How To Save For A Down Payment (And Still Live Your Best Life)
1. Cut back expenses without cutting out services
Cutting costs is the obvious place to start when you want to save for a down payment. When you eliminate an expense, you can move that money over to your savings. Look at the costs in your budget you know you wouldn’t miss — and cut them today. This may not account for much, and that’s OK. You don’t need to cancel every subscription and service to save.
Next, look at what bills you’re not willing to give up. Then call those providers and explain you can no longer afford to pay your current rate. Ask what the options are. Can they provide discounts? Rate reductions? Is there another service tier with fewer bells and whistles that still covers your needs but costs less?
If that doesn’t work, start shopping around for better rates. Can you switch cellphone carriers or insurance companies? Will another service provider give you a discount or incentive to leave their competitor and become a new customer?
2. Match your savings to your discretionary spending
This savings hack can help you inch toward your goal while also helping you spend mindfully. Here’s how it works: Every time you go shopping or spend money on something you want, look at the total amount of your purchase. Then transfer the same amount from your checking to your savings.
For every discretionary purchase you make — which means things you buy because you want them but don’t need them — make a matching contribution to your down payment savings fund. This effectively doubles your purchase price since double the amount leaves your checking account.
What’s the point? This trick forces you to use and think about your money differently and prioritize your spending in a new way. If you have less cash to use (since you contributed more to savings), you’ll need to make more conscientious choices about what’s really important to you.
3. Change your home-buying timeline
Saving for a $50,000 down payment in one year is a lot harder than saving $50,000 over three years. If you want to buy a home but enjoying life today is still essential, play with your timeline. There’s no rule that you have to buy a house right now. It’s about what’s important to you. If you can think more long term, you can accomplish your savings goal and live your best life while you do it.
Here’s an easy way to figure out what your savings goal deadline should be. Look at how much money you need to save for a down payment. Let’s say your goal is to save that aforementioned $50,000 in cash for a new house. Now look at how much money you’re willing to save each month without doing anything too drastic to your budget.
Take your goal amount and divide it by the amount you can save each month. If you can save $1,000 per month and want to reach $50,000, it will take you 50 months to do so (or a little over four years).
There are many tactics you can apply to boost this monthly amount, like investing your cash instead of putting it in a savings account. (This does come with risk, and it’s possible you could lose money instead of earning a return. Talk to a financial adviser to help you evaluate your investment options.) You can also cut expenses more dramatically to save more.
But if you’re interested in maintaining your current lifestyle without making huge sacrifices or major changes, consider these actions. You can still save for your down payment and enjoy your life today.