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Planning significant purchases like your first new car or home are big steps in life. While the purchase itself is a thrill ride, lack of planning may end up in buyer's remorse. To avoid such a pitfall, you need to impart a few guidelines around those larger purchases to protect yourself from disappointment or frustration later. Taking stock of your financial goals and your current situation can clear the way to confidence when shopping for your dream car, home, or other major purchases.
Plan, plan, plan
Having a written spending plan you can use to guide your decisions gives you a snapshot of where you are. Laying out a six to 12-month program for your income and expenses will allow you to determine when you shop, or even make an offer on something. Remember that a plan is only as good as the information you have, so make sure you keep all aspects of your financial life up to date. This upkeep includes retirement accounts, debts, interest rates on those debts, any fluctuation in income, and any changes in your cost-of-living expenses (rent, insurance rates or gas prices). Any of these things have the potential to delay or accelerate your purchase. When you are elevating larger purchases, remember the monthly payment is not the only expense associated with the purchase.
The big picture for housing expenses
When purchasing a home, that may be a bit more complicated. You will need to ask for information from those in the real estate and mortgage industry to get the information you need to see the big picture. Again, the monthly payment is not the only thing you will pay each monthly, especially if you are a renter. Knowing what expenses you will be taking on is essential. Besides the money you will need to purchase a home initially, there are other increases to your monthly expenses as a homeowner. Homeowner's insurance is more expensive than renter's insurance, so make sure your spending plan adjusts accordingly. You will want to think about your commute to work if you have one and budget more for gas if your trip to work will be longer from your new address. Sometimes the utility costs will be lower especially if you are buying an energy efficient or more modern home.
Home buying, when you have processed all the information and are confident financially, is an exciting adventure.