Homeowner Tips

We’ve been in our house for almost four years. There’s a lot I didn’t know when we first moved in (and a lot I still don’t know). I want to take you through some basics of homeownership and what will help make the first year in your house fun and less stressful!

Home Shopping

There’s a lot to buy, and it pays to be prepared for making big purchases. Here’s how I handle shopping for home furnishings, appliances, and yard equipment:

  • Plan your big purchases. Try to buy lawn equipment and appliances around holiday sales like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and winter holidays. There’s usually great deals and bundling options for things like washers/dryers, patio furniture, and more.

  • Install a coupon app. I use the Honey browser extension to redeem coupon codes that are floating around the internet and to track prices. There’s also tools like RetailMeNot that offer in-store coupons.

  • Become a store member. I’m not a Boomer who’s a member of every retail store in existence, but I do maintain memberships for some home goods stores I frequent, like West Elm. They give member discounts and exclusive deals!

  • Read independent review sites. My grandma got me a subscription to Consumer Reports and it’s the best thing ever. The NYTimes Wirecutter section is also great. These sources helped me narrow down options and feel confident when making big purchases.

  • Click around. When we were shopping for our new living room furniture, I clicked through a lot of home furnishing sites. Then I started getting served Facebook and Instagram ads for even more home furnishing sites. Eventually, I found some great pieces from sites I never would have found without those ads, and I got a better sense of what I wanted because I got to see so many different options. Let the algorithm work for you!

Maintenance

The biggest thing I had to get used to was being responsible for home maintenance. My suggestions:

  • Find a voice of reason. Someone you can call to ask questions, who can check things out to put your mind at ease or get you started on the fix. Maybe yours is your dad or a handy friend; mine is my old real estate agent.

  • Use social media to find repair people. I search for whatever service I need, from plumbing to roofing, in my local neighborhood Facebook page and send out quote requests based on others’ suggestions. I’ve even gotten discounts for finding folks this way!

  • Get on a schedule with repairs. Get an A/C checkup before it gets too hot, tackle leaks before the big rainy season, etc.

  • Keep a repairs fund. Things will break, and you don’t want to be caught by surprise when they do. I contribute to a repairs fund to cover any unanticipated maintenance. I put away about 5% of my salary for this purpose, but you can do whatever works best for you.

Home Decor

When you first move in, there may be some rooms that are enticing blank slates. Here are my recommendations for tackling decorating:

  • Take it room by room. Get the basics set up in your key spaces, but then finish decorating each one separately. This will help focus your creative energy and keep each room’s decor cohesive.

  • Focus on quality. When you’re in a dorm or an apartment, you’re likely to walk past someone else’s discarded furniture and think “Score!” But when it’s time to outfit a home you love, you can focus more on pieces that will stand the test of time or complete your aesthetic goals. This could mean thrifting some solid wood furniture, or splurging on an amazing couch you’ll cherish for years. Whatever quality you’re going for, commit!

  • Consider longevity. There are a lot of home DIY trends going viral right now that focus on aesthetics rather than durability. Many of them are geared towards renters, who can spruce up the appearance of their space but maybe not make permanent changes. Now that you have a permanent place, don’t let cheap aesthetic trends fool you. Peel and stick tiles are pretty, but they’ll come off before too long (which is the whole point).

  • Save receipts for permanent fixtures. When you make an investment in your house’s permanent fixtures, like lighting or hardware, save those receipts! They can help you prove the valuation of your home when it’s time to sell again.

Lifesaving Purchases

Here are some products I have congratulated myself on getting every day since they arrived at my house:

  • As mentioned in a previous issue, this air purifier. We placed it halfway between our kitchen and the room where we keep the litter box and it eliminates odors from both sources so well!

  • Door seals to close any gaps at the bottom or tops of doorways. They help reduce drafts and ultimately save money on heating and cooling costs!

  • In South Carolina, a dehumidifier has proved essential. Ours doesn’t fill up too fast, it’s easy to change the settings, and it’s inobtrusive.

  • Battery powered lawn equipment. We have a Ryobi brand lawn mower and weed wacker, and I love that we don’t have to mess with gas cans or anything like that.

  • A bed high enough for floor storage. We live in a small house so under-bed storage is essential. If you are also space-confined, consider a bed that’s at least 11 inches off the ground. This is just high enough for a suitcase to slide underneath.

  • Baskets. I can’t get enough baskets. I have one for loose chargers and cords in our living room; one for kitchen rags; one to organize various cleaning products; six in our guest bedroom to keep random items out of sight… the list goes on.

  • Reliable household cleaners. I love Urnex coffee pot cleaners, The Pink Stuff cleaner for oven/sink/tub, and Feed-n-Wax for our wood kitchen table.

There’s more.

There’s a lot I didn’t cover, like home finances and renovations and such. Those topics are best handled by the professionals! I watch a lot of YouTube and read many articles to get information from the pros. If you’d like to hear about my specific experience with home financing or larger projects, just shoot me an email! newsletter@arispicks.com.

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