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Celebrating buying your first home and what it actually means to have a home loan

It feels like only a few weeks have passed since that “SOLD” sticker was slapped on the sign board, and you took a photo to share on social media.

Now, you’re sitting in the middle of an empty living room with some champagne and plastic cups, looking around your new pad and the place you can now call home. Treasure that feeling and all those ideas you have to turn this new house into a home – you’ve earned it.

After the initial elation subsides, the enormity of what you’ve just gotten yourself into might feel overwhelming. But don’t panic! Having a mortgage doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to a life of hard limitations and sacrifices. Keep on top of your money and you can smash your financial goals, and enjoy life along the way.

More is more

The more you throw at your home loan early on, the more you could reduce that principal and that debt. If possible, think about contributing more than just the minimum monthly repayments.

Receive a generous end of year bonus or an unexpected tax return? Instead of treating yourself to a lavish holiday, consider making an extra repayment on your loan (or split it and do both).

Giving up a few dollars in the short term could ultimately help you fast track your financial goals and save a heap on interest.

Know what you’re spending

Approach your day-to-day finances with eyes wide open and you’re more likely to know where you can scrimp and splurge where it matters. Track your day-to-day expenses so you know exactly what’s coming in and out – use an app, spreadsheet or simply jot it down in a notebook.

The best place to start is often those small incidentals that add up by the end of the week. That way, you can find the wriggle room in your budget for that new restaurant you want to try or a cheeky long weekend trip.

Up the frequency

Have you ever thought about the difference it could make paying your mortgage fortnightly, instead of monthly?

Think about it. Paying $1,500 fortnightly instead of $3,000 monthly means you’ll effectively sneak in an extra month’s worth of payments on your loan annually (26 fortnights per year = 13 ‘months’ instead of 12). This small tweak can make a big difference and could help shave years off your home loan.

Stay informed

Ignorance is bliss – except when it comes to your mortgage. It’s tempting to faithfully make your repayments each month and leave it at that, ignoring you have a commitment to yourself (and your mortgage) to keep up with industry news. However, you could be missing out on some big savings.

Keep up on interest rate changes, new products and broader market trends that might allow you to negotiate a better deal or open up an opportunity to slash your loan period. Refinancing could reward you with huge savings on your current loan.

A home loan shouldn’t feel like a never-ending burden. If anything, staying in control of your loan and finances will liberate you – by having a full understanding of how to navigate your home loan, you can free up your finances to do all the things that give your life an extra little kick.