Although buyers have several low to no down payment options these days, it is still smart to save before making a home purchase. There are so many reasons to save: whether it be for a down payment, asset reserves for loan approval, or saving to pay off debts for qualification. Often, it may be as easy as making a few lifestyle changes. Check out these 30 tips and see how many you can implement:
1) Pay off your credit cards every month.
If you run balances on a credit card, the typical interest rates range from 10 – 30%! The savings from this activity can range from $10 – $150 per month, depending on the balances. Estimated savings per year = $600.
If you decide to close your credit cards after paying them off, it could potentially raise or lower your credit score. Learn more about how closing your credit card(s) can impact your score.
2) Consider meal prep versus going out to eat.
A meal for two at a restaurant, including drinks and a tip, could easily be $50. A home-cooked meal could cost $15 or less, plus feed the same two people 2 – 3 meals. Assuming one substitution a week, your savings per year = $1,820.
3) Avoid insufficient funds or overdraft charges.
Each time a bank account goes negative, there could be a service charge. The charge may be as much as $35 for each transaction in the negative. This can cost a lot of money over time, and lenders do not like to see many of these charges on bank statements. A lot of NSF charges are a red flag to mortgage lenders. Therefore, make sure all bank accounts stay positive and build up savings instead. Assuming 1 NSF per month saves $420 per year.
4) Buy in bulk.
For staple items, buying in bulk from stores such as Sam’s, Costco, or others could save a lot of money.
5) Use coupons at the grocery store.
Lots of grocery stores offer MVP, VIP, and other cards to save money. Clip coupons to save on groceries and stores will even offer double or triple coupon days. Estimated savings = $1,200 per year. People who are good at couponing can increase their savings dramatically. Discover the Top 15 Most Popular Coupon Sites here.
6) Choose a higher deductible on insurance.
Choosing a higher deductible for auto, renter’s, and other types of insurance can save up to hundreds of dollars per year. Check with your insurance agent to explore money-saving ideas. Estimated savings = $300 per year.
7) Rent or stream movies versus going to the movie theater.
Going to the movies can cost $40+ for a family of 4, not counting how much the concessions are, which could easily top $60. Utilize your streaming services to rent free movies. You can also splurge and get two movies for about $3.50 from Redbox. When you join Redbox, you will also get lots of BOGO’s too, especially on Mondays just before the new releases debut on Tuesdays. Redbox instead of 1 movie per month. Estimated savings = $684 per year.
8) Visit your public parks and other free forms of entertainment.
There are so many free things to do that provide plenty of entertainment, such as the ideas mentioned below. You could easily save up to $1,000 per year when compared to other paid options.
- Go to the beach or the lake
- Enjoy local festivals
- See live bands in cities or a the beach
- Visit a local museum. Some are free or at least very cheap.
9) Enjoy free activities at home instead of going out for entertainment.
Estimated savings = $300 per year – A family could save this much in a month (depending on how frequently they purchase outside entertainment). Here are a few ideas:
- Host a game night
- Read or listen to books.
- Play video games
- Surf social sites/web
- Try a new recipe for dinner.
- Take up a new hobby
- Play sports
- Hang out with friends and family
- Exercise: This will hopefully also make you healthier, which will save on medical costs.
10) Drink water instead of tea and sodas.
Restaurants can charge $2.50 – $3.00 for a drink, but water is usually free. A family of 4 could save $12 each time they eat out! Estimated savings = $500 per year (conservative estimate).
11) Have a yard sale.
Look for ways to advertise the sale for free, and partner with others as a larger sale to attract more people. Potential savings = $200-$300.
12) Review your cell phone bill.
Are there services that you don’t need that you can cancel? Can you save by switching providers? Estimated savings = $100 per year.
13) Cancel your landline phone.
If you have a cell phone, you don’t need a landline. Estimated savings = $480 per year.
14) Review your cable or satellite bill.
Check to see if there are any services you don’t need. You may also save by shopping for quotes from other providers or by switching to streaming services only. Estimated savings = $120 per year.
15) Be creative in gift-giving.
Instead of spending a lot of money on expensive gifts, think of unique gifts you can make, such as pictures of you or children to give to grandparents (these mean more than a shirt). Also, think about if you need to provide gifts to 3rd cousins and all of your friends. Shirts for four people compared to pictures or crafts – Potential savings = $300 per year.
16) Buy generic instead of name brand.
Switching from a name brand to a generic brand is an easy way to save. There are also great websites out there like Brandless that help people save by avoiding the “brand tax.” Estimated savings = $200 per year.
17) Buy clothes in the offseason.
You can take advantage of 50 – 75% discounts if you shop in the offseason: estimated savings = $300 per year.
18) Consolidate student loans into one lower payment and even an Income-Based Repayment (IBR).
Student loans can put a crunch on a family’s finances, but there are government or private student loan consolidation programs that can help. A consolidation loan could lower the interest rate and monthly payment, which can potentially save money monthly and over time. Federal student loans offer Income-Based Repayment (IBR), which can lower payments even down to $0. Estimated savings = $1,200 per year or more depending on the number of student loans. If you have student loan debt, we have great mortgage solutions.
19) Pack your lunch for work instead of eating out.
An average lunch for fast food could be $6 each day, where a good sandwich or leftovers could cost only $2 or less. Drink coffee from home instead of coffees on the road, which can save $1 – $5 each time. Estimated savings = $1,040 per year.
20) Have a loose change jar or savings app.
Your loose change can add up. While it might not be much, it will get you one step closer to your savings goal. You can do this the old school way with a change jar, or you can download a finance app that will round up your change to the nearest dollar, and move it into savings. Estimated savings = $50 – $100 per year.
21) Look for the cheapest gas around you.
Search for the cheapest gas prices near you by using an app like Gas Buddy. Estimated savings = $58.50 per year assuming a .05 savings per gallon, 15-gallon tank, getting gas 1 1/2 times per week. Walmart offers discounts when you use their credit card, and you can earn fuel points by shopping at particular grocery stores like Harris Teeter.
22) Quit smoking.
Not counting the healthcare costs it should save you, saving four packs a week at $6 each gives an estimated savings of $1,248 per year.
23) Quit drinking alcohol.
Whether you go out for drinks, buy drinks to bring home, have big drinking nights, or have a drink or two a night, this can add up. Just like smoking, quitting alcohol can help you save in healthcare costs as well. Conservative savings = $300 per year, but this can be over $1,000 per year for some. Talk about a dent in the down payment shortage!
24) Switch to a more fuel-efficient car.
You could go from a 20 mpg vehicle to a 30 mpg one. Estimated savings = $975 per year. If we are assuming that you spend $2.50 per gallon, with the same 1 1/2 trips to the pump with a 30 mpg car, and a 15-gallon tank.
25) Work on lowering your electric bill.
Here are a few tips that you can implement to make an impact. Estimated savings = $100 per year, but this could be much higher.
26) Wash your own car.
A person can spend anywhere from $8 – $30 for each cleaning of a car. You can save most of that money by purchasing car cleaning supplies and using a little elbow grease. You can have your kids do it or help you and make it fun. Estimated savings = $260 per year using the lower end of price for cleaning a car.
27) Save thousands by having a small, intimate wedding.
The average cost of a wedding is a whopping $24,000 – $47,000. Believe it or not, a couple could have a lovely small wedding for $3,000 or even less. Also, use finger foods instead of a sit-down meal. Consider asking parents to give you a down payment on a house of $24,000 instead of paying for one day of a wedding. $24,000 could save a buyer $120 per month for 30 years. Read ideas for a frugal (not cheap) wedding here. A one-time estimated savings of $24,000 might be the result.
28) Request monetary wedding gifts.
This might result in an estimated savings of $1,000 to use toward the purchase of your first home. Set up a registry to receive cash gifts easily here.
29) Consider moving out of your rental temporarily.
If you rent and want to purchase a home, consider moving out of your rental and into a family or friend’s house for the last three months before closing. Assuming saving $800 per month in rent, this could give a huge boost to your assets just before your closing. Estimated savings for 3 months = $2,400.
30) Don’t buy more than you can afford.
Last but not least, really think about your home purchase, and make sure that you don’t buy more house than you can afford. Buying a house with a payment at the top of your comfort range could make it where your budget is tight every month, and one extensive repair could break you. This one tip here could save you tens of thousands over the life of a mortgage.
Hopefully, these ideas have motivated you to reach your savings goals and get one step closer to homeownership. Don’t feel obligated to implement all of these changes at once. Start slow and aim to make small positive changes to reach your goal. Try picking five tips from the list above to implement into your savings plan. Before you know it, you’ll be well-equipped to purchase your first home.
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