The following is a post from staff writer Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, where she writes about finding the balance between paying your bills, saving for your future, and budgeting for the fun stuff along the way.
One of the biggest expenses we all have is housing and everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and save money. Here are a few practical housing tips to help save you some cash.
Reduce your Utilities Costs
You can save a lot of money on your housing expenses by reducing your energy costs. One great way to do this is by installing a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set the temperature automatically for different times of the day. It’s also easy to save money by remembering to turn off lights and unplug unused appliances.
My husband and I live in Houston, TX and still keep our electricity bill under $180, even in the summer, simply by following our own advice.
Increase your Homeowner’s Insurance / Renter’s Insurance Deductible
Increasing the deductible on your homeowner’s insurance policy can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your home loan. Home insurance policies usually place your deductible as low as $250 if you don’t request something different. A low deductible may seem like a good thing because you would pay less money out of pocket for repairs, but think of this. Any claims you make will just lead to higher monthly payments in the future, so you would probably avoid claiming anything under $1000 anyway. Raising your homeowner’s deductible to $1000 can save you about 25%.
Refinance an Existing Mortgage
Refinancing got a bad name during the recent mortgage crisis since a lot of homeowners refinanced their homes from safe fixed loans into adjustable rate mortgages that they simply couldn’t afford when the nice introductory rates wore off. You can save a lot of money by refinancing your existing loan if you can lower your interest rate significantly. Most loans made 5 or more years ago were at much higher rates than what is available right now.
In our case, the closing costs on refinancing from 5.375% to 4.2% would simply eat the savings, so we’ll just pay off our house in 6 years or less from now as originally planned.
Shop your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy / Renter’s Insurance Policy
When is the last time that you received an estimate on your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance? If your company is like mine, your premium is being increased a little every year. It is totally worth calling your insurance company every year or two to see if you can get a reduction. If your current company can’t help, shop around. I just saved $100 for the year on our homeowner’s insurance by simply making a 20 minute call.
Get rid of PMI
PMI is private mortgage insurance and has to be paid by most homeowners that owe more than 80% of their home’s value. Remember that you can get rid of PMI if you can get 20% equity in your home. You may already be there and just need to remind your current PMI company. Check it out!
Â What other tips can you think of to save money on housing?