Money worries for new homeowners
Moving into your first home is one of the biggest steps you’ll take in your life. Whether you’re moving out of your parents’ place or going from rented accommodation to your own property for the first time, becoming a homeowner is enormously exciting and a major achievement in adult life.
However, taking on the responsibility of a new home can also be hugely stressful and financially draining. All your savings have gone into a down payment, plus closing costs and legal fees; you’ve had the expense of physically moving in, and now you’ve got to adjust to perhaps new or bigger utility bills, more complex tax returns, and of course regular mortgage payments. Plus, there’s always more maintenance and repair work to do than you initially expected.
So what sort of money worries should you expect when you become a homeowner for the first time and how can you overcome them? Read on for tips and advice on smoothing the transition into taking on your own property.
Build an emergency fund
If possible, you should have an emergency fund for extra and unexpected costs set up before you move. Of course, that is easier said than done when you’re scraping together every last dollar for a down payment. But as mentioned above, you also need to plan to pay bills, including possibly connection fees, and probably more initial repairs, maintenance and decorating than you initially bargained on. While there are ways to manage the stress of a house move, having some money in the bank can alleviate it massively.
Don’t refurnish immediately
Your new house is a blank slate, and of course you have plans. You want to get started straight away redecorating, remodeling and refurnishing it to create your dream home. Well, hold your horses. Sorry to say this is the best way to spend far more than you need to on brand-new furniture, fixings and fittings, and in fact there’s no hurry: you’ve got all the time in the world.
Instead, take it easy. Make do with your old furniture or buy second-hand or basic items to see you through. Furnish the house gradually. So long as you’ve got the essentials you need to live, the secret to building your ideal living environment on a budget is to take your time.
Shop around for a good deal on homeowners’ insurance that suits your needs. Don’t forget to also get contents insurance and, if one person is paying the mortgage with several dependents, life insurance for the breadwinner (that also covers non-terminal injury or illness that could force you out of work).
Another great idea is home warranty. This is a protection plan for essential home repairs, where you pay an annual fee in return for having the costs of any named repairs covered.
Choicehomewarranty.com has some great deals for new homeowners that will take the worry and stress out of discovering a fault or a potentially expensive breakdown when you can least afford it.
Get your taxes in order
Being a homeowner can suddenly make your tax situation a lot more complicated, however, that doesn’t just mean that you’re liable to pay more. You can always use an online tax calculator to get a good estimate of your financial situation. There are many tax breaks and credits that you could be eligible for, that you could miss out on if you’re not on top of your tax game. For instance, many states offer financial incentives to insulate your home properly or to take other measures that improve energy efficiency- something that will save you money in the long run.
If you find you’re struggling to understand your tax position, it’s worth paying an accountant to handle it all for you. This is another cost that could work out saving you money in the long run.
Be green, be efficient
As mentioned above, energy efficiency can save you money, as well as being good for the planet. Set your hot water temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, as having it any higher is inefficient, which means wasted energy and wasted money. Buy energy efficient appliances, even if they cost a little more initially- they’ll reduce your energy bills immediately. Use a clothes rack or clothes line rather than an electric dryer. Just make sure any room you’re drying clothes in is well ventilated to prevent condensation and mold.
Unless you’re a millionaire money will always be a worry but there are steps you can take to minimize financial stress just by being prepared and not rushing into a purchase. Planning, insurance, information and efficiency will all help you to move into your new home and make it into the sanctuary you always dreamed of.