Congratulations! You’ve finally found the one. Tall, dark, handsome…no, wait a minute. This one is more of the white picket fence and center hall variety – a house and it’s yours! No more virtual tours, open houses, and calls from your realtor proclaiming “I’ve found it!” You have now joined the ranks of proud homeowners across the country. Pop the cork, cross the threshold, and take a seat on your new couch. You might need a seat when the excitement wears off and you realize that this is (gulp) the biggest purchase you have ever made. But don’t panic yet. With a little preparation and guidance you can navigate the world of the new homeowner with your sanity and your savings intact.
Sarah on “it’s all about the maintenance”
“Owning your own home is a dream come true, but it’s easy for things to escalate into a financial and emotional nightmare if you don’t take care of them. The key to keeping your home running in top condition is by staying on top of things. Don’t wait to fix the leaky bathroom pipes because you’ll regret it when your dining room is flooded. Little things can turn bad quickly, so fix it in the first place and you’ll save yourself some grief (and cash) down the road.”
Alicia on “budgeting for the inevitable”
“You’ve already secured a mortgage, so kudos to you for being smart with your finances. While you are still in financial planning mode, figure out what it costs to run the house and include everything from your mortgage payment and insurance to heat, power, and water bills. After you know what it takes to keep your house running, put away a little extra for those unforeseen costs. You won’t always need it, but when the air conditioning unit breaks during a sweltering summer or the roof starts leaking, you’ll be glad you skipped the movies and contributed to your emergency fund.” Here are two ways to tackle maintenance mania:
1. Show your Home Some Love.
Each quarter, schedule a few hours or an entire day to handle all of the little maintenance tasks that add up over time – things like swapping out the filters, cleaning the dryer lint vent, and changing smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. As you go around completing your checklist, make note of any large or small repairs that will need to be added to the list.
2. Let the Seasons Guide You.
It is hard to remember everything that needs to be done, but everyone has heard of spring cleaning, right? It’s really a great way to think about your home, since each season comes with a different set of needs. In the fall, leaves need to be raked and removed from gutters, while winter ushers in a season of indoor projects. Spring is a perfect time for planting, while summer months tend to involve outdoor projects like lawn trimming and fertilizing.
Two Ways to Banish the Budget Blues:
We know budgeting can get you down. Banish those blues now with these tips.
1. Keep track of everything.
Don’t leave anything to chance. Budgets are not the place for surprises, so keep an ongoing diary of expenses so you know where every dollar is spent. You can track your spending in programs like Quicken or in a notebook, or visit getbuttonedup.com/tools/giveaways for a free downloadable monthly spending form. (See below for link)
2. Emergency Slush Fund.
Look at your spending, figure out where you can trim costs, and have that money automatically swept from your checking to a savings account. Everybody can cut at least $5-$10 per week somewhere. You want this slush fund to be almost impenetrable, so pick a bank that doesn’t have branches nearby (so you’re not tempted to swing by the drive-through and swipe some money for those cute new sandals). That way it will be there when you most need it.
About the Authors
We are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, inc (twitter @getbuttonedup)., a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized and co-authors of Everything (almost) In Its Place. We welcome your thoughts! Please send ideas and questions to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.getbuttonedup.com.