In today's market, you usually need up to 10 percent of a home's purchase price for a down payment. This means a $250,000 home could require $25,000 down plus closing costs. If you saved $1,040 a month for the next 24 months, you'd achieve that goal. On the surface, that may seem impossible—but it's not. Make some short-term sacrifices now to save for a down payment on a house.
Move to a Smaller Place
Give up that extra bedroom for the short term. If you rent in a premium location, consider moving to a less expensive area. It may take you a little longer to commute, but it won't be for long. Reduce the amount you are paying in rent by $500, and you will be halfway to your monthly goal.
Take a Part-Time Job
Become a barista at your local coffee shop. Become a yoga instructor at your gym (maybe you can get the gym membership for free). Offer babysitting or pet-sitting services to friends and neighbors. Scour thrift stores and yard sales for great finds, and then sell the items on eBay. Find something you enjoy doing, and then find a way to earn a little money doing it in your spare time.
If you don't have a budget, now is the time to create one. Examine each line item and ask yourself, “What can I do to reduce this amount?”
- Insurance. Speak with your insurance agent and ask for a quote with several different deductibles. Raising your deductible on your car insurance can lower your premiums.
- Cable and Internet. Survey your cable bill for charges you can eliminate. Most people don't need 148 channels. Internet connection is free at the local library or coffee shop.
- Cell Phone. Unlimited texting is a luxury, not a need. Reconsider your smartphone.
- Dining Out. Cook dinner at home and prepare enough for tomorrow's lunch. Make your morning coffee at home. Don't eat out as much.
- Gym Membership. Take up a sport. Running, racquetball, tennis and swimming are aerobic and strength-building activities you can do for free.
Maximize Your Windfalls
Financial windfalls (cash gifts, bonuses and tax refunds, for example) tend to get lost in the monthly spending shuffle. Deposit these funds directly into your savings account. If you receive regular structured settlement payments, consider selling your future payments for a lump sum of cash now. You could then put the money toward your down payment.
Agree on a Plan
Once you determine which sacrifices you will make, ensure that everyone affected buys in on the plan. Revisit the plan each month to insure you are on track. Don't be afraid to talk about the pitfalls or complain about the sacrifices. This is the time to reassure each other you are in it for the long haul. Before you know it, you'll be discussing paint colors for the living room.
And there's more to come...