Growing up we all look forward to the day that we get to be on our own, purchase our own house, and ultimately start a family. For me, that big step happened a year ago this month!
Over the past year, I’ve learned A LOT about being a homeowner, most of which were things that I didn’t take into consideration throughout all those years of yearning to buy my own place.
I think many people, myself included, think that buying a home means total freedom at the cost of a few extra bills each month, but that is simply not the case. Owning a home means responsibility, budgeting, prioritizing, and quite frankly, being prepared for the unexpected.
I wanted to share some of what I have learned over the past year, and I hope that perhaps others can learn from the lessons that I’ve experienced.
Learn to prioritize & budget
Getting your priorities straight is such a huge part of being on your own, and all around just growing up. I’ve been working since I was 16-years-old, so when I lived at home I always had spending money to do whatever I wanted. If I wanted to go blow a bunch of money at the mall, or go spend a ton on a night out, I could with little repercussions.
As you grow older and begin to own your own place you will realize you can’t necessarily do this anymore. Sure, I can go treat myself at the mall once in a while, but I am much more conscientious about my purchases now.
Nowadays, AJ and I are constantly learning how to prioritize and budget our money so that we can live comfortably and not have to worry about how much our next paycheck is. Rather than going out to dinner often or ordering in, we will look up a new recipe on Pinterest and try that out, or rather than going to the movies and spending money on tickets and movie snacks we will find something new on On Demand or Netflix and put on some sweats and have a date night that way.
Now this is not to say that we don’t go out and treat ourselves to a nice date or nice things every once in a while, but we have definitely learned to prioritize by making sure our bills are paid, and that we are also putting money away just in case, which leads me to my next point.
Be sure to put money away for a rainy day (and the future)
One thing that I am just so thankful for is that when we bought our house, we gave ourselves a budget and we didn’t try to go and buy a house so extravagant that we would be living on Ramen for a few years. We knew our financial situation, and we took it into account to ensure that when we bought our house we would still be able to live comfortably — and we do!
Every pay day we try our very best to put away a good sum of money for down the road. If we were to live paycheck to paycheck and spend all of our money when we receive it we would never be able to have kids or move out and into a bigger home one day.
We try our very best to make it a priority of ours to put money away into our savings each paycheck. Sometimes this isn’t always possible, things do come up, but when we get some overtime money or a little extra money in our paychecks that always goes into savings.
This is money that we hope to one day use for our kids, our next house, or even an emergency should one arise.
You’re always going to wish for more
Our house is three small bedrooms (four if you count the spare bedroom in the basement) and two full baths. It has a living room, kitchen, mudroom, attic and basement. It’s not huge, it’s your basic starter home. Which for the two of us, is perfect for the next handful of years.
Sure, there are things that I wish our home had that it doesn’t (like bigger closets and more cabinet space), but they are all things to keep in mind when purchasing our next home.
As humans, we are programmed to always want more, no matter how much we have. And quite frankly, there will always be someone with more than what you have. That is just how things work — and that’s okay!
At the end of the day, you don’t need the biggest house on the block, you need a house that will comfortably fit you and your family’s needs, and one that feels like home.
Always be ready for the unexpected
If you think that owning a home is smooth sailing and everything will just be peachy, you couldn’t be more wrong. Owning a home means being prepared for the unexpected at all times, and having a rainy day fund to help with these emergency unexpected things.
For example, when we first bought our house, it was a newly renovated house. But, with all homes, there is going to be some things here and there that need to be fixed or replaced. We knew that the HVAC system in our home was old, but when we had our inspection done everything was working just fine and we were good to go.
Fast forward about a month and the weather began to climb into the 90s and our air conditioning just wasn’t working. Luckily, we had a home warranty negotiated into our contract when we bought the house so we were able to have the whole HVAC system replaced for about 90% less than it would have cost without the warranty. But, it still was a drawn out process that required us to come up with other solutions, like buying a window unit and some fans, until we could get things squared away.
Point being, things will break or wear out, and sometimes these things happen at the most inconvenient times. So it is very important to have a fund of money that is ready, just in case things like this happen.
Another example, with it being a year this month since buying the house, our warranty is just about up and needs to be renewed. This was another unexpected cost that we weren’t prepared for, but luckily with our saving habits it isn’t something that we had to stress over.
As much as you think you won’t, you will miss your family
Lastly, whether or not you believe this, you will in fact miss your family. I’ve always been a very family-oriented person, so I knew that waking up in a room without my dog by my side or my parents downstairs in the kitchen would be difficult, but I didn’t realize how difficult it can be sometimes. Luckily, my family is just five to ten minutes away, but for some, they are much further.
When we were searching for our home, we made it a point to stay in the area to where both of our families were. This was for a few reasons, but family was definitely one of them.
Even though I’m just a few minutes away, I talk to my family on the phone every single day and even go visit multiple times a week. Like I said, I’m a very family-oriented person, I love spending time with them and my dogs.
It’s important not to lose sight of where you started and how you got to where you are, so be sure to include your family in your new home owning journey. Invite them over, go visit them, talk with them on the phone. When it comes down to it, family is what you’ve got!