Make Saving for a Down Payment on Your Home Easier
Saving up a down payment for a house can feel challenging. But with preparation and patience, you can get it done. There are ways to make saving for a down payment on your home easier than you might expect. It starts with figuring out how much you’d like to save.
If you’re planning to put the recommended 20% down – allowing you to avoid the added ongoing expense of private mortgage insurance (PMI) — you can get that number by looking at the typical selling prices of homes in your area and then multiplying by .2
If you come up with an overwhelming number, don’t let it get you down. There are ways to get there faster than you might think, especially since it may not all have to come from you.
But start with the basics
Here’s one trick to saving up large sums: focus on the small sums each day and week instead.
That’s because it’s about saving a portion of every dollar you earn until you reach your target amount. The little things really do add up.
Get things rolling by doing things like:
- Opening an account labeled “house fund” and sending your first dollar to it
- Setting up automatic deposits to that account (try starting with at least 1% of your salary, and then bumping it up regularly from there)
- Looking at your current spending to see what extras you’d rather exchange for faster progress on your down payment (for example, maybe you don’t need a premium cable package if giving it up will help you reach your goal faster)
- Reducing the regular expenses you decide to keep (such as by switching cell phone providers, asking companies how you could reduce your rates, etc.)
- Taking on or making opportunities for extra income (such as getting a part time job, asking for a raise, baby or pet-sitting, getting a roommate, etc.)
- Earmarking all or a pre-determined part of bonuses, raises, tax refunds, and unexpected income for your house fund
Once you’ve got the basics down and are feeling comfortable with them, it’s time to get creative. That means looking around for ways to get to your goal of a home (not just the down payment) faster.
- Take advantage of one of the available home boosts
- Check with family members who may be interested in contributing toward your down payment or pledging to match your savings (sometimes parents or grandparents want to help out by funding part of a down payment)
- Let folks who want to give gifts for special occasions know that you’re saving for a home in your Boostup account
- Discover whether you qualify for any local assistance programs. (Check the State Information section of HUD.gov and search city, state, and county websites to find programs that apply to your area. (Read any program details carefully to be sure you can meet the terms.)
- Investigate programs that may be available because you are a member of a certain group or live in a certain area. For example, there’s the Good Neighbor Next Door sales program for law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, and preK-12 teachers. First time home buyers may have programs available as well. (Note that “first time home buyer” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve never bought a home before.) In some cases, employers might even have programs to help their employees with home-buying, or they might be willing to do so as part of a relocation package.
- Once you’re ready to buy, consider asking the seller to pay all or part of the closing costs. This can reduce the amount you need in order to get into a home.
Not sure what special programs you might qualify for in your area? Check with the local public housing authority and an experienced Realtor for their input.
Jackie Beck writes about personal finance and loves the challenge of reaching big goals. You can follow her on Twitter at @moneycrush.