Congratulations! You’ve joined the ranks of adults who have opted into homeownership. There’s no doubt that the process can be scary and overwhelming, but the end result is so worth it.
Although you’ve just traded paying rent for creating an asset by paying a mortgage, becoming a new homeowner is fraught with many unexpected costs. It’s not just about the final total due at closing. Inevitably, you’ll be making trips to your local home improvement store, the local department stores and furniture stores to make your house a home.
With all these impending charges, you may be wondering: How do I afford all of this? It helps to come in with an understanding of where you can save money during the process.
Get a Hardware Store Credit Card
Even if you don’t have any major home improvements planned for the first few months in your new house, you will likely still need to make a few runs to the hardware store in the first days and weeks.
At minimum, you’ll want to change your locks. You might also want to add a fresh coat of paint before moving in. It’s also possible that the old homeowners may have taken an essential appliance that you’ll need to replace. The list goes on (and seemingly, never ends).
You can’t plan for everything, but you absolutely can build a solid foundation for all the spending you’re about to do by proactively signing up for a hardware store credit card at one of the big chains, which offer special financing for large purchases. Some even offer a discount.
And while we’re talking about the big chains, it’s worth noting that you don’t need brand name tools for every project. Buy discount products, especially for single-use items such as painting commodities (tarps, trays, etc.)
Use Your Network to Knock Out Projects
No one wants to be on the receiving end of those “Can you help me move?” texts but there’s something to say about helping others – and benefiting from that good karma.
Before you hire an expensive contractor or moving service, consider who in your network may be able to help you with certain tasks. You can gauge people’s interest in helping by talking about your home improvement plans and seeing who speaks up about their enjoyment of certain tasks (like painting or demolishing walls). You might be surprised by who volunteers to help without being prompted.
But even if no one volunteers, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Just make sure to provide some pizza and beer (or whatever they enjoy) as thanks while they’re helping with a task. Don’t forget to proactively offer a helping hand when they have a project that you can contribute to.
It’s worth noting that there is a vast price difference between hiring a moving service versus renting a truck and doing it yourself (if you’re moving locally). This is a no-brainer way to budget as a new homeowner if you can handle the heavy lifting.
Even if you can’t do it all on your own or you can’t convince friends to help, you could hire help from an app like TaskRabbit (or through your truck rental company) and keep costs low.
Borrow Tools You’ll Only Use Once
Another way your network can be a great resource? Sharing tools. If there’s something you know you’re going to need for one project but probably won’t use again, see if a friend can lend you one to borrow.
No matter if you are buying or borrowing your tools, it’s important to treat and store them with care. For example, if you’re buying a lot of painting supplies, make them last by taking the time to rinse off paint immediately after a painting session.
Seek Out DIY Learning Resources
Another way to curb the costs around hiring professional help is to take a DIY approach to as many projects as possible.
While there are certain tasks like plumping and electrical fixes that are best left to the professionals, seeking answers on Youtube or Google can help you troubleshoot quick fixes on your own. If you’re not sure whether a video is trustworthy, send it to a handy friend to double check and see how other users responded in the comments section.
Establish a Mail Forwarding Address
You were probably already planning to do this already through the United States Postal Service. But here’s why you should do it ASAP – discounts!
Big retailers like Amazon are quick to offer discounts to new homeowners as part of the official mail forwarding process. If you were already planning on buying new things for your house, you might as well cut down your costs by taking advantage of these deals.
AAA members can also take advantage of exclusive discounts.
Shop Around Before Making a Big Purchase
One of the biggest purchases you may initially make as a new homeowner will probably be some type of appliance. Since appliances can represent an investment of several hundred or thousand dollars, it’s imperative to do some research before buying something.
Shop Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Habitat for Humanity ReStores if you don’t want to be on the hook for the full retail price, but make sure that if you choose to buy something used that you know how to determine if the appliance is in good working order.
If you don’t have this expertise or don’t want to bother with used appliances, you still have options. Try shopping during major sales holidays like Memorial Day or Black Friday.
Buy Staples in Bulk
If you’ve wanted a Costco membership since your apartment rentals days, there’s good news. As a new homeowner, you finally have the room to store in bulk.
So, go ahead and buy that mega package of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and granola bars. You’ll save money in the long-term that you can reinvest in your many house projects.
Bonus tip: While you’re shopping at a big box store (or even your local grocer), ask if they have boxes that they’d otherwise throw away. It’s the perfect opportunity to inherit moving boxes that you don’t have to pay for. Or, if you have friends who recently moved near you, tell them that you’d love their boxes if they were just going to toss them.
Declutter Before Moving and Sell Your Old Stuff
Before you start packing, consider if you really want to bring everything to your new house. Over time, you’ve probably collected a bunch of things that you don’t really want, including duplicates of essential items that you may never end up using.
Take this opportunity to declutter your possessions. Doing this before you move means that you’ll have less to pack. If you have items that other people want, sell them to make some money for your upcoming home projects. Make that money go even further with a AAA and Discover CD account that earns interest.
Buying your first home will be a wild ride and it will seem like you’re bleeding money everywhere. Though you can’t plan for every curveball, you can proactively find ways to minimize your spending as a new homeowner by following this advice.
How did you cut costs and stay on budget when buying your first house? Let us know in the comments.