Todd Cogar - Baltimore, MD Real Estate, White Marsh, MD Real Estate, Dundalk, MD Real Estate


A lot changes when you move into a new home. For the first few weeks you’ll most likely be focused on getting everything arranged and put away in their proper locations. You’ll be adjusting to your new work commute, meeting the neighbors, finding out where to shop, and so on.

It’s easy to forget about updating your budget during the first couple of months in your new home. However, if you want to be mindful of your spending and gauge the true cost of living in your new home, it’s essential to start tracking expenses and creating your budget as soon as possible.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to make a new budget for your new home so that you can start accurately planning your long term finances. That way, you and your family can rest assured that you aren’t living above your means in your new home and can stop stressing about spending.

Cost of living changes

When most of us move we think about the change of our mortgage payments, property taxes, and home insurance. However, there are several smaller changes that will occur in your day-to-day spending habits that you might not think to update in your budget.

First off, make a note of how much you’re spending on transportation (whether it’s train fare or gas for your car) in your new home and adjust this on your budget. This is hard to predict before you move since you can’t be sure of the traffic patterns until your first trip to the office.

Next, make a list of your monthly services, including utilities. We’re talking about internet, cable, trash and recycling, heating and electricity, and so on. At the end of the first month, add each of those to your budget and decide if you want to spend less on any of them.

One surprise expense that many people have when they move is the cost of internet. Your old plan at your former residence might not cut it if you move to an area with different coverage.

Furnishing your new home

Even if you’re moving with most of your furniture and appliances, there will likely still be expenses that you’ll need to plan for in your new home.

It might be tempting to make all of these purchases at once so that you can feel like your move is “complete.” However, the best course of action is to include these items into your monthly budget so that you are prepared for emergency expenses.

Decide which items you need the most in your new home, and prioritize purchasing those on the first month. You’ll likely realize after just the first couple of nights in your new house which items you need now and which can wait.

Budgeting apps and tools

Everyone has their own preferred method of record-keeping. Some people keep their budget in a notebook or planner, whereas others like to use an app that they can access on their phone or laptop.

There are dedicated budgeting apps and web applications that link to your bank account and tell you how much left you can spend that month and if there is an issue with your budget. Several such apps are available for free in both Android and Apple app stores.

For a simpler budget, you can simply use the spreadsheet application of your choice (Excel, Numbers, and Google Sheets are all sufficient).

Regardless of what tool you use, make sure you check in on your budget frequently to ensure you’re sticking to it and making adjustments as needed.


A home is one of the biggest purchases that an individual can make in his or her lifetime. It also may prove to be expensive, particularly for those who fail to plan ahead for the property buying journey.

There is no need to break your budget to acquire your dream residence. In fact, there are many quick, easy ways to guarantee you can keep you finances in check and avoid the risk of spending too much to purchase your ideal house.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to ensure you can buy a quality house at a budget-friendly price.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

You want to buy a home, but you still have no idea how much you can spend on a residence. Thankfully, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can enter the real estate market with a budget in hand. As a result, you will know exactly how much you can spend on a house and can plan accordingly.

Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who are happy to meet with you. These mortgage specialists can review your income, credit score and other relevant financial data. Then, they can provide you with mortgage options based on your finances.

2. Narrow Your Home Search

Although most people want to buy a mansion, it is important to establish realistic homebuying expectations. Because if you narrow your home search to properties that fall within your price range, you can speed up the property buying journey. Perhaps most important, you can shop around to find a terrific home that corresponds to your budget.

Don't forget to consider homes in a variety of cities and towns too. In some instances, it may prove to be more cost-effective to purchase a house in a small town than a residence in a big city.

3. Evaluate Your Short- and Long-Term Plans

Think about your short- and long-term plans, and you may be better equipped than ever before to map out your home finances for the foreseeable future.

For instance, if you plan to raise a family in the years to come, you may want to consider the costs associated with childcare and other child expenses. This will allow you to budget properly as you search for your dream home.

On the other hand, if you recently accepted a work promotion, your income soon may rise. In this situation, you may be able to increase your homebuying budget due to the fact that extra income will be coming your way.

Lastly, as you get ready to search for a house, you may want to hire a real estate agent. In addition to helping you find a home that matches your budget, a real estate agent will offer expert guidance throughout the property buying journey. He or she will help you prepare for a home inspection, closing and other important steps during the homebuying process. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey and achieve the optimal results.


If you intend to list your residence in the near future, you may want to complete various property renovations. In fact, there are many reasons to perform home renovations before you add your house to the real estate market, and these reasons include:

1. You can revamp the look and feel of your home.

If your home has a drab interior or exterior, now may be the perfect time to update your residence. That way, you can reinvent your house and make it an attractive choice for homebuyers.

As you look for ways to renovate your house, it may be beneficial to conduct a home inspection too. A house inspection typically is requested by a homebuyer after a seller accepts an offer to purchase. However, performing an inspection before you list your residence may help you establish home renovation priorities.

During a home inspection, a property expert will assess a residence both inside and out. A homeowner then will receive an inspection report that provides insights into a house's strengths and weaknesses. And with this report in hand, a homeowner can allocate time and resources to prioritize home renovations and find ways to upgrade his or her residence before listing it.

2. You can increase the likelihood of a quick house sale.

A house that boasts outstanding curb appeal is likely to make a positive first impression on buyers. Thus, this home may be more likely than others to stir up lots of interest among buyers, which may lead to a quick house sale.

If you want to speed up the house selling process, you should perform home renovations. Because the sooner you update your residence, the sooner you may be able to accept a competitive offer to purchase your home.

3. You can boost your house's value.

Home renovations may help you bolster the value of your home. These renovations also can help you differentiate your residence from other available houses – something that is exceedingly important in a fierce real estate market.

When it comes to renovating your home, it may be helpful to work with a real estate agent. If you have a real estate agent at your side, you may be better equipped than ever before to plan ahead for home renovation projects.

A real estate agent may be able to put you in touch with the best home renovation experts in your city or town. For example, if you want to improve your home's interior, a real estate agent can offer interior decorator recommendations. Or, if you need to perform roof repairs, a real estate agent can help you find the top local roofing companies.

Before you list your home, complete home renovations – you'll be glad you did. If you perform myriad house renovations, you could help your residence stand out in a crowded real estate market. Best of all, home renovations could make it easy for you to enjoy a fast, profitable home selling experience.


Like most Americans, you probably carry some debt. Reaching your dreams such as saving for a down payment or registering for a class takes longer when you're also paying on money you owe. Paying it off might seem daunting when the only way you know is to either make more money or reduce expenses. There are other ways, though, to tackle debt. Here are three.

The avalanche

When using the avalanche method to pay off debt, organize debt by the highest interest rate to the lowest. Any extra funds you can come up with go toward the debt with the highest interest rate until it is paid off. Then, move to the debt with the next highest interest rate. Take the whole payment amount of the first debt and add it to the payment of the second highest debt, paying it much more quickly. As each debt is paid, move to the next highest interest rate until all debt is paid. Proponents of this method believe your debt is paid off faster with the least amount of interest paid.

The Snowball

This popular method to pay off debt focuses on paying off the smallest debts first, then taking that payment and adding it to the payment for the next lowest debt. As you pay each debt, add that payment amount to the next smallest debt's payment. Each time you pay off one debt, the amount you can throw at the subsequent debt increases in the same way a snowball rolling down a hill gets bigger and bigger. Eventually, you can apply the final amount to your last debt and pay it off more quickly. Champions of this method believe paying off smaller debts first provides a psychological boost, encouraging you to stay on track. 

The snowflake

Both the avalanche method and the snowball method rely on your coming up with some extra cash in your monthly budget to throw at the first debt. But what if your budget is so tight that you can't add a regular amount to your monthly outgo? The snowflake method is different. Always pay minimums on all your debts, but whenever you have random cash, apply the extra to the smallest bill. So, if you sell something online or if a friend pays you back for dinner from a month ago, apply that extra to your smallest debt. Use birthday money, the five dollars you found in a coat pocket, or your tax refund to pay toward debt. Even though you’re not adding a regular amount to your debt payment, you can still reduce the balance and pay off your debt more quickly than by just making payments.

Reach your dreams

Once you’ve paid off your debt, continue to pay the final payment amount into a savings account toward a down payment or some other goal.


After you receive an offer to purchase your house, you likely have only a short period of time to make your decision. Ultimately, determining whether to accept, reject or counter a homebuyer's proposal can be tricky. But if you plan ahead, you should have no trouble performing a comprehensive analysis of a buyer's offer, regardless of how much time is available.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you review a homebuying proposal.

1. Weigh the Pros and Cons

Creating a pros-cons list may prove to be ideal, particularly for a seller who is struggling to decide how to proceed with an offer. With this list in hand, you can evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of accepting a proposal and determine the best course of action.

Furthermore, it may be beneficial to assess your homebuying goals relative to an offer. If you goal is to maximize your profits, for example, you may want to accept an offer only if it matches or exceeds your house's initial asking price. Or, if your goal is to move out of your current residence as soon as possible, you may be willing to accept a proposal, even if it falls short of your home's initial asking price.

2. Assess the Housing Market

Housing market data is readily available that may help you make the best-possible decision about a home offer. If you analyze this information closely, you may be better equipped than ever before to decide whether a buyer's proposal is "fair" based on the current real estate market's conditions.

Oftentimes, it helps to conduct a home appraisal before you list your residence as well. Following a home appraisal, you'll receive a property valuation that may help you price your residence and evaluate home offers down the line.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

There is no need to examine a home offer on your own. Instead, collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can receive expert recommendations as you assess a homebuying proposal.

A real estate agent is happy to work with you at each stage of the home selling process. This housing market professional will make it simple for you to list your house and promote it to the right groups of buyers. Next, a real estate agent will set up home showings and open house events to showcase your residence. And once you receive an offer on your house, a real estate agent will allocate the necessary time and resources to help you make an informed decision.

Lastly, if the first home offer that you receive fails to impress, there is no need to worry. You should not feel pressure to accept the initial offer on your house. In fact, you can always counter this proposal to set the stage for negotiations with a buyer, which could increase the likelihood of a successful home sale.

Get ready to review a homebuying proposal – use the aforementioned tips, and you can fully assess any offer that you receive.