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3 Hidden Costs Of A New Home And How You Can Avoid Them

3 Hidden Costs Of A New Home And How You Can Avoid Them

Nobody in their right mind would say that buying a home is inexpensive or cheap. In fact, it’s probably one of the most expensive purchases a person will make in their lifetime. In 2014, the average sale price of a home was $311,400. That’s no mere drop in the bucket for the majority of homeowners, yet, on average, new homebuyers spend $7,400 more in the first two years of ownership than existing homeowners.

The National Home Buyers Association (NAHB) has found that a home purchase has a ripple effect and makes most new homeowners spend more money on average. This begs the question: where are these hidden costs, and how can you avoid them?

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1. Don’t Buy Furniture To Fill Up The Extra Space

A majority of new homeowners buy a house that has more space than where they were living previously. Of course, the natural inclination is to fill up that empty space with furniture. According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the NAHB, new homeowners spend $5,025 on average on new furnishings. That’s $3,364 more than people who are existing homeowners.

Much of this is spent on bedroom furnishings, specifically mattresses. New homeowners outspend existing homeowners six times when purchasing bedroom furniture. Spending a bit more money on bedroom furniture than an existing homeowner seems logical, though. Sometimes families purchase a new home because they’re adding a new family member and they need more room – with that new family member comes a new bed and new bedroom furniture.

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However, another big-ticket item that new homeowners purchase is a couch, spending $746 more than what an existing homeowner spends. Remember, when you buy a home, don’t feel like you need to go out the next day to purchase brand new furniture. It’s OK to have some empty rooms and space in your new abode, especially if you don’t need to have a guest room or extra sofa right this minute.

2. Don’t Undertake Remodeling Projects Right Away

One of the bittersweet parts of moving to a home is you no longer have to worry about having a landlord, but it also means you’re responsible for the maintenance of your home — and there will be maintenance. Appliances will break down, systems will fail, and you’ll have to foot the bill every single time. According to US News, homeowners will spend between 1% and 4% of their home’s value on maintenance costs each year. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, new homeowners end up spending $4,642 if they purchased an existing home, which is $2,229 more than individuals who already own their home.

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Where does this extra spending come from? For buyers who purchase brand new homes, the $4,275 they spend mostly goes toward remodeling projects (think patios, new driveways, or fences). If you’re looking to save money, don’t start remodeling within the first year of homeownership. If it’s a project you can live without, save up for it over the years.

For new homeowners who purchase existing homes, they spend a bit more than homeowners who have purchased new construction homes, but not by much (only $367 on average). Most of this is spent on repairs and replacements for old and worn-out systems and appliances.

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To combat this extra expense, it might be a good idea to look into a home warranty. Home warranties will cover most systems and appliances in a home if they fail from normal wear and tear (not neglect). Prices for home warranties average between $300 and $600, depending on the level of coverage, with a $60 flat rate fee for a service request to complete the repairs or replacement. The average household opens 1.7 service requests in a year, according to Landmark Home Warranty’s data. That means a home warranty could reduce the amount of money spent on repairs and replacements by more than half.

3. Don’t Buy Brand New Appliances

Many times, homeowners get to their new homes and expect them to be just that: new. Instead, they find used fridges, washers, dryers, and dishwashers and realize that they want to start fresh — they want brand new appliances with their new house. Unfortunately, they spend an average of $2,665 on new appliances in their first year, which is over a thousand dollars more than existing homeowners tend to spend annually. This is ultimately surprising, since most homes come with installed appliances, but many homeowners just want their newer models. New homeowners typically spend the most on new televisions, fridges, washers, dryers, and computer systems.

Although it is really tempting to get new appliances when you buy a home, most of the time these older appliances work just fine, and can work quite efficiently with proper maintenance. By using the appliances that come with the home, new homeowners can save a lot of money in their first year of homeownership. Plus, if the homeowner has a home warranty, their plan will most likely cover the repairs and replacements on a well-maintained system or appliance when it fails.

Featured photo credit: Markevich Maria via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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