Financial Advice for Modern Homeowners

As a homeowner, you are not alone; the 2018 census says that the homeownership rate in the United States stands at 64.4%, and there are some 136.57 million housing units found all across the nations. If an adult is not renting their living space, then they own it, and that includes you. But while owning your own house can be greatly rewarding, let’s not forget the financial responsibilities that come with owning a home. And if you are a parent and have a full household, your financial responsibilities extend to your children too, anything from finding private elementary schools to send them to, all the way to taking care of their health. Not to mention the fun stuff in between, such as organizing a birthday party (complete with paper ribbons and balloons) to hosting the extended family for Christmas, Hanukkah, and related holidays. How might this be done?

Track Your Expenses

This is a pretty substantial topic all on its own, so we will keep it fairly brief: tracking your financial life. Having financial responsibilities goes beyond bills or paying for a kitchen remodeling job; it also means knowing exactly how much money you earn and where it all goes. Doing this may be easier than it sounds, and extremely lucrative. Some websites are ready-made for you, and you may visit them to start taking on these kinds of financial responsibilities. Or, you can create a spreadsheet and customize it into a layout that is intuitive for you, then start logging information in there. Over time, this can massively pay off.

When you track and mark all of your expenses and spending, you will quickly diagnose any bad spending habits you have, anything from owning a really expensive car to paying for cable TV that you’re not using to eating out too often. Often, you may wonder “where did all the money go?” when you check your bank statements or open your wallet or purse, only to see a lack of bills in there. Logging your finances means you’ll never wonder this again, and you can curb any bad spending habits and start downsizing anywhere you need to. This also makes it easier to figure out how much you can save up per month, and saving a fairly consistent amount of money per month is a good idea.

Bonus: you can use this spending log to feel good about yourself when you watch your savings grow and mark off many days where you resisted all temptation for frivolous and wasteful spending. You can transition from feeling good while spending money, to feeling good about saving it instead. This makes saving much easier when your brain’s reward system is working for you instead of against you.

Make Health a Priority

Everyone is concerned about maintaining good health, and many philosophies around the world agree that good health leads to a happy life. You are totally responsible for your mental and physical well-being, and that of your children, too. You and your spouse can also keep each other honest about your health; in fact, studies suggest that being in a relationship makes you healthier overall, and spouses can help each other catch small health issues or warning signs that they miss. Keep everyone under your roof healthy, both by means of health professionals and having a clean home.

Most likely, some of your financial responsibilities are medications, hospital bills, urgent care center expenses, and the like, and some Americans have more costly health needs than others. Make sure that your healthcare insurance plan is thorough enough to save you some money during visits to healthcare providers, but make sure that you are not overspending, either. As your health needs change over time, feel free to adjust your healthcare insurance to match. For example, suppose you become diabetic, or you start a line of work that involves serious risk of physical injury.

To paraphrase common wisdom, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this extends to your family’s health. Keeping everyone healthier can reduce healthcare expenses, and that can seriously relieve some burdens on your financial responsibilities. First, consider the house itself. Even your carpet may be a problem since carpets and rugs tend to absorb a lot of dust, dirt, bacteria, pollen, food stains, and more, and dirty carpets will emit a lot of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). This can cause children to develop respiratory issues or allergies, or set off asthma attacks. Something similar may happen if the air conditioning is dirty, such as air ducts coated with dust and grime and bacteria. What’s more, doorknobs and handles, computer mice and keyboards, and stairway handrails tend to be touched a lot and therefore covered in germs. This problem is even more acute during flu season.

The solution is to get clean. Vacuum regularly, and use a carpet cleaning device too if you have the budget and time for one. If not, or if your house is large, consider hiring a maid service to handle this work. Wipe down all of the surfaces mentioned above, and ask HVAC contractors to clean out your air ducts and the blower fans deeper in the system. All of this and more makes your house nicer to be in and may reduce the odds of a costly fold or bout of flu. Missing a week of work due to the flu is a burden you certainly don’t want.

It may also be worth the investment to visit eye doctors and other specialists, especially if you are middle-aged or older or if your place of work is physically taxing, such as a construction zone or in a factory or workshop. This may cost some money upfront, but it may help you diagnose serious health issues early so they can be dealt with earlier on, and this may very well protect your ability to do paying work. On a more cosmetic note, you can visit hair replacement clinics or have Botox injections done, for the sake of appearances. Bear in mind that your appearance certainly counts for something during job interviews or promotions, and looking your best (in terms of both clothes and body) goes a long way. Don’t forget the teeth, either; discolored or crooked or missing teeth may present a bad image. Consult your dentist, and/or a cosmetic dentist, to have some work done on your teeth.

Provide for Your Children

You and your spouse (unless you are a single parent) are completely responsible for the upbringing of all of your children, whether they were born to you or if you adopted an older child. All children need parents or foster parents who can raise them to become responsible and smart adults, and this weighs in heavily to your financial responsibilities. Raising a child today is expensive, as statistics show, but it can certainly be done, and when a pregnancy is underway or you are considering adoption, your entire financial life may be altered and adjusted to get ready.

This includes not only the health of your children (pediatric clinic visits, braces, etc) but also their education. A good education is key to any child’s future success, and it falls to you and your spouse/partner to find good schools nearby and enroll your children there. In between school years, consider finding summer arts camps or clubs for your children, to keep them occupied and help them develop special skills and knowledge. Swim classes are a fine example of this, not to mention classes for sports or martial arts. The beginning levels of karate or soccer can be great fun for your child, and a fine source of exercise, too. In short, a child’s education goes beyond the classroom; it extends to these clubs and camps too, and a child can discover a new talent or meet people who will be vital to their future success. You are encouraged, then, to open all possible doors of opportunity for your child.

Summer camps are optional, but K-12 schooling is a must, and many parents also opt to send their children aged three to five to preschool, too. Some schools are private, meaning they are privately funded and run (hence the name), and they do charge tuition every year. But in exchange, these schools offer an excellent education for their students, between their robust funding, expert staff, and generously funded programs and activities. If you can afford to enroll your children to private schools, consider this option carefully and see if it will pay off. If not, you can find highly rated and well-funded public schools in the area, but it will take some work to find them. Public schools are the majority, and they may vary widely in funding and quality.

Finding a good schools means looking online if you do not already have a reliable reference, and this is especially important if you are looking in a large city such as Miami, Los Angeles, or Boston. Type in your ZIP code and city name to keep the results local, and specify whether you are looking for public or private schools (or even both). And especially for the cases of public schools, be sure to enter “best rated” or “top schools” to find the best ones in the area. A search might look like “best public elementary schools in Miami near me”, for example. You may find a whole list of schools of the desired type, and once you strike out unsuitable ones, you can narrow down the list and visit the most promising ones in person.

Doing this is a major investment for you and your child, to ensure that your child is attending a school where they will learn everything they must, including social skills and bonus skills or activities. Also, try to find a school that offers clubs, programs, or special classes that suit your child’s interests or skills, such as a robotics club, a marching band, an art program, certain sports teams, or advanced science or math classes. Your child will greatly appreciate it, and that may help prepare them for college and work later in life. And if your child has a physical or mental handicap, be sure to find a school that can completely accommodate your child’s special needs.

Save Up for Home Remodeling

This is a moot point to renters, but homeowners like you should always consider the possibility of home remodeling. Why do it? Not only will a remodeled home be more attractive and practical to live in, but this boosts the property’s resale value when you put it on the market. Homebuyers want to purchase a property that is already ready for them; they would rather you do the remodeling than do it themselves after they buy the house, and in fact, they will probably expect it. Fortunately, this is not just an expense; such financial responsibilities can pay off greatly.

Home remodeling and landscaping in the front and back yard can generate a high ROI, or return on investment, since a remodeled home may have a higher asking price. Buyers may be greatly impressed by a property with modern surfaces and nice yards, and you may end up selling your house much faster this way, even if the price is higher. For example, the numbers say that investing just 5% of the property’s value in landscaping can yield an ROI as high as 150%. Meanwhile, remodeling popular rooms such as the master bathroom or the kitchen may result in an ROI of around 70-80%. These are some significant returns. And take note that about one in three home remodeling jobs involves the entire house, to make its interior uniform in freshness and aesthetics. If this is within your budget, and you plan to sell the house someday, make sure you include “whole house remodeling” on your list of options to consider.

Kitchen remodeling may involve anything, such as swapping out old countertops for tough but attractive granite models, and flooring experts can put down new tiles or linoleum. Plumbers may swap out the sink for a more attractive and low flow model (that saves on the water bill), and they can put in a new dishwasher, too. Woodworkers can refinish and repaint the cabinet doors, or replace the doors or entire cabinets if need be. Don’t be afraid to swap out the stove, either, or get new lighting fixtures. And remodeling the master bathroom’s plumbing can save you a lot of money later on, when old toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showerheads are replaced with modern, low-flow models that conserve water. Homebuyers will like those features, too.

As a parent and homeowner, your financial responsibilities are many, and juggling them can be tough. But an excellent starting point is to have a positive “I can do it” attitude and track all of your spending, so you will be perfectly aware of your financial options and take them with minimal risk. So, you can have a healthy, happy household, and keep your financial future secure at the same time. That’s bound to be a great feeling.

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