Becoming a new homeowner can be one of the most exciting times in life. But it also brings a lot of new responsibilities that can be confusing for first-time homeowners. Knowing the answers to questions like, “Is home warranty worth it?” “Should I pay more for my mortgage?” “ What kind of insurance is needed?” are all legitimate concerns that you should be well knowledgeable in.
Having some tips up your sleeve can help you tackle your new home’s needs with confidence. Here are some important homeowner tips to keep in mind.
- Create a Maintenance Schedule
Homeowner maintenance chores are essential, but it’s easy to let them fall by the wayside. Ignored issues can eventually turn into major problems. That’s why it’s important to develop a routine and stick to it.
Start by creating a checklist of tasks you’ll need to complete to maintain your property. This list should include chores to be completed each week, month and year. Don’t forget to factor in your lifestyle, like children, pets and allergies or unique home features, such as a pool, hot tub, wood siding or marble countertops.
Add this list to your digital calendar and/or reminders app. That way you’ll be able to set up weekly, monthly or annual reminders to tackle each task. This will help you avoid forgetting or putting off any chores.
- Set Up an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is a savings account that can cover unexpected expenses or financial challenges. It can help homeowners maintain mortgage payments during income disruptions and protect their finances from unforeseen circumstances.
A leaking roof, broken heating system, or unexpected medical bills can cost thousands of dollars and threaten a homeowner’s ability to cover regular monthly expenses. Without an emergency savings fund, these expenses could push a household into debt, which can take months or even years to pay off.
Ideally, you should save enough to cover three to six months of living expenses in your emergency savings account. Start by establishing a savings goal and committing to it consistently. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account or money market account each week or month.
- Create a Document Folder
Documents are a huge part of running a new home. You’ll likely have financial records, contracts, receipts, and a host of other documents that need to be organized in some way.
To keep track of your files, consider using a document folder. Folders can be configured to automatically name documents, and there’s no limit to the number of subfolders you can have within a folder.
If you’re starting from scratch, consider a color-coded system that identifies the general category of document at a glance (red for home-related documents like inspection reports and property deeds) with secondary but related documents filed
in folders of different colors (blue for operating manuals and service contracts, for example). Having a clear and consistent file organization system will help ensure important information doesn’t get lost or overlooked and that it can be easily retrieved should you need to access it.
- Start Saving Now
Whether it’s an emergency fund, purchasing a new car or a house or saving for your children’s college education, building a savings cushion is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’s also important to start small and set goals that are attainable over time.
One of the simplest ways to start is by tracking your expenses. You can do this by using a spreadsheet, pen and paper or free online spending trackers or apps. If you are a Regions customer, the Spending and Budgeting tool in Mobile and Online Banking can help automatically categorize your purchases to make it easier to track your spending habits.
Oftentimes, living paycheck to paycheck prevents people from being able to save money. By starting early, you can change your financial habits and reach long-term goals more easily.
- Lower Your Energy Bills
Utility costs, particularly electric bills, can make up a substantial portion of your household budget. But there are easy ways to lower energy usage and save money, including adjusting your refrigerator’s temperature and washing clothes in cold water.
It’s also helpful to understand how your electricity bill works. Most utilities charge for power based on the number of kilowatt hours that each device consumes. It’s important to be aware of when your appliances are consuming the most energy so that you can take advantage of off-peak rates and reduce your bills.
While many of these tips are common sense, there are a few that may be new to you. Taking even a few of these steps can save you hundreds each year. The best part is that they don’t require a lot of time or money to implement.