Advertising
Advertising

19 Things New Homeowners Should Do Immediately To Save Money

19 Things New Homeowners Should Do Immediately To Save Money

Congratulations on your new home! Home ownership is one of the great milestones in life. It shows you’ve made it. You’ve got stability and security. You’re dependable. Nice going!

Now, all you have to do is move in and begin enjoying that unique and wonderful lifestyle…

But with the circus comes the monkeys. Before you lose that dewy-eyed wonder at your good fortune, take a hard-headed look at your new domicile to make sure it’s going to be a Shangri-La and not a money pit. As wise old Ben Franklin said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Here are 19 hacks that can save you money upfront with your new home:

1. Check Your Attic Insulation

An unfinished attic needs at least six inches of insulation between the beams. And if you live up north in places like Minnesota or Maine, you should have more than that.

If your insulation is insufficient or looks damaged, don’t wait to repair and replace it. Quite a number of northern states offer incentives such as refunds to motivate new homeowners to upgrade the insulation in their homes.

2. Set Your Hot Water Heater Thermostat

Check out the setting on your hot water heater. If it’s set any higher than 120 degrees, you should immediately lower it. Anything above that is going to have the potential to scald you. Who needs that? A lower thermostat always means a lower utility bill.

3. Insulate Your Hot Water Heater

You can buy an inexpensive insulating blanket at any hardware store that fits around your heater. Why pay to heat the air around your hot water heater? Besides, if the power (or gas) ever goes out, you’ll keep your water hot (or at least warm) for several hours.

Advertising

DON’T cover the top or bottom of your heater, or near the pilot light.

4. Install Ceiling Fans

Besides giving your house that elegant Casablanca look, ceiling fans are an economical way to keep your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter — they circulate the air so it doesn’t become layered. The key is to have the air blowing down on you in the summer and sucked up from you in the winter.

5. Wrap The Water Pipes

Wrapping exposed pipes will preserve the heat of your hot water so it arrives at your faucet at just about the same temperature as when it left the heater. With immediate hot water gurgling out of the faucet, you won’t be tempted to let it run for a minute or two, which can save you a pretty penny over the years. You can buy good inexpensive pipe wrapping at any hardware store, and if you can do papier mache, you can do the wrapping yourself.

6. Get An Automatic House Thermostat

Programmable thermostats are standard issue in newly constructed houses, but if you’ve purchased an older house, you’d better check to see what kind of thermostat you have.

With an automated thermostat, you can schedule ahead for days, weeks, even months to control when you want the most heat and chill. That way, you can be gone all day to work, or all week on vacation, and not have to worry about a monstrous fuel bill.

The new programmable thermostats are easy to install. All you need is a screwdriver and a pair of needlenose pliers.

7. Check Those Furnace Filters

Your HVAC uses air filters, and they probably have not been changed while your house was on the market — which could be anywhere from several months to a year. One of the first things you should do when you move in is go down to the basement/HVAC unit and find the filter(s). Write down the measurements on the side and go down to your local hardware store and buy several of them so you can replace them frequently. They are lightweight and you normally need no tools to replace them. It’s best to handle them with gloves because the filter fibers can be a bit prickly on your bare hands. Leaving the old filters in reduces the effectiveness of your furnace/air conditioner and gives your air a hint of staleness.

8. Check The Vents

While you’ve still got that “new house momentum” going, take a moment to check all the vents in the house to see how much dust and gunk buildup there is. If you can see those little dust bunnies peeking out at you, unscrew the vent screens and get cleaning. All that dust and gunk is nothing but a hotbed for bad odors and particles that can trigger allergies.

Advertising

9. Don’t Let Your House Crack Up!

Many houses have small cracks in the basement/foundation from settling. As long as these are not growing, you don’t have to worry about them. Just plug them with some putty from the hardware store to keep out the bugs and forget about ‘em.

To find out if your little cracks have ambitions to become bigger cracks (which can spell major foundation repairs down the road), cover both ends of the crack with some masking tape and then date it. Check every few weeks to see if the cracks are extending beyond the tape. If they are, you’ll have to call in an expert to avert a Walls of Jericho scenario. The earlier you catch it, the less expensive and extensive it should be.

10. Clothesline = Lower Utility Bills

Your lovely new house has a dandy dryer, or if it doesn’t you’re already eyeballing the specials online and in the newspaper to see who’s offering the best deals on one.

But just wait and consider: home dryers are a major cause of home fires when they overheat, and they can eat up a huge amount of electricity or gas.

So, why not consider a clothesline in your laundry room and also outside? If you’re serious about shrinking your carbon footprint, this is a great way to do it while reducing your utility bills. Plus, nothing smells as good as clothes fresh off the clothesline.

Of course, there will be rainy and snowy days to contend with, so don’t throw out your existing dryer; keep it for a rainy day and for emergencies. A circular “merry-go-round” clothes pole is great for backyards with limited space.

11. Look For Leaks

Dripping pipes are one major cause of mold inside homes. You do not want to have to tell your insurance company that a leaky pipe in the basement has nurtured a fungus farm behind the wallboard. To prevent that, check all exposed pipes and under every sink and around every faucet. Look for signs of rust and water spots. Discovered leaks should immediately be fixed — a plumber working for a half hour is much less expensive and easier to find than a plumber working for several hours.

12. Use LED And CFL Light Bulbs

In some parts of the country, the zoning and residential laws already mandate the use of these instead of incandescent bulbs. But whatever the rules are where your house is, you should make the effort to install them, especially where lights tend to be left on for a long time, like the kitchen and living room, or where they are accidentally left on, like the garage or basement. They may be a little bit more expensive upfront, but they last longer than the old type of bulb, so you save money in the long run. And check your house insurance; some companies will give you a rebate or lower rates for using LED and CFL bulbs.

Advertising

13. Check The Energy Ratings On New Appliances

If your house came fully furnished, then skip this section. Otherwise, please shop carefully when buying appliances — even a toaster or microwave! Always check the energy rating that’s posted on the side of the box or item. As with LED lights, you may have to pay a bit more upfront, but in the long run you’re saving money with appliances that will use less electricity and last longer.

14. Be Smart With SmartStrips

You don’t need to be told to plug all your electronics into surge protectors. It would be idiotic not to take that simple precaution against an electrical surge that could fry thousands of dollars worth of electrical equipment in your house.

You should be just as smart about SmartStrips. A few of these installed around your new home will significantly impact your electric bill for the better. These handy-dandy items sense when an electronic device, like a TV, is on standby mode, not being used, and will cut the power to it until it is switched on again. In the long run, this saves you mucho dinero.

15. Plant Shade Trees Near Your House

Deciduous trees, prudently placed around your home, can provide a cooling canopy during the summer months — this will make a noticeable difference in your utility bill.

If you’re after some wildlife, then you can also plant fir trees, but much further away from the house. They not only attract birds and other critters, but that touch of green during a long bleak winter can be very comforting. And most pinecone seeds are edible — if you can get to them before the squirrels do. Mature trees also usually increase your property value.

Remember not to plant your shade trees too near to your home — you don’t want them warping a wall or choking your sewer pipes with roots.

16. Throw Out The Old Locks

You really have no idea who might have a key to your new house, no matter what kind of assurances you get from the people selling it or the realtor. To avoid a nighttime visit from the former owner’s crazy Aunt Matilda, you should immediately hire a reputable locksmith or home security company to have the front door, back door, and garage locks changed. Of course, if you’re handy with things, you can do all this yourself, since complete lock sets are available at any hardware store. But be aware that hardware stores don’t always stock the professional brands that can really stymie a burglar bent on getting into your home.

And while you’re at it, get a couple sets of spare keys for emergencies — and for your own crazy Aunt Matilda!

Advertising

17. Make It Airtight

Newer homes are fairly airtight, so there isn’t much you should have to do to them outside of checking the weatherstripping and replacing it if it’s worn or has gaps in it.

Older homes will need some work. Windows are the major culprit in heat loss during cold weather. Check your city and county weatherization programs to see how much, if any, of the cost of replacing old rattling windows they will reimburse you for. It might pleasantly surprise you how much you are eligible for.

18. Take Advantage Of Energy Tax Credits And Other Government Goodies

There are all sorts of tax advantages to owning a home instead of renting. Hopefully, you’ve already gotten with an accountant to take full advantage of these. But you may not know about federal programs in your area that allow you to claim an energy tax credit; the same goes for your state, county, and city or township. They all have programs, usually federally mandated and funded, to help homeowners increase the energy efficiency of their homes. Some of these programs are based on your income, but some of them simply have gobs of grant money to shower on whoever shows up first to claim it. Solar power tax incentives are probably one of the most common and easy to get installed. Depending on your state, you will have the option of leasing the equipment or simply buying it outright.

19. Create A Checklist

Before you settle back and become a couch potato in your new home, compile a maintenance checklist for your home and swear by the unholy mortgage you are carrying that you will follow through with it on at least a monthly basis. Checking on things like air filters, foundation cracks, weatherstripping, etc., will help extend the viability of all the nuts and bolts that make up your home and hopefully save you from ever having to call in a contractor for major repairs.

Again, wise old Ben Franklin knew what he was talking about because he also said: “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

More by this author

Who’s at the Wheel? Technology Causing Distracted Driving and Other Stories of Multi-Tasking Is Your Website Costing You Sales? Staying Afloat: Why Kids Should Learn to Swim If You’re a Burned Out Entrepreneur There’s a Solution Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Parents

Trending in Money

1 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 2 The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind 3 How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements? 4 The Definitive Guide to Get Out of Debt Fast (And Forever) 5 35 Real Ways to Actually Make Money Online

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

Advertising

How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

Advertising

Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

Advertising

There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

Advertising

How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Read Next