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How to live cheap and frugal

Updated on April 14, 2017
H Darnell profile image

I am a work from home mom of 2. Using my spare time, I find ways to save on everything in my life.

Determine what you want in your home

Let's face it, most of us cannot have everything we want. No matter how hard we work or how determined we are to buy what we want it always seems out of grasp. I made some bad decisions several years ago and thought it didn't really matter how much I spent on rent. All I cared about was having enough bedrooms for my children and having a nice house. Long story short I was paying a boat load towards rent and throwing away money. I realized about 2 years ago that it didn't matter what you lived in as long as you are financially comfortable. This is when I decided that a manufactured home was the home for my family.

  • I got lucky with the purchase of my current home which is a mobile home. After a falling out from a sour relationship instead of forcing me and my kids to move, he offered to sell me the home. I jumped on the opportunity and paid $2,000.00 for it. Being a 2 bedroom, 900sf home I was happy and proud of myself with my new purchase, and the start of my new journey in life.
  • I went from paying between $500-$900 a month in rent to paying only $335.00 a month for lot rent and only $65.00 a year in taxes. My mobile home is located in a community and I live in a rural area. Depending on where you live will depend on your yearly taxes. I own this home, meaning I can do whatever remodels that I want with it. No landlord to tell me what I can't hang up or paint. I love feeling like a home owner in my home.
  • You can choose where you put your home. You can either purchase your own land and build a basement, crawlspace or concrete slab to set your home on. Alternatively, you can rent a lot in a mobile home community. The choice would most likely come down to whether or not you like neighbors. Most manufacturers of mobile homes can do a land/home mortgage combination so that you do not have to purchase any land separately if purchasing a brand new home.

First find out what you can afford

Whether or not you are buying new or used, or where you are going to live, you need to set a budget. If you are going to a brand new manufactured home and/or taking out a loan for any part of it I suggest staying below the max budget set by the bank. I mean, why would anyone smart want to tie up most of their income on house payments right?

  • Once you figure out how much you can afford think of how long you will live in your new home. Are you buying to live cheaper to save up for your DREAM home? Or is this going to be more permanent?
  • If your just looking for a 2-5 year deal then buying a used manufactured home would work best for you. It will be cheaper and most Mobile Home Communities offer rent to own on their homes that are usually remodeled before the new owner arrives (unless it's usually for sale under $1000.00 to buy, then expect some issues.)
  • If you're a handy person, look for deals like my community offers. $500.00 handy man specials. These are mostly 2 bedroom homes that require work done before the park hands over the title to the home (yes mobile home/manufactured homes have titles, not deeds.) This means you pay the $500.00 up front and sign an agreement stating you will complete the work required in said terms, then the park signs the title to you and you will then be the owner. Taxes are cheap, maintenance is easy and snow removal, trash and water is included!

Pick your floor plan and exterior!

Buying a new Manufactured home

There are several websites that you can visit that allow you to choose the floor plan of your home. From start to finish you choose every decoration and detail in the home. Most retailers or manufacturers include appliances (make sure to ask for central A/C included in the price, most won't include the A/C unless you ask.)

There will also be overstock specials on select floor plans or models. You can find 1-5 bedroom homes all brand new under $100,000. This includes the appliances, delivery and set up! And yes these are beautiful homes that will allow you to live in luxury, without the hefty price tag.

Below I have included links of a few websites where you can choose your floor plan, compare prices and decide if a new manufactured home is for you. If you are looking to buy land, the cheapest will almost always be rural and you can sometimes find land as cheap as $5,000 per acre. If you buy lets say 2 acres at $5,000 and a home at $40,000 you are looking at a mortgage under $500 per month and the property taxes will be cheaper than owning a site/stick built home which can be in the thousands per year!

Mobile homes can have nice kitchens too!

Pro's and Con's of a mobile home

I have found things to love, and dislike about living in a mobile home and I wanted to share my insight.

The pro's

  • Taxes are lower, I pay less in rent, and save money by not having to pay for trash, sewer and water.
  • I feel a great sense of ownership and pride in my home.
  • It feel great not spending a fortune on a home I do not own.
  • I can upgrade and renovate anything I want.
  • I have saved more money owning a manufactured home then any place I've had to pay house rent at.

The con's:

  • Homeownership means you have to do the maintenance. It stinks, but it's better than dealing with a landlord who doesn't come to fix a leaky ceiling for a week (yes this has happened!)
  • If you buy a mobile home older than 1974 than be prepared because you might have high energy bills. Depending on whether there have been renovations (replaced windows, etc.) will determine if you will have this issue. Before 1974 there weren't any building codes requiring the home to be energy efficient.

I guess those are the only cons I have living where I live. I am more happy here than any other home. I do have a 3 year plan, saving up to buy my DREAM house. Some like myself never plan to live in a mobile home forever so by no means does this have to be your end game. If you would like to see what options you have as far as floor plans, exterior looks and prices on homes I have provided a couple links. Seeing your options will help you better understand what you can afford and how much luxury you want in your new home.

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More savings tips!

  • Grow a garden! For first timers, I suggest reading some articles. Gardening can provide you most of the food you can survive off of. You may need to put a little money and effort into starting out, however the yield afterwards can help you make additional income (selling fruits and veggies, baked or canned goods.) Or you can simply use the garden as your food source, meaning less money you'll have to spend on groceries!
  • Never shop hungry! I used to shop hungry all the time until I started realizing I would come home with more snacks than food for meals. Buying beef jerky is the worst thing you could probably spend your money on if you are on a small tight budget.
  • Stick to your plans, do not deviate from your savings plan because something came on sale. Trust me, it's not worth getting mad at yourself for buying something wanted and not needed, to find out it made you broke. Do not spend money you do not have either. If you have a credit card try to only use it in emergencies. Not to buy the new shoes you wanted that could have waited until your next paycheck.
  • When shopping online, always compare prices. There is almost always going to be a store that has it cheaper, and if you are patient, you will most likely always find the best deals!

I am not a home buying expert, I am only expressing my personal experience on saving money on home expenses. I am not paid by any site listed in my links provided. Please feel free to comment should you have any questions or would like more tips! Thanks for reading

© 2016 Heather Darnell

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    • H Darnell profile image
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      Heather Darnell 23 months ago from Quad Cities

      drpennypincher: I'm usually always hungry too! I found that when I shop hungry, I deviate from my shopping list the most, in turn causing me to spend more money than I budgeted. I started eating a small snack shortly before my shopping trip and it has helped! Thanks for the comment!

    • drpennypincher profile image

      Dr Penny Pincher 23 months ago from Iowa, USA

      I have trouble with the one about "never shop hungry" since I am always hungry! Interesting details on saving money by living in a mobile home.