Creative Ways to Save for a Down Payment

Now is a great time to buy. Homes are affordable and interest rates are at historical lows. Lending is tight, however. You need a stellar credit score and a clean credit report to even get your foot in the door.

And long gone are the days of zero-down down payments. You need money down to venture into the housing market. Some financial experts recommend at least a 20 percent down payment.

Here are some creative ways to curb spending so you can save up for the house of your dreams.

The first rule of saving is to be patient. Large nest eggs are built up over time. We live in a society that thrives on instant gratification. This is partially responsible for the housing crisis we now find ourselves in. Buyers who should have waited until they could truly afford their dream house took advantage of a flawed system that allowed them to instantly gratify their desires. So, be patient. It may take months or years before you have saved enough.

The next key is to cut out unnecessary spending. It can be easy to give into our wants, or to confuse them with needs. For example, you need food to survive. What you don’t need is to go out to lunch or dinner multiple times a week. It may be time to change habits and learn to pack a lunch for work and to cook meals at home. The same goes for the morning coffee. A home brewed cup can be just as satisfying as a $4 cup from a coffee house. And you just might save yourself $500 a year.

Don’t use credit cards. Credit cards charge exorbitant interest rates. It can take decades to pay off balances when you only make minimum payments.
A great way to avoid overspending is to avoid going to stores. It sounds extreme, but if you go to a store, you’ll buy something. Find fun things to do at home, instead of using shopping as a hobby. Even $20 a week can add up to $1,000 a year.

Substitute spending is another tactic for saving. Let’s say, for example, that you have a gym membership charging $40 a month. That translates to $480 a year. You can buy a simple elliptical, recumbent bike, or treadmill for less than that. Add in a few workout DVD’s and weights and you have a home gym for a fraction of the cost.

Lastly, automatic savings transfers can help procrastinators save. You have to remember to transfer money to savings to build up your account! Most banks allow for automatic savings amounts to be set. You can choose what amount works best for you. $100 a month will translate to $1,200 a year!

With just a few of these scenarios we discussed today, our example saver could save at least $3,000 a year!

Stick to your plans and budget and the dream of homeownership can become a reality.

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