1. Refinance Your Mortgage
Your monthly mortgage payment is most likely the most expenses liability you have as a homeowner. With interests rates currently at historic lows, if you qualified for a refinance and reduced your rate, you could drastically save on the overall costs of homeownership. Imagine if you have a $540,000 mortgage with a 4% interest rate and your payment was roughly $3,500/month. If you were able to reduce your rate to 3%, you could save roughly $300/month. This is $3,600 a year and $108,000 over the life of your loan!
2. Appeal Your Property Taxes
Your property taxes are calculated by the city’s assessment of your home’s value, applied by your local city’s tax rates. If your property taxes have gone up in recent years, you might want to think about challenging the assessed value. Each city & county have their process for filing an appeal, so it’s best to contact your local tax assessor’s office for more information. Generally, to reduce your taxes, you’ll have to prove that your home’s current assessed value is higher than it should be. For example, if your home is assessed at $650,000, but you know of similar homes in your neighborhood that sold for $625,000 within the past year, then you could potential challenge the assessor’s value. If you win your appeal and get your home’s assessed value reduced, then you will save on your annual property tax bill.
3. Maintain Regular Home Maintenance
There are certain maintenance items that come with owning a home, like the servicing of your HVAC, appliances and washer/dryer, changing filter or in some cases winterizing your sprinkler system. Failing to perform these tasks and other varieties of maintenance could lead to costly repairs, so get ahead of issues before they arise. If you are new to homeownership, consult this list of maintenance items that you may want to tackle.
4. Stop Outsourcing Upkeep & Repairs
If you are in the habit of paying other people to maintain or fix your home, a good way to lower your housing costs is to start doing some of that function yourself. For example, instead of hiring a landscaping service to cut your grass, you could do it yourself. Instead of paying for a power-washing service to clean your deck, rent a power-washer from the Home Depot for a fraction of the costs. Another great idea is to invest in a home warranty, typically costing around $600 a year and can save you tons on any issues that arise.
5. Upgrade Thermostat
Get a smart thermostat today so you can program and manage your HVAC usage. This is super helpful if you’re a landlord and have tenants! Your power company might also offer a program to take care of this at no cost to you!
6. Upgrade Your Lighting
Bring your lighting into the 21st century. Incandescent bulbs emit as much heat as they do light, so if you haven’t already it’s time to upgrade your recessed lighting to LED. I also find that’s it’s helpful to manage your lighting usage by installing dimers. The savings is minimal, but it can add up over time.
6. Replace Old Kitchen & Bath Fixtures
Now is the time to upgrade your kitchen and bath fixtures to low flush heads, toilets and water conservation devices. This will truly help you save on your water bill each month! Your water and power company might offer a water conservation program that you can qualify for that will come out and assess your fixtures and support in the replacement and installation of those devices for free!
7. Become A Landlord
If you are eager to be a landlord, the rent you collect can be used to pay some of your home expenses and save you some cash. You are more likely to find a tenant if you have a finished basement to rent out or another space that’s separate from the rest of your home. If you don’t want a full-time tenant residing under your roof, look into short term rentals through AirBNB or VRBO. For example, if you reside near the beach and plan to vacate your property for a two-week vacation, then you can try finding short-term renters for that time to cover your costs of travel. Any rental income less than $20,000 a year isn’t necessary to declare as well so that’s icing on the cake!
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