How to Save When Owning a Home

Money is the root of many people’s stress and anxiety and it’s also the cause of many fights. But it doesn’t have to be for you. You may own a home now, but it doesn’t mean you should stop saving or that saving has to be a difficult undertaking.

Ideally you already have a robust emergency fund—this type of account is suggested by financial experts to have even before paying down ‘good’ debt such as student loans. This account is extremely important as you never know when or if that “rainy day” will come. The suggested amount to have in an emergency fund is six to nine months’ worth of income—and to be on the higher end if you own a home and have children. For instance, if you take home $3,000 a month, you should have $18,000 to $27,000 in your emergency fund. You should also consider whether it’s best to keep these funds in a regular savings account or a money market account.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of an emergency fund,let’s discuss how to keep saving—whether you are saving just to save or saving for a vacation, new car, or that fancy grill you’ve been eyeing.

Automatic deposit from primary income: If you aren’t doing this already then you should be. Automatic deposit is the easiest way to save money. Many places of employment offer this option, and if not your financial institution will. Automatically depositing money into a savings account (separate of the rest of your income) will force you to save. And if your place of employment offers this option then that money will never enter your checking account—out of sight, out of mind. If you must use your financial institution then have the automatic transfer occur on the day you are paid so the money is almost like it was never there for spending. Of course, this will be an adjustment if you are used to living off that money, especially if you just purchased a home. However, you can start small and work your way to a larger amount such as when you receive a raise or have other forms of incoming income.

Automatic transfer from checking to savings: Many financial institutions offer the ability to automatically transfer funds between your checking account and savings account each time you use your debit card. If your bank does not offer this opportunity there are apps for your phone that can easily connect to your online bank accounts and do the work for you. It’s a great way to save a small amount of money each time you swipe your card. And depending on how often you use your debit card, those savings could add up quickly. For example, you spend $25.33 at the grocery store and use your debit card to pay. Your bank (or app) will round that number up to $26.00 and transfer .67 into your account of choice. It’s too easy not to participate!

There are many other ways to be a better saver, but it’s best to start simple and small. Overwhelming yourself with how much you need/want to save and with many ways of saving, might cause the opposite to happen. Remember, you have a house to pay for and all the other expenses that come with it. Be conscious of your financial situation and be diligent with your savings strategy and you’ll be on the road to being a savings master.

Preparing For Unexpected Homeowner Expenses

Whether you call it a “rainy day fund” or a “financial cushion”, having some money set aside for emergencies or unexpected expenses can help keep life on an even keel.

Although health insurance and a homeowners’ policy can provide a measure of protection, insurance deductibles can take a large bite out of your bank account.

In addition to all the predictable expenses that accompany home ownership, mechanical systems like furnaces, hot water heaters, and air conditioning units have a way of breaking down at the most inopportune times. Another crisis that many people aren’t prepared for is the potential loss of a job. When families don’t have money set aside to weather the storm of an unplanned income loss, then there’s no “safety net” to cushion the fall.

Strategies For Saving Money

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to build up financial reserves, but it often requires self discipline, a new set of habits, and the intention to make it happen. One of the first steps to putting some money aside for a rainy day is to open up a separate bank account. If you put extra money in your regular account — or (even worse) keep it around the house — chances are it will get spent pretty quickly. However, if it’s deposited into a separate account that’s designated for emergencies, unexpected household expenses, or even a college fund, then it’ll stand a greater chance of being left alone until it’s needed. Putting money aside does take some doing, but it can contribute to your family’s financial security and ability to do things that are important to you.

If you have a tight budget, you’re probably wondering where this extra money is going to come from! Sometimes, the very act of developing a written budget can provide you with clues and ideas for reducing your expenses. You’d also be amazed at how much the savings can add up when you comparison shop, buy in bulk, use coupons, negotiate lower interest charges on your credit cards, quit smoking, car pool to work, cut back on restaurant food, and make up your mind to live just a little more frugally.

Depending on how committed you are to creating a financial cushion, you could also make the fund grow faster by depositing a percentage of Christmas bonuses, tax refunds, manufacturer rebates, salary increases (raises), and other sources of extra income. Additional ways to beef up your financial safety net could include getting a part-time job, doing freelance work, holding a garage sale, or selling unwanted items through ads or flyers. When you pay off credit cards, car loans, or other debts, you could also redirect some or all of those monthly payments into your “future needs fund.”

Whatever you decide to call it, it’s nice to know that there’s some extra money on hand for unexpected expenses, emergencies, potential job losses, college tuition, weddings, family vacations, home renovations, nursing home costs, or even retirement.