Budgeting sucks. But buying a house sure doesn’t. If you don’t already own a home, chances are you’re saving for one, especially if you’re a Millennial. In fact, 80% of Millennials want to own a home, and if you’re one of them, you’re probably a little intimidated by the thought of saving up enough money for a down payment.
Depending on the type of loan you can get, you’ll most likely need about 3%-5% down, which can add up quickly -- so we don’t blame you for being intimidated. But would you believe us if we told you that you could save up for a down payment in as little as a year, without budgeting?
Yes, it’s true, and no, it doesn’t require any drastic life-altering decisions (you won’t have to move back home with your parents or couch surf for a year just to make this possible). This simply requires a few changes that you can begin making today.
Here are a few things to start with:
Automate. Some of the best saving stories we’ve heard have come from people who chose to automate their savings. Every month, a certain amount or percentage of their paycheck went directly into a savings account. If you do this, you’re much more likely to only think about the money that lands in your checking account after it goes through savings. You’re not feeling the burden of saving because you don’t have to watch your money get taken out of your account, and you never have to worry about finding the “right time” to transfer money over to your savings account. It’s already done for you.
Track. Knowing where your money is going each month can help you see where things can be cut. Do you have any monthly subscriptions coming out of your account that you forgot about? (Guilty.) Cut them (and see below for more on those things that can be canceled). Are you spending more money on sushi and red wine each month than you realized? At least consider cutting back on those things.
Cancel. If you’re one of the few good people in this world who actually pays for their own Netflix account, good for you! But do you really need Netflix plus all those other monthly subscriptions? Take a good look at what you’re paying for regularly (this can be done in the track step above), and think about what you could survive without. Don’t be afraid to cancel those things that are adding up each month. It doesn’t have to be goodbye forever; even consider setting goals for yourself (“if I reach $5,000 in savings, I’ll add Hulu back”).
Cook. Eating out is great, and we think you should be able to treat yourself every now and then. But have you ever stopped to think about how much money you could save simply by cutting down on eating out by one time per week, or how much more economical ordering water over a cocktail can be? Start bringing your lunch to work, even if it means meal prepping on a Sunday afternoon or waking up 10 minutes earlier each morning to prepare. Your wallet, and your down payment, will thank you.
Save. Yes, we know, you’re already saving. But make sure you’re saving some extra money whenever you can. If you get more money back from taxes than you were expecting, save it. If you pick up a side hustle (read Uber or Rover), save it. If you get a hefty birthday present from your parents, save it. Save it, don’t spend it.
Limit. A Daily Spend Limit can help you see the power of your spending decisions. Simply seeing how much one coffee a day impacts your projected savings for the year can be enough to tell you maybe you should make your coffee at home instead of stopping at Starbucks. But the great thing about Daily Spend Limit is that you can buy that coffee as long as it’s under your DSL -- it’s up to you (how does it feel to have all that power?). Check out your DSL in the Wela app.
If you set these habits now, you can be on your way to saving for a down payment in as little as a year. Saving doesn’t have to be intimidating -- it can actually be freeing and empowering! If you haven’t already, set up your home buying goals in your Wela app in order to get a Daily Spend Limit and answers to all of your questions specific to your situation.