According to Zillow and HotPads, it takes renters with an annual income of $56,784 an average of 77 months to save enough for a 20 percent down payment for a median value home ($216,000). That’s almost six and a half years — a long time. Maybe you don’t need quite 20 percent of your current income, but any way you slice it, saving for a down payment requires planning, focus, and sacrifice.
Here are 9 ways to save for a down payment that you might not have thought about.
1. Draw A Hard Line Between Saving For A Home & Everything Else
The first step in saving for any big purchase is to figure out how much you need and how much you’re able to save each month to help get you there. Figure out how much you can set aside each month based on your current income and expenses and consider setting up automatic transfers to put that amount into an account dedicated to your future home purchase. Keeping your home account separate from your checking or savings accounts will ensure that your money doesn’t end up getting spent on everyday expenses.
2. Move Now
… But not into the house you want to buy; we mean into a temporary home that costs less. If you’re paying a high monthly rent and your lease is up soon, consider more affordable options. You could auto-transfer the monthly difference into a dedicated savings account for your future home, and not ever really notice a difference in living costs.
3. Sell Stuff
Do you have a closet full of clothes you never wear? A video game console you don’t use anymore? A set of golf clubs collecting dust? Consider selling things that you don’t use and put that money toward your down payment. Even if you aren’t able to make that much from the sales, every little bit can help. And de-cluttering now will eventually make the moving process easier!
4. Change Your Thinking
Things like sticking to a budget or saving for a down payment often come down to self-control and restraint, and a simple change in your mindset can help keep you on track. When you’re saving a large sum of money, every purchase you make should be intentional. Before buying anything, ask yourself if you really need it — and remind yourself of your larger goal. Sacrificing spending money on things you don’t need will get you closer to buying your house.
5. Create A Budget
This might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but creating and sticking to a budget is often easier said than done (if you need help getting started, here’s how to build a budget).Every dollar should be accounted for, because then you’ll know exactly where your money is going and be able to save the maximum amount of money each month. If keeping track of a budget in an excel document seems too old school, consider using a trusted website or smartphone app to help you budget.
6. Implement “No Spend” Periods
Every few months, consider challenging yourself to a month of no spending and put that money toward saving for a down payment. Remember that you set the rules of what’s acceptable spending, and remember to limit your extras. You might be surprised at how much you can save with just one month of very intentional spending.
7. Pick Up A Side Hustle
To save money more aggressively, consider picking up a side job. Every penny you make can go directly into your down payment fund since it’s extra income you don’t already rely on. Depending on your skills and talents, you might be able to pick up some freelance work that can be done from home to make a little extra cash. During the holidays, retail stores often offer seasonal jobs, or you could consider babysitting or dog-sitting for friends, family, or neighbors to earn a little extra.
8. Optimize Your Bills & Subscriptions
If you haven’t already, consider canceling any bills or services that aren’t truly essential. This includes cable and internet streaming services, video games, house cleaning, lawn services, etc. You could even consider canceling (or pausing) your gym membership and instead going for runs or exercising at home.
9. Skip Social Events & Trips
We warned you that there would be sacrifices to make in order to save for a down payment, and this is one of those big sacrifices! Social events like weddings and parties often come with extra expenses like travel, gifts, and clothing. While it’s not always fun, taking a break from social events and vacations can help prioritize your spending — and help you save for a down payment, if that’s your goal.