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Control your home renos' hidden costs

Couple looking at blueprint for home in room under construction.
Roman Zaiets / Shutterstock

At the start of the pandemic, with everyone stuck at home and left with tons of disposable income they’d typically use for travel or dining out, home renovation activity surged.

And based on the results of a study from the Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute, that activity hasn’t slowed yet.

However, home renovations may increase the value of your home, which can lead to a more expensive homeowners insurance premium.

If you went ahead and did renos over the last year and you’re paying for it now, it may be time to shop around for a better rate to potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars a month.

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Deal with debt

Top view of young woman holding fanned out stack of bills while sitting on a bed.
Pormezz / Shutterstock

Though credit card balances sank during the pandemic, according to stats from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, joblessness rose a notch in June, to a relatively high 5.9%, but nearly half of the states are planning to the federal government's bonus unemployment benefits shortly.

If you’ve been relying on that money to help stay on top of your credit cards, you may need another solution.

A debt consolidation loan with lower interest could help you get rid of your debt sooner and save you a ton in expensive interest.

Stick closer to home — for now

Group of people sitting in a backyard on a patio at a table, chatting.
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock

Did you have a trip on the books that was cancelled because of the pandemic? Like many Americans who’ve now received their COVID vaccine, you may be thinking about cashing in your vouchers.

Sadly, this is one expense you may want to book immediately or put off for a bit. As of April 1, prices on domestic flights were up 9% and 17% for international travel, according to a report from research firm Bernstein. And prices are expected to continue to tick upwards.

The cost for a hotel stay is also going up. Between mid-March and the end of April, Koddi, a travel booking technology company, noted an appreciable increase in the average hotel price. Compared to just a few weeks earlier, they were 11% more expensive, Koddi’s senior director of client services, Deep Kohli, told CNBC.

So maybe you’re thinking you’ll just book a road trip? Gas prices are way up, too.

Instead, think about sprucing up your home or backyard to find your own luxury escape right at home.

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Don’t let the dealership take you for a ride

Happy-looking couple standing holding a key in front of a white car at a dealership.
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Not only is the price of gas going up, but so is everything else relating to your car.

The car-shopping experts at Edmunds say the percentage of consumers overpaying for a new car climbed to 12.7% in April, setting the record for the highest level since 2002.

On top of the significantly higher sticker price, a new car will lose about 30% of its value in the first year, according to Edmunds. Buying a used car could save you up to $1,400 on your purchase.

And while some auto insurance providers have been handing out pandemic stimulus discounts, as the country continues to recover from COVID, those may soon end.

Make sure you’re getting the best possible rate by shopping around and comparing multiple auto insurance offers — it only takes a few minutes and it could save you up to $1,100 a year.

Ditch the fees, invest for free

Casual person using digital tablet computer to analyze a financial dashboard with charts.
NicoElNino / Shutterstock

There are few better ways to grow your money than by investing it. Just think: if you had strategically invested your first stimulus check, within the year you could have doubled your money.

But with most platforms, you’ll face pesky investment fees taking a big bite out of your profits — generally somewhere between 1% to 2.5% — which can add up to a huge chunk of change over the years.

If you want to hold onto more of your hard-earned cash, you should to consider an investment app that features no commissions, which allows you to invest for free.

Slash the cost of your mortgage

Back view of happy family is standing near their modern house and hugging
4 PM production / Shutterstock

Mortgage rates have been yo-yoing over the last several months as the economy continues to recover from COVID, with January recording the lowest levels on record, after which they’ve been steadily climbing.

They’re still currently at historically low levels, but experts predict rates will rise to 4% this year — making now the time to make a move if you’ve been mulling a refinance.

An estimated 14.1 million Americans have the opportunity to refi and save an average $287 a month, according to recent research from the mortgage technology and data provider Black Knight.

Take a healthy bite out of health premiums

Doctor holds up a stethoscope to a baby's chest.
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

On average, health insurance for a healthy 40-year-old across the country will cost you $5,940 over a year, based on analysis from ValuePenguin.

With new opportunities to save through tax credits on your premiums this year, most Americans will see a noticeable drop in their health insurance costs for 2021.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best possible price on your premiums. The only way to know for sure is to shop around and compare offers.


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Sigrid Forberg Associate Editor

Sigrid’s is Moneywise.com's associate editor, and she has also worked as a reporter and staff writer on the Moneywise team.


The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.