3 Homeowners On How They Manage Home-Related Expenses

cost of home repairs

The Balance / Alice Morgan

Key Takeaways from Real Homeowners

  • When buying a home, be sure you understand your purpose, goals, and potential exit strategy before making the move.
  • Be sure to have a certain amount of funds—such as 1% to 2% of the purchase price of your home annually—set aside for any unexpected costly repairs that will likely come up as a homeowner. 
  • When determining affordability and your budget shopping for a home, consider the cost of taxes, insurance, and HOA fees in addition to the listing price.

With every home purchase comes the responsibility of maintenance, repairs, taxes, and everything in-between. Additionally, the associated lifestyle creep can make the management of homeowners' expenses more challenging. Even with detailed research and planning, managing living expenses as a homeowner can vary greatly based on an individual’s background, organizational style, and financial needs. 

The Balance spoke with three U.S. homeowners from different walks of life about their experiences managing home-related expenses. Here are their stories. 

E.J. Malveaux, Atlanta, Georgia

For E.J. Malveaux, the expenses he gives most of his attention to as a single homeowner are the ones that make homeownership “as easy as possible.” He bought his home in 2016 at age 27 and since then, several upgrades have been made to improve the home’s efficiency, such as a kitchen remodel and the purchase of a warranty plan.

“Now I see where all these expenses come in. It’s the minor tools that you need for regular house maintenance outside of hammers and tools,” Malveaux said, referencing an extendable rod he purchased so that he wouldn’t have to climb ladders to change fixtures. “Then there's little things like cleaning your gutters. After a while, all the bills start to pile up.” 

When remodeling his kitchen, Malveaux spent $3,800 total on just the physical cabinets of choice, the paint needed for them, and the labor for installation. According to 2022 data from HomeAdvisor, the average kitchen remodel costs $26,144, or about $150 per square foot.

In Malveaux’s case, purchasing a warranty plan helped him keep some costs down, in that it allowed him to pay a smaller fee for repair services. He estimates he spends about $60 to $70 a month as a result, which has been useful in dealing with the wear and tear of appliances and some other things around the home. 


If you plan to go through a large home improvement project and have limited funds, you may qualify for loans or grants offered by the state you live in. Speaking with a financial advisor about different strategies for reducing homeownership costs may be beneficial, too.

Managing the smaller expenses along with the extra bills associated with being a homeowner can be overwhelming. Malveaux struggles with anxiety and ADHD, which he attributes as difficulties specifically when it comes to managing bills. For him, setting up automatic bill payments from an account specifically for home-related expenses has made this process more efficient. 

Despite the increased bills and occasional moments of stress, Malveaux still describes his home purchase as a sound financial decision. The flexibility, tax benefits, and potential to increase income through renting, made his home purchase a good investment.

His Advice for Homeowners

Understand your purpose, goals, and potential exit strategy for your home. Knowing whether the house is your forever home, part of an investment strategy, or just a place where you'll live temporarily can help put the cost of some things such as upgrades into perspective. 

Kita Bryant, Atlanta, Georgia

When Kita Bryant moved into her new construction home in 2016, she didn’t expect to encounter any issues. Yet, just seven years later in 2023, she has spent over $10,000 on repairs to date. 

According to Bryant, a blogger and Atlanta-based photographer, the structure of the house was under warranty for a year, but there were many limitations in her agreement. This meant that any problems not pertaining to the physical house structure were her responsibility. 


A new construction home is one in which the buyer is the first person to live there after it's built. It’s often considered to be more expensive up front, but has benefits too, such as often coming with a warranty, being up to code, and requiring less long-term maintenance.

In the time that she’s lived in her home with her two children, Bryant has faced a number of unexpected issues with the property, such as a broken electrical panel that cost $5,000.

As a widowed homeowner and the sole provider of the household, Bryant has found that, in addition to needing to be financially equipped to handle everything that comes her way, being organized for the unexpected was key. Since her husband’s death, she’s learned the importance of tracking minor and long-term home-related expenses, which makes it easier to tackle maintenance problems she does not see coming. 


In 2022, homeowners spent an average of $6,000 on maintenance and repairs.

Even with funds set aside for potential emergencies, in Bryant’s experience, she has faced increased pay rates as a single woman homeowner. In one situation, for example, she learned she was charged more for fixing a broken air condition than a male neighbor with a similar issue.    

Her Advice for Potential Homeowners

Have savings of at least $25,000 set aside to account for any unexpected costly repairs. Many experts recommend setting aside 1% to 2% of the purchase price of your home annually, too, specifically for routine maintenance projects.

Allison Baggerly, Katy, Texas

When Allison Baggerly—financial educator, founder of Inspired Budget, and mom of two in Texas—purchased her home, she was looking forward to the additional space available to entertain friends and family. What she didn’t expect was the increased expenses that came with the role of host.

“I expected more of the groceries and those types of expenses,” she said. “It was the other stuff that really threw me off, [such as] how my utilities were impacted a month later when I was not expecting it. The first time we hosted people our energy bill shot up.” 

When people come to her and her husband’s home, Baggerly often turns down the thermostat to account for heat of lots of bodies, uses more ice and water for beverages, purchases more cleaning supplies, and turns on all the lights throughout the house—all of this amounts to a good time reflected in the bills that follow.

Other costs Baggerly was not expecting come as a direct result of having extra space in her new home—the third she has purchased. For example, her energy bill is higher than it was when living in a one-story home because there’s more space in the home for the air or heat to need to get to. Plus, routine visits by pest control have become a norm. She spends $150 every quarter to avoid potential damage from termites and other pests. 


According to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, homeowners typically spend about double the amount on utilities than renters do—$4,829 as opposed to $2,866—on an annual basis.

Baggerly’s biggest realization as a homeowner? You aren’t done paying for your house even when the mortgage is paid off. 

“We pay $8,000 a year on property taxes,” said Baggerly. “As our property continues to go up, I realized when we are done with our mortgage, [we will] still have to pay about $1,000 a month in property taxes. I'm preparing myself for that. We got a 15-year mortgage and will pay off our home in about 13 years. But then that doesn't mean I owe nothing.” 

To help stay on top of bills, Baggerly and her husband rely on a joint account and shared responsible management of credit cards. They also pay off their bills in full each week, and make a point to keep this system in practice.

Her Advice for Potential Homeowners

The estimated monthly payment on home sale sites isn’t always accurate or inclusive of everything. When determining affordability and your budget shopping for a home, consider the cost of taxes, insurance, and HOA fees in addition to the listing price.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. HomeAdvisor. “How Much Does the Average Kitchen Remodel Cost in 2023?

  2. Hippo. “2022 Hippo Housepower Report: How Homeowners are Responding to Essential Maintenance During a Shifting Economy.”

  3. Wells Fargo. “Managing Home Maintenance Expenses.”

  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Table 1710. Housing tenure: Annual expenditure means, shares, standard errors, and coefficients of variation, Consumer Expenditure Surveys, 2020.

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