Most Americans hope to one day own their own home.
But buying a home is not something the average person can do on a whim. Most people will have to take some time and save up for the down payment.
The average down payment for a home in the first quarter of 2015 was $57,710, according to RealtyTrac. Though this was a decrease of $282 from the first quarter of 2014, it’s still no small chunk of change.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways Americans can begin saving for a home today so they are ready to make that down payment in the future.
Know How Much You Need
Working toward a goal is easier when you have a concrete end you want to accomplish.
Before you begin saving, determine the amount you want to reach or exceed. Do this by determining how much you’ll likely spend on a down payment.
Though the average was recorded at $57,710, the actual amount you’ll need will depend on where you live.
Start by doing a preliminary home search to determine how much houses cost in the area you’re planning on buying. Then, take 20% of the price – the amount most real estate experts suggest people put down when they make a home purchase.
That number should be your savings goal.
Open Up A Savings Account
If you don’t already have a savings account, now is a good time to open one.
The Simple Dollar pointed out that opening an account at the same bank you do your checking with is convenient. This is because it is easy to transfer money from your checking to your savings account, allowing you to add small amounts of money whenever you can. Every little bit counts.
NerdWallet explained there are plenty of opportunities to transfer some money to the savings account.
Do you have a cash rewards card? Put that extra money in the account.
If you have money in checking leftover at the end of the month, move that money over when you get your next paycheck.
The non-digital approach to this is the age-old change jar. Many people still use cash for at least some purchases. When you get change back, don’t lug it around in your pocket; put it into the jar. When it’s full, bring it straight to the bank and deposit into savings.
Don’t Spend Unexpected Money
Many Americans are scrambling to file their taxes and look forward to a large tax return check.
But we recommend that when you get yours in the mail, fight the urge to spend it on something excessive. Instead, put it directly toward your down payment savings account.
The same goes for if you get a raise or a bonus at work. You worked hard for that extra money, but don’t let your spending ramp up as a result. Calculate the difference between your pre-raise and post-raise paychecks and deposit that amount of money into the savings account.
You won’t have to change your lifestyle, plus you’ll be happy you saved later on.
If you want to make this process a little less tedious, Zillow suggested talking to your payroll department about direct deposit. Tell them you want to route either a static amount or percentage of your check to your new savings account.
You won’t even have to see the extra money you’re not spending until it’s time to make the down payment.
Cut Down On Big Things
Most people will try to save money by cutting down on their small bad money habits, like eating fast food too often or treating themselves to a small but unnecessary purchases.
But Zillow pointed out that it’s the big things that affect our savings the most, like rent.
Try to negotiate a lower rate with your landlord or consider moving to a less expensive place.
This money won’t just magically save itself overnight, it’s going to take days and weeks and months to save up. But when you finally have enough to make that down payment, you’ll be happy that your discipline and persistence paid off.