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Lifestyle Changes for First Time Homeowners

DATE:2019-03-09 READ:1545 Publisher:

Lifestyle Changes for First Time Homeowners

With so much talk around Ontario’s real estate market, it can be difficult for first-time buyers to avoid the ‘I’ll never be able to afford a home’ mindset. Empire Communities firmly believes homeownership is achievable, and has resources to help you on your journey.

Saving for a new home doesn’t have to automatically mean giving up everything you love, rather it should begin with identifying intentional spending and reviewing what is actually adding value to your life. It can be hard, particularly for millennials to give up certain comforts like vacations, nights out with friends, that preferred brand of premium coffee or a weekly manicure, but rather than cutting them out entirely, sort your ‘must-haves’ from your ‘can-live-with-outs’ and plan a reasonable budget around those expenses.


Similar to the way you’d approach a lifestyle change to reach your health and fitness goals, saving for and buying a home requires a lifestyle shift that doesn’t leave room for frivolous spending. Make a spreadsheet of your typical spending habits over the last 3 months to give yourself an accurate picture of where your money is going.

Many new homeowners think that as long as they can get approved for a mortgage and get their foot in the door, they’ll deal with finances later. This is a breeding ground for the house poor phenomenon and should be avoided. Shifting the way you approach spending and saving prior to buying your home means that you can continue to enjoy your favourite activities even after you sign on the dotted line. It also gives you a realistic picture of how large of a monthly mortgage payment you can take on. Sort expenses into two categories, Necessary and Other. Necessary expenses are items such as transportation costs, shelter, living costs and any debt you’re paying off. The rest goes into Other. Before you begin sorting through your non-essential expenses, look through your Necessary costs and see if you can reduce. A few simple shifts can make a huge impact on your monthly Necessary costs.

Finally, begin shifting through those Other expenses. A few common categories you’ll probably find you’re over spending in are eating out, shopping, entertainment, gym memberships, travelling and bank charges/ATM fees. If this is the first time you’re exploring your finances, we recommend doing a deep dive. Divide eating out expenses into buying lunch, dinner, alcohol and coffee/breakfast to see where you’re spending the most. These expenses might be ones that will make or break your home buying dreams.


Once you can see what your biggest spending areas are, begin developing your ideal spending in each category and decided what you have to eliminate. When doing this, it’s important to avoid the mindset of sacrificing or depriving yourself. You may not be able to do or have everything you had before, but it’s because of a shift in values and a path toward a larger goal. That being said, there are many things you can continue to do with proper planning and saving. If your fitness class is non-negotiable, make cuts in other areas to cover that cost. Likewise, it’s important to note those areas where a change in your habits is needed. Perhaps you can bring a lunch from home or limit your dinners out to twice a month. This might also be the time you realize that you need to increase your income to be able to meet your homeownership goals and can now begin looking for ways to do so.


Unplanned or mindless spending is kryptonite to all but the best planned budgets. An impulse purchase at the drug store, a new outfit you found on sale and an impromptu dinner night can dismantle the plan you so carefully laid out for yourself. With your new budget in mind, learn to say no to things you can’t afford. Make plans with friends for the following month and work it into your budget, stop walking into retail stores when you’ve maxed out your shopping budget and calculate the totals in your head or on your phone before you get to the cash register to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Toronto Star: https://www.thestar.com/sponsored_sections/adultlikeapro/2018/09/28/home.html

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