Use your shopping hobby to save money on housing expenses

Put your shopping skills to work this year and save on homeowners insurance, windows, appliances, mortgages and much more.

Shopping as a hobby could be considered detrimental for money management purposes but using it to save on housing costs has a positive effect on the bottom line. Even if you’ve been in your home for a while, there are still cost savings to be realized. Possibly it’s time to refinance your mortgage for a lower interest rate. If you are a renter, this might be the year to become a homeowner and save on housing payments. 

Start by thinking about these questions:

  1. When was the last time you asked for an updated homeowner’s insurance quote?
  2. Are your appliances energy efficient?
  3. How much heat is leaking out through those old windows?
  4. Is the interest rate on your mortgage higher than average and has the value increased? 

Once these questions are answered, it’s time to start shopping. Recently, a client discovered that though their credit score had improved over the past several years, they were still paying a high rate on their homeowners insurance as if their credit was still poor. They asked their insurance carrier to reevaluate them and the result was a significant reduction in their insurance rates. Even if that isn’t the case, shopping for the best rate can save hundreds of dollars. Making changes to the current policy can also save money.

Are your appliances costing a lot to maintain? Studies show that older appliances can be costing more money to operate than newer, more energy efficient models. Though the initial cost may seem expensive, savings over the long run can really add up. In addition, many homeowners qualify for a tax deduction for installing Energy Star rated appliances.

Is there a draft coming from windows, door walls or doors? That’s just money seeping away. There are kits available to cover windows and keep the winter out. Using a door draft blocker is a quick and inexpensive way to stop the draft and save on that energy bill. A towel, twisted and placed over the draft works, too. Or it may be time to do some price comparisons on new energy efficient windows. Since winter is the off-season for installing new windows and doors in colder climates, there are usually good deals to be found.

In many markets, housing prices are finally appreciating as the economy continues to move beyond the recession. Homeowners who owed more than the value of their home a few years ago, may now be able to look into refinancing into a more attractive mortgage. Mortgage interest rates are still at historically low levels so shopping for a better rate could make sense.

It doesn’t matter if you use the Internet, the Yellow Pages or the friend network to shop for lower costs and energy efficiency. Whichever method works to achieve cost savings is a good way. Do yourself a favor, look for those savings and indulge in that shopping hobby for a positive return to your bank balance.

Michigan State University Extension offers financial literacy and homeownership workshops throughout the year to help you become financially healthy. For more information of classes in your area, go to either the events page or the MI Money Health website. Additionally, you can take the Financial Health Survey at MI Money Health to access if you’re financially healthy and discover more ways you can improve your financial health. 

Michigan State University Extension has released a new toolkit for homeowners who are experiencing or have previously experienced foreclosure. This toolkit will equip these individuals and families with tools to help them recover their financial stability, in the case that a recovery of their home is not possible. The toolkit is available to download free at the MI Money Health website.

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