For first-time homebuyers, coming up with the funds for the down payment on a house can be the biggest challenge. Gathering the right amount of money can take a lot of responsibility, effort, and most of the time, patience. Many first-time homebuyers are dealing with many other expenses, such as rent and school loan payments, which can make it difficult to save. So what are some ways to help you work on saving that down payment?
Learn how much you will need to pay
There are many different loan types available, which offer different down payment amounts to homebuyers. Have a lender educate you on the different programs and see what works best for you. Knowing an estimate of what your down payment may be is a great start to help you set up a savings plan.
Cut down on household expenses
Making small changes at home can help you save money each month. Electronics that are plugged in can use up energy even when they are not in use. Start unplugging cell phone chargers, stereos, or other electronics when they are not in use to save on energy bills over time. Another big way to save is by cutting down your cable costs. There are much more affordable options now that most of TV can be found online or with a service such as Netflix. If you can’t bear to ditch your cable company, consider lowering your plan to incorporate fewer channels. After all, how many channels do you actually end up watching every month?
Use a gift from family members
Some mortgages allow you to use a gift from family members toward your down payment on a house. You will need to provide a gift letter stating that you do not have to pay back whoever gave you the money, as well as copies of checks or money wires to your lender. Receiving gifts has become especially useful after the economy’s downturn, and a study done in 2012 revealed that almost 25% of first-time homebuyers received used a gift toward their mortgage from 2011 to 2012.
Save an affordable amount each week
Saving a little at a time is easier than trying to set aside large sums of money all at once. Make sure you have a set amount you put into savings each paycheck you receive. It may take more time to save this way, but saving a little at a time makes it manageable when balancing the other expenses you have.
Cash out some of your IRA
Did you know that first-time homebuyers can cash out up to $10,000 from an IRA account for a down payment on a house and avoid paying the early withdrawal fee? If you are married this means you can cash out up to $20,000 for the down payment. The great thing about doing this is you do not have to be buying your very first home to qualify for the exemption, as long as you or your spouse do not, or have not, owned a principal residence at any time during the previous 2 years.
Keep track of your progress
Be sure to keep track of your progress to know where you stand with your savings. Sometimes seeing the numbers increase can help you stay on track. You can make your own graphs or use a goal-setting program such as the one offered by Mint.com. Any extra motivation to help you continue saving could end up being a big help.