The Best Way to Actually Save on Your Mortgage

The process of buying and then owning a house comes with a lot of moving parts. Some of the decisions you make at the beginning could compound for years on end. That especially applies to your mortgage — and millions of homeowners are leaving money on the table.

One of the most important parts of making huge financial decisions is remembering how to act like a consumer. That means, at its heart, doing your research to find a variety of options. A new report from NerdWallet, however, finds that fully half of home buyers only look at one mortgage lender before they commit: "American home buyers could save $776 million in a single year by comparing mortgage rates among lenders before applying, according to NerdWallet's analysis. That's over $400 per borrower in the first year of a 30-year mortgage."

This isn't the only area where we fall down as consumers. Shoppers tend not to push very far when choosing insurance plans, which can negatively affect health outcomes in far too many scenarios. We also conflate autopay rates with autopilot, and don't seek out better options when it could save us a bundle. Don't beat yourself up too much — there are always ways to course-correct. One reason we let this money slip through our fingers? Simple overwhelm. These systems can be intimidating even for the experienced. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Your friends, family, and partner are some of your best sources for support. If you can pay it forward in the future, you'll all be better for it.