Trying to save for your first home can seem like a huge task, especially if it feels like you have no extra money to save. But, there are a few things you can do to start saving.
1. Determine how much you want to save and set goals. First, set goals for how much money you want to save. Once you have decided on an amount, set a goal for when you want to have that amount saved. Then you can find out how much you need to save each week, month, etc. For example, if you want to save $5,000 in one year, that is $13.70 per day or $96.15 per week. Aim for that amount each time and start asking yourself what you can do to make that goal. Set smaller goals along the way to track your progress and maybe set up a visual table of how much you have saved so far. Motivation is very powerful, so use it to your advantage!
2. Create a budget. If you have never done this before, you’ll be amazed at how much having a budget will help you save. First, make a list of all your expenses and approximate how much each one will cost you each week or month. Then divide your regular paycheck into the appropriate categories. If you find that you don’t have enough money for each category, look for categories that you can get rid of or reduce. Creating a budget allows you to see how much money you need for your usual expenses and see where you can reduce your costs in order to save more for your house.
3. Reduce extra spending. Many people do not realize much they spend each day on impulse purchases. One personal finance guru suggests that you write down every penny you spend for a month. You will be amazed where your money goes! I tried this for a month and was shocked how much I spent on unnecessary items like soda, coffee, fast food, and candy. The month I did this my spending went down just because I did not want to take the time to write down what I spent. Try making your own cup of coffee at home instead of buying one a Starbucks every morning. Cancel your gym membership and run outside. Eat at home. Start shopping at second hand stores. Whatever you cut from your spending, put towards saving for your home. Yes, that even means the $0.50 you don’t spend in the vending machine. Remember, every little bit adds up. Perhaps there are even bigger things that you can cut from your excess spending. Remember, you are saving now so that you can buy a house later. Keep your goal in mind and use whatever you can to motivate yourself.
4. Find ways to get extra income. This is where creativity can help you. Have a yard sale and sell the things you don’t use or rarely use in your home. You can even get a second part-time or seasonal job. Although it may not seem like a lot initially, a little extra income can go a long way in helping you save for your future house. But remember, all “extra” income should go directly into your savings account for your house. This is not extra spending money, but saving money for your new house.
5. Make sure you put the savings for your future house in a separate savings account. Don’t mix the savings for your house with other savings accounts, and by all means don’t deposit it into your regular checking account! This will make sure that you don’t “tap into” that savings in an emergency or impulse purchase. Plus, you will always know how much money you have saved simply by checking the balance of your account.
Saving for a home of your own can seem impossible at times, but little by little those savings will add up to helping you purchase the house of your dreams.