Millennials are famously financially squeezed. Graduating into a recession, racking up debt, struggling to find good jobs — millennials have the unfortunate distinction of a generation that just can’t get their finances in line.
Despite the headlines and reputation, plenty of millennials have managed to achieve homeownership. Owning a home is typically considered a better financial move than renting, but still comes with substantial costs. In an age of inflation and economic uncertainty, what’s a millennial homeowner supposed to do to rein in expenses?
Learn 13 ways that millennial homeowners can save money every day, month, and year.
1. Use budgeting and finance technology
By now, the era of the paper checkbook and physical financial ledger has long passed. Millennial homeowners looking to effectively manage their finances and save money should download modern budgeting and finance technology.
Technology has changed, but having a strong, sustainable budget is as important as it was five, 10, or 50 years ago. Put simply, a budget is a roadmap to accomplishing your personal and financial goals. Sticking to a budget is especially important for millennial homeowners, who are more likely to be balancing debt such as student loans with their mortgage payments.
To make budgeting easier, use budgeting and finance technology. Popular personal finance software options include Quicken, Mint, and Revolut. These technologies help you set a budget, track your spending, audit subscriptions, and sometimes even help you access your credit history and negotiate better rates on existing bills.
For homeowners especially, tracking costs with easy-to-use technology helps you evaluate how you’re spending your money and where savings can be had. It’s faster, simpler, and more automated than budgeting with an Excel spreadsheet or piece of paper, and should be part of every millennial homeowner's money-saving routine.
2. Refinance your mortgage
If you’re a millennial homeowner looking to trim expenses, you should start with the granddaddy of them all: your mortgage.
Homeowners often spend close to 30% of their overall income on their mortgage payment. For all the talk of avocado toast, millennials who have a home are likely spending a plurality of their money on the mortgage.
Cutting a mortgage payment usually means refinancing the mortgage entirely. When you refinance a mortgage, you typically agree to a new interest rate on your home loan. By taking out a new home loan with a different interest rate, you have a lower monthly mortgage payment. Lowering your mortgage rate by a few percentage points could save you thousands of dollars every year.
Just remember that mortgage rates have recently risen, meaning that if your mortgage rate is presently below 6.5%, now is a poor time to refinance. Also, refinancing your mortgage can affect your credit score, which means that refinancing isn’t advisable to do on a yearly basis. Working again with your mortgage lender or real estate agent can make the refinancing process smoother and more financially beneficial.
3. Purchase used items and appliances
Sometimes, building wealth means getting thrifty. For millennial homeowners, purchasing used items and appliances can reduce expenses and result in more money in your pocket.
Overall, used home appliances are on average much cheaper than gleaming new models. Plus, buying used means you’ll likely have a wider range of options, as appliance stores usually stick with a few new-to-market models.
Search the internet for used appliances and you have the biggest market of all. You’re also more likely to be able to negotiate a lower price, as you’re buying from an individual, not a manufacturer.
Do be aware of potential pitfalls of buying used appliances. For one, they might not last as long. That can benefit buyers who want to wait a few years to save up for different appliances, but could result in disappointment if you want a dishwasher that lasts 30 years.
4. Practice consistent home maintenance
They say a home is where the heart is, but make sure it isn’t also the site of crumbling front steps, collapsing gutters, or a cracked foundation. It’s tempting to save time and money by ignoring home repairs and upkeep, but over time, those issues compound, and you find yourself paying thousands of dollars.
Millennial homeowners could have decades left in their current home, so consistent, regular maintenance is an investment that can prevent major financial headaches down the road.
Spending money to save money can be hard to swallow, but for millennial homeowners, investing in regular home and property maintenance is a must.
5. Cut the cord and cancel unused subscriptions
Saving more money usually requires cutting expenses. And cutting expenses means being willing to cancel unused subscriptions and get rid of legacy expenses such as cable.
The tendency of people — especially millennials and members of Gen Z — to pay for subscriptions they don’t use is called subscription creep. Subscription creep is understandable. Subscription bills are automated, bills get paid, and you only realize after the fact that you spent $150 last year for a service you never actually used.
Having cable, too, can be unnecessarily expensive, especially if you mostly stream your entertainment. You could save hundreds of dollars in a single month by canceling all subscriptions that you don’t regularly access. Not every home has to have Netflix or Spotify or Amazon Prime.
6. Shop for cheaper insurance rates
As a homeowner, paying insurance is a necessity. Skipping on insurance for your house and car ranges from illegal to inadvisable and could cost you big-time in the long run.
But insurance doesn’t come at one uniform rate. The reality is that different insurance companies measure risk differently. Your insurance payments could be lower at one insurer than others, which is why millennial homeowners should be willing to shop for cheaper insurance rates.
Shopping for a cheaper rate could lead you to switch insurers. Alternatively, you may negotiate with your present insurer based on a lower quote from a different company. And always remember to ask about bundled policies. Discounts can be had if you insure your car and home through the same company — saving you money and making it simpler to pay your bills.
7. Raise your homeowners insurance deductible
Beyond shopping for less expensive insurance plans and rates, you can save money by raising what is known as a homeowners insurance deductible.
All forms of insurance typically come with a deductible, which is the amount that you must pay in case of an event that triggers insurance coverage.
For example, if a tree falls into your home causing $5,000 damage, the insurance company will subtract your deductible from the damage before sending you money. With a $500 deductible, you’ll receive $4,500. If your deductible is $2,000, you’ll receive $3,000.
So, why would a millennial homeowner like you want to raise your deductible? Because a higher deductible means lower monthly insurance payments. Raise your deductible, and you could save hundreds of dollars every month — negating the higher costs you would pay in case of a future insurance claim.
Of course, raising your deductible is a risk, as it could cause you to pay more in the future. But for some millennial homeowners, keeping monthly insurance payments as low as possible is worth that risk.
8. Install smart home devices
Savvy homeowners do more than stash spare change in the piggy bank. If you’re a millennial homeowner who wants to save, install smart home devices to reduce your expenses.
Not all smart home devices are complicated or require a huge investment. Smart LED light bulbs use less energy, last longer, and save you money on buying new bulbs. Other smart home products, such as thermostats, outlets, and plugs, allow you to control energy use from your phone or set automated timers. This way, you’ll never burn energy and money on heating, cooling, or electricity you don’t need.
9. Deduct what you can from your tax bill
If you own a home, you know that it’s the source of serious costs. But homeownership can result in major breaks at tax time, so long as you know what to deduct.
The biggest tax break conferred by homeownership is the ability to deduct mortgage interest. You can also deduct home equity loan interest, mortgage discount points, property taxes, medically necessary home improvements, and home office expenses if you are self-employed.
And going green will save you more than dollars on your utility bill. Some smart home devices, such as smart thermostats, also come with a tax rebate.
10. Improve your credit score
It can be tough for millennials to achieve excellent credit, but as a homeowner, it’s an absolute must.
Good credit can end up saving you substantial money if you own a home. With good credit, you’re more likely to:
Refinance your mortgage at a lower rate
Receive favorable interest rates on a home equity loan or line of credit
Qualify for a 0% APR credit card on which to bill home improvements
By showing that you’re a trustworthy borrower, you’ll be able to borrow more — and at a lower rate, which saves you serious money over time.
11. Look for deals at the hardware store
Being a DIY homeowner is admirable, but paying full price for tools, paint, and other supplies isn’t. As you embark on home improvement, make sure you look for deals on supplies.
For example, if you’re painting walls, know that paint can usually be found at a discount. Paint is marked down if it comes in a different shade than the manufacturer intended or wholesaler requested. This could be the perfect shade for your living room, bedroom, or finished attic.
Just as you would with insurance, remember to compare hardware stores. Some will have different prices on the same screwdriver or slab of wood. Take the time to search for deals, and you’ll be a DIY millennial homeowner with more money in your pocket.
12. Never hire a contractor without references
Doing home renovations yourself can spark a sense of accomplishment and save money, but for most homeowners, working with a contractor will be a must.
Whether you’re renovating the bathroom or building a porch, millennial homeowners should never hire a contractor without references or a track record of success. After all, this work costs thousands of dollars. If you hire a contractor who isn’t up to snuff, you could flush away money for a product that leaves you dissatisfied or makes your home difficult to sell in the future.
Also, remember that you aren’t your contractor’s only client. Make sure to confirm through references and reviews that your contractor is capable of juggling multiple priorities and getting your work done well and on time.
13. Be patient about big makeovers
We get it: If you’re a young adult who just bought a home, it’s easy to jump straight into the major makeovers that will make this your dream property. But if you want to save money, you should be cautious about embarking on a major home renovation.
After all, the way you envision living in your home may be different than the reality of living in your home. The worst move you can make is to commission an expensive home renovation, pay for it, and then realize it’s not what you wanted.
Instead, be calm, patient, and deliberate. Using your kitchen for a year will help you decide what needs to be changed, and help you commission an appropriately priced renovation that provides you the space you want.