For most of us, saving for a down payment on a home is one of the largest financial endeavors we undertake. Sure, saving for retirement is a big project, but its protracted nature gives us more flexibility than that of saving for a down payment on a home we really want. But finding a way to scrape up between 3.5% and 20% of a home’s purchase price can be challenging, depressing, and over-whelming all at the same time.
If you’ve read 17 Sneaky Savings Strategies, you know there really are ways to save money without trying too hard, but here are 4 ways to accelerate the down payment savings process even more.
One important point: if your spouse isn’t on board, making drastic changes WILL be tough, so make sure you’re both on the same page.
1. Closely examine what you spend money on, especially the largest items.
Food – this is a massive budget item for my family and me, but with 101 Ways to Take a Bite Out of Your Food Budget, there are multiple ways to reduce this line item in our budget. The key is to bank the savings in our Ally Bank Online Savings Account.
Car Insurance – if you’ve not checked car insurance rates in the last 24 months, chances are pretty good your insurer isn’t giving you the best deal. It’s called “margin creep” and it’s how companies pad their bottom lines – nothing is easier to extract cash from than existing customers. Don’t be a patsy! Get your car insurance requited by a company like InsureMe.com and bank the savings for your home’s down payment.
Housing – it may seem odd to list housing, but if you desperately need a boost in your down payment funds, moving to a really cheap apartment for a year to save several hundred dollars per month for 12 months can REALLY pad your account if you bank the savings.
Luxuries – for some people, two cars are a luxury. Save money by selling one. You may also consider canceling cable TV or changing cell phone plans … and banking your savings … to add to your down payment funds.
2. Sell your stuff
Whether you have a garage sale, use Craigslist or eBay, consignment shops, or use the classifieds of your local newspaper (that still works believe it or not), you can sell:
- motorcycles and bicycles
- clothing, especially good quality clothing
- hobby related items, binoculars, telescopes
- older functioning printers
- collectibles and personal collections
Will you make a fortune? Probably not but every little bit helps and besides, selling stuff reduces the clutter in your own house and will make moving a lot easier when you accumulate enough of a down payment to buy your new home.
3. Kick the habits
Habits, particularly bad habits, tend to cost a lot of money. For the next year or so, try giving up a few of these in order to save big bucks toward your new home:
- smoking – a pack per day = approximately $3,500 per year plus the costs of increased life and health insurance, doctor’s visits, etc
- drinking out – at $7+ per drink, having just 3 or 4 per weekend easily exceeds $1,000 per year
- eating out – it ain’t cheap, especially for a family. Cutting out one dinner per week can easily save $1,500 per year
- frou-frou coffee drinks – I used to drink one latte per day until I realized they had 800 calories each and cost me $1,300 per year
- impulse shopping – there’s no telling how much this costs or how much you could save
Again, the biggest point is to make sure you save your savings! Don’t skip this critical step.
4. Sell yourself
I had a job several years ago where I realized I was grossly underpaid so I formulated a plan to help me get paid what I was worth. I created three different plans that included incentives for sales and profit increases at my job and presented them to my boss. He picked the one I hoped and I was thrilled (I would’ve been thrilled with any of them). The key takeaway: make sure you give your boss real, credible choices and back up your belief that you deserve a raise by showing what you’re contributing at work compared to what you’re paid. The fun part was, the more I produced, the more I made. To help save cash for your down payment, start your savings account and put at least 75% of any raise into it.
But what if you want to do things on your own? By far the most popular article on The Wisdom Journal is 26 Ways To Make Extra Money While Keeping Your Day Job because virtually everyone needs ideas. Just make sure you bank what you make, or at least 75% of it, so that when down payment time rolls around, you’re ready.