As I mentioned in a previous article, the level of home ownership in our country has been declining for many years. Since owning a home is a great way to build wealth, and home owners have more of a vested interest in making a positive contribution to society, this is an alarming trend.
Part of the problem is that millennials are facing mountains of student loan debt. There is also a misguided notion that it requires a 20 percent down payment to purchase a home. This causes many people to think that home ownership is out of reach for them.
Although there are options for buying a home that only require a 3 percent down payment, and some as little as zero percent, there are many hidden costs associated with home ownership, such as taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs. With that in mind, here are some helpful, easy ways to save money and chart a path to home ownership in the New Year.
Avoid name brands. The marketing gurus would have us believe that name brands are superior to generics, but that isn’t always the case. Over-the-counter drugs are one of the best examples: A quick comparison will usually show that the active ingredients are exactly the same. In fact, the National Bureau of Economic Research points out that opting for generics over name brands can save you as much as 20 percent to 30 percent.
Fill out surveys and use coupons. This is an unpopular strategy, but filling out the surveys that are requested on the bottom of your receipts can win you prizes as well as savings. Of course luck is going to be a factor, but the adage that “you can’t win if you don’t play” is always going to be true.
Unplug electronics when not in use. Unplugging electronics can result in a savings of 10 percent off your electric bill. This is because computers, TVs, and cell phone chargers drain energy even when they are turned off! Using a surge protector with an auto power strip is a quick, easy way to prevent appliances from draining power.
Begin traveling extensively. Wait, what? I thought the goal was to save money Patrick. That’s right, but it doesn’t have to happen by sacrificing your quality of life. Many people use the benefits offered through credit cards; my friend Lee Huffman has taken it a step further. By capitalizing on the savings, travel and membership rewards offered through various credit cards, he and his family basically travel the world for pennies on the dollar. Lee maintains a highly informative blog, at BaldThoughts.com. One of my favorite articles is Five Simple Steps to Start Travel Hacking.
I hope these tips will help you save money and achieve the goal of home ownership. If the dream still seems insurmountable, don’t worry. There is often an effective means of overcoming any obstacle. A consultation with an experienced mortgage broker can typically result in a creative solution that many people might overlook.
For help charting a path to home ownership, or for practical guidance regarding your financial situation, please contact me at the number below.
Patrick Stoy (NMLS Numbers 39527 and 39166) has 16 years of mortgage lending experience. Patrick is CEO of Wilmington-based Market Consulting Mortgage, which he started in 2005 with a mission to build lifelong customer relationships by providing real value. To learn more about Marketing Consulting Mortgage, visit www.macmtg.com. Patrick can be reached at [email protected] or (910) 509-7105.