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You’ve already taken the right steps to buying your first home but now you need to ensure you take the right steps to live with the added expenses of being a homeowner without sacrificing too much of your old way of life. Remember, you’ve made a big investment in your future, but that doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself of all things fun.
Apply for First Time Home Buyer Benefits
The government of Canada grants first-time buyer rebates to help alleviate some costs involved with buying your first home. These include a $750 First-Time Buyer Tax Credit and a full or partial Land Transfer Tax Rebate. Take some time to look into your eligibility for these rebates, as every penny counts!
Decide What You Can Do Without
Think of your lifestyle before you even considered buying your first home. How many of those not quite essential expenses do you need and how many do you want? The easiest way to start is making a Need or Want list.
A daily latte from Starbucks? A want. Make it at home. The savings will add up and you’ll be able to buy something really nice for your new place.
A monthly manicure? Definitely a want. Reserve for special occasions.
Your gym membership? Probably a need. You will probably do a lot around the house in the coming months, so being in great shape will be a plus!
Make a Detailed Monthly Budget
Once you’ve decided what you can live without in your new life as a Waterloo Region homeowner, create a detailed monthly budget that will help you track your expenses and ensure you’re not overspending. Who doesn’t love a good spreadsheet?
This expense sheet should include:
• Homeowner Expenses (mortgage, property tax, property insurance, maintenance fees)
• Utilities ( phone, internet, cable)
• Transportation Costs (car payments, gas, insurance, parking, transit pass)
• Debts and Loans (credit card, student loans)
• Child Care Costs
• Health Expenses (prescriptions, chiropractor, etc)
• Gym membership
• Entertainment (movies, restaurants, etc)
• Miscellaneous (coffees, clothing, etc)
• Rainy Day Fund (more on that later)
Set a day once or twice a month, grab your laptop and find a cozy spot in your new home to go over your expenses. Download an app that will help track your spending — Mint is a popular personal finance app — especially with miscellaneous transactions.
Start a Rainy Fund
Most first time home buyers are either moving out of a rental or out of their parent’s home, so have never faced the home maintenance expenses that come along with home ownership, or the possible headaches. And when they do, the costs involved can be surprising. For example, when you are the one paying for the HVAC man to come out on an urgent basis because your boiler isn’t working you’ll understand why being a landlord isn’t always all it’s sometimes cracked up to be.
By setting aside a small amount of money every week into a ‘rainy day’ fund you will be far better prepared to meet unexpected home maintenance expenses
Ask Your Realtor for Updates on Your Property Value
One of the benefits of buying your first home in the Waterloo Region is that our real estate market has experienced incredible price growth. What this means for you is that when the market grows, your equity grows too.
Ask your real estate agent to send you semi-annual property updates. Based on your property’s unique features and location, they’ll be able to send you updates on your home’s current market value (CMV). This will tell you how much equity you’ve earned with the market.
Buying your first home is an incredibly exciting accomplishment, especially in a market such as the Waterloo Region. This investment in your future not only puts a roof over your head but it will also build you wealth long-term, making it truly one of the best investments you’ll ever undertake.