Monday, November 2, 2015
[Guest Post By Erin Vaughan]
Saving for the downpayment on your first home can really seem intimidating. After all, to get a good interest rate on a loan, you probably need to sock away somewhere between forty to fifty thousand dollars. That’s a lot of dough!
Over at Modernize, we know that saving money is all about the little things. A few dollars here, a few dollars there—it can really start to add up. Plus, there are some psychological tricks you can use to make the process less painful. Here’s some tips to bulk up that savings account!
Make a Budget
The majority of your savings is going to come from your salary, so it makes sense to start analyzing what items your purchase regularly and what you can cut out. In a spreadsheet, list out your monthly salary, minus taxes and deductions for health care and retirement. Then list all your bills. Use your bank statement from the last month as you make this list—you don’t want to forget about smaller bills like that Netflix charge, or your gym membership. Then, analyze what you spent on everything else. You may think that you’re not spending any extra money—until you see it listed out, and you realize that you are buying that extra nail polish all too often or spending too much on coffee. If you think about it, there are probably at least one or two regular expenses that you can cut that won’t drastically lower your quality of life.
Pay Yourself for Not Spending
One trick that my friend has for saving money works like this: every day she goes without spending any money outside her budget, she “pays” herself five dollars. It may seem like just a little bit, but it really adds up! Or try using this 52-week savings plan, where you pay yourself a different amount each week of the year. A little bit at a time can really add up!
Resist the Urge to Spend
Spending is largely psychological. So if you feel like you’re depriving yourself for too long you’ll likely eventually break, go on a spending tear, and undo all your efforts. But you can resist! Science tells us that the pleasure of planning something is often rated more enjoyable than actually getting that thing. So next time you feel that itch for a shopping spree looming large, use that energy to plan for your dream home. Create a Pinterest board of ideas for what you want in your house, and don’t limit yourself to what is realistic. Go window shopping online for your perfect sofa, window treatments, or washer, and add them to your wish list instead of buying. You’ll get the same thrill of shopping without the expense! But if you just can’t stop yourself, buy yourself something small and move on. Spending energy beating yourself up for one slip-up is self-defeating.
Negotiate for a Lower Credit Card Interest Rate
If you want to buy a home, you’re probably already paying your full credit card payments on time regularly. (If not, stop what you’re doing, and go make a payment!) Having a great credit score makes it easier for you to play hard to get and argue for a lower interest rate with your financial institution when sealing the deal for a loan. But if you’ve been good with your credit card payments, you may be able to convince them to give you a better rate as well. Try it! Call them up and tell them you want a lower interest rate. They may just give it to you.
Consider Borrowing from Your IRA
This should be considered somewhat of a last ditch attempt if you just can’t find the funds any other way, but the government does allow you a one-time, penalty-free deduction from your IRA for up to $10,000 towards the purchase of a home. You’re going to want to think about this carefully—it is, after all, money you’re taking from your retirement fund, so it could make things hard later on. So consult with a financial advisor before making your choice. Also, keep in mind, what kind of IRA you have should also play a part when weighing this decision: deductions from Roth IRAs are tax-free, whereas you’ll have to pay income tax on the money you borrow from a traditional IRA.
No matter how you decide to save the money, make sure to save about roughly 20 percent of the total amount of the home you want to buy. This will give you lots more leverage when you go to get your loan.
Now congratulate yourself! By reading this article, you just made the very first step in your journey to owning your own home.
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