Every year, millions of Americans make resolutions to eat healthier, lose weight, and make personal improvements. However, rarely do things like "clean out the gutters" and "review household bills" land on the list.
Yet, your home is one of your greatest assets. So why not resolve to manage it better in the year ahead?
Setting a few practical goals around homeownership can help you properly maintain your asset and save money.
Also, you can space out the resolutions throughout the year — making them easier to complete. Once you identify your goals, take a few minutes to place a reminder in your calendar so you don’t forget.
Experts recommend these seven resolutions to make the most of homeownership in 2023.
1. Inspect the exterior of your home.
When was the last time you looked closely at the outside of your home?
Your home's exterior is a critical line of defense against weather and pests. If issues are left unattended for too long, it can lead to more problems — both inside and out. And the cost of repairs can quickly add up.
Fortunately, inspecting the exterior of your house can ensure you catch any maintenance problems early on — before they become a bigger issue.
Here are some key areas to include in your property inspection:
Check your foundation.
Look for cracks or gaps in your home’s foundation. Rodents, bugs, and pests can use even small holes to enter your house.
If you see cracks, seal them as soon as possible.
Check exterior doors and windows for leaks.
Leaking windows and doors can be a way for pests, allergens, water, and unconditioned air to enter your home — costing you money and more time cleaning.
Johnny Brooke of Crafted Workshop suggests checking the spaces around exterior doors and windows. "Pop off a piece of trim and check if there is an empty gap between the jamb and rough framing. If there is a gap, use Great Stuff Windows & Doors spray foam to fill and seal the area."
Check your fence for wear.
Examine your fence for any signs of damage or wear.
Look for loose nails or boards, leaning posts, mold, or algae if you have a wooden fence. If you have a chain link fence, look for rust, leaning supporting posts, and damage to the chain links. Make sure the gates swing and latch properly.
Check exterior walls and siding.
Maintaining the appearance of your exterior walls improves your curb appeal. But keeping exterior walls clean and painted (when applicable) also ensures the walls remain in good condition — preventing water, pests, and allergens from entering your home.
When looking at your exterior walls and siding, see if there are signs of water damage like discoloration, streaks, or stains. Addressing this quickly can prevent costly damage inside your home.
Check your gutters.
Gutters ensure water flows away from your home. However, if they’re damaged or clogged, water can build up around your foundation and cause serious problems.
Patrick Martin of Martin’s Seamless Gutters notes that "clogged gutters can result in damage to the home including wood rot, foundation erosion, and mildew on the home’s exterior surfaces."
He recommends cleaning your gutters at least twice a year (more if you have a lot of trees) and having a professional inspect them yearly to ensure they are sealed and functioning properly.
Check that trees aren’t posing a risk to your roof.
Trees offer shade and beauty. But sometimes, the location of a tree can pose a risk to your roof.
When walking your property, look for limbs touching or rubbing your roof or signs that a tree may be ill or unstable (like a splitting trunk or fungus).
Call an arborist or landscaping professional to evaluate the situation further and provide expert guidance if you have concerns. Just be sure to get multiple quotes before you have any work done.
Resolution: Walk around your property and home at the start of each season to inspect for any signs of wear, cleaning projects, or maintenance issues that need fixing.
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2. Check your home for safety.
Conducting a safety check-up of your home can help prepare you for an emergency, like a fire. Additionally, it can reduce your risk of liability, according to Collen Clark, a personal injury lawyer and the founder of Schmidt & Clark.
Here are some key tasks to include in your safety inspection:
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month
- Change your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors’ batteries once a year
- Examine the wiring of electrical appliances
- Make sure electrical outlets aren’t overloaded with too many items, as that increases the risk of a fire
- Create (or update) a fire escape plan
- Check for tripping hazards in your home, such as uneven steps or loose stepping stones
- Call an electrical professional to inspect swimming pools or hot tubs for electrical hazards
- Check furnace filters
- Have chimneys inspected for blockages or damage
Resolution: Create a safety checklist that includes specific safety inspections you or a professional will conduct. Then, schedule the checks on your calendar.
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3. Review your home insurance coverage.
The start of the year is a great time to review your home insurance coverage to ensure you’re still appropriately covered and to determine if you’re eligible for any discounts.
For example, Matthew Roberts, a co-founder and the chief operating officer at My Choice, recommends reporting any upgrades and maintenance you’ve done to potentially save money. "You often can negotiate for more affordable premiums. For instance, report disaster-resistant and security upgrades like smoke detectors, fire alarms, and security cameras."
Resolution: Call your home insurance company to report any upgrades or maintenance you’ve completed, and review your policy with your agent.
4. Review your budget and household bills.
Start your new year on sound financial footing by reviewing your budget and household bills — looking for ways to cut expenses and increase savings.
When reviewing and setting your monthly budget, Nathan Liao, founder of CMA Exam Academy, suggests getting exact amounts of your recurring expenses by checking bank accounts.
Ian Wright of BusinessFinancing.co.uk recommends reviewing "your bills to look for any services or subscriptions you may no longer need to reduce your costs even further."
He also suggests shopping around for deals or new offers from utility and service providers.
If you find ways to trim your budget, consider putting the savings into an emergency fund in case of an unexpected home expense. Or you can start setting aside the savings toward a home improvement project.
Property investor Shaun Martin also suggests taking advantage of tax returns to kickstart your home improvement or emergency fund.
Resolution: Review your budget and household bills looking for any subscriptions or expenses you can cut.
5. Create (or update) an inventory of your belongings.
Your home contains many of your most valuable personal possessions. But what happens if there is damage due to flood, fire, or other disasters?
Keeping an inventory of personal belongings and assets in your home can make it easier if you need to file an insurance claim.
Stephen Keighery, CEO and founder of Home Buyer Louisiana, says that "the new year is the best time to create or update your home inventory," especially with people getting new electronics and other holiday gifts.
Ideally, you’ll want to take a picture of each item you’re documenting, write down serial numbers, and store receipts of high-value items. Be sure to keep an electronic copy of your inventory and accompanying receipts to access it in case of fire or other damage to your home.
Resolution: Create (or update) a home inventory that documents your personal belongings.
6. Put time on your calendar to check off items on your maintenance list
Homes require regular maintenance and repair. As a result, most homeowners have an ongoing (and often long) "to-do" list.
Unfortunately, the to-dos can sometimes feel neverending.
To build momentum, you can start the new year with a quick home maintenance "win" by picking one item to complete from your to-do list in January.
Steven Hansen, the founder of Costimates, recommends selecting an easy repair or task. "You’ll feel satisfied after completing the small job and more energized to complete larger ones."
With that initial item checked off, schedule time in February to complete another task on your list. Then, repeat the process of checking off an item and scheduling a new one for the next month.
Resolution: Select one task from your home to-do list to complete in January.
7. Select one small space to declutter (or one type of item to toss).
Homes are wonderful for storing and displaying our possessions. But they can get cluttered as more new items are added.
Clearing out unwanted or unneeded items can make a room feel lighter and bigger.
Yet, the decluttering process can quickly become overwhelming — and many of us stop before we're done.
To help you successfully declutter, pick one small space to work on — a junk drawer, a bathroom cabinet, or a small closet. You’ll feel energized after completing the task, which may lead you to work on more areas of your home.
To help you decide what to keep vs. toss, Tim Wells, founder of Garage Transformed, suggests asking yourself this question: "Is this something that’s going to be useful this year?" If your answer is no, donate the item or throw it away.
A different approach is picking one item you no longer need and tossing it. For instance, Melissa Gugni, a professional organizer in San Francisco, has issued a New Year’s resolution for all of her clients: Get rid of all the paint cans accumulating in your home.
"I find most homeowners don’t even know what the different paints were used for! They mainly have them because they don’t know what to do with the paint."
Getting rid of old paint will help you reclaim space and eliminate a fire hazard since paint is highly flammable.
To dispose of the paint, Melissa recommends checking with your city or state for the local hazardous waste drop-off location.
Resolution: Pick one small space or one type of item to declutter.