Becoming a homeowner no matter what your income level is an achievable goal with the right amount of planning. Below are a few ideas we've put together for you to think about and implement if you're ready to start taking the steps to make your dream a reality. When it comes to learning how to save money for a house, these steps will make it seem a lot less daunting than one might initially imagine.
Financial steps to take when looking to save for a house
1. Create a realistic timeline
While different people have different timelines, it's important to set a realistic one for yourself when you're planning to buy a house. This way, you can budget and plan accordingly. For example, newlyweds are usually in more of a hurry to buy a home than someone who just graduated or started a new job. One person might be looking at 2 years while the other is okay with 5 years. There is no "right amount of time" to save money for a house, consider your individual circumstances and act accordingly.
2. Kickstart your savings
After establishing your realistic timeline, you can then determine how much you will need to save. While the goal is to put as much money as you can aside, this might be 20% - 30% of your monthly income, so be sure that this is realistic for you and adjust the timeline accordingly.
Once you've established how much you will be putting aside each month for your goal, set up a direct debit to your savings account to ensure that that money leaves your account before you're tempted to spend it.
You can also explore the option of a savings account that offers the potential to earn interest over time. People often consider money market accounts or high-yield savings accounts. However it's important to conduct comprehensive research and base your decisions on the information you gather.
3. Don’t neglect other financial obligations
In this day and age, instant gratification is something we've grown accustomed to. Saving for a house is the opposite of this and will take time. Instead of cutting off all your expenses to try and reach your goal a year or two sooner, consider what financial obligations you might have over the next few years and be realistic in setting a healthy amount of time to get there.
4. Ensure your goal is within your means
Becoming a homeowner is an impressive accomplishment, but being riddled with debt and high maintenance costs for decades is hardly enjoyable. Ensure that the house you want to buy is within your means to maintain after the purchase, and consider additional costs like rates and taxes, transfer fees, and consider the associated monthly payment.
5. Make the necessary budget cuts
In order to achieve your saving goals within the amount of time you set out, you will inevitably need to cut back on your expenses. Once your living expenses and bills are accounted for, what can you afford to put away each month? Are you paying for a subscription you no longer use or have a luxury item you can cut back on? It might seem like a little each month but in a year this can amount to a lot of money for your housing fund.
6. Consider increasing your income streams
Another great way to get your homeowner dream to fruition faster is to create new avenues of income. Multiple streams of income can alleviate your cutting back on expenses and can help your savings tenfold. Consider creating online courses, writing blogs, or building a side hustle aligned with one of your skill sets. Every little bit helps.
Homeowners checklist: consider the closing costs
Once you have reached your financial goal of saving money for a house or your down payment fund, you'll now be faced with a new set of challenges: actually buying the house and putting that down payment to work.
At this stage, it's important to contact professionals that can assist you in finding, vetting, and deciding on a worthy property for your years of savings, and who can accurately advise on the closing costs of the transaction. Remember that there are lawyers' fees and transaction costs and even private mortgage insurance monthly payments to consider on top of the home's purchase price.
Whether you rely on an experienced real estate agent or a building surveyor, ensure that they are someone you can trust and that you get answers to the questions you ask. Some helpful questions to start with include:
- Is the land government approved?
- Why are the owners selling?
- Are all the house papers/documents intact?
- Is the area prone to natural disasters like floods or fires?
- What are the costs of utilities, etc?
Putting your down payment savings to work
Learning how to save money for a house is the first step. When you're ready to take the next step and purchase a house, be patient and ask the right questions. Saving for a house is saving for your future, so don't try to hurry the process along too much.
Whether you'll be living in the house or using it as an investment property with tenants, understand that the journey is as important as the end goal, and have patience as you pursue your dream and get steps closer to making that first down payment.
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