October 20, 2020

HOME AND WEALTH . . . Keep your home costs under control.

These days, most people are trying to control their expenses a little more tightly. Often they don’t realize how much they’re paying to live in their homes. So let’s take a look at that home budget and see if we can’t do a better job of staying on top of the costs. 

1. Your largest expense is probably your mortgage. These days mortgage rates are historically low, so you might be able to refinance and lower your monthly payment.   Contact me for a referral to a QUALITY lender who will let you know if this makes sense.

2. Another major expense is likely to be your homeowner’s insurance. Check in with your agent once a year to see if you’re getting the right coverage at the best price. 

3. Next look at your real estate taxes. The higher the assessed value of your property, the higher your real estate taxes.  So the next time you receive your King County notice of assessed value, contact me to help with your homework.  I will provide you with values of comparable homes in your neighborhood.

4. Recurring monthly expenses: 

  • If you pay for public water, public sewer  or a homeowners’ association, those are probably fixed expenses you can’t cut. 
  • But if you pay for private trash collection, snow removal, lawn and gardening services, periodically look around for cheaper rates. Even if  you’re happy with your current supplier, this information could help you get a better deal.
  • Phone, internet and cable TV services should be reviewed at least once a year to see if competitors offer better prices.
  • Energy costs. Oil companies should be reviewed once a year, before heating season begins. And if you think oil may be going up, pick a supplier who will lock in the price. In a growing number of areas, you can also find competing electric companies. Find out who has the best deal. If you heat and air condition with gas, ask your local gas company about special offers.

5. Maintenance and repairs. It is always cheaper to fix a problem as soon as it comes up, rather than letting it go. It costs very little to re-caulk around a bathtub, but if you ignore it, you could wind up replacing a wall. Put aside $500 to $1,000 a year to take care of minor repairs and maintenance.

6. Major improvements. If you have you heart set on updating a kitchen or bath, installing a deck, or even putting on a new addition, get a rough cost estimate and decide how many months from now you’d like to start. Divide the cost by the months and begin putting money away for it each month.

Your home is your biggest investment. But with a little effort you can make your home costs smaller.