In the U.S., 5.51 million people bought a home in 2017. It’s incredibly exciting time for most, especially for first time home buyers. It is also, unfortunately, a time of great expense.
The cost of the home itself is often just the tip of the iceberg.
There are a ton of unforeseen expenses to account for, from moving to furnishing and appliance replacement. Because of this, it’s important to save money where you can, to make up for expenses you weren’t planning for.
In this article, we’ll provide 9 great money-saving tips for new homeowners.
1. Check for Proper Attic Insulation
One of the biggest home expenses are energy costs, so you want to make sure your home is running as efficiently as possible. If your new home has an incomplete attic that you use for storage, you’ll want to check to make sure it’s adequately insulated, otherwise it’ll leak heat or cool air, causing your air conditioner to work harder than it should.
Between the walls’ beams, there should be at least 6 inches of insulation, and possibly even more if you live in a cold-weather area. If your attic’s walls don’t have this much insulation, you’ll want to add more immediately.
This one fix could save you hundreds of dollars a month.
2. Optimize Your Water Heater
Your water heater should not bring the temperature of your home’s water over 120 degrees, as it’s very rare that you’ll ever need water at this temperature. If your heater is warming water to a temperature above this, you’re likely just wasting money.
You may also want to invest in a water heater blanket if your heater isn’t very well insulated. This will help keep the heat where it should be: in the water.
3. Get Rid of Private Mortgage Insurance
If you didn’t buy your home with at least a 20% down payment, you may be forced to pay for private mortgage insurance. While it may sound like a benefit to you, it actually protects the lender, and it can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly mortgage payment.
So you’ll want to shirk this insurance as soon as possible. You can do this by saving up more than you would in the first couple of years of your mortgage and make some advanced payments when you can. Once you’ve paid off more than 20% of the home, you won’t have to pay for the PMI any longer.
4. Avoid Appliance Insurance
When buying a new stove or refrigerator, retailers will also try to sell you on appliance insurance, should anything go wrong with your new item. However, it is rarely worth it, as the insurance is usually more expensive than its worth. This is why they’re selling it to you.
If you’re concerned about your appliances malfunctioning, you can set aside the money you’d pay in insurance and put it into a savings account, where it’ll accrue interest and be used for other things if need be.
6. Use Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a bit costly up front but putting a ceiling fan in every room of your house helps with air circulation and can greatly reduce your energy costs.
Because they’re so good at circulating air, you can get away with keeping the thermostat a few degrees higher in the summer months, and a few degrees lower in the winter, which can potentially save you thousands in energy costs over time.
Just make sure that in the summer months, your fan is pushing cool air down to you, and in the summer months, the fan is pushing cool air upwards.
7. Buy Cheap, then Upgrade
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you’re likely moving from a small apartment to a house with a much larger square footage. This means you’ll be needing more furniture to adequately fill your home. Furniture that you probably don’t have.
Buying great, quality furniture up-front can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but there’s no reason to put yourself into an exorbitant amount of debt out of the gate just to buy the couch of your dreams.
You’re better off buying the cheapest possible items and upgrading over time. You’ll save your self a lot of anxiety and money in interest payments.
8. Monitor Basement Cracks
If you have a basement, you’ll want to check it for cracks in the walls. Odds are you have several hairline fractures in the concrete foundation. These are natural occurrences, as over time the foundations of homes shift and crack. You only need to be worried if these cracks are enlarging.
To monitor these cracks, you should place masking tape over the entirety of the crack and then write down the day’s date on the tape. If you return to inspect the basement in a few months and notice that the crack has spread out beyond the tape, you’ll want to contact a specialist immediately.
With this kind of problem, catching it sooner rather than later will save you a ton of money.
9. Take Advantage of Tax Credits
Depending on where you live, there are a variety of fantastic federal and state tax benefits for homeowners that make energy-based improvements to their homes.
For example, if you install solar panels on your home, you can receive an enormous federal tax credit that will pay for 30% of the installation costs. On top of that, many states’ tax credits that will pay a smaller percentage of the installation costs.
You could end up having the government pay for nearly half of your solar panel installation! And of course, you’d save money in the long-run just by using much more efficient solar panels.
Want More Tips for New Homeowners?
The expenses that come with buying a new home can be overwhelming, but hopefully, these tips for new homeowners will help you save some much-needed money.
If you’d like to get more advice or tips on decorating your new home in a beautiful and cost-effective way, be sure to check out the rest of our blog. We’ve got all the information a new homeowner would ever need.