Four Strategies for Saving Money

When you stop and think about it, there are quite a few money-saving opportunities out there that you may not be taking advantage of.

Here are a few ideas worth considering:

  • Automobile Insurance: If you haven’t touched base with your insurance agent in a few years, it might pay to call or email them to review your policy. Until you ask, you never know what kind of insurance discounts you may be eligible for. For example, savings can often be obtained by taking a defensive drivers’ course, purchasing your automobile and homeowners’ insurance from one agency, commuting a shorter distance to work or telecommuting, or simply having a safe driving record. In some cases, you could save a chunk of money by shopping around and switching to a less expensive insurance provider.
  • Cell phone services: Make sure the cell phone service plan you have is competitive and geared to your needs and data usage patterns. With at least four major service providers to choose from (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile), it make sense to do some comparative research to make informed choices regarding prices, features, time commitments, and services. Checking out online reviews and comparing notes with friends, family, and coworkers about cell phone services can also help you save money.
  • Credit cards: If you’re like many people, you probably get inundated with credit card offers, every week. Since it’s such a competitive industry, some credit card offers are clearly better than others. While the most prudent approach is to limit your credit card use as much as possible, it also makes sense to seek out the best deals, the lowest interest rates, and the most favorable terms. Assuming your credit card payments are up to date and you’ve maintained a good credit history, it’s often possible to negotiate a lower interest rate on your current credit cards, too. That alone could make it easier to pay off your balance and save money.
  • Contractors: Whether you’re considering remodeling your bathroom, replacing your roof, updating your kitchen, painting or re-siding your house, waterproofing your basement, or building a backyard deck, prices can vary widely from one contractor to the next. While it’s important to hire a contractor who’s experienced, honest, insured, easy to work with, and dependable, there’s no reason to pay exorbitant prices for good quality work. Getting at least three price estimates on projects around the house is generally a good way to ensure you’re not getting overcharged. Online reviews and personal recommendations from relatives, friends, and neighbors can often point you in the direction of a good residential contractor.

One of the most important principles of smart money management is to make sure you’re getting the most value for your dollar. As a consumer, you entitled to shop around, get the best deal, and be satisfied with the quality of products and services you’re purchasing.

3 Miscellaneous Expenses for Homebuyers to Consider

You’ve found the home of your dreams, can afford the regular mortgage payments and even accounted for your closing costs, too. Clearly, you’re in a great position to cover the costs associated with your home consistently, right?

Even the most diligent homebuyer may encounter unforeseen costs along the way. Fortunately, we’re here to help you prepare for these miscellaneous expenses.

Here’s a closer look at three miscellaneous homebuyer costs that you’ll need to consider before you purchase a residence:

1. Homeowners Association Fees

Planning to move into a condo? You’ll want to find out what the homeowners association (HOA) fees are before you close on your residence, as these costs can add up quickly.

HOA expenses usually cover the costs associated with keeping your lawn clean and looking great, clearing snow from roads and driveways in winter and other condo community costs. As such, these fees may wind up costing you several hundred dollars each month – a hefty sum that every condo owner needs to know about.

To find out if HOA fees will affect your monthly budget, be sure to consult with your real estate agent. This professional should be able to get in touch with a HOA and determine exactly how much you’ll need to add to your budget each month to account for these costs.

2. Unexpected Income Changes

Your income may change over the life of your mortgage, and as such, you should try to plan accordingly.

For example, consider what may happen if your full-time work schedule is reduced to part-time hours. This may prove to be exceedingly difficult, particularly if you don’t have a Plan B in place to pay your mortgage.

When it comes to potential income changes, it always is better to err on the side of caution. And a homeowner who has an emergency fund in place may be able to cover regular mortgage costs even if his or her everyday wages are reduced.

3. Emergency Medical Bills

Unfortunately, medical emergencies can arise without notice and wreak havoc on a homeowner’s budget. But even though these emergencies can put a financial strain on a homeowner, this homeowner still will be responsible for making regular mortgage payments.

Emergency medical bills, like unexpected income changes, should be accounted for as part of an emergency fund. Furthermore, homeowners who contribute to this fund monthly can accumulate finances that will be readily available in even the worst-case scenarios.

Buying a home requires a significant financial investment, but homebuyers who prepare accordingly will be able to ensure that they can manage any financial hardships that could come their way.

No homebuyer wants to consider financial hardships, but working with a resourceful and intelligent real estate agent may help you prepare for the worst. This real estate professional may be able to offer guidance and tips to help you budget for your new residence and ensure that you’ll be prepared for any emergencies as well.

Plan for your new home purchase as much as you can, and ultimately, you’ll be better equipped to make regular mortgage payments and manage any financial hardships along the way.