Anne Spry's Blog
You’ve been thinking it for a while: “I really should start putting some money aside for a down payment.” But, you just can’t seem to find any wiggle room in your budget.
You’re not alone. Saving for a down payment isn’t easy. Especially if you’ve got rent, car payments, student loans, and are trying to put money aside for retirement.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how to make a game plan for your down payment. This way, you can start saving immediately, bringing you closer to your goal of homeownership each day.
Step 1: Give each dollar a job
The first rule of budgeting is that you need to know where each dollar you earn ends up. From there, you can start re-allocating funds to the things you want to save for.
There are many apps and tools available to help you out with this process, including YNAB (You Need A Budget) and Mint. If apps aren’t your thing, you can always use a simple spreadsheet.
First, account for all of your income. This could include your salary, rental income, or other forms of money that you have coming in.
Next, detail each of your weekly and monthly expenses. Everything from groceries to the internet bill and retirement contributions.
Step 2: Reassess your expenses
Now it’s time to make some tough decisions. Are there ways you can cut down on your weekly or monthly expenses? Maybe you aren’t using that Amazon Prime membership as much as you thought you would. Or, maybe you’ve decided you don’t really watch anything on cable but the news. There are a number of ways one might cut back on their monthly bills.
Get creative with family plans, bulk shopping for food, or cooking budget-friendly meals. All of these savings will add up quickly.
Step 3: Pay off small debts with high interest
Let’s face it, if you have thousands of dollars in student loans, you might not be able to aggressively pay them down by the time you want to move out of your apartment.
But, for small debts (under $1,000 credit card debt, for example), you could save more in the long run by paying them off and avoiding interest payments.
Step 4: Be smart about your savings
With the right savings account and credit card, you can earn money through savings interest and through cashback rewards on credit cards.
First, find a savings account with the highest possible interest rate. These can often be found from choosing an online bank who doesn’t have the overhead of running branches.
Next, direct deposit a set amount of your paycheck each week into that savings account. This way, you can be sure that you won’t dip into your down payment savings.
To generate additional income, you can use cash back rewards from credit cards for things like groceries and gas. Choose a credit card that offers the best cash back rewards for things like groceries and gas purchases. The key here is to only use your credit card on necessities and to always pay off the card in full at the end of each month.
If you follow these four steps, you should be able to streamline your down payment savings process and start saving right now.
2 Mill St, Woburn, MA 01801
If you’re in the market to buy a home, you want to find the perfect place for you and your family. In a seller’s market, the competition can be fierce. As a buyer, you may be under the impression that you need to make the highest offer in order to secure the home of your dreams. The problem is, you may never know what price other people have offered for the same home.
Know Your Budget
First, you should know what kind of a budget you have to work with to buy a home. You probably have done an online search to see what’s out there and what price range the homes you like fall into. You’ll want to go beyond the online search and actually see some of your favorite houses in person because pictures can be deceiving.
Next, you’ll want to do is speak with a lender. This can help you before you even hit the ground running on your home search. A lender can pre-qualify you then work you through the process of pre-approval. This will give you a definitive number to work with when searching for a home. With this number, you’ll know how much you can offer comfortably when you find that house you fall in love with.
Make A List Of Priorities
Finding the “perfect” house usually requires that you make a few compromises along the way. It’s very unlikely that you’ll find one house that gives you everything you want in one place without a bit of imagination. Jot down all of the things about a home that are the most important to you. These items could include:
- The neighborhood
- Big backyard
- Open floor plan
- Number of bedrooms
- Hardwood floors
- The size of the rooms
- Style of the house
- Granite countertops
Whatever is important to you should be on the list. Next, go through the list and see what can be compromised on. There are probably a few luxuries on the list that you could stand to give up in lieu of something else.
Once you find that home you know that you absolutely want to live in, you’re going to want to make an offer. Let your realtor know immediately that you’re interested in the home and they can get to work. Your realtor can help you to make an offer that’s reasonable based on the asking price and your budget. Your offer doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars over the asking price for you to win the bid. There are a couple of strategies that can help you to land the right home even if you’re not stretching your budget to the max.
Showing You’re Serious
Taking steps like being pre-approved and having all of your finances in order can help to give you the upper hand in the house hunt. Sellers don’t want to deal with a buyer who is ultimately going to have issues where the deal will fall through.
The Offer Letter
Writing a letter along with your offer is a great personal touch to help you land the home of your dreams. If a seller knows that the home they have lived in and loved will go to another owner who is going to appreciate and take the same great care of the home, they will be more likely to go with you as a buyer. First, tell the seller a bit about yourself and why you love the home so much. Compliment the landscaping. Tell the seller just how much your kids are going to appreciate living in the home. Don’t be afraid to get too personal when it comes to writing an offer letter to the sellers. They will appreciate honesty and a candid approach in the sometimes all too serious matter of buying a home.
14 Cleek Court, North Reading, MA 01864
Buying a home is a huge deal. First-time buyers transform from renters to owners in a single transaction, a change that has far-reaching implications about how you see yourself.
Being an owner grounds you in your community.
When you buy a home, you create deep community connections in a way renting never can. After all, when you’re a renter, your relationship to the actual property and structure are less personal. You don’t own it, so if something goes wrong, you call the landlord—the owner—to make repairs. If the wind blows shingles off it is the owner’s insurance that handles getting a new roof. When a natural disaster strikes you know someone else will take care of it.
Now, as the owner, all these things are yours to manage. When you live in the property that you own, you are your own landlord. You’re the property manager in charge of repairs. The buck stops with you!
Don’t let all that responsibility deter you, though. It is that very sense of duty that creates pride of ownership. While your home doesn’t define you, it does represent you in the neighborhood and to your community. And with the responsibility come all the rights of ownership as well.
Every payment you make toward your mortgage principle adds value—equity—to your home. Each time you maintain your home and yard, you’re helping it retain that equity. As a renter, your payment went to the owner’s equity. So, if you make improvements to your home, and continue to pay toward the principle, that equity accrues to you.
Equity increases when the community or neighborhood becomes more desirable so that the fair-market value goes up. Increases due to economic growth and demand add up to more value for you … instead of an increase in your rent payment that goes to a landlord.
Being an owner helps your bottom line in other ways too.
The most predictable thing about renting is that rent will go up. That means any increase you might get to your wages or salary must go toward rent rather than something else you’d like to have. If you have a fixed mortgage, the basic cost of your housing remains the same year over year. When you receive that cost of living adjustment or new position with a bump to your income, you can spend it on improvements to your home to further increase its value, pay off some other debt, or spend it on something else entirely. It gives you choices.
Because you appreciate your property, it appreciates in value.
If you've never owned a home and would like to explore the possibility, start by contacting a real estate agent and get the conversation started.