New Year’s Resolution: Saving for a Down Payment

Calculator and tiny house sitting on top of blueprints

It’s a new year, and you know what that means. It time, once again, for resolutions. If you resolve to leave your landlord behind—or to move into a larger, more luxurious home—this year, you may have to provide a down payment of up to 20 percent of the home’s sale price, which can be challenging. Here are some strategies to help put you on the path to homeownership.

  • Know your numbers. The first step in saving for a down payment is establishing your budget. Examine your income and recurring monthly expenses to help determine how much house you can afford. That number should give you a general idea of how much money you’ll need to set aside for a down payment. See Making the most of a mortgage calculator for more information.
  • Cut your costs. Sure, giving up the little things, like your overpriced morning latte, may help you stash some cash over time. But if you want quick results, it’s best to put the brakes on big spending. Look for ways to really reduce expenses, like cutting the cord on cable, canceling your pricey gym membership and/or cooking meals at home instead of frequenting fancy (translation: expensive) restaurants.
  • Automate your savings. Open a special savings account exclusively for your down payment. After you determine how much money you can comfortably set aside each month, have that amount automatically diverted into the account. This can help you resist the temptation to spend (out of sight, out of mind, right?). Contact your bank to set up an automatic transfer.
  • Bank or invest large sums. If you happen to come into some money this year (e.g., tax refund, bonus, inheritance), resist the urge to splurge. Instead, deposit your windfall into your dedicated down payment account at your earliest convenience, or speak with a financial planner about low-risk investments. This could bring you several steps closer to owning the home of your dreams.
  • Ask for assistance. Do you have a family member who is willing and able to contribute to your down payment? It’s okay to ask for help. In many cases, gift funds can even be applied to closing costs. See Frequently asked questions: Using gift funds to buy a home for more information.

Please note that some types of mortgages, such as FHA and VA loans, require little to no down payment. Contact a representative from HomeAmerican Mortgage Corporation to find out if you are eligible for one of these types of loans.