From doing research and talking to people I knew it was best to have about 20% to put down and when I started saving that was my goal. This was a little tricky because depending on the house, the dollar amount for 20% would vary, but knowing the max amount I’d want to spend helped me figure out a number I should shoot for.
Once I had a goal, I had to figure out how to achieve that goal. When I first started working towards my goal the best way to do that was save, save, save. This meant saving as much as I could of what I was making and find ways to earn a few dollars here and there that could also be saved.
In order to save as much as possible I identified several tactics that would help me. So when I did end up buying a house, I didn’t quite put down 20% I did make a sizable down payment which I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t done the following:
1. Lived below my meansThis was probably the biggest way I saved money over time. It was hard in the beginning because I wasn’t make a lot of money and didn’t have a lot of disposable income. I soon realized that to save as much as I could I had to spend less. As I advanced in my career and received a raise I would adjust my budget so most of the extra income was being put into savings or retirement accounts. This meant that I
- Stayed in older, cheaper apartments instead of moving to newer more expensive ones
- Shopped mostly sales and used coupons
- Didn’t eat out much
- Wasn’t updating my wardrobe every season
- Didn’t go on elaborate vacations every year
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2. Stayed out of debtI use my credit card for just about every purchase I make, because it’s easier and quicker than cash. Also I found that using a credit card is safer for me than cash. I find I spend more and more easily when I’m using cash. So though a credit card is my go-to for payments I don’t have any credit card debt. I make sure I spend only what I can afford and pay my bill off in full each month.
Except for a car loan which I paid off early I didn’t rack up any other type of debt. When I paid off my car early the had been to save the money that had been going towards car payments for my house down payment. Unfortunately this didn’t happen due to my move to Florida. Housing is more expensive here so that extra money went towards rent. On the flip side though, by not having the car loan debt my monthly expenses stayed flat instead of increasing.
3. Regularly monitored my budgetBy seeing exactly what was coming in and out of my account each week I could make quicker decisions and adjustments to my spending. To track my budget I started with an Excel spreadsheet, but soon moved to using an online budget management system. The online system allowed me to automate the tracking of my spending and saving by linking my bank accounts and credit cards.
4. Set up a dedicated savings accountTo make sure I didn’t touch the money I was saving for my down payment I set up a savings account with a online bank that had a high interest rate. Having the money in an online bank meant I couldn’t easily touch the money allowing it to grow through regular deposits and compound interest.
How do you save up for a big purchase?