I daydream all of the time about owning a house. Well, maybe not a house since I hate yard work and love living in the city, so a condo is more my style, but I would love to own property. Most of us would. Paying $1500+ in rent a month to some company so that I can live in their building is, at best, frustrating. Also, there is something mildly condescending about needing to get permission to paint your walls. So the dream of owning property is burning bright in my head, but I need to save for a down payment which feels impossible and realistically is at specific points in our lives.
Tips for saving for a down payment:
Transfer a fixed amount to a special savings account
This might be the most obvious thing to do. You open a savings account that automatically transfers money into it on payday. The problem is trying to find that extra money you can afford to put away on the side. What I’ve started doing is using my acorns account as my down payment saving account. Every Monday, Acorns takes $10 out of my account and puts it into a moderately risky investment portfolio while also using the round-up investments. On top of that, I put $75 of every paycheck into the account as well. It might not sound like a lot at first, but I have to start somewhere.
Make and stick to your budget
Transferring money into a savings account is all nice and dandy, but you need to take a hard look at your budget and see where you can penny-pinch. Saving for a house is inherently hard, and with that comes sacrifice. For example, I love eating out and going to the movies, but I have to be willing to give up fancy meals in pursuit of owning property. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t make a lot of money, and my bills and utilities take up a large portion of my income, but instead of saving for a new monitor for my pc setup that I don’t need, it all goes towards a downpayment.
Reduce high-interest debt
Reducing debt is easier said than done. It feels like no matter what you do, the balance never goes away. However, reducing your debt should be the number one thing you do before saving for a house in terms of priority. Can you afford a house if you are $20,000 deep in credit card debt? If you can start to manage your debt and chip away at it, then the ball will start to roll towards your goal of owning a house slowly. It’s going to take hard work and patience, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Get a side hustle
Growing up in South Florida, it seemed like everyone and their mother had a side hustle. My ex’s dad used to collect coconuts, drain them, bottle the water, and sell them to coworkers and neighbors as a side hustle. Three dollars a bottle isn’t too bad for some fresh coconut water. He would make 50 or so bottles on Sundays and sell them throughout the week. $150 for an hour or two of work isn’t too bad.
Have a garage sale
We all have junk that we don’t use. Maybe it’s an old bike laying around or a go pro you bought for no reason other than they are cool. But, whatever the item may be, some people will buy it off of you. And there has never been an easier time to sell items than now, thanks to apps like OfferUp. You post a picture of the item and how much you are selling it for, and someone will message you if they want to buy it. It’s easy enough to do, and you can make a few quick bucks to help jumpstart the down payment fund.
Be realistic about your goal
The harsh reality is that houses are expensive, and a good sizable down payment is 20%. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have 20% of $350,000 just sitting around in my bank account. (That’s $70k for those that care.) I would be living a very different lifestyle if I had that kind of money. I’m also two years out of school and still working my first job since graduating. (While I love what I do, nonprofits don’t pay all that much.) So the idea that I will own a house tomorrow is unrealistic, but if I can put in some of the work now, it will make my life easier once things get more serious down the road. I’m only 24. Do I need to own a house yet? Or do I want one because that is the next big step in adulthood outside of marriage? Take your time, put in the work, and pray the housing market goes down.
Success isn’t a race.