We all make New Year's resolutions, but let's be honest: Most are wishful thinking. By February, that "lose 20 pounds" or "learn Spanish" resolution has gone right out the window.
But not for you, new homeowner. This year is different.
Your first 12 months of homeownership set the tone for the entire journey. With just a few smart decisions, you can save money now and get more out of your investment later.
1. START AN EMERGENCY FUND
Homeownership has a funny way of costing more than you think. An emergency savings fund provides a financial safety net, and your new home is the perfect reason to start one.
2. TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT YOUR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
Just because a standard homeowners insurance policy satisfied your lender doesn't mean you're adequately covered.
"Homeowners insurance isn't one-size-fits-all. There are unique coverage options and, more importantly, 'exclusions' that homeowners need to be aware of," says Ryan Andrew, president of The Andrew Agency, an independent insurance agency in Richmond, Virginia.
3. GET AN ENERGY EFFICIENCY AUDIT
Heating, cooling and powering a home isn't cheap. Why be uncomfortable or spend more because your house wastes energy?
After the dust settles, you may notice more about your home, particularly if you bought new construction, says Jessie Ferguson, director of operations at Renewablue, a home energy consulting company. Maybe the air smells funny or one bedroom is colder than the others. She recommends getting an energy efficiency audit rather than guessing at the problem.
4. CONSIDER A HOME WARRANTY
If the appliances in your new home are near the end of their life cycles, a home warranty may help shield you from the cost of replacement.
Also called home service contracts, home warranties are annual agreements that offset the repair or replacement cost of major home components and appliances.
5. CREATE A DISASTER KIT WITH A HOME INVENTORY
Your new home is your castle, but it's not indestructible. A disaster kit that includes financial documents and a home inventory will speed up recovery if the unthinkable happens.
6. MAKE A PLAN TO BUILD EQUITY
Unless you bought your home with cash, it will be many years until you own it outright. Make plans now to build equity faster so you can unlock more benefits of homeownership even sooner.
Equity is a fancy word for "how much of your house is paid off." Home equity is a valuable asset; accrue enough and you can use it to finance major renovations or pay off student loans.
You can build equity slowly just by making your monthly mortgage payments, or you can find ways to speed up the process.