If saving for a down payment seems like a daunting task, you are not alone. Many people think they have to put 20% down or they can’t get a loan. Luckily, that’s not the case. There are many programs you can use that require as little as 3.5% down, such as the FHA loan.
However, even 3.5% down can seem like a looming amount. If the average home price in your area is $200,000, you’ll need $7,000 down plus money for the closing costs. So how can you get to this point without sacrificing a whole lot?
We’ve come up with the top creative ways you can save money to put down on a home.
REDUCE YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES
This might not seem possible. You have to pay utilities, insurance, cable, cell phone plans, and credit card bills. But, you can shop around for the best deals on most of these categories. Take for example car and health insurance. If you stay with the same company, you probably pay inflated rates as the years go by, yet you don’t realize it. Why not shop around for the best deals every few years? Some people even do it annually. You might stand to save a few hundred dollars each month. That can greatly contribute to your down payment needs in a short amount of time.
Don’t overlook the benefit of shopping your cable and cell phone plans too. Different companies often offer new customers great deals. Why not take advantage of the introductory plans from each service? Sock away the savings you reap in the meantime, and you’ll be that much closer to buying your home.
Finally, you can even shop for your credit card companies. If you have a credit card with a 23% interest rate, you pay a lot of interest on your unpaid balances. What if you were eligible to transfer that balance to a 0% credit card? Suddenly you could pay more towards the principal, paying the balance off and giving you more money to save for your home.
SELL YOUR STUFF
What is junk to you could be a treasure to someone else. You can hold one big garage sale or you can become an eBay or Craigslist expert. Either way, you may find people that want the things you no longer use. Go through your basement, attic, and crawl space. Are there items in there that you never even used? Generally, if you have not used something for at least the last 6 months, you probably won’t ever use it. Why not sell your stuff and make a few bucks? Every item you sell gets you that much closer to your dream home.
TAKE A SIDE GIG
Everyone has skills, but not everyone has the same skills. Why not put your skills to good use? You might stand to make decent money on them. Think about your favorite hobbies. Do you sew, knit, or are a graphic design expert? These are just a few examples of services that people pay for all of the time.
Find a website that will advertise your services for you. If you regularly make things, sell the items on sites like Etsy. If you offer a service, try advertising them on Craigslist or Fiverr. Many of the social media sites also host garage sale sites for individual areas where you can advertise your services. Making it as easy as possible for people to find you will help you make more money.
You might not like the sounds of canceling cable, but today it’s much easier to get your hands on your favorite shows without paying the inflated cable prices. Try a Netflix subscription, which costs a mere fraction of what many cable services charge. You may even be able to watch your favorite shows right on your PC or tablet via the network’s websites. They often broadcast the week’s shows just a day or two after they aired live.
REFINANCE STUDENT LOANS
If you pay the ‘standard payment’ for student loans, you could find yourself in over your head. If you have federal loans, you have many other payment options. You have to request them, though. For example, they offer Income-Based Repayment plans, which bases your payment as a percentage of your income. The less you make, the less you pay. Many programs even offer loan forgiveness after a certain number of payments. Check out your options here.
AUTOMATE YOUR DOWN PAYMENT SAVINGS
Many people tend to spend what they see. Why not use the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality? If your employer automatically deposits your check, split it up. Have a specific amount deposited into your savings account each pay period, putting the rest in your checking account. Make sure it’s an amount you won’t miss. This way you can leave the savings untouched, letting it grow with the small amount of interest it may make over time. Even just $50 per pay period can add up over the course of a few years.
Saving for a down payment doesn’t have to be daunting. Break it down into smaller goals to make it easier on yourself. For example, don’t tell yourself that you have to save $10,000 by the end of the year. Instead, break it up into smaller steps. Negotiating a bill that saves you a $50, automatically saving $50 from each paycheck, and negotiating your student loans could easily help you save a few thousand dollars without any effort.
Before you know it, you’ll have the money you need and your eligibility for certain loan programs will open up for you. As always, talk to several lenders to see what programs they offer. You never know when you will be eligible for a program that you thought was way out of your league.