Photography by Liem Ericson
Home Security Systems: What’s the Real Cost?
There’s a lot to take into account when considering a home security system — it’s not all about the money. We’ve got the lowdown for you.
Securing your home is a big deal. After all, no one wants to come home to find it burglarized. For many people, it isn’t always about the loss of valuables. Rather, they feel violated and no longer comfortable in the house they live in.
Thankfully, you can secure your home in quite a few ways. While some methods are more effective than others, you should use the one that not only makes you feel safest but also is the most affordable.
Take a look at the benefits you receive for the costs, too. Some home security features are really neat, but they are somewhat expensive and don’t provide much security value for the money. Instead, you could put the money you use on them toward your financial goals.
You should also take a few other factors into consideration when choosing a home security system. If you live in a high crime area with many break-ins, securing your home should be a high priority.
You should also take extra care if you could be targeted for home invasion crimes because you’re a high-profile person or have special security clearances or because of your position at work.
So how much do security systems cost and how can they affect your finances in other ways? Here are a few things to consider.
Financial Costs of Home Security Systems
Before you purchase a home security system, you need to look at all of the costs and fees involved. While it would make sense to simply pay for the equipment and a monthly monitoring fee, the cost of many home security systems involve much more than that.
Equipment is usually the priciest item associated with many systems, but every so often you’ll see advertisements for free equipment and installation.
Of course, there’s usually a catch with those free offers. Most times you’ll have to sign a contract for monitoring or some other service that lasts for years and ends up costing thousands of dollars.
You may also have to pay for installation, activation, and monitoring fees. These are different from company to company, but monitoring fees can vary wildly depending on the level of service you wish to purchase.
Financial Benefits of Home Security Systems
Fortunately, home security systems can provide some financial benefits as well. Many homeowners or renter’s insurance companies offer discounts to people with security systems. Some insurance companies require the systems to be monitored, so be sure to check with your insurer before making a purchase.
Theoretically, a home security system saves you money by preventing burglaries that would have happened without it.
If you decide to file a home invasion claim with your insurance company, you would have to pay your deductible, which could range from as little as a couple of hundred dollars to as much as a small percentage of the value of your home or belongings.
The hidden savings come from not using your homeowners or renters insurance; the sad fact is that filing a claim almost always results in higher insurance rates in the years to come.
The priceless benefit of buying a home security system is being able to sleep better at night without the fear of someone breaking in and your not being able to alert the authorities that you need help. While the alarm may startle you and your family, it could very well spook the intruder enough so that he leaves as soon as he hears it.
Opportunity Cost of Paying for a Home Security System
Many people never become victims of burglaries. What would happen if you took the potential cost of equipment, installation, activation, and monthly monitoring and invested that amount of money over the course of your lifetime?
You could be a lot wealthier, and even possibly pay for any missing valuables if you are the victim of a burglary. Home security systems may not always be the right fit.
Here’s a quick example: If you would have to pay $1,500 in up-front costs and $25 per month for a year for a security system and monitoring, how much would that amount to if you invested it at an 8 percent annual return?
If you’re 30 and keep the money invested until age 65, that’s 35 years of investment returns. At the end of 35 years, you’d have $82,168.20.
Other Ways to Secure Your Home
If you want to secure your home in a cheaper way, here are a few ideas:
- Make sure you keep all windows and doors locked at all times.
- Make sure you secure sliding doors and windows by putting a pipe or board in their tracks when not in use.
- Keep valuables out of sight.
- Avoid doors with glass near the doorknob so vandals can’t smash the glass and open your door from the inside.
- Don’t provide places for burglars to hide. Avoid having shrubs around windows and concealed areas near doors.
- Don’t put a specific security system sticker in your window, but do put a generic sticker saying you’re protected. That way burglars can’t figure out how to disable your real — or imaginary — system.
Every time we move, my wife and I assess whether the benefits of having a security system outweigh the costs in our new area and make a plan to secure our home. I hope you do the same. A little bit of prevention can save a ton of headaches down the road.