Most people don’t realize that there are hidden costs to home ownership. What’s even worse is that many people don’t budget, and therefore aren’t financially prepared for these forgotten costs. When making a large purchase, it’s always a smart idea to include some wiggle room in your budget and beef up your savings for unexpected expenses.
Here are five ways that homeownership can end up costing you more than you anticipated:
Yep, you’re now in charge of all maintenance costs. Everything from a leaking hot water heater to a broken AC unit, it’s now your responsibility. It always seems that when one thing goes bad, so does something else…and something else…and it just snowballs from there. That’s why it’s imperative you have an emergency fund socked away. These expenses can show up when you least expect them, so be prepared.
You’ll quickly realize that the grass doesn’t cut itself. And that means you have to buy a lawnmower or pay someone. Before you go buy that FINE and FANCY lawnmower, get quotes from lawn care professionals. Unless you just love mowing the lawn or plan to stay in that same home for many years, it may be most cost effective and more fun for you to hire someone.
Taxes and Insurance
If you have a mortgage, these are likely to be held in escrow by your mortgage company and be a part of your monthly payment. Online mortgage calculators don’t factor these in. Look at the current taxes on your dream home and figure 1/12 of that will be part of your payment as well as 1/12 of homeowners coverage. A good lender is will help you estimate these and the prepaid escrow required at closing in the preapproval process.
No one realizes just how much time it takes to keep up a home. Your weekends will be spent spring cleaning and doing routine maintenance. Homeownership takes work. You have to keep it tidy. Maintain it during the seasons. I suggest you crawl under your house every few months just to check out what’s going on under there. Is there any moisture? Do you see any leaks? Have animals eaten into your HVAC ductwork? You can’t assume all is ok. Change the plumbing vent boots every 10 years just to be safe. They get brittle and cause way too many leaks and problems.
New stuff and “cute” stuff
Suddenly your old couch doesn’t look so great in your new living room. And your bedroom furniture just doesn’t go with the style of the house, so you must buy new furniture, right? If you aren’t careful, you can quickly spend several thousand dollars by decorating your new home to look like “you.” Contrary to popular belief, this stuff can wait. There’s no reason to wipe out your savings or accrue debt just to make your house look “perfect.” If you want to upgrade your furniture and such, do it! Just take it slow, save a little every month, and pay for it when you have the cash.
The best way to alleviate the blow of these unexpected expenses is to be proactive by preparing a budget, having three to six months of household expenses saved, and actually sticking to the budget.