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Fix Up Your House Without Breaking The Bank

Aug 1, 2021

Invest in home efficiency to keep your housing costs down

The saying goes, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” In today’s world, any dollars you save while making your home more efficient, modern and well-maintained could yield a substantially prettier penny later. For most, the largest investment they’ll ever make is their home. Try not to pinch pennies by neglecting home maintenance. It could cost you more down the road.

To enjoy the benefits of financial wellness, the first thing you should do is create a workable annual budget that can help you control how your income is spent. Honda FCU’s Budget Calculator can help you set a budget that includes your regular costs (like your water bill), plan for occasional expenses (like birthday gifts), eliminate debts (like student loans), save for the future (like a child’s education), and even set aside funds for emergencies. Be sure to include household maintenance costs in your plans. Planning to spend a controlled amount on upkeep can save you in utility fees plus higher repair or replacement costs. And remember, you can always adapt your budget to income or lifestyle changes. Taking control of your spending today will help you navigate through challenging times toward a stronger financial future.

After rent or a mortgage payment, your highest bills may be for utilities. For many, that monthly electric bill alone can soar to more than $500 during summer when older air conditioning units are pressed to cool houses in a heat wave. Newer energy-efficient systems can cut energy costs tremendously, eventually paying for themselves. Pay attention to clues that it’s time to replace your washer or other appliance. A washer that’s more than 10 years old could be costing you around $210 a year on average. But newer systems also need regular maintenance. Your water heater, for example, should be checked and maintained annually, or it could develop destructive leaks and problems with inefficient heating.

The persistent growth of “handy helper” ads and websites such as Angie’s List might lead you to try a bargain for repairs. Use caution, as you could wind up with an untrained, unlicensed person walking off an incomplete job. Avoid such nightmares by taking a few minutes to check the contractor’s online reviews. At a minimum, look them up on the Better Business Bureau website and Google Reviews.

Your best bet is to find a contractor who is licensed, bonded and insured. That way, with most problems, you’re covered. Truly professional contractors might cost a little more, but their training and business practices could protect you from a lot of trouble and expense. Since you pay for insurance coverage on your home, it makes sense to extend that level of care to any work performed there. Abundant positive reviews plus legal accountability will combine to make that service technician the right person for the job.

While a licensed professional is often the best choice, there are some minor repairs and maintenance chores that you can handle yourself. For example, you might not need to hire a professional to swap out the filter in your furnace or air conditioner. You might also be able to prune shrubs and trees away from your home to prevent water damage or pests. Fixing a leaky faucet can be as simple as replacing a rubber washer inside the faucet handle. Simply search online for videos and maintenance manuals, inputting a manufacturer and model number, as needed. Alternatively, your local hardware or home improvement store can walk you through the steps. Of course, several DIY chores merely involve inspecting areas of your home, such as your roof, so you can call in a professional before there’s expensive damage.

Gas and electricity bills can eat up a huge portion of the household budget – and much of that might be going straight out the window … with your heated air. An energy audit is one of the most powerful tools you can use to lower your costs. Some energy companies offer a home energy audit for a nominal fee. Spending that small amount now can save you high energy bills later. Check with your local electric and gas companies online to learn if they offer this valuable service. You might also find a home energy usage survey and free informative guides to help lower your bills.