How To Keep From Going House Poor

Written By: Jaymi Naciri
Monday, January 14, 2019

A few smart strategies can help you avoid becoming house poor.

Think hard about that preapproval amount

Just because the bank tells you that you can buy a 400,000 home doesnt mean you have to spend all 400,000. It might be that youre not comfortable with a payment that high if it means you wont have a cushion and cant continue to contribute to your savings.

Things youll want to consider:

Can you continue to invest the way you want to?

Will you be able to keep up or build your emergency fund - "A savings account stuffed with six months expenses or more is a vital part of financial stability," said Money Under 30.

Are you going to have enough money left over to establish a bank account buffer? "Whether youre 15, 25 or 65, if youre having trouble with your money and want to improve, the very first step you should take is to build a bank account buffer," said Money Under 30. "A bank account buffer is my name for what other people may call a cash cushion, mini emergency fund, rainy day fund or back-up savings. When you have a bank account buffer in place, you dont have to worry that a poorly timed Starbucks break you charged to your debit card will overdraw your account and trigger a 35 overdraft fee."

Calculate your ENTIRE payment

Principle and interest will only tell you part of the story. Same with principle, interest, taxes, and insurance. If youre not also taking into account any Private Mortgage Insurance you need to pay, your Homeowners Association fee, and any special assessments, youre not looking at the whole picture.

Budget for additional expenses

This is not the place for that buffer referenced above, but, rather, a way to make sure you can really handle the home you want without living paycheck to paycheck or, even worse, going into even more debt just so you dont sink. If you dont currently have a yard or are renting, you may not be accustomed to paying landscaping fees. If your new home has a pool, dont forget to budget for that pool cleaner. If youre moving to a larger home, you may also have an increase in costs for your house cleaning service and utilities, and if your commute is longer, you may be paying more in gas and tolls. They are the little things that can creep up and affect your bottom line.

Dont do improvements right away

You might want to wait a few months to see how your expenses pan out before you empty your savings on a new kitchen. Ditto for buying a houseful of new furniture. The desire to fix up the house to your standards or pack it with all-new everything is strong. But a little patience can go a long way. Spreading out your purchases while you increase your savings and waiting for sales and zero interest credit offers can help keep your budget in check.

Be careful with an equity line

Having equity in your home is great if it means you made a smart investment. But using it irresponsibly can quickly make your budget spin out of control. The good news is that, according to Co>

Get a home warranty

Experts are on the fence about thismdash;some say you absolutely have to have one while others find it a waste of money. But if youre the type for whom coming up with thousands of dollars to replace the faulty air conditioner thats no longer conditioning anything or a refrigerator thats stopped refrigerating will be a hardship, the minimal monthly output is far outweighed by the peace of mind of knowing most of your large repairs will be covered.

Claim a homestead exemption

In some states, you can file a homestead exemption to lower your property taxes. Savings can add up to hundreds of dollars per year or more. You can get more information and learn whos eligible here.

Change your tax withholding

One of the great benefits of homeownership is the tax writeoff. If you leave your withholdings alone, you may expect to get a big chunk of money back at the end of the year, as long as nothing else has changed. But by adjusting your withholdings, you can hold on to more of your money every month to help offset higher expenses.

After you buy a home, "payroll withholdings should also be reexamined and, perhaps, reduced to account for the reduction in net tax liability," said HGTV. "Talk to your tax preparer or use the IRS withholding calculator, to get the numbers right."





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