home ownership

How Much Should You Save For New Home Expenses?

buying our first home series image2

So you want to buy your first home.  (Exciting!)  You start saving for a down payment.  (Smart thinking.)  You begin your house hunt and find your dream house. (Yay!)  You put an offer in and it’s accepted.  (Congrats, home owner!)

Moving day comes and you haul the furnishings from your small, one-bedroom apartment to your new house.

You look around and realize you’ll probably need to buy living room furniture, a kitchen table, outdoor furnishings, possibly office and guest room furniture, new TVs, new decorations, and more.  Oh, and you’ll need a lawn mower.  And maybe kitchen appliances.  And definitely a gas grill.

That’s a lot of stuff.  And then it hits you: You probably should have saved for these things before you bought your house.

I’ve always been a big advocate of saving a New Home Expense Fund prior to buying your first home, but I’ve never really discussed just how much you should save.  Samantha asked me in a comment last week:

Samantha New Home Comment

I don’t really share actual dollar amounts on my blog anymore (since I go by my real name and all), but I will tell you that we did save a substantial amount for new home expenses prior to saving for our down payment fund.

I don’t think there are any percentage guidelines out there, so, based on the estimates we used, you might consider saving anywhere from 3% to 5% of what you expect to pay for your house – especially if you’re upgrading substantially in size.

But if you don’t like using percentages, you could even create a mock budget.  You probably already know many of the new things you’ll need (a new L-shaped couch is on our list and we know that will cost ~$1,500).  You can also scour the web to research the amounts other people have spent on new home furnishings (this recent post at Young House Love was helpful to us since they bought all new kitchen appliances).

Our new home expense fund is much smaller than our down payment savings, which is why we knocked it out first.  In fact, we probably saved too much (especially now that we don’t have to drop $1-$2k on a new king mattress).

But, having too much saved is never a bad thing and it removes a GREAT deal of stress from the home-buying process.  Going furniture and décor shopping it going to be SO much more fun knowing that we have the money ready to spend (and we’re not relying on credit cards!).

Thanks for your comment, Samantha!  I hope that helped!

Did you save for new home expenses when you bought a house?  Or do you plan to save for these items before you buy a house?


  • We factored new home expenses into the total amount we needed for our home. So when we decided on our house, we knew we had X amount left for household stuff. Knowing that helped us because we knew we could pay for blinds and a lawn mower, but anything else would have to wait another six months. So we made a budget with “phases.” Phase one was the initial stuff (blinds, lawn mower), phase two (basement furniture), phase three (lawn furniture) – each phase was about six months apart.

    Funny story – we thought we thought of everything we needed when me moved in…until the first snow storm hit and we found ourselves without a shovel! So we had to use a garden spade…not our finest moment! 😉

  • I was just thinking about this last night. We’ve saved enough for a small downpayment and Peanut is making an appointment for us to get pre-approved – but I realized I’ve been waiting to get “nice things” until we have a house. What might those nice things be? How much might they cost? How long am I willing to wait to buy them?

    There’s a bunch of stuff to think about right there.

    • And even if you don’t buy nice things, there are just more expenses that come along with home ownership that I’m sure I don’t know about, ya know? All the things my landlord does for me, I’ll have to start paying for those things. Anyways, I’m asking myself all those same questions, too. I didn’t work hard to get out of debt just to get back into it! 🙂

  • That’s a pretty good idea. H and I have a down payment fund started, but nothing for new furniture and the like. We were both pretty fortunate to be given rather nice couches while in grad school. I know some things we will need, but I feel like we’ve got a good amount of it. I will need fencing and stuff for livestock, but that will have to come later.

  • I remember when my parents bought their first house… I think we bought 1 piece of new furniture – a couch. My aunt and uncle sat on buckets turned upside down (seriously!) because their down payment cleaned out their entire savings. Furnishing my home would be nice, but if push comes to shove I’d be fine with slowly accumulating the pieces (yard sales & craigslist).

  • I definitely factored in these expenses when doing my pre-buying plan. I made sure to have money set aside for the actual, physical move (I’m always amazed at how many people forget about this–moving can be expensive!), new furniture, decor, and miscellaneous (part of this last group was $300 for groceries when I needed to stock an empty fridge & pantry in my new place). All of this was in edition to my down-payment and closing costs funds.

    Also, I began purchasing new, nicer things for my future home about four years before I actually bought it. I would save a set amount each year for Black Friday & clearance shopping, and I gradually acquired the things I’d need for a fully outfitted kitchen, linens, small furniture pieces, etc. I was lucky to have ample storage where I could house these things, but I never opened them until I officially moved into the condo I own.

  • We currently rent a 2 bedroom condo and hope to buy something similar. My goal is actually to get rid of as much of our current stuff as humanly possible before we move. There are a few things we will need, but since we are getting married *right* before we start looking we’ll be able to register for most of it. But as a general rule, we have waaay too much stuff already.

  • I definitely plan to save for furniture before I find a place to live, since at the moment I have barely any furniture of my own. I think it is something most people forget about.

  • It’s so funny how different it is depending on where you’re from. When BF and I bought our house this year, we moved from a 1200 square foot condo into a house where the downstairs is a 2 bedroom rental suite (yay rental income!) and the upstairs space where we live is actually smaller than the condo. We had to get rid of a lot of stuff and then get creative with the storage space that is available.

    I definitely agree that saving in advance is a very smart thing to do. When BF and I start looking at buying the next house in 5 years or so I hope to have a decent chunk set aside for household items since I would definitely like more space in the next home. I’m also a person who much prefers to buy new rather than used so I better get cracking 🙂

  • Not really sure what we’ll do – don’t anticipate buying till the age of 30 or so due to how much we need to save, and to do our travelling beforehand.

    We currently live in a studio, but odds are in the next seven years we’ll move to somewhere larger and accumulate more furniture. Decor isn’t at all important to either of us, so I don’t anticipate spending much money on new things, rather we’ll stick with our old stuff and purchase new ones as needed, like a lawnmower (and maybe a decent pot and pan set!)

  • My husband and I are in the early stages of looking for a home, and I agree that considering these extra expenses is a good idea. We have a list of purchases we’ve been putting off until we have more space, since we’re planning to buy a three or four bedroom home and currently live in a small apartment. We plan to upgrade some things, as we still have some old college stuff (like a futon that really needs to go). We know there are some things we’ll need, like a lawnmower, and some things we’ll want, like a king sized bed, family room sectional, and new dining room table. Many things could wait, but I know that once we buy, we’ll want them. That being said, we also want to put down as much as possible, so lately I’ve found myself wanting to use some of that furnishings fund money to add to our downpayment (which is currently 25%). I like the idea of minimizing our monthly payments for many years to come. We do have a separate efund that I wouldn’t dream of touching to add to our downpayment, but using some of the furnishings-type fund may be tempting.

  • It depends where you live, what you want, how big your place is, and how elaborate you want to get. We rent a 1 bedroom apartment in the mid-west, right now, so we were supplied with an oven, fridge, washer, dryer, and dishwasher. We just had to buy everything else. We spent most of it on furniture. I’m not big on home accessories because they tend to be little things you need to dust a lot but some things like lamps were needed and desired.

    Overall it was about $3350, not bad, because most people spend way more than that. We didn’t buy it all at once but as the need or want came up. A lot of our stuff we’ll be taking to our new home. We made sure to buy good brands. We also saved up for it because we don’t like putting stuff unless we have the money for it. Of course once we move into our own place we’ll need to buy our own appliances (washer, dryer, fridge, etc.) so I’m sure we’ll spend around $5,000 for those.

    I think buying home decorations and appliances can be as affordable or as expensive as you want it to be. We shopped sales, compared prices and read reviews online. If you read Elle Decor, Vogue, and the real estate section of the Wall Street Journal…you realize affluent people will spend millions of dollars just on interior design. I’m thinking of becoming a CPA because what really overwhelms me more than putting down a down payment for a house and paying off the mortgage is saving for retirement.

  • Hey Amber, I love this post. I’m a senior in college and just getting an apartment caused me to have to look into what I needed when moving out of a dorm; I can’t fathom all of what I will have to buy when I live somewhere bigger!
    Could you do more posts about your job? I will be graduating with an accounting degree in seven months and have yet to make plans for grad school because I don’t have the desire to be a CPA. However, when reading your blog, I did find it interesting that you chose to later get the certification to expand your opportunities. I’m trying to find all the advice I can get because I still don’t know where I’ll be working/living when I graduate!

  • We were 19 and newly weds. We had saved enough to do a 10% down, plus we paid all our own closing costs. The house needed a range (we bought one on 0% credit for one year and paid it off within the year) and my parents gave us a fridge. The house “needed” so much more, but truthfully, all we did was clean it and move in. We slowly bought furnishings and did improvements as we saved the money and we lived to tell about it.
    I think it is good to have money for emergency repairs, but as far as “needing” all that other stuff, it is actually a want. We survived just fine for years with our push lawn mower (on an ACRE of lawn), our ugly linoleum floors, I could go on and on.
    It’s just a matter of what your priorities are. For us, we just didn’t want to spend the money on rent and we wanted a neighborhood that rarely has houses for sale and when they were for sale they were super expensive. So when that dumpy foreclosure came up, we wanted to jump on it and just live with the ugly for awhile. Best decision I ever made.

  • Why does it follow that if you have a house you HAVE to have a lawn mower and a grill?

    We pay the neighbourhood kids to mow my lawn for us… saving us the time and (some) of the money.

    … and since we didn’t grill at the apartment, we didn’t see the point in getting one now.

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