When you own a home, you have more to worry about than the mortgage payment. There are home repairs, insurance, utilities, and property taxes too. Fortunately, there are ways to save money as a homeowner, and it’s not as hard as you think.
According to a study conducted by Clever, homeowners spend an average of $9,325 on home repairs and renovations, $2,600 on property taxes, and $1,228 on insurance. But, of course, these numbers don’t include the mortgage either.
While it’s the American Dream to own a home, no one wants to be over their heads in bills and debts.
Here are the top ways to save money as a homeowner in the most expensive areas.
Reduce your Insurance Costs
Your lender requires you to have homeowner’s insurance, but that doesn’t mean you should overpay for it.
Try these tips to lower your home insurance costs.
- Shop around annually for new insurance – It’s easy to get comfortable with an insurance policy and let it automatically renew each year, but are you getting the best deal? Instead of wasting money, shop around and get quotes from at least three insurance companies each year to ensure you’re not overpaying.
- Bundle with car insurance – If you also have car insurance, ask your provider about a bundled discount if you were to have your home and car insurance with the same insurance company.
- Increase your deductible – If you can afford a higher deductible, it will lower your premium. Don’t take a deductible you can’t afford, but consider increasing it slightly to lower your monthly premiums. It’s a good idea to put aside the money for your deductible in a savings account to have it when needed.
- Ask for other discounts – You may be eligible for discounts if you have a security system, if your home is a certain age, for a specific type of roof material, or even if you’ve been a loyal customer for a while.
Lower your Property Taxes
You probably think your property taxes are fixed, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But you can.
Each county has an appeal process. If you think the county raised your taxes unfairly or you don’t believe the assessor correctly assessed your home, find out how to file an appeal. Sometimes it’s an online process, but some counties require you to appear in person to conduct the request.
Either way, collect proof of why you think the assessment is incorrect or unfair and try to get your appeal approved.
Increase your Home’s Energy Efficiency
The average household spends $117 a month on energy bills. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to $1,404 a year.
Fortunately, there are ways to decrease the costs, including:
- Install a programmable thermostat – Lower your utility use when no one is home or at night, and you can knock a significant amount off your energy bills.
- Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances – Energy Star appliances can save 25% – 33% in energy costs. If you’re already replacing appliances or upgrading, look for the Energy Star logo.
- Reduce light usage – Make it a habit to turn lights off when you’re not in a room. You can also add dimmer switches to the most used lights to reduce the energy used at a time.
- Unplug electronics when not in use – Unplugging anything you aren’t currently using can shave money off your utility bill each month. For example, hair appliances, vacuums, air fryers, crock pots, and other electronics can easily be unplugged after using them to save you money.
Do your Own Home Repairs
Before you call a plumber, electrician or handyman, see if it’s a repair you can do yourself. Watch YouTube videos or read a book and try your hand at some simple repairs. You may find that you enjoy doing the repairs yourself, which can save you a lot of money.
Of course, never take a risk and do a repair you aren’t qualified to handle or that requires a professional’s assistance.
Buy your own Materials
If you have to hire a professional to do a job, try buying the materials yourself. Whether you hire a painter to paint your house or an electrician to install a new water heater, purchase the materials yourself and save money.
You can shop around for the best prices or find cheaper brands than a professional might offer since they usually only offer one or two brands at marked-up prices.
Look into Refinancing
Refinancing may save you thousands of dollars a year in homeownership. Even when interest rates aren’t at rock bottom rates like we saw the past couple of years, there are still ways refinancing can help.
- Eliminate mortgage insurance – If you currently pay mortgage insurance on an FHA or conventional loan, you may be able to eliminate it by refinancing. To qualify, you must owe less than 80% of the home’s value, have good credit, and have an average debt-to-income ratio.
- Refinance out of an ARM – If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, refinancing into a fixed rate can ensure you don’t have to pay elevated interest rates or live in fear that your rate will increase yearly.
- Consider a longer-term loan – A longer-term loan will decrease your monthly payment. For example, if you have a 15-year loan now, but struggle to afford the payments, consider refinancing into a 30-year term.
Homeowners have a lot to pay for, but that doesn’t mean owning a home should break your budget. Thinking outside the box and finding ways to save money monthly can help you enjoy homeownership.
Each year, reassess your bills and where you stand. Then, together as a family, see how you can cut back. Whether it’s something as simple as turning the lights off and unplugging appliances, or something as major as refinancing your mortgage, there are many options to save money on your home.