

  1. You can contact your credit card company or bank as sometimes they may provide your credit score to you as an account feature.
  2. You can purchase your credit score directly from any of the three major credit reporting companies.

Find More About Credit Scores!

How Escrow Accounts Work and Why They Rock

If you have a mortgage, then chances are you’ve heard the word escrow thrown around a time or two. But what is it exactly?

An escrow account is a helpful tool built into your mortgage. It allows for funds to be collected monthly to pay for your homeowner’s insurance and/or property taxes. By your mortgage collecting escrow, it ensures that your insurance and property taxes are paid in a timely manner. The benefit to you is you don’t have to worry about fronting hundreds or thousands of dollars all at once for your homeowner’s insurance or property taxes.

The formula is typically simple for finding the amount owed. Let’s say both insurance and taxes are escrowed from each monthly payment. The monthly payment is found by taking the total amount paid to both insurance and taxes for the year and then divided by 12. (The 12 is for 12 months.) That’s it! That would be your monthly payment in addition to your mortgage! Please keep in mind, some lenders may use another calculation that varies slightly and is also permitted by the law. Be sure to contact your lender if you have further questions as to how your escrow is calculated.

Occasionally, your escrow payments may increase or decrease. If that happens, either your insurance or taxes have changed. This will affect what you pay monthly. In most loan types, this is the cause of increase or decrease for monthly payments.

All in all, escrow accounts allow for your insurance and property taxes to be paid on your behalf without much extra work on your end!

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Researched and created by Rachel Mersinger

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