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The Tab for Home TLC

How much is your home really costing you? Only half of home shoppers accurately calculate their home's true price tag. A homeowner survey by Sears, Roebuck (NYSE: S  ) found that the other 50% of domestic gods and goddesses fail to figure maintenance costs, which can easily add a few Gs to the tab.

Calculating the cost of chores 15 years in advance -- things like repainting, re-siding, and fixing the AC -- might feel like overkill. But don't underestimate the amount you will spend to keep your home in tip-top shape. In the March issue of Home magazine, readers are encouraged to annually factor in 5% to 7% of their home's value to cover care and handling. (For those scrambling for a calculator, that's $12,500 to $17,500 per year on a $250,000 abode.)

Our hats go off to 75% of Sears survey respondents who with Scouts-like preparedness earmark money for unexpected home repairs. Still, nearly a third of homeowners reported that they put off repairs due to lack of funds, and 18% said that fixing something created a financial hardship -- even for 12% of higher-income homeowners.

If you haven't already, start keeping records of your home TLC costs and set aside funds in a hands-off account like a money market or certificate of deposit. (Here are some tips on finding the best short-term rates.)

As for home-repair tips, check in with the handy Fools on our Building/Maintaining a Home discussion board. If they can't figure out which pipe to bang on when your faucet starts to drip, ask your neighbor for a hand. Eighty-four percent of homeowners told Sears that they could repair a leaky faucet.


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