Purchasing a home is a huge milestone that comes with a fair share of financial considerations. If you’re a first-time homeowner, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the new expenses you’re now responsible for.
From your mortgage to property taxes to home insurance, it’s important to make sure you’re budgeting for everything. In this blog, you’ll learn helpful financial advice so that you can keep your finances in order and avoid any stressful surprises down the road.
Create a Budget
Sit down and list out all of your income and expenses. Make sure to include both your fixed costs (things like mortgage payments, car payments, insurance, etc.) and your variable costs (things like groceries, entertainment, etc.). Once you have an accurate picture of your finances, you can start to save up for a down payment and get an idea of what kind of mortgage payment you can afford.
Save for A Down Payment
Saving for a down payment on a house doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you take things one step at a time and stay focused on your goal. One of the best ways to make sure you’re consistently saving is to set up automatic transfers from your checking account into your savings account. That way, you won’t have to think about it or be tempted to spend the money instead. You can set up weekly or monthly transfers, depending on what works better for you financially.
You should also consider putting your windfalls towards your down payment fund. If you get a bonus at work or come into some unexpected money, don’t be tempted to spend it all immediately. Instead, add it to your down payment fund so that you can reach your goal even faster.
Also, try to stay motivated by setting smaller goals along the way. It can be helpful to break up your larger savings goal into smaller ones so that you can feel like you’re making progress even when it seems like it’s taking forever to save up enough money for a down payment. For example, if your goal is to save $20,000 for a down payment within two years, you could break that down into smaller goals of saving $1,000 per month.
Save for Closing Costs
In addition to your down payment, you’ll also need to come up with the money for closing costs. These are the fees associated with processing and approving your mortgage loan. They can add up quickly, so be sure to factor them into your budget when planning for your home purchase.
Ensure you compare different mortgage loan options. There are many factors to note, such as interest rates, repayment terms, and fees. Consider all of these factors before choosing a loan so that you can find the one that’s right for you.
Some common options include fixed-rate loans, adjustable-rate loans, and interest-only loans. Each type of loan has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Fixed-rate loans offer predictable monthly payments and protection from rising interest rates. Adjustable-rate loans start with a low-interest rate but can increase over time. Interest-only loans can help make monthly payments more affordable, but they’ll eventually require a larger payment when the loan principal comes due.
Shop Around for the Best Rate
Keep in mind that rates can change daily, so it’s important to lock in a rate as soon as you find one that works for you. You can use websites like Bankrate.com or Mortgagecalculator.com to compare rates from different lenders. Once you’ve found the best rate, be sure to get the loan in writing so that there are no surprises down the road.
Get Mortgage Pre-Approval
One of the first things you should do when you’re ready to start looking for a home is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will give you an idea of how much house you can afford and help narrow your search to properties that fit within your budget. It’s important to remember, however, that just because you’re pre-approved for a certain loan amount doesn’t mean you have to max out your budget—leaving some wiggle room in your finances is always a good idea.
Create a Home Maintenance Fund
One expense that many first-time homeowners don’t factor in is the cost of routine maintenance and repairs. To avoid being caught off guard by an unexpected repair bill, we recommend setting aside money each month into a dedicated home maintenance budget. This way, when something breaks or needs fixing, you’ll already have the money set aside to cover the cost without having to put it on a credit card or take it from your savings account.
Make Energy-Efficient Upgrades
Another great way to save money as a homeowner is to make energy-efficient upgrades wherever possible. Small changes like switching out old lightbulbs for LED bulbs or installing low-flow showerheads can make a big difference in your monthly energy bills. Plus, many utility companies offer rebates or discounts for energy-efficient upgrades, so be sure to do your research and take advantage of these programs whenever possible. Your wallet will thank you!
When purchasing a home, first-time homeowners like you must be highly aware of and responsible for all your finances. If you follow these tips, you can purchase a property while staying within your financial means.