If you plan on buying a home, you probably have already lined up how much you need for the down payment, your desired mortgage payment, along with how much you can afford based on your income.
But have you thought about how much money you need to actually enjoy your new home once you move in? Here are six life factors to consider when buying a home:
If you love to garden and landscape, then buying a home with a lawn will be a fun adventure. But if you don't love to garden, then buying a home with a lawn can cost you about $100 or more a month for professional landscape maintenance. Are you willing to skip the lawn in favor of hardscaping to reduce costs?
Factor hobbies and services into your monthly budget to see if the numbers still work out in the black.
Everyone wants a home with a pool, right? Maybe not, once you factor in all the costs and upkeep. You need to add up the costs of pool maintenance and servicing, energy, and insurance (along with liability if you have small children). After you take all that into consideration, you may decide you would be better off heading to the neighborhood swimming hole.
If you plan to add a pool, don't plan on getting back more than 50% of the cost when you sell your home. Yes, polls are fun, but they take a lot of work to keep up. Factor time and money into your future plans when buying a home with this special feature and, once again, ask yourself if the numbers add up to support your other financial goals.
If you’re buying a home and plan to start a family in the next few years, don’t just consider the amount of mortgage you can afford under your current expenses. Factor in daycare costs and then determine what your cash flow will look like. You may have to adjust the amount of home you’re looking to purchase.
Have you taken into account your entertainment costs? Most of us like to eat out, go see a concert or a movie, or go to a game. You should add up how much you normally spend on entertainment and see how you can balance those costs with owning a home. You may love your new home, but you may not want to feel trapped in it because you don't have the money left to have fun.
If you’re in your 20s, you should try to save 10% of your income; in your 30s, you should be saving 15%. If you need to cut back on your retirement savings to make a home purchase work, think hard about when you’ll be able to get back to your ideal contribution levels and how much you may be losing out on during that time.
Although home ownership can help build long-term wealth, it’s important to also maintain retirement savings for future security.
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