Posted by Lori Ann Lacey on 5/22/2019

It’s a difficult time to be a first-time home buyer. Post-recession buyers are wary--and for good reason--of how and when to save money for a down payment on a house. One thing to remember, however, is that it’s always a good time to start saving.

In this article, we’re going to cover the four most useful methods of saving for a down payment on your first home. That way you can feel confident in taking the first and most important step toward homeownership.

Choosing the right savings account


Unlike riskier investments, a savings account is a safe and proven way of building interest and saving for a home. However, not all savings accounts are created equal.

Typically, brick and mortar banks offer interest rates that are low--the current national average is only about 0.06% annually. While these banks offer conveniences such as in-network ATMs and check-cashing, their physical locations make them expensive to run.

Enter the online bank. Since online banks don’t have all of the costs associated with running branches, they can afford to offer better rewards--namely, high-interest returns on your savings accounts.

So, should you take all of your money out of your current savings account and transfer it to an online bank? Maybe. But let’s talk about the benefits of having multiple savings accounts.

Open a dedicated account with automatic deposits

Saving isn’t just difficult due to financial reasons. Managing money also takes time and effort. To simplify this process, it’s preferable to direct deposit or automatically transfer a percentage of your weekly income into your down payment savings account.

While it may seem like pinching pennies at first, even small weekly deposits add up, and within a few years the compounding interest can earn you enough for a higher down payment than you thought possible.

Prioritize high-interest debt now

Have student debt or a car loan that’s keeping you from focusing on saving for a down payment? Oftentimes the best coarse of action is to aggressively pay off high-interest loans. In the long term, this will save you money that can then be used toward a down payment.

For debt that will take several years to pay off, consider refinancing for a lower interest rate, or consolidating your student loans. Speaking with a student loan adviser or financial planner is a good first step to take toward managing your debt.

Make a real budget

Most of us think of a verb when we hear the word “budget.” However, it’s more useful as a noun.

Creating a real budget, whether it’s in Excel, Google Sheets, or with the help of an app, having a budget you can refer to once a week is vital to making good savings decisions. It will help you monitor your spending and stay on top of your savings goals.





Posted by Lori Ann Lacey on 4/4/2018

For many of us, it can seem like our paychecks are gone before we even get a chance to see them. With seemingly endless bills and expenses, both recurring and unforeseen, saving up for a house is a daunting task.

Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare yourself for those intimidating down payments and many closing costs.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through how you can start saving for a home right this moment. After all, every day is another day you could be contributing to your savings and taking another step closer to owning your own home.

Use a Budgeting Tool

The first step to saving and determining how much you can save is to start budgeting. Many people hear the term “budget” and get nervous thinking they’ll have to start counting the number of coffees they buy. However, there are less anxiety-inducing ways to budget.

From your phone, tablet, or computer you have access to a large number of free budgeting tools. Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), and PocketGuard are three of the top budgeting tools that will get you started.

With apps that integrate with your bank accounts and loan balances,  there is little work required on your part. Just set an amount to save each week or month, and direct the funds into your savings account.

Set up a dedicated savings account

Speaking of savings accounts--now is a great time to set up a new one. It’s almost always free to open a new account with your bank. What’s more, it’s a lot less tempting to pull from a savings account when it’s labeled something like “HOUSE SAVINGS - DO NOT TOUCH.”

Once you have your budgeting app and bank account set up, it’s time to dig into some of the ways you can save money without skipping meals.

Cutting Monthly Expenses

Rather than telling yourself you can’t buy any more fancy Starbucks drinks anymore until you have a house (don’t torture yourself), make a list of all your monthly expenses. That can include anything from Netflix and Spotify to haircuts and car washes.

A great way to make this list is to go through your credit and debit card transactions. If you have autopay set up, you might not even realize how many services are withdrawing directly from your accounts each month.

For each item on your list, determine if you can either eliminate the expense or spend less on it. Maybe you go for the deluxe car war rather than the basic. Or, you might pay for services you don’t use as much as you used to.

If you’re worried about having no entertainment if you drop Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, you could try out your local library system. Most of the time you can have books, movies, and music shipped for free from all around your state.

When it comes to cable, cell phone plans, car insurance, and other monthly bills give your provider a call and tell them you’re thinking about switching over to a cheaper competitor. They’ll likely offer you a discounted rate. If they don’t, follow through on your promise and call other providers to see if you can get better rates.





Posted by Lori Ann Lacey on 4/5/2017

Put a mortgage down payment of 20% or more toward the purchase of a new home and you could lower your monthly loan installments by at least $100. A sizable down payment could also position you as a smart risk to lenders. If you're mortgage is approved, you could yield another reward, less interest to pay over the life of your loan. But, how do you get there, especially when you consider your other financial responsibilities, expenses like student loans, credit card bills and insurance. Fortunately, there are actions that you can take to start building money to put toward a down payment on a new home. Make a Decision and Stick To It Decide how much you want to save for your mortgage down payment. Give yourself enough time to build your savings. For example, if you want to put $10,000 toward your down payment, consider giving yourself two to three years to reach your goal. If you're downsizing, money from the sale of your current home could go toward the down payment on your new home. There are online budget templates that you can use to track your current spending. It’s also good to get in the habit of reviewing your monthly bank statement. Not only can this alert you to erroneous charges on your account, it can open your eyes to how much money you could be saving. If you’re still living with your parents, take an honest look at your spending habits. How much money do you spend on restaurant food, clothes, shoes, concert tickets and other entertainment? At first glance, you might think that you only spend $100 a month on entertainment, when you could actually be spending $250 a month. Let your parents know that you're putting money away for a mortgage down payment. They might lower your rent to help you save. Should you be living on your own, consider taking in a roommate to split your rent. Use the other half of the money that you formerly put toward your rent to save for your mortgage down payment. Other ways to save a mortgage down payment are: • Work a part-time job and deposit those earnings into an interest bearing account. Use your skills to telecommute. For example, you could work as a web page designer, computer programmer, freelance writer, virtual instructor or virtual assistant from home. • Put job bonuses and other incentive pay toward your down payment. • Deposit tax refunds in your interest bearing account. • Combine insurance plans and place the savings in your interest bearing account. • Take advantage of cable, telephone and internet service provider discounts, placing the savings toward your down payment. • Rent out a portion of your home and put the rent toward a down payment on a new home. • Use coupons when grocery shopping. Go to the grocery store on double coupon days and you could save $30 or more a week. • Limit unnecessary spending until you reach your mortgage down payment goal. • Set your thermostat to 65. During summer months, get outdoors to avoid keeping the air conditioner on for hours at a time. During winter months, consider using a sweater. • Sell furniture that you are not using. For example, you could hold a yard sale and deposit proceeds from the yard sale in your savings account. • Until you reach your mortgage down payment goal, consider taking day trips rather than vacationing overseas or on long out-of-town stays that require you to take on airline, hotel and rental car expenses. Stick to your plan. Doing so, could yield you thousands of dollars in savings during house buying negotiations and over the lifetime of your mortgage. Sticking to your savings plan could also strengthen your money management skills, so that you avoid debt and continue to build equity long after you move into your new home.




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