Interest rates remain historically low and even though housing prices are increasing in many areas, the market still offers lots of opportunities to become a homeowner. But what's holding many back is saving enough for a downpayment.
Reaching any goal requires dedication to that goal and a mindset that enables you to sacrifice to achieve what you desire. Often that's easier said than done. However, if you analyze your spending and lifestyle habits you can determine where you can conserve to create enough of a reserve to comfortably buy a home without feeling totally deprived.
Here are six tips that can help you put away $50 to hundreds of dollars each month. Start with a fresh sheet of paper or a digital document that you can refer to frequently. Keeping it fresh on your mind will help you achieve your goals.
1. Write down what you owe versus what you earn.
Get clear about how much is coming in and how much is going out. This alone will help you see where money is being spent and how much is being spent on things that could be cut back or cut out completely.
2. Consider getting rid of recurring expenses for services you don't really use or you use infrequently.
Maybe it's a gym membership that's adding up to more than a $1,000 for the year; but you really only use it three or four times a month. That makes no sense. Get rid of it and find a workout buddy and a free place to exercise. Or it could be an audio or video membership that's going to waste. Sure, it might be $20 a month but over a year, that adds up.
Try listening to podcasts. They're free! Some podcasters are very entertaining and their podcasts can be excellent sources of information and resources for business and personal development.
3. Stop the coffee run each morning.
Do the math. That fancy coffee drink can cost $40 a week, especially if you add a bakery treat. Your waistline and your wallet will take a beating.
4. Cut back on eating out or dine out early.
Make more meals at home. This will allow you to take leftovers for lunch the next day. When you do decide to eat out, dine out earlier in the day. You can often take advantage of eating the same great meal at a less expensive price by ordering from the happy hour menu. These days, lots of people find saving and living lean to be hip and cool. They'll be happy to join you for an earlier meal.
5. Start a side job.
If you're working a full-time job, evaluate what your skill set is and see if you can freelance. I spoke with a client recently who had a "day job" and was earning additional income. He was already up about $50,000 from his side job of selling auto parts. It may take a bit to figure out where and how you can earn your side income, but it's worth exploring. This could even turn into a full-time job. Lots of people are making money working from home using the Internet. Explore your options and see how you can generate some extra cash each month.
6. Use momentum to pay back your debt.
Work hard to pay down cards with the highest interest rate first. As one card is paid off, transfer the money you were paying on that card to another card. By combining whatever you were paying on the paid off card to another balance that you're paying down, you're giving it some momentum and you'll get that next card paid down even faster.
Remember that reducing your spending is critical to having what you want. So don't add to your debt. Once you save for your deposit, you'll want to make sure that you also save enough to have a cash reserve for emergency repairs and any unexpected crisis that might occur. Also, make sure that you make this process a good experience rather than a painful one. Keep your eye on the goal and understand that the decisions you make today will impact your future and your opportunity to become a homeowner.