Saving for a down payment can seem like an overwhelming task if you’re on a tight budget. It’s not easy to make a plan, stay on that plan no matter what, stay motivated even when your plan goes temporarily awry, and finally achieve your desired result. So how do you get from, ‘I want to to be a homeowner’ to ‘Give me the keys?’ Simple: Set a goal.
Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, realistic and time-targeted goals.
So how does that relate to your down payment? When it comes to buying a home and getting together the money required, there are tricks and tips you can use to make it easier and make that goal achievable.
Make a plan and write it down
Get out a piece of paper or type into your phone/computer a definitive statement that encompasses your down payment goal. Then break down that goal by the amount you need to save weekly, or monthly, and a goal date for being able to buy that house. The simple act of putting your plan down on paper (or on screen) makes it real. Take out the piece of paper or pull up the email you wrote to yourself whenever you need a pick-me-up.
Make some budget cuts
It may not be easy. But saving for something as important as a new home is worth it. Look over your monthly bank statements for areas to cut back. Take out any set monthly expenses—rent or existing house payment, car payment, or anything else that can’t change.
Then look at your car and health insurance policies, or anything else that could change, if you made changes to your coverage.
Don’t forget things like cell phone bills, cable, high speed internet. If you’re not using all of your data on your cell phone plan, that may be a place to trim. Perhaps you don’t need such fast DSL service. Every little bit helps.
Let someone else make some cuts
If you’ve gone through your budget carefully and don’t see any (or many) easy places to cut, let a best friend or close family member take a look at your budget. They might see some things you don’t, or might be able to ask some hard questions you aren’t willing to ask yourself.
Know how to bounce back
So you went out to lunch with a friend and the next thing you know, you’re at the mall spending money on clothes.
Go ahead and feel the pain of the buyer’s remorse. Slap yourself on the hand and get back on your plan. It’s like cheating on a diet, just get back on the plan the next day and proceed ahead.
Look for ways to make extra money
Do you have skills you could use to bring in a few bucks?
Are you currently eating out five nights a week? Cut back to two. If you’re not a fan of cooking, grab a roasted chicken from the supermarket and a bagged salad, or a ready-to-nuke meal from a specialty market.
Not ready to give up your restaurant habit?
Those coupon packs that come in the mail actually have some useful stuff inside, including restaurant discounts. If you can save 20 percent off your bill a couple times a week, you won’t feel so guilty for dining out.
Another great way to save when eating out is by timing it to nights when restaurants have happy hours, specials, like kids’ eat free nights. Googling these phrases will give you a list of participating restaurants in your area.
Don’t become a hermit
Cutting back doesn’t have to mean locking yourself in your house, never using any gas, never going to any movies or seeing your friends socially.
But make sure your friends and family know about your plan so they can support you while you’re saving. And you can involve them in your plan by enlisting their help to plan fun and free (or cheap) get-togethers.
Keep your eye on the prize
When everyone runs off to Mexico for their summer vacation, you’re probably going to want to chuck it all. But remember that Mexico isn’t going anywhere. You can luxuriate on the beach with turquoise water lapping at your feet while you drink that margarita next year.
And it’ll taste so much better with the new set of house keys in your pocket.
Don’t forget when you are ready to buy or sell your home, contact a REALTOR professional, a member of the _____________________ Board of REALTORS.