If you are renting an apartment but want to buy your own home, you’ll have to save enough money for a down payment first. The amount will depend on the price of your dream home and the terms of your mortgage, but it’ll most likely be several thousand dollars more than you currently have in your bank account. Saving money for a down payment while putting a significant percentage of your monthly income toward rent can feel daunting, but you can do it if you make some strategic decisions and commitments.
Figure out How Much You Need
If you have a pretty good idea of where you want to live and the size and features you want in your future home, you can look at recent sale prices and come up with a ballpark estimate of how much you’ll need for a down payment. Having a target can help you stay on track.
See Where Your Money Goes & Look for Ways to Cut Expenses
Keep track of every dollar you spend for two or three months. Knowing where your money goes can help you identify areas where you can make changes to save. For example, you may be surprised at how much you spend on things like eating out and entertainment.
If you live in an area where rental costs are high, consider relocating. You might have a longer daily commute, but cutting your rent bill could give you hundreds of extra dollars each month to put toward your down payment. If moving isn’t an option, consider getting a roommate to share expenses.
Utility bills can fluctuate from month to month as your usage changes with the season. If possible, find an apartment with some or all utilities included. The rent payment may be higher, but paying the same amount each month can make budgeting easier. If you can’t find an apartment with utilities included, look for ways to use less electricity and water.
Increase Income & Reduce Debt
You can earn additional income by taking on a part-time job. Whether you capitalize on an in-demand skill that you have or look for odd jobs or a freelancing gig, every extra dollar can bring you closer to your down payment goal.
If you have credit card balances, high interest rates can cause you to pay thousands of dollars extra. Paying off your debt means that money could go toward a down payment instead. Eliminating credit card debt can also raise your credit score and help you get a mortgage with a lower interest rate.
Focus on a Goal & Create a Strategy
Saving money for a down payment can be tough if you’re paying to rent a home, but it can be done. Set a goal, figure out where your money is currently going each month and then look for changes you can make to reduce your living expenses. A multi-pronged approach can help you reach your goal faster.