Can I afford a bigger home?

Apr 04, 2017

Tips to find out how much that move will cost you.

Take a guess, where do you spend most of your money? For most of us, the answer is probably the roof over our heads, or our monthly rent or mortgage payment. As families grow or we get new jobs that earn more money, one of the first areas to be upgraded is our home. But a change in housing can have a big impact on your family’s financial health, so you’ll want to be sure you’re ready to pay for both the cost of a new home AND the moving process to get you there.  

The spring is usually the most popular time of year to move - the holiday’s are over, the weather’s getting nicer, and there are more homes on the market – so we wanted to offer some advice to help you decide if a move is right for you.

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Budgeting 101 

If you haven’t created a budget before and aren’t sure how much money you spend each month, then consider reviewing your previous spending BEFORE you decide whether to move to a bigger, more expensive home. Start by looking at the past three or four months worth of spending and dividing your purchases into categories, like gas, groceries, entertainment, or loan payments. 

You can add up your spending manually or use an online budgeting tool to help you. At Washington Federal, we offer MoneySync to our clients, both online and as a smartphone app. MoneySync does not have a monthly usage fee and allows users to see their total spending from multiple cards or accounts in one place. For example, you could add your student or car loan, and checking accounts or credit cards from different banks or credit unions.

Once you add your accounts in MoneySync, then the tool’s budget feature will automatically categorize your spending, so you can quickly and easily see how much money you spend each month in different areas. 

The 30% Rule

Everyone’s financial situation is different, but in general, most experts recommend spending no more than 30% of your total monthly income on housing. That percentage is pre-tax and should include all expenses related to housing – including taxes and insurance (if you’re planning to buy a home), electricity, natural gas, etc. For example, if you make $40,000 a year, then you should probably spend no more than $1,000 a month on housing.

This percentage will vary depending on your budget, so if you have a lot of other monthly payments, like a car loan, or a large credit card payment, then you should consider spending less than 30% on housing. Remember, if you don’t think you can afford to spend 1/3 of your monthly income on rent or a home loan for a home, then DON’T MOVE.  

How much will I spend to move?

If you’ve thought it through and decided that you’re ready for a new home, then you’ll want to consider the costs of the actual move. Since many of the items needed to move are paid for separately, it can be difficult to know how much money is actually be spent on a move. But those little costs add up! 

The American Moving and Storage Association found that the average cost of moving a household from one state to another is about $4,300 and the average cost of an in-state move is about $2,300.

Here are a few things to consider when budgeting for your move. 

Transferring Services. Make a list of all utility and other services that you currently receive at your house. Then, call or visit the company online to find out if you’ll be charged to transfer your service; if so, how much? Consider things like garbage, water, sewer, electricity, phone, Internet, cable, and heating services. You might be surprised how quickly these can add up! 

Packing Supplies. It may seem like a small cost, but bubble wrap, packing tape, boxes, and specialty packaging supplies for fragile items can add up. Moving.com offers a helpful, online calculator to help you figure out how much you could end up spending on moving supplies.

Professional Movers. You may need help packing and transporting your belongings to your new home. Professional movers often charge about $100 for each 100 pounds, not including the packing and insurance fees. 

Storage. Storage costs will be highest for those who are moving into a smaller home, but remember that you may need a temporary storage facility if you need to move out of your current home before your new home is available. According to GoBankingRates.com, the cost to rent a small storage unit is about $40-$50 a month, while larger units can be $225 a month. 

Preparing ahead of time for costs associated with a move is the best way to be sure you don’t take on unexpected debt for your move. Here are some tricks to help you save money throughout the process:

  • Instead of buying boxes, visit your local supermarket or recycling center and ask for extras.
  • Moving companies tend to be busiest at the end of the month or on weekends. Planning for a mid-month move will help you negotiate a discounted price and receive better service.
  • Take apart items before the movers arrive. Many moving companies charge extra for disassembling play sets, bunks beds and shelving. 

Ready to make a move? Whether your next move means creating a monthly budget for the first time or possibly buying a home, your neighborhood branch is here to help. Happy hunting!