If you’re thinking about buying a house with visions of exponentially growing your net worth and setting yourself up for a breezy, carefree retirement, money expert Clark Howard wants you to think again.
That’s because Clark never wants you to think about the home you’re going to live in as a financial investment.
Buying a home is by far the largest purchase you’ll likely ever make. Clark says if you go about it with the wrong motives in mind, it could lead to financial ruin.
Clark: ‘A Home Is a Place To Live’
“So many people believe that buying their own home is an investment, that it’s going to create wealth over time,” Clark says. “That’s not necessarily true — at least not in dollars and cents.”
That’s because the money you spend to buy a home is just the beginning.
“Things break and need to be repaired. There are all kinds of maintenance you have to do,” he says.
“A home is a place to live. The real investment you’re making is in yourself and in your family. You’re creating a sense of permanence, especially if you have kids. Instead of moving from place to place, your kids have stability.”
Top Home Expenses You Need To Be Aware Of
Besides, there are several expenses related to homeownership that can catch home buyers unaware. Here are a few of them:
Property taxes are one of the constants of homeownership. As you beautify your property, the property taxes are likely to rise.
When you get an increased tax bill, there are a limited number of things you can do to reverse the course, but they may be worth a shot in your case.
- File an appeal: As a homeowner, you have a right to appeal your property tax bill.
- Claim a homestead exemption: Visit your local tax office’s website to see how to apply for a homestead exemption, which can freeze your property tax.
Another big expense a homeowner may be unprepared for is utilities. Something as simple as changing a lightbulb can save you big money over time.
“Most people have no idea how much money they can save with a very simple change in your life,” money expert Clark Howard says on his podcast. “If you take a lamp in your home — any lamp in your home — and you take out the bulb and you put in a $2 LED bulb, that will save you $80.”
Here are some other ways to save:
- Adjusting the thermostat in the summer.
- Applying for rebate programs with your local government
- Washing your clothes in cold water
Resource: How To Save on Utilities
When an appliance or other item in your home breaks, your wallet usually follows suit — but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Clark recommends that you stash away some cash for a “Fix-It Fund.” This fund will come in handy when the unexpected happens and you have to go into your wallet.
Resource: Why You Need a Fix-It Fund
There are a number of reasons why owning a home is great: You’re investing in a community, you get to know your neighbors and you’re building a support system.
On the other hand, if you see owning and living in a home strictly as a vehicle to build guaranteed wealth, Clark says not to bet on it.
There is however one exception to homeownership that can be lucrative over the years.
“Owning investment real estate where you’re the landlord renting out a home to people,” Clark says, “that’s a way you can make money over time. Not all at once, but you can get rich slowly.”