Buying a home is still one of the great American dreams, but takes time, discipline and a sound savings plan. If you are currently living in an apartment or rental home and are longing to make the transition from renter to homeowner but don’t know how to get there; start by talking to a qualified loan agent about what to do and what not to do before buying a house in the greater Phoenix area. Having your financial situation assessed by a mortgage professional will give you a clear picture of what kind of monthly payments you can afford and how much money you’ll need to save for a down payment. Until you know the actual numbers, saving up for a home is just some nebulous goal that seems very far away.
To solidify the goal, break the task into smaller, more easily achievable steps. Start by making an honest and accurate assessment of your monthly spending. You can’t know where to cut back if you don’t actually know where the money is going. Then, create a realistic budget and pinpoint areas where you can save.
Deciding to save X-amount each month or each year may seem more manageable than saving one large sum. The more achievable your goals are, the more likely you’ll be to stay on budget and save. Don’t worry about missing out on current low rates or a strong buyer’s market. Stay on course and homeownership may be closer than you imagined, especially if you make the commitment to start saving money for that down payment today.
Money-Saving Tip #1: Pay Yourself First
Decide how much money you can skim from the top of each paycheck and put that amount in your savings account every pay day. Whether 10 dollars or 10 percent, consistently stashing a fixed amount gets you in the habit of saving and reminds you that buying your own home is top priority. If you receive your paycheck by direct deposit, arrange for an automatic deduction at your bank; you won’t miss money that you don’t see. Another way to pay yourself first is to immediately deposit all bonuses, windfalls or other unexpected funds directly into savings.
Money-Saving Tip #2: Drive Less, Save More
Whether you take the bus, carpool, ride your bike or walk, driving less can add up to big savings and may even improve your health. If an average fill-up at the gas pump costs around 40 dollars, saving one tank of gas each month means a yearly savings of $480. Driving less also means fewer parking fees, maintenance costs and fines, so depending on your habits your actual savings may be much greater. When you do drive, keep your tires properly inflated, drive slower and combine errands to get the most mileage out of your gas dollar.
Money-Saving Tip #3: Downsize
Even though you’re currently renting, you can probably find a more economical living situation without sacrificing safety or comfort. Moving is a hassle, but it’s one that’s worthwhile if it means hundreds or thousands of extra bucks in your savings account each year. Instead of searching the want ads for apartments for rent, talk to friends or employers who might be able to help you find an apartment or rental home. Being a “friend of a friend” may get you a great deal. And don’t be afraid to contact building managers directly if you find a place you’re interested in. Offering your services as a maintenance person or gardener may help you negotiate a lower rent.
Money-Saving Tip #4: Entertain Yourself
For a family of four, one monthly “dinner and a movie” outing can cost upwards of $100 or more. That’s $1,200 over a year’s time. If your family enjoys outings like these two or three times a month, you could easily be spending the equivalent of closing costs or insurance escrow on unnecessary entertainment each year. Of course, whether you’re single, married or have children, an occasional outing is important to your quality of life and it’s not likely you’re going to give up having fun all together, but you can reconsider the kinds of entertainment in which you indulge. For instance, invite friends in your complex to host a traveling dinner party in their apartments (each family being responsible for one course) and end the night with dessert and a rented movie or have a pizza and board game night with your family or adult friends. These types of activities will save money and just might improve your social life at the same time.
Remembering your purpose for economizing will make the task easier and more enjoyable. After all, no fancy restaurant dinner could be as delicious as hot dogs and potato salad prepared in the kitchen of your own home.
As always… if you are looking for a GREAT agent to help with your real estate needs please e-mail me at Adele@GreaterPhoenixHomes.com or give me a call (or text) at 602-504-3898 or 888-897-7821 x 114. Plus, I have a GREAT search tool on my web site that gives you the ability to search the entire MLS…just like agents do. Very COOL! Go to Metro Phoenix Homes For Sale and check it out! YOU can create and save as many searches as you would like…and it is THE SAME SEARCH I DO AS AN AGENT! You will LOVE it!
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