Newlyweds’ Guide to Running your First Home
Are you purchasing your first home with your new spouse? Here is an easy guide on what to watch out for!
Photo: DeGraw & Dehaan Architects
Once the honeymoon is (quite literally) over, many couples are faced with the prospect of managing and buying your first home – and astonishing how little important information you’ve managed to retain from memories of your own parents! A home, we quite quickly learn, doesn’t run itself, and it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed. Here we tackle six key areas to focus on so that running your first home soon starts to become natural, and you can get on with the important business of enjoying your new life together!
A couple in debt is rarely a happy one, and one of the biggest and most stressful challenges of forging a life together is getting to grips with how much you can actually afford to spend. Not only are there going to be more financial commitments ahead – whether you’re planning on having kids with one partner staying at home, or simply planning sufficiently for retirement. Committing to your partner also means committing to living within your mutual means, and that often requires sacrifices from both parties.
It’s essential that you get into the habit of putting some money aside for savings each month, even if you’re already paying off a mortgage. Medical emergencies, broken down cars and even washing machine repairs are all things you simply can’t predict – but you can make sure you’re as well-prepared financially as possible. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you have each other – and if you need to sacrifice that weekly meal at a fancy restaurant or shopping trip to afford your life together, it’s still worth it.
Photo: Plumb Square Builders
Our gut instinct is that responsibilities should be shared equally between both partners, but this actually rarely works in practice! If one of you is staying at home, then it makes perfect sense for them to take on more of the daily chores than the partner who is working, for example.
However you decide to split the load, the vital element is always communication. Each party needs to know exactly what they are responsible for and why, so draw up a list together.
Dealing with Disaster
There’s no substitute for experience, and running your first home together can present quite a steep learning curve. Remember that’s it okay not to have all the answers, and feel free to reach out to friends and family for advice when you need to. A crisis might feel like the end of the world now, but it’s probably going to be something you laugh about years down the line!
Be as prepared as you can by having a plan for the following possibilities:
- Water supply getting interrupted
- Kitchen flood
- Power going out
- Car having to go in for a service leaving you without transport
- A partner falling ill
- Unexpected financial commitment, etc.
Brainstorming these kinds of situations and pondering what you’d do in each scenario might not be the most fun you’ll have as a couple, but spending a bit of time putting together a plan of action can make these situations less stressful when they do arise.
Photo: Sellars Lathrop Architects, LLC
Leaving home maintenance duties to the last minute is never a good idea – it’s just too easy to forget something entirely, which often leads to much bigger bills in the long run. Make sure these chores get done each month:
- Clean kitchen sink disposal
- Clean range hood filters
- Clean out gutters and drains
- Have a general inspection and make notes (or take photos) of anything that stands out. This way next month you’ll have a better idea if that crack in the wall is really widening or if the roof tiles are going to need replacing. Make any minor repairs that you can. It’s good to get these out of the way at the beginning of the month when you still have extra cash on hand!
Every Six Months
Check fire extinguishers and smoke detectors
- Check grout in kitchens and bathrooms and repair where needed
- Clean out the garage, attic or basement
- Check all the locks and bolts in the house, and replace any that aren’t functioning well
Once a Year
- Inspect all your plumbing for leaks
- Repair decks, patios and any other wooden structures and re-varnish
- Repair or replace damaged window screens
- Have the air conditioning or heating system serviced
- Consider having the carpets cleaned
- Set aside a weekend for a big spring cleaning session!
Make Time for Each Other!
Remember that you’re part of a team now, so make sure to include some team-building activities to keep your relationship strong. Whether it’s a weekly date night at home, taking a romantic weekend getaway now and then, or enrolling in a couples dance or cooking class, make sure there’s time just for you!