Written by Barry Choi
Congratulations, you’ve bought a new home! This is one of the most exciting times of your life, but you’ve likely quickly realized that being a new homeowner can be expensive. From moving to getting new furniture, the costs can soon add up. That said, that doesn’t mean you need to be house poor.
By making some minor adjustments and using tools available to you, you can easily put more money into your pockets. Here are five ways you can save money as a new homeowner.
Rethink your services
Whenever you move, you’ll need to port over your internet to your new address. Why not take this time to see if there are any better offers out there that can help you reduce your monthly fees? Take a look at what the different internet providers are offering and see if there are any current promotions. You’ll also want to check with smaller companies who typically have lower prices. Even if it’s just $10 a month, the switch is worth it since you’re lowering your monthly expenses.
This is also an excellent time to look at any other monthly bills you can cut. Your cell phone is an obvious place to start, but what about your gym membership or fitness classes? If your new home gives you access to cheaper options, making the switch just makes sense. Also, consider looking at your streaming services. If you’re subscribing to multiple services such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Spotify, and YouTube Music, you’re spending a lot each month. Cut where you can and pocket the difference.
Increase your mortgage payments
Admittedly, increasing your mortgage payments when you first buy a home is a low priority, but the amount you can save can make quite the difference. For example, let’s say you’re currently making monthly mortgage payments, but you decide to switch to an accelerated bi-weekly schedule. Your monthly mortgage costs would go up, but you would shave years off your mortgage. That’s because the extra payments you make go 100% towards the interest.
Even if you can’t quite afford to increase your payments, you could consider one-time prepayments. Many mortgages allow homeowners to make lump sum payments once a year. Some mortgages also allow you to increase your payments by a certain percentage. For example, you might be able to up your monthly payment by up to 15%. These additional payments can go a long way.
It’s estimated that the average household wastes $1,100 per year in food. If you’re concerned about how much money you’re throwing into the garbage, consider meal planning. The concept is simple, plan your meals out every week, so you’re only buying what you need at the grocery store. The key thing is to not get tempted to order takeout or say yes to last-minute dinner invites when you already have food prepared.
If you really want to turbocharge your savings, you could look at the weekly flyers and plan your meals around what’s on sale. This could significantly reduce the amount of money you’re spending on food. You could also join a grocery store loyalty program such as PC Optimum since it allows you to earn points when you make purchases. Those points could be used later to redeem free groceries.
When you move into a new home, you’ll likely need to buy some new items. While it may be tempting to buy everything brand new, getting things used can be an easy way to save money. Coffee tables, chairs, home decor, outdoor furniture, dining sets, and storage bins can often be found used online at a fraction of their original price. Some of the most common websites to source these items include Kijiji, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.
It’s also worth noting that going with the used mentality can save you a lot of money overall. Let’s say you’re about to expand your family. Baby clothes and baby accessories are often the number one seller on many websites. Need a bike or fitness equipment? Check online first to see if anyone is looking to get rid of their gear.
Use credit cards when you can
Typically, when you buy a new home, you’re going to have many expenses that come up. That could range from lawyer fees to renovations. If you use a travel credit card or cash back credit card to pay for everything, you can reap the benefits. The trick is to take advantage of any generous welcome offers that are currently available.
For example, the American Express Platinum Card typically comes with a welcome bonus that can be worth more than $1,000, depending on how you use your points. Alternatively, many cash back credit cards come with a sign up bonus of 10% cash back on all purchases for the first three months of card membership (although there’s usually a cap).
These welcome offers usually have a minimum spend requirement, which is why you want to time your applications right before you have any significant expenses. While earning a bunch of travel points or cash back is appealing, you need to make sure you’re always paying off the entire balance of your bill when your statement arrives. The last thing you want is to incur interest charges.
Don’t worry if you’re finding it tricky to balance your budget when you first move in. It’s pretty typical for new homeowners. Adjusting to the cost of your mortgage and additional expenses takes time. By making some small adjustments to your spending, you can free up some of your cash flow, making your finances more manageable.
About Barry Choi
Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Moneywehave.com is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel.