By Drew Knight
One of the biggest obstacles deterring hopeful home shoppers from buying a new home is the down payment. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Once you’ve figured out how much of a down payment you really need, the only step left is to find out how you’re going to start saving.
For those who don’t have an overflowing piggy bank, below are a few creative ways to save for a down payment.
There’s an App for That
Just like there is with ordering your pizza and hailing an Uber driver to get you downtown, there are smart phone apps and other online services to help you monitor your savings — and also make it fun. Joe Saul-Sehy, co-host of the award-winning personal finance podcast “Stacking Benjamins,” suggests the following:
- Simple: This online tool can tell you how much money you have that’s available to spend or save after taking your goals and bills into account, so you don’t blow your budget.
- Digit: An app that can track your spending and automatically move money you won’t need into a savings account.
- TipYourself: You tip your servers, so why not tip yourself when you do something awesome? Little by little, you can add some cash here and there to your tip jar to save for that down payment.
- Tiller: This amped-up spreadsheet service makes it easy to see where money opportunities are hiding.
- YNAB: An acronym for “You Need a Budget,” YNAB is an app and personal finance system adored by its fans that aims to give you total control of your money.
“These tools can rock your down payment,” says Saul-Sehy. “The banking stuff is important so that you can easily stay on track with your down payment and not accidentally spend money meant for the house.”
Try Strategic Saving
A former financial advisor, Saul-Sehy introduced clients to his own savings strategy.
Firstly, Saul-Sehy would help his clients find out how much more the payment and escrow costs were going to be each month than their current bill. Then, they would use direct deposit and automatic transfers to “practice” saving this money every month.
“This was a great plan on two levels,” Saul-Sehy says. “First, it helped us know ahead of time if the budget was going to be too tight or not. Second, when people could afford the payment easily, they were able to use the extra money accumulated by ‘practicing’ to either meet the down payment more quickly or purchase furniture, landscaping or updating costs.”
Your local lender or financial institution is a great resource to help you find a strategic savings plan that works for you.
Talk to the Bank
And that’s why you should talk to the bank, not just for savings plans, but for more information on direct deposits, information on down payment assistance programs and to help you discover what type of loans are available in your area.
“The cool news is that the two best tools to save money aren’t an app or online specific, it’s direct deposit and automatic transfers,” says Saul-Sehy. “Every bank has these so that you’re able to hide money from yourself.”
TD Bank, a financial institution based on the east coast, is happy to sit down with homebuyers to answer questions and find programs that work for them.
“I would start with talking to a couple lenders, get an idea of what they have that are lower down payment options,” says Chris Copley, regional sales manager for TD Bank in the Philadelphia area. “The most important thing is educating yourself before you get involved in the process.”
For instance, TD Bank’s Right Step loan program is designed specifically for first-time buyers with flexible options and substantial savings every month.
Copley also advised to go with the direct deposit route once you find out your monthly number and have it deposited so that it’s out of sight and out of easy reach.
“Find out what that number is, sit down with you monthly budget and look back at the past two or three months,” suggests Copley. “Where did you spend money and how much of that did you spend on stuff that wasn’t a need or don’t mind giving up?”
Drew Knight is a digital content associate for NewHomeSource.com.