A goal for many is to reach financial independence, when you can live off your savings and no longer have to work. Getting there takes a focused approach on savings on your day-to-day expenses, but if you ignore what is often American's largest monthly expense, it could add years to when you could reach this important milestone. On a Fool Live episode recorded on March 5, Fool contributor Brian Withers discusses why your home could be the biggest challenge to meeting your financial goals.
Brian Withers: Looking back at some of the decisions we've made on the home is probably the most impactful financial stuff that I've ever, ever done. At the time it didn't feel financial, it felt emotional. I think we'll come down to a little bit of values discussion here as all personal finance stuff at the end of the day boils down to your values and what's important to you. So that's awesome.
Before we get into intros a little bit, I wanted to talk a little bit about home costs because that's the largest expense for Americans. About 64% of Americans own their own home, and they budget around $9,500 a year, including mortgage interest, property tax, maintenance, stuff like that, homeowners insurance, so the monthly fees that you pay to just live in your home.
Then there's an additional probably $7,000 a year on products and services that make your dwellings livable, whether it's utilities, trash, lawn care, new furniture, home security, stuff like that. Between all of that, homeowners attribute about 27% of their monthly budget to things related to the home and that's by far the largest category.
As part of why we wanted to choose this is our second journey to lessons along the journey to financial independence, we wanted to choose it as a second show because minding the big stuff, looking out at your largest expenses, could, if you're not doing that, could add years your timeline to when you get to financial independence.