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What’s Your True Monthly Payment?

Knowing this number gives you a clearer financial picture as you transition into homeownership.

You filled out the paperwork, you closed the deal, you locked down the deed. But have you calculated the true cost of your home?

What’s “true” cost? (Isn’t there just one monthly mortgage payment?)

If only. For the new homeowner, expenses span far beyond a single monthly mortgage payment. But not to fear! Here’s how you can remain on top of all your monthly costs.

In addition to your mortgage bill each month, you can expect maintenance, repair, and other upkeep fees. That’s not including your utilities (Internet, heat and electricity, garbage, inspection fees, etc.), insurance, PMI, HOA, and … whoa. When did it all add up so quickly? And how can you budget for it all?

First things first: list out all expenses. It’s not as scary as it seems, especially after the first pass! Getting your numbers straight will only empower you as you create your payment plan. That means your budget goes from “Argh — bills, bills, bills!” to “Pshaw, I’ve got this.”

To get the clear picture of your total monthly expense, you’ll want to factor in multiple expenses.

Utilities and basic living expenses

Getting settled in your new home will likely start with setting up some of the basics: gas and electric, garbage, and water. Tag onto that cable and Internet plus any initial deposits or setup fees. These are costs that will crop up monthly.

Homeowners insurance

Once you take on your own house, you’ll also want to protect it! Homeowners insurance is a crucial part of the monthly expense (and can sometimes be one of the most painful checks to write). The cost of homeowners insurance will depend on where you live and what plan you choose.


For those whose downpayment is less than 20%, you’ll most likely be required by your lender to pay into something called private mortgage insurance or PMI. The reason? Lenders use this as a protection in case a borrower defaults on the loan.


Gone are the days when you called your landlord when the faucet leaks. You’re the head honcho now! That means any repairs will be at your own expense. General repairs and upkeep costs are an important expense to factor into your budget.

Property taxes

Property taxes are based on the value of your home. The higher the value, the more you’ll have to yield come tax time. Something to consider as you sign the dotted line on your above-budget dream home!

HOA fees

Joining a condominium or apartment complex community? That usually means you’ll be required to contribute to the maintenance of any common spaces (pool, landscaping, and general upkeep). These homeowners association (HOA) fees are often annual, though depending on the community, they can get a wee bit pricey.

Styling expenses

How you plan to fill your new space makes a big difference in your budget. Mattresses run upward of $1,000, and appliances and furnishings aren’t a drop in the bucket! Consider the items you plan to add to your home over time — and include them in your budget.

ICE costs

In-case-of-emergency (ICE) expenses cover unexpected costs. Maybe you need a roof repair after a storm or the refrigerator dies on you. Though these aren’t guaranteed expenses, it’s likely you’ll face a challenge at some point in your homeownership timeline.

Do the math

Once you’ve made the rough estimate for each housing expense, you can separate the costs into two categories: monthly and yearly. For any yearly cost, dividing the number by 12 will show an expected monthly cost for that particular expense. Then add each of those newly calculated monthly expenses to the total in the monthly expense category. Voila, here’s your true monthly payment.


No doubt about it, it can be a bit shocking to see the true calculation in the beginning. But knowing this number gives you a clearer picture of what you can expect as you transition into homeownership. Clarity and strategy are a winning combo when tackling your budget.