Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase an item I advertise. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help this sight stay up and running!
Saving for a house is one of the most exciting events in adulthood! It’s a chance to gain a sense of ownership, have personal space and permanence. It’s where memories are made and children are raised. Picnics are eaten on blankets in the yard and families gather for holiday celebrations.
But as wonderful as home buying is, it is also one of the most stressful events in adulthood. On average it can take several years to save for a down-payment. This process can be discouraging and sometimes can feel never ending.The financial burden of saving for a house comes with it’s a long list of compromises and sacrifices. To save such a large amount of money isn’t something that happens over night. The process of saving for your home is a long term goal for most, and there are many obstacles in the way.
After 3 years of marriage my husband and I are ALMOST there. We live off of one income and with me being a stay at home mom, saving for our home has not been easy. But it IS possible! Over the last year my husband and I have made many decisions when it comes to saving for a house. These decisions have meant sacrificing simple pleasures and putting aside personal desires with purpose for a greater goal. In this post I am going to share with you the most effective ways we have saved for a home with 5 Ways to Save for a House.
5 Ways to Save for a House
This may not be realistic for everybody, but downsizing can be a fantastic way to save money for a house. If you are single, married with no kids or even married with one child, this can be a means to save! Small living is trendy and thankfully there are many opportunities to thrive in a small space.
For 2 years my husband and I rented an apartment, but 7 months ago we traded in our 920 sq/ft 2 bed, 2 bath apartment for a 554 sq/ft studio apartment. With our 2 year old son this arrangement hasn’t been the easiest! But it has enabled us to save an extra $600 a month. Downsizing has been our greatest asset while saving for a home and has enabled us to save faster than if we were renting a larger space.
Unfortunately, by downsizing you may be also sacrificing some basic amenities. We no longer have a stove, oven or dishwasher. But water, electric and internet are all included with our monthly rent! If you consider downsizing to a smaller space to save, remember the arrangement is temporary. And sacrificing space temporarily may expedite your process of saving for a house!
This is slightly obvious (only slightly) but budget your expenses! Start by creating an excel or spread sheet on Google or Word with all of your monthly expenses and their costs:
Creating a list with the cost of each expense will enable you to breakdown and prioritize your budget! Over a month long period track how much you’ve spent on each category by saving receipts or tracking your bank account. Plug in those numbers and see what they add up to! You may be surprised to find out just how much you’ve spent. This will give you an opportunity to create realistic budget goals. Some expenses such as rent or electricity are unavoidable, but other categories such as new clothes or going out to eat are things you can put a monthly restriction on.
In our family, we have a monthly budget of $50 for clothes, $400 for groceries, $30 for hygiene, and $30 a week for entertainment (date night, going out to eat, etc). Creating a budget has kept our weekly and monthly limitations in mind and prevents from frivolous spending. Every time money is spent on something unnecessary, it’s money being taken away from home savings, and those expenses quickly add up.
When creating budget goals make sure to be S.M.A.R.T. Smart goals are simple tools for long term or short term goals and are applicable when saving for a house. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
Example: I want to save 3% for a 2 bed, 2 bath house in Southwest Florida.
Example: 10% of your paycheck will be put into your savings for a home.
Create a goal that is realistic to achieve.
It should be a financially focused goal on ways to save for your home.
Our S.M.A.R.T. goals are to have a 3% downpayment plus 4 months of monthly mortgage in our saving account by January in order to purchase a home this coming Spring. It’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to our goal and has a time restriction on our goal. These SMART guidelines help to create clear restrictions and guidelines, which will enable you to effectively budget your finances.
3. Cut Extras
Cutting out extras and budgeting go directly hand in hand. Once you budget your monthly expenses you can easily prioritize spending. What things do you need to spend on each month, versus what extras can be cut out entirely? This is completely dependent on 2 factors: 1) how much you need to save, 2) how quickly you need to save. It’s a game of wants versus needs and can be a tricky habit to break. However, cutting out the extras expedites your saving process. The more you cut, the less you spend and ultimately the more money can be afforded to your home savings.
A few examples of extras that can be cut from spending could include:
- Monthly subscriptions
- Mani/ pedi
- Going out to eat
- Unnecessary clothing purchases
These factors are pleasures, not requirements. It’s important to differentiate between your needs and wants. Needs are things you can’t live without and surprisingly a mani/ pedi doesn’t qualify as a necessity for life. Analyze what habits put you over the edge. Maybe you could do without Hulu (do they really have anything good anyways?) and save $10 a month.
Warning: don’t jump into cutting out everything! You might feel suffocated by the lack of freedom to treat yourself every once in a while. This will cause you to fall off the wagon pretty quickly, so start weaning yourself off of smaller things you know you can do without and build up from there! It can sound like an overwhelming and daunting process, but if you take your time and really plan, saving by cutting out spending will be financially beneficial in the long run.
For more ways to save you can read my post on 40 Simple Ways to Save.
4. Know Your Expected Down-payment
Clay and I know that in Florida we can apply for a first time home buyers program where we would only require 3% down! Know your area, do research in your state regarding first time home buyer opportunities. Talk to your bank about costs, loans, interest, etc. Research the area in which you’re looking to buy and calculate the average house cost. With that knowledge and the percentage required down you can get a good idea of what you should expect to have in your savings. Having a specific number in mind will help you to save with a goal in mind.
If you see that the cost of houses in your area are more expensive, it will also give you a realistic timeline for saving. Purchasing a $300k home with 10% down will certainly take longer than a home that costs half as much. Knowing your required down payment will also play a huge role in your monthly budget (tip #2). If you see that you can only save a certain amount each month, it will put into perspective the amount of time you will need to save before home buying becomes realistic.
Set up a meeting with a lender and ask them any questions that you’re not sure of the answers to. While researching online can be great, sometimes legal jargon can be super confusing. Talking to a real person with life experience and expertise will help you to understand the financial process a bit deeper.
5. Don’t Get Discouraged
Sometimes it’s hard not to get discouraged, especially when you see others your age buying homes, cars and traveling the globe. But stop comparing and don’t get discouraged. Yes, buying a home sometimes requires years of savings. But how much more rewarding is it to purchase something you worked hard for, rather than it being handed to you? There will always be obstacles in the way of saving. Cars require upkeep, accidents occur, income fluctuates and life happens! Set backs creep up but that should never stop you from keeping on, keeping on. Never lose sight of your goals, but always be willing to have wiggle room.
*Bonus tip: Don’t Put God in a Box
God’s plans are always greater than ours and He knows your hearts desire. Wait on God’s timing because the end result will be so much sweeter than if you were trying to take lead. Our plans NEVER work… never, (no, never). Even when they seem to it’s only because it was God’s plan in the first place. If it feels like you will never afford a house, remember that God is greater than money, and if He wants you to have a house it will happen regardless of where you find yourself.
Do you have any home buying tips and ways to save for a home? I would love for you to share any ideas, or comments below! As always friend, thank you so much for taking the time out to read this post!