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New homeowner's checklist

There are not many things more daunting than becoming a property owner for the first time. While it is very exciting it is a huge responsibility and it is important that you get your head around all of your obligations from the start to avoid any unnecessary stress, or unforeseen financial difficulties.

Things covered in the checklist include:

• Budget for your mortgage
• Buy everything you need - with caution
• Insurance – you need to be covered
• Check your utility providers
• Neighbours – getting off on the right foot
• The housewarming party
• Enjoy the freedom of decorating
• Don’t get obsessed with property price fluctuations

Budget for your mortgage

Repossession! This is a word that you never want to have to worry about. However it is a possibility if you do not approach your mortgage payments sensibly and with great attention to detail. Meeting your monthly payment on time, every month is of paramount importance if you are to keep your ‘homeowner’ status, so now is the time to teach yourself good habits. It is not advisable to try to rationalise things like this in your head, so make things simpler if you put it down on paper, a spreadsheet is great but it is not essential, a pencil and paper can be just as useful as long as you take the process seriously.

Getting calculations like your everyday expenditure out of your head onto a piece of paper will literally alleviate your stress levels, transaction by transaction, and it will serve to free your mind to worry about other things. Divide your piece of paper into two columns with your incomings on the left hand side and your outgoings on the right hand side. The right hand side should be ordered by importance, with your mortgage repayments at the very top, followed closely by insurance, council tax, utility bills and so on. If it becomes clear that you need to start cutting your outgoings, you can do so from the bottom of your list upwards. It may be painful, but at least it is not complicated.

Buy everything you need - with caution

Kitting out your new home can be extremely exciting, even buying things like a bin for the kitchen can put a smile on your face because it is YOUR bin, for YOUR new kitchen. But, it is essential that you do not get carried away, don’t overspend on that shiny new bin because the list of other little things that you will need are endless.

Insurance – you need to be covered

Can you afford to not be insured?

Obviously, you cannot avoid building insurance as lenders insist upon it before they will allow you to take out a mortgage, but what about contents insurance, mortgage payment protection or critical illness cover? It will obviously save you money if you do not take these types of insurance out, but for how long, and with what level of certainty. It acts as a false economy if you do not have insurance and it is akin to holding all of your wealth in a stock that could crash at any time. Insurance covers the unknown; you never know when you might need it. You can compare quotes for home insurance on our sister site, So Switch.

Check your utility providers

Fuel bills can be expensive and to a certain extent there is not a lot you can do about it. However, they may be more expensive than they need to be if you are paying over the odds in what is now, after the deregulation of the gas and electricity industries, a competitive market. Sticking with the providers you inherit when you move in and assuming you are getting a decent deal is not the way to go about this, you should take readings as soon as you move in, shop around and find out whether you are getting the cheapest prices available.

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