How to Reduce Your Housing Costs
and Save for Other Goals
Owning a home is anyone's dream, but it takes a lot in order to keep living in it. Apart from time and effort, you will also spend a lot of money on the various aspects of homeownership.
From the mortgage down to your utility bills, it's important to know how you can lower the cost of homeownership so you can save for other long-term and short-term goals. Whether you are financing your children's college education or saving enough money to retire abroad, it all starts with how you handle your financial resources.
It's only a matter of learning the tools, strategies, and techniques that will allow you to minimize your housing costs. Let's take a look at how much the average homeowner pays each month.
Homeownership as an Expensive Dream
Housing costs vary every year, and they are influenced by various factors from the inflation rate to the global market prices for basic commodities and utilities. Homeownership constitutes the bulk of living expenses.
According to an article, the average homeowner in the United States spends $1,784 a month on housing needs. From this, at least $1,050 is used for mortgage payments. This amount may vary from state to state, but it doesn't include costs for utilities, food, maintenance, homeowners' insurance, and transportation.
Homeownership requires sacrifices and making the most out of the benefits will cost you your plans in the future. It’s still possible to stay in your home while staying on track towards your goals. It’s just a matter of using the right approaches and making the right decisions before purchasing a home and during your stay there.
How to Keep Housing Costs Low
Homeownership is expensive, but it shouldn’t cause you to forego other goals. With these tips, you will be able to reduce your housing expenses and save some money for your future plans:
1. Be strategic
Location is critical to finding a home that meets your needs. When buying a home for the first time, you need to look for one in the best possible neighborhood. Aside from picking a community that has a cost of living you can afford, you should look for one that’s close to where you work to save money on your daily commute. Your best choice would be a neighborhood that’s walkable or bike-friendly.
2. Negotiate for the best deal
If you think you have found your dream home, you need to realize that you have space to negotiate for a better price. Most home listings will start out with a high price tag, but you can pull the amount down by getting a third-party home inspector to assess the home. Taking advantage of the home inspection contingency, you will be able to uncover structural issues that might need costly repairs.
From this, you can ask the seller to give you a discount or have them shoulder the cost of repair. Either way, you can settle down without having to spend a single cent on defects that could otherwise go undetected.
3. Be practical with your choices
It’s one thing to think about your dream home complete with all the features and amenities you need. However, extras like a library, a balcony, and a front deck make for a home you might not afford. It is important to be practical so, before you think about the kind of home you would like to live in, consider how much you can afford.
Bigger homes are obviously more expensive to purchase and maintain, so you should select one that fits your lifestyle and financial situation. Although you could end up with a home that’s far from ideal, you get to secure your own living space in the meantime as you make plans for your next purchase.
4. Set a home budget
Once you have secured your home, you need to keep your household finances in check. There’s more you need to spend aside from your mortgage payments, so it’s important that you set a budget based on how much you earn each month. Tracking your expenses is an effective way to adjust your spending habits, but it can get daunting if you have a lot of payments to make. You can always use personal finance apps that allow you to enter how much flows in and out of your bank account. With the right app, you can make better financial plans that will help you save more money for what matters.
5. Keep your utility bills low
Utilities can cost the average homeowner in the United States at least $400 each month, but some will be paying more depending on their usage as well as their location. The good news is that you can save more money just by using the right approaches for each utility:
Electricity: Consider replacing outdated bulbs with LED options. You can also shop around for an energy provider that offers affordable power plans
Water: Reuse rainwater on your plants and lawn. Consider installing a collection system that catches rainwater runoff you can reuse
Cable and Internet: Many cable providers offer fixed-rate plans that roll their cable and internet service into a single bundle
HVAC: Make the most out of your heating and air conditioning system by sealing up air leaks and installing a programmable thermostat
6. Move out if you can
There will come a time when staying in your home makes it impossible to save money for everything else. It could be an increase in the cost of living and property taxes. If you think your home is becoming more of a liability than an investment, consider selling it off at a fair market price. House-buying companies like Four 19 Properties are in the business of purchasing homes for quick cash. With this option, you won’t have to pay extra for staging your home and getting a realtor to sell it. You will be able to move into a more affordable neighborhood and cut your losses.
Buying and owning a home shouldn’t keep you from accomplishing other goals. You just need to learn the right strategies and approaches in controlling and tracking your expenses.
About the Author
James Allison oversees content writing services at Globex Outreach.