Everybody gets laser-focused on executing goals starting January 1 each year. But many achievements are out-of-sight, out-of-mind before the calendar changes.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, homeowners can get ahead by doing the opposite. It’s much easier to accomplish some goals when nobody else is trying to do the same.
Homeownership goals are perfect examples. Whether you’re looking to buy, refinance, or remodel a home, you are just one consumer in a large market. When the consumer market shrinks, you have more power to negotiate and save money.
Here are four goals all homeowners should at least begin executing before the calendar changes.
Goal #1: Save money on a remodel in the off-season
Let’s face it. No one wants to remodel during the holidays. A kitchen with no cabinets or appliances is not conducive to fun family get-togethers.
But what if you could save a mint by remodeling when no one else is doing it?
According to Interior Excellence, home remodel contractors are desperate for business in November and December. Every year, projects dry up as homeowners delay updating their homes until the new year.
Cash in on contractor desperation during the winter. It sounds cold-hearted (no pun intended) but why not put yourself in the best negotiating position? You could get your kitchen, bathroom or other high-cost remodel done while locking in thousands in savings compared to doing the project in the spring or summer.
Goal #2: Make your home-related purchases and deduct sales tax
The IRS lets you deduct sales tax and get a bigger tax return. If you live in a state that does not collect income tax, you should be deducting sales tax, especially on large purchases. A total of seven states do not collect income tax:
- South Dakota
You can make big purchases before year end and reduce your tax burden — in these seven states especially, but potentially in any state. Say you buy new appliances for your kitchen for a total of $8,000. At 10% sales tax, that’s $800 you can deduct. (As with any tax strategy, check with your tax adviser before filing.)
The tax savings just go up with bigger projects that cost $25,000 or more.
Sales tax is a killer, but use it to your advantage. Keep all your receipts and see if deducting sales tax will save you money this tax season.
Goal #3: Refinance and start a savings plan
Your biggest bill is probably your mortgage. Creditloan.com says the average American spends a whopping 27% of their before-tax income on housing.
Ironically, your mortgage is probably the easiest cost to cut in your budget. It’s as simple as dropping your high rate to today’s new lower rates.
The more staggering statistic is that 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings accounts according to MarketWatch. If this is you, you’re living dangerously, my friend.
Right now, before you do anything else, you should figure out how to start putting money into a savings account. A good way to start is to refinance and put away the money you’re not sending to your mortgage holder.
If you save $200 per month on your mortgage, drop that right into a savings account.
Goal #4: Buy a home while sellers are desperate
Did you know you can save a huge chunk of money by buying a home during the winter holidays?
According to Bankrate, most sellers avoid selling their homes during December. The ones who do put their homes on the market really need to sell.
Armed with this knowledge, buyers can negotiate a better price and even get the seller to kick in money for closing costs.
And your offer won’t have to beat out those of other potential buyers. Most buyers have either already purchased a home or are waiting for the new year to shop.
Eager sellers and few buyers mean big savings on your home purchase.
Nothing magical about January 1
These homeownership goals are not rocket science. But they do run counter to popular practices.
If you are willing to think differently than the crowd, you can accomplish your goals before you even intended to start, and save a ton of money doing it.
There’s nothing magical about the first of January. Get started before Thanksgiving and accomplish a new year’s resolution before you take down your wall calendar.