Smart Money Tip #8: It Pays to Plan Ahead

While homeownership has many benefits, most homeowners will warn you that it’s necessary to plan for maintenance. Since your home is often your largest investment, keeping it properly maintained is very important. This includes planning for both the expected and unexpected maintenance issues. I suggest creating a ‘Money Bucket’ for each situation.  A Money Bucket is a savings account that you add funds to from every paycheck so that you have cash reserves available when the funds are needed.

According to Forbes, 63% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency. Planning for the unexpected with a special savings account is a smart way to avoid a home maintenance crisis. It is important to calculate how much of a payment you can afford, but it is equally crucial that you include all the possible maintenance costs both long and short-term and include this amount into your monthly calculation.

The secret is to live on less than you make. This is achieved by overestimating expenses, buying less home than you can afford, and then by setting aside those additional funds into cash reserves and retirement investments.

Here is an example of how to calculate your home maintenance fund:

Annual Maintenance:
Landscaping, carpet cleaning, minor repairs and replacements of worn-out appliances

Bigger Ticket Items:
New roof, furnace, air conditioner, hot water heater, siding, and remodeling

Unexpected Maintenance:
Rotting siding, fallen tree, and storm damage
Some of these events might be covered by your home owner’s insurance, but be careful about filling small claims because it could cause your insurance rates to go up, or worse, your insurance to be cancelled!

I suggest you save the following amounts each month:

Annual maintenance: $100
Bigger ticket items: $100
Unexpected maintenance: $50

The goal is to create a savings fund for home maintenance and add $250 per month. You can also add lump sums from windfalls such as tax refunds to build this account faster. Having the cash to fall back on will make you feel more financially secure in the event of a household emergency.

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