Lessons from a Homeowner

My husband and I have been in our house for two months now and in some ways, it feels like we’ve lived here years. Since moving in our furniture, we’ve quickly made this house a home and have already had some wonderful memories of hosting family and creating new family traditions.

While the past couple months have been a dream, it hasn’t come without its hardships and lessons. While I primarily focus my content on personal finance and fashion I thought it would be fun to share with you all some of the lessons I’ve learned through homeownership. Think of this as a sequel to my home buying guide.  

1. Measure, Measure, Measure!

This was the very first lesson we learned in our new home and it happened on moving day. Our parents generously gifted us with a queen size bed that was going to go in one of our guest rooms. Being the designer in the relationship, I had visions for it in our basement room that were quickly dashed when the box spring didn’t fit down the stairs. Had we measured the box spring, we could have saved ourselves taking the backdoor off its hinges, scratches in the stairway and energy that was spent playing musical beds.

Moral of the Story: Always measure when it comes to adding new furniture to a space!

2. Make a List before Shopping

I talked about this recently on my Instagram after going through my Mint.com for last month. I would list this as one of the more expensive lessons that we learned through the moving process, never go to the store without a shopping list, especially Target!

Going from a one-bedroom apartment to a four bedroom home translated into needing lots of household items. Just to name a few examples, we needed sheets and pillows for additional beds, garbage cans for laundry rooms and office spaces and organization items for our new kitchen and bathrooms. The list (or lack of list) was long.

Not having a list translated into running to the store and forgetting something. Which meant you had to go back and each time we went back to the store we found ourselves walking away with more than we planned on buying. Not that we were buying silly things but went off track and in some cases bought more than necessary.

Moral of the Story: Not having a list equals a waste in time, energy and resources!

3. Lawn Care is Expensive

About two weeks into living in our home we shifted our focus from inside the house to the outside. Once thing I did not anticipate, having never owned a property, is that there is a lot that goes into lawncare and specific tools needs to maintain the lawn and flower beds.

As part of the preparation process before moving in, we created a budget of all the items we would need to furnish our home but we didn’t include much of a budget for lawn care. That was definitely an oversight on my part. We found ourselves running to Home Depot and Ace (without a list of course!) gathering up all the tools and supplies needed to water our lawn and keep it looking fresh.

Moral of the Story: Don’t forget to budget for the exterior of your home.

4. Contingency is Key

Raise your hand if you love HGTV. If you can’t see, my hand is raised high and waving around. If you are like me and enjoy the occasional HGTV show, then you should be familiar with the term contingency and that all projects come with a contingency project to cover unknown expenses. Sounds a lot like an emergency fund, right?

While yes, we have an emergency fund from our city days. We realized that we needed to revisit our contingency plan for our life in the suburbs and right size what that fund looks like. For example, we didn’t think of every little monthly expense that would be added to our budget nor did we know how much our monthly utilities would run (hint: so much higher than originally thought) so when we did our preliminary budget planning, we padded some of the number to create a buffer.

Turns out it was not enough, and we didn’t think about insect treatments and security systems and underestimated what it would cost to light up and cool a four bedroom home. Now that we are a few months in, we can re-create our monthly budget and absorb the new costs we originally left off and re tool our emergency fund number.

       Moral of the Story: Utilities will sneak up on you!

5. No House is Perfect

It was really important to us to find a home that was turnkey and needed little to zero work on our end. While, yes, we found a beautifully updated home in our dream neighborhood we are learning that there are some changes we are going to want make to the house. That is not a knock against our home, it’s beautiful and we love it but there are some tweaks we want to make so it’s more suited to us. For example, we want to get stair runners to make the stair safer for Mac and are toying with the idea of electric blinds.

To be completely honest, I didn’t carve out a chunk of money to put towards stair runners or new blinds so these have become items that we are going to strategically save for using the sinking funds strategy and pull the trigger on those purchases once they are funded with savings. I’m sure these are not the last home projects we will want to tackle (pause for husband’s laughter) and that we will want to consider always keeping a separate savings account for home maintenance and projects.

Moral of the Story: sinking funds will become your best friend, if they aren’t already.

6. Enjoy the Ride

I think this is the most important of all the lessons I’ve learned thus far in our new home and it’s to enjoy the ride. At first, I felt this great sense of pressure (self-imposed) to have the house all put away and decorated perfectly to show off to friends and feature on my corner of the internet. Somewhere along the way I’ve change my mindset and am excited to slowly fill our home with pieces picked out with love.

As someone who aspired to be an interior designer as a child, I’ve really enjoyed the process of looking for design inspiration, creating design boards and scouring the internet and resale shops for pieces to fill our home. I have found it very therapeutic and a welcome distraction. I look forward to putting the finishing touches on a few spaces and sharing with you all soon.

Moral of the Story: Facebook Marketplace is where it’s at if you are looking for unique pieces for your home 😊

I have no doubt that the number of lessons I will learn from this house will continue to grow with our tenure in the home. While I share all this to give you the heads up, I also look forward to reflecting back on this post and adding to the lessons as they come.

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