If you own your home or are thinking about buying one, are you prepared for the repair costs if something goes wrong?
Money expert Clark Howard says that every homeowner needs to be prepared to deal with home repair issues, large or small, that are bound to come up eventually.
In this article, we’ll explain why home fix-it funds are so important, and we’ll give you tips on how to start one.
Why Saving Money for Home Repairs Is Key to Your Financial Security
“People who’ve only ever lived in apartments think of just picking up the phone and saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got a problem with whatever!'” Clark says.
“But homes depreciate over time, not appreciate. People think that a home increases in value. But it’s actually the land that a house sits on that may well increase in value over time,” Clark says. “The actual house itself — the structure — requires continual tender loving care, maintenance and repair.”
For that reason, Clark says it’s key that you establish a home fix-it fund to make sure you have the funds to pay for that upkeep and repair without going into or adding to your debt. He also has a very simple formula for figuring out how much you need to save.
How to Calculate What You Need to Save in Your Home Fix-It Fund
“I want you to think about, over the course of a year, putting the equivalent of two monthly mortgage payments aside in a maintenance and repair fund for your home,” Clark says. “That may not be enough money, but it’s a really good start.”
Rather than try to do this in one lump sum, Clark recommends that you make your home fix-it fund one of your budget categories.
“The way I like for you contribute is every month when you make your mortgage payment. Let’s say your mortgage payment is $500 a month, just to keep it simple. Every month you’d put around $80 a month into a savings account,” he says. “Over time you’ll build up a cushion of cash for maintenance and repairs so that you’re not fighting from behind when something does go wrong.”
By “fighting from behind,” Clark means putting those repair bills on a credit card or taking out a home equity loan that you have to figure out how to repay.
To figure out how much you should be setting aside each month, follow these steps:
- Take your monthly mortgage payment amount
- Multiply it by 2
- Divide that by 12
The result you get will be the amount Clark recommends depositing in your home fix-it fund each month.
You should keep this money in a separate high-interest savings account to be used only for home upkeep and repairs.
Common Home Repairs and What They Might Cost You
In case you’re still not convinced you need a home fix-it fund, we checked in with HomeAdvisor to get some estimates for the costs of some common home repairs. You’ll likely encounter one or more of these if you stay in your house long enough:
(Repair estimate ranges are for a home in suburban Atlanta in December 2020.)
- Repair a roof: $355-$1,473
- Install a new roof: $5,370-$10,962
- Install a new tank water heater: $805-$1,554
- Repair a foundation: $1,977-$6,980
- Install a new central air system: $3,812-$7,474
As you can see from the numbers above, home repairs aren’t cheap. But with some forethought and budgeting perseverance, you can make sure you’re prepared when the inevitable issues arise with your home.