This article was contributed by financial expert and blogger Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP, author, speaker, and founder of Workable Wealth. She provides financial coaching for individuals and couples in their 20s to 40s across the country, helping them make smart, educated choices with their money.
If you’re considering purchasing a home, you’ve likely already considered how much you have available for a down payment, what an ideal mortgage payment would be, and how much home you can actually afford based on your monthly income. But what about your lifestyle?
Have you considered how much wiggle room you need to leave in your home budget to enjoy life? Here are six life factors to consider when buying a home:
Travel is an important goal for many people. Think about the travel goals you have for yourself:
- Where do you want to go?
- What do you want to see?
- How long are your ideal trips?
- How much money would you need on an annual basis to make your travel goals possible?
- Is this already factored into your budget or will you need to cut back on travel to fund your monthly mortgage payment and home expenses?
There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s important to reflect on your priorities.
#2 Green Thumb?
Do you love gardening, being outside, and all things landscaping? If you purchase a home with a lawn and don’t enjoy the upkeep, you could be looking at an extra $100 or more a month for professional landscape maintenance. Are you willing to skip the lawn in favor of hardscaping to reduce costs?
Bottom line: Factor hobbies and services into your monthly budget to see if the numbers still work out in the black.
#3 Pool Time
How dreamy would it be to buy a home with a pool!? Before the dream becomes reality, add up the costs of pool maintenance and servicing, energy, and insurance (along with liability if you have small children) and you may be better off heading to the neighborhood swimming hole.
Adding a pool? Don’t expect to recover more than 50% of your costs at resale, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Pools can be a lot of fun, but they come with a lot of work. Factor time and money into your future plans when buying a home with this special feature and, once again, ask yourself if the numbers add up to support your other financial goals.
If you’re buying a home and plan to start a family in the next few years, don’t just consider the amount of mortgage you can afford under your current expenses. Factor in daycare costs and then determine what your cash flow will look like. You may have to adjust the amount of home you’re looking to purchase.
Chances are you enjoy dining out, going to concerts and sporting events, and seeing movies. If you need to rein in these activities to make room for your mortgage, home expenses, and savings, aim to strike a balance that won’t leave you feeling restless.
After all, you’re likely choosing a 30-year mortgage, and three decades is a long time to feel deprived. If necessary, reduce the amount of home you purchase so you can enjoy yourself in the ways that are important to you.
If you’re in your 20s, you should try to save 10% of your income; in your 30s, you should be saving 15%. If you need to cut back on your retirement savings to make a home purchase work, think hard about when you’ll be able to get back to your ideal contribution levels and how much you may be losing out on during that time.
Although home ownership can help build long-term wealth, it’s important to also maintain retirement savings for future security.