So, you found your dream home. The loan went through, you were approved, the move went smoothly (unlikely), and now you are settled in. Now what? The hard part is over, right? You have your dream home, now you just enjoy it for a few decades before maybe retiring and moving away. Dead wrong.

Your home will likely be the largest asset you ever own. Unless you are in a very small and wealthy subset of the population, this house will be one of the largest financial obligations you ever have. And while land and the housing market typically gains value over time, a smart homeowner understands that this increase in value will not come if the house is allowed to slowly fall apart. Unless some other factor makes the land suddenly incredibly valuable, your best bet when investing in your home is to take very good care of it.

Some of what will be needed in upkeeping a house will require a substantial financial commitment. The roof, the electrical system, and the HVAC systems will need to be maintained, and replaced periodically. Some of these will last longer than others, but all share a common trait. If you fail to keep them safe and functioning well, the rest of the property can quickly lose value. A leaky roof will cost more than just replacing it if it is ignored for a period of time. Water damage, mold, and other problems can quickly snowball, turning an already reasonably expensive process into a huge financial disaster. If you live in an area where it gets cold in the winter, failing to keep the house heated can lead to frozen pipes, potentially causing flooding and other damage when they thaw. A poorly maintained electrical system is a huge fire risk, and this is not only a financial, but a safety concern.

A smart homeowner will budget for all of these repairs, and put money away in years where repairs are not needed. Spending this excess on a new television might seem tempting, but the year you realize you need to replace the roof, the refrigerator, and redo the plumbing you will be happy that you had it saved away. Eventually, when you go to sell the house, having a record which shows your frequent maintenance will go a long way to convince potential buyers that this home will not end up costing them more than they expect, both in money and in headache.