The cost of homeownership in Southern Ontario, in particular, the GTA, is one that can be pretty shocking. Let’s face it, it’s always on the rise, and compared to other parts of the country, it can be downright horrifying. Owning a home encompasses all kinds of expenses outside of the initial mortgage payment, as there are also things like property taxes, mortgage insurance, utility bills, and much more. Without keeping careful track of your bills each month, it won’t take long before they can get out of control and you find yourself falling behind. So what can you do to alleviate this issue?
Keeping track of your home expenses really doesn’t need to be difficult, nor does it need to be confusing. By using these simple tips and techniques, you’ll never forget about a bill again or worse yet, start to fall behind because of a lack of funds due to poor money management.
Figure Out Your Monthly Budget
A great place to start is by creating a monthly budget. It’s really difficult to know what your expenses are and how to budget for them if you don’t have a clear picture. In order to create your budget, you’ll need to have a few months’ worth of bill payment invoices on hand to ensure you input the right costs and that you don’t forget anything.
Expenses should include such things as your mortgage, mortgage insurance, property tax, monthly maintenance fee, utility bills, water bill, cable/internet/landline phone, general maintenance and repairs, and any other expense related to your home.
Make Use of Free Budgeting Apps
Another tip is to check out the variety of free budgeting apps out there that can be downloaded on to your mobile device. These are a great and user-friendly way to keep track of all your expenses, not just the ones related to your home. Many of these also allow you to keep track of your income as well, giving you a more complete overview of your monthly financial portfolio.
Be sure to look for an app that allows you to customize it, adding in all the main expenses, as well as those that may be variable, recurring on a specific basis, or just happen every now and then. You should also be able to set up reminders so that you can’t possibly forget when a bill is due.
Use the Auto Payment Feature through Your Bank Account
If the expense is one that is fixed, meaning it is the same price each month, then you can make use of the auto-payment feature available through online banking. You can pick the date, the amount that will be automatically withdrawn, and the account it will come out of. Thanks to this feature, there is no need for you to remember anything.
The one con with this tip is that it only works on fixed expenses that don’t vary from month to month.
Start Keeping a Notebook of Expenses
Another tip is to start keeping a notebook where you can jot down each and every time you spend money, not just on the household expenses. This can be helpful if you’re tight on cash or you’re trying to find extra money that you can put into savings. Just seeing where your money is going, and how much is being spent, can help you to adjust your ways.
Downsizing is Always an Option
If you find that, even with keeping track of all your expenses, it’s still too difficult to get everything paid and not fall behind, then it may be time to consider downsizing. Get in touch with a local real estate agent that can show you smaller homes in the GTA—like the fabulous condos in Oakville and Hamilton—with asking prices that are lower than the value of your current home.
Don’t Put it Off—Take Control Today
At the end of the day, getting a better hold on your household expenses will not only ensure that all the bills are paid on time, but your credit rating will remain in good standing (missed payments will affect it negatively), it will alleviate a bunch of financial stress and worry, and it will help you to take better control of your finances.
If you do plan on selling your home or even investing in income property in the near future, be sure to contact Alex Irish & Associates today, we are a leading real estate brokerage serving the areas of Oakville, Mississauga, Burlington, Hamilton, and Ancaster.