Financial Strategizing for New Homeowners
After completing a major purchase like a home, it's important to maintain a sound financial strategy so you can enjoy the true benefits of homeownership. Here's how to do it.Congratulations! The fact that you bought a home is a testament to the successful financial strategy you used to get to this point.
Now the challenge is to keep it up. After diligently saving thousands of dollars for a down payment and taking careful steps to increase your credit score, you may be tempted to let loose. Stay focused!
Stay organized. Create a list of your monthly bills and due dates, including your mortgage, taxes, utilities and credit cards. Subtract these minimum payments from your monthly income and budget the remaining money for maintenance, savings and other expenses.
Pay bills on time. While you may not need to save as much as you did before your home purchase, paying your bills on time each month is critical. If you hope to refinance in the future, maintain excellent credit.
Use credit wisely. Avoid signing up for new credit cards or a home equity loan.
Think fixed. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, know when your rate is set to adjust and by how much. Keep an eye on market rates for the right time to refinance and lock into a fixed rate mortgage. Shop for the best rates from both local banks and national lenders.
Think long term. Ask yourself these questions:
- How long do I plan to live in this house?
- Where do I see myself in five or 10 years?
- Do I have to or want to make home improvements?
- Do I want to keep cash on hand for other investments?
- Can I take financial risks?
- Do I want to be debt-free?
Your answers will help you decide what levels of saving and spending you're comfortable with as you develop a long-term financial strategy.