Preventative fall maintenance is a thorny issue for cash-strapped homeowners. Seasonal chores cost money to perform. But they can save you a lot more money down the line by preventing a major repair or breakdown.
Stuck between one tricky financial situation and another, you may not know how to handle the season. But don’t let your financial anxieties stop you from preparing your home for another year. Check out these tips to help you budget for yearly fall-time maintenance.
Know What You Have to Spend
You won’t know what you can afford until you sit down with a budget. Track expenses and consider putting non-essential spending on hold until you deal with important tasks. Anything you manage to cut from your budget will increase your maintenance fund.
Of course, this cost-cutting tip only works on expenses you can control. Sometimes, surprise expenses come along and absorb all the extra cash you have in your budget — and then some.
If you’re particularly unlucky, they arrive after you spend all your expendable cash on fall-time chores.
Unexpected expenses, though hard to predict, are a normal part of homeownership. That’s why most homeowners take out credit cards and lines of credit. These financial products provide safety nets in emergencies when your budget is stretched to its limits.
If you’re gearing up to using a line of credit, check out these tips to help with responsible borrowing when you face your own emergency.
Cost-Out and Prioritize Your To-Do List
Once you know how much you have to spend, it’s time to figure out what your fall-times chores will cost. Make a list of the tasks you want to tackle this season, using this resource as your guide.
If you have limited funds to spend on these chores, don’t take out a personal loan to try to cover everything. It’s okay if you skip certain chores if you’re short on time, too, like raking the leaves. In fact, environmentalists say skipping this task will help critters survive the winter.
Try Your Hand at DIY
The good news is that some of the most important tasks also happen to be free, as long as you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. Take, for example, turning off your water valve and cleaning your gutters before the temperatures freeze. Ticking these items off your list can save you from burst pipes and flooding.
Other tasks, like repairing caulking or repointing brick, will come with minor material costs, like caulk and mortar. But tackling these chores on your own will be cheaper than if you hire a professional.
Know When to Call a Professional
Some tasks require a professional’s touch, like servicing your furnace. This tune-up ensures your appliance is ready for another busy season ahead, and it gives you a chance to catch minor issues before they cause a costly breakdown.
Dropping the DIY attitude when it comes to large appliances will save you money in the long run. After all, licensed technicians have the skills, equipment, and experience to fix these machines right the first time. You don’t share their expertise, and you’re lack of knowhow can damage your appliance.
Start Saving for Next Year
If you found it hard to repair your home this year, make next year easier by saving a little bit of money each month for maintenance. Home repair experts recommend you save 1 percent of your home’s value every year to cover routine upkeep, including fall-time chores. While you may not need that much money to perform your to-do list, every bit helps! So, sit down with your budget and start saving today.