Dean Sarris' Blog
The idea of homeownership can seem daunting if you doubt you can save up a down payment. After all, even a modest house on a conventional mortgage requires twenty percent plus the closing costs. When saving up seems out of reach, try these creative tips to grow your nest egg:
A lofty word for a simple idea, delaying gratification means doing without for now so that to attain a specific goal. Nearly every budget has discretionary funds—what’s left over after paying rent, utilities, and other necessary bills. Once you’ve identified what’s left over, you get to decide how to spend it. When homeownership is the goal, some purchases become less necessary, and others can wait until you’ve attained your objective.
First, open a savings account specifically for your down payment. Consider setting it up in a credit union or a different bank from your regular financial institution so that the extra effort it takes to move it into your regular account mitigates the temptation to use it to pay bills.
Then, consider ditching these items for less expensive alternatives (or altogether) and putting the savings directly into your new account. Treat the savings as an expense, the same way you did the bill payment, or else the extra funds could just slip away:
- Gym membership: finding a less expensive gym or utilizing a local park for workouts could save you an extra $35-50 per month.
- Dump satellite or cable. Try to opt for less expensive online streaming alternatives or plan regular evenings with friends to share viewing your favorite shows. Depending on the plan you have, savings can really add up and more time socializing with friends is a bonus.
- Instead of expensive meals out, plan a movie or game night at home. Invite friends and share potluck or have everyone bring ingredients to cook together.
- Local libraries have current books, DVDs, audiobooks, and magazines so make a habit of stopping there to check them out instead of paying for your own. Many electronic media memberships have options for sharing with a friend or family member and qualifying for free books and audios.
- Make saving a game. See who saves the most each week—you or your spouse/partner—and allow that person one small indulgence—a latte, for example, or an evening free of the children for a spa bath.
Set a price on each of these events and pay that amount into your savings account. If you don’t isolate the savings, you’ll find it harder to keep it up.
Find alternative income
You could take a second job to add to your savings or a freelance gig. Put 100 percent of what you've paid into your savings account. Other options include monetizing a hobby (if it doesn’t cost you more money than you make) to sell online or through local outlets. Perform seasonal jobs such as raking leaves, shoveling snow or washing windows.
Put all loose change in a piggy bank (or coin jar). Determine to spend only paper money, then save all the loose change. When the jar or bank is full, take the coins to the bank or a coin-counting machine. Discipline yourself to put the cash in your savings account though so it doesn't slip through your fingers.
As you near your savings goals, reach out to your real estate professional for tips on finding the perfect home in your budget.
For those who want to acquire a house, it helps to get your finances in order. That way, you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the homebuying journey without having to worry about how you'll afford your dream house.
There are many quick, easy ways to straighten out your finances before you embark on the homebuying journey, such as:
1. Assess Your Credit Score
Your credit score ultimately can play a major role in your ability to secure a great mortgage. If you understand your credit score, you may be able to find ways to improve it prior to conducting a home search.
It is important to remember that you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a free copy of your credit report today, and you can take the first step to evaluate your credit score.
If you find that your credit score is low, there is no need to worry. You can always pay off outstanding debt to improve your credit score over time.
Also, if you identify any errors on your credit report, you'll want to address these mistakes immediately. In this scenario, you should contact the agency that provided the report to ensure any necessary corrections can be made.
2. Look Closely at Your Monthly Expenses
When it comes to buying a house, it generally helps to have sufficient funds for a down payment. The down payment on a house may fall between 5 and 20 percent of a home's sale price, so you'll want to have enough money available to cover this total for your dream residence.
If you evaluate your monthly expenses, you may be able to find ways to save money for a down payment on a house.
For example, it may be beneficial to cut out cable TV for the time being and use the money that you save toward a home down payment. Or, if your dine out frequently, cooking at home may prove to be a substantial money-saver that could help you speed up the process of saving for a down payment.
3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
With pre-approval for a mortgage, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand. Then, you'll be better equipped than ever before to narrow your search to houses that fall within your price range.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you about different mortgage options and help you assess all of the options at your disposal.
Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask banks and credit unions about how different types of mortgages work. This will enable you to gain the insights that you need to make an informed decision about a mortgage based on your financial situation.
If you need extra help as you prepare to pursue a house, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. In fact, a real estate agent can help you find a high-quality house at a budget-friendly price in no time at all.