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Today's Homeowners Are Stressed. Here's Why

By Maurie Backman – Apr 26, 2018 at 3:02PM

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Hint: It's not even a matter of covering the mortgage.

Though there are plenty of benefits to owning a home, it's no doubt a costly proposition -- so much so that 65% of homeowners have experienced anxiety related to their properties. That's the latest from a new NerdWallet study, which also found that 75% of stressed homeowners cite unanticipated repairs as the cause of their anxiety.

If the idea of keeping up with your home is causing you to lose sleep, there are steps you can take to avoid the financial stress that comes with those pesky but necessary household repairs. Here are a few important ones to check off your list.

Handyman looking up at woman


1. Have a fully loaded emergency fund

We're all supposed to have money on hand for financial emergencies, but most Americans don't. In fact, only 39% of U.S. adults have the cash available to cover an unplanned $1,000 expense.

For true protection, though, your emergency fund needs to contain enough money to pay for three to six months of living expenses, and if you're a homeowner, it pays to aim for the higher end of that range. You never know when your roof might spring a leak, your heating system might fail, or a pipe might burst. These can all be catastrophic repairs if you're not prepared financially.

If you're low on savings at present, examine your budget and find ways to cut corners and free up more cash. Lowering your expenses for even a few months might help you build that cushion so that the next time you're forced to pay for a repair, you won't need to rack up debt on a credit card.

2. Be vigilant about maintenance

As homes age, things tend to break. But you can do your part to prevent certain repairs by keeping up with your home's maintenance year-round. For example, you might spend $100 to have your cooling system checked before the summer. If a minor issue is detected and addressed for another $100, you'll have spent $200 all-in. But if you forgo that maintenance and that minor problem turns into a major one, you might spend $1,000 or more on a major overhaul.

The same holds true for many aspects of your home. Having your gutters cleaned twice a year, for instance, at $100 a pop, could help you avoid major leaks that cost you thousands. Treating your deck as needed can prevent its wood from morphing and splintering. And paying a modest exterminator fee to prevent unwanted pests could save you from a major infestation that not only damages your property, but wreaks havoc on your sanity.

3. Learn to do it yourself

Some repairs, like replacing a roof, are generally best left to the professionals. But if you're willing to invest some time into becoming more handy, you could save a bundle on home repair costs over time. For example, it costs anywhere from $109 to $214, on average, to hire a plumber to fix a simple drain clog, but if you're willing to do the work yourself, you might spend just $20 on the tools needed to complete the task.

Another option, if you're really not the most competent when it comes to home repairs? Phone a friend for help, and treat that person to dinner as a thank you afterward. In most cases, you'll still spend considerably less than you would on a professional.

Home repairs are a part of owning property -- there's no question about it. But if the idea of having to pay for those repairs is causing you stress, follow the above steps to mitigate it. That way, you'll spend more time enjoying your home and less time worrying about having to fix it.

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