You can certainly buy a home without thinking about your budget, but it's not advisable. Without a clear understanding of what you'll be spending and where, you're more likely to get yourself into financial trouble. After all, what you can afford is often different than what you can afford comfortably. That's why it's smart for home buyers to think about their monthly expenses before heading out to look at listings. That means considering, not only your prospective monthly mortgage payment, but also how much you'll be spending on everything from property tax to groceries. One easily overlooked cost of homeownership is utility bills. Things like electricity, water, gas, heat, and air conditioning aren't free and, with costs rising, they can add up. So what should you expect? According to one recent analysis, homeowners spend about $400 a month on utilities on average. That includes around $115 for electricity, $110 for cable and streaming services, $65 for natural gas, and $70 for water. Of course, where you live and how much you use can affect how much you'll pay. But coming up with a rough estimate of what your utility bills will be each month is an important step, as it will help give you a more accurate idea of how much house you can comfortably afford.
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