When you add up the cost of expenses associated with your home, you might be surprised at the end result. While you know that buying a home amounts to the biggest purchase you are likely to make in your life, it is easy to forget about all the other expenses that add up. From utilities to maintenance to repairs, home related expenses recur regularly. As you look for ways to save money, one focus can be on saving money on home expenses. This is one area new homeowners overlook. Once you get past the monthly mortgage payment you soon realize there are hundreds of dollars related to owning the home that get spent every month.
Saving on Your Mortgage
One of the biggest ways to reduce your home expenses is to save money on your monthly mortgage payment. When buying your home, you probably got the best interest rate available to you at the time. However, you might be able to refinance to an even lower rate now. If you have worked to improve your credit score, and if you now qualify for an interest rate at least 1 percent lower than your current rate, you might be able to save money by refinancing your home. Even more important than the interest rate is making sure you don't buy more home than you can afford.
If you are concerned about cash flow, it might be worth it to get a 30-year refinance, in order to spread out your payments and reduce what you owe each month by even more. However, if you are interested in saving more money over time, just refinance for the years you have left -- or refinance to a shorter term. You will pay less interest in the long run. One strategy with refinancing into a 30-year loan is that you can still make additional payments to pay it off early, but you have that cushion to fall back to a lower payment if you experience a financial problem such as a loss of income, medical emergency, and so on.
Saving on Your Utilities
You might be surprised at how much you can save each year if you take the time to make sure that your home is as energy efficient as possible. You can have a professional energy audit, or even perform your own. By adding extra insulation to your walls and attic; by sealing air leaks around plugs, windows, and doors; and by performing maintenance (or upgrading) your heating and cooling systems, you can save money on your utilities each month.
The way you use energy can also affect your utility bill. Save money by using a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature in your home. During the summer, keeping the blinds or curtains closed on whatever side of the house the sun is on can help. It may mean taking a minute to close blinds on one side while opening them on the other (natural lighting can save you money), but it's worth it. Use smart strips and plug your electronics into them so that they can be turned off each night, reducing the cost of energy vampirism.
Don’t forget, the little things matter. Save five dollars a month here, ten dollars there, and before you know it you’re saving a few hundred dollars a year. Wouldn’t that be nice to tuck away into an emergency fund or retirement account instead of going toward the utility companies?
Saving on Maintenance and Repairs
If you want to save money on home maintenance and repairs in the long run, the best thing you can do is take care of your home. Perform regular maintenance so that you don't get a build-up of problematic debris around the house. Regularly cleaning your home can keep it in good shape. When repairs do need to be made, do so quickly. Small, relatively inexpensive repairs can balloon into large, expensive problems if they aren't addressed in a timely manner.
Start a home maintenance fund that you can draw from in these situations. Set aside some money each month, keeping it in a high yield savings account, so that you are prepared to pay for repairs as needed, rather than watching the problem get worse because you don't have the money to set things right quickly. A home maintenance fund can also prevent you from turning to credit cards to pay for repairs, saving you in terms of debt.
With some thought and planning, you can save money on home expenses. You can reduce your monthly payments and bills, and prepare for maintenance and repairs.