Despite their youth, Gen Zers are already eyeing homeownership.
In fact, according to a recent study from Bank of America, nearly 60% of the cohort says they want to buy a house in the next five years. And more than half of them? They’re already saving up to make it happen.
It’s a good thing, too, since most Gen Zers see the down payment and closing costs as their biggest homebuying hurdle. Starting now ensures they have plenty of time to stow away cash without upending their lives or scrounging for pennies.
Is buying a house in your five-year plan? Want to start saving for that goal today? Here are eight creative ways to do it:
Ask for Wedding Gift Donations
Unless you really want that set of china or that ceramic mixing bowl, consider using your wedding registry as a savings tool instead. Platforms like Feather the Nest, Honeyfund, and Zola let you skip the boring old kitchen items and household gifts, and ask for donations instead.
Just be sure to include your fund’s URL on your invites, RSVP cards, and wedding website, with a note: “In lieu of gifts, we’d love it if you would help us buy our dream house” (or something else sweet like that).
Leverage Savings Apps
If you’re attached at the hip to your phone (and who isn’t?), then a savings app may be more up your alley. Chime, Digit, Qapital, Mint, Acorns, and Mvelopes are all great mobile apps that can help you squirrel away funds — either for specific goals or just in general. Many have auto-savings features that help you save up without ever having to lift a finger.
Make Use of That Tax Refund
As tempting as it is to use your tax refund toward a nice vacation or a new outfit, if you’re looking to buy a house in the near-term, those probably aren’t the best ways to leverage your windfall. Instead, commit to depositing those annual refunds (at least 75% of them) into a savings account or, better yet, have the IRS deposit them directly into savings so you never have the chance to touch it.
Try Your Hand at Savings Games
You can also gamify your savings goals. Long Game is one option, allowing you to play games, earn coins, and then stow them away in an interest-earning savings account. Blast is similar, though it lets users play and earn on popular games like Fortnite and Overwatch. Save to Win is another option.
Enroll in a Round-Off Program
Since most of us exclusively use plastic when paying for goods and services, we don’t have a lot of spare change lying around. That’s basically rendered the old piggy bank technique useless — at least in physical form. Fortunately, apps like Acorns, Chime, and Qapital have brought the idea back, using your digital “spare change” to power your savings goals.
Here’s how it works: Say you purchase something for $9.75. A few decades ago, you might hand the cashier a $10 bill, and pocket the 25-cent change. With round-off apps, you’ll basically do the same thing. It rounds your purchase up to the nearest dollar ($10 in this case), depositing the extra change into a designated savings account.
A few quarters here and there might not sound like much, but if you make dozens of purchases a week, it can really start to add up — especially if you’re earning interest on it.
Give Crowdfunding a Shot.
If you’ve got a supportive circle of friends and family around you, they’ll probably be more than happy to help you achieve those homebuying goals. Why not set up a GoFundMe and see what happens? If you have a birthday coming up or there’s another holiday around the corner, be sure to share it on your social media profiles. You never know who may want to show you some love.
Get a Side Hustle
Nowadays, there are any number of side gigs you can take on that don’t require much effort, time, or resources. You can run errands with the Favor and Shipt apps, deliver food for DoorDash, or drive for Uber or Lyft. Just make sure you commit to putting most, or all, of that extra income into a designated savings account (and don’t let it burn holes in your pockets!).
Become a Second-Hand Seller
In the same vein, there are also a million ways to become a side-hustle retailer, too. Apps like Letgo, Offerup, Craigslist, and even the Facebook marketplace are great ways to offload your unwanted electronics, furniture, home decor, and more; there are even specific apps for brand-name clothing (Poshmark), video games (Gameflip), and books (Mercari).
In all cases, try to keep the transactions online using digital payments (Venmo and PayPal) and mailed shipments. If you do need to meet a buyer in person, make sure you take along a trusted friend and meet only in well-lit, public places.
Buying a house might seem like a pipe dream — especially when you’re just getting started in your career. But the earlier you start saving, the better. Remember that interest compounds, and the more you’re able to put in that savings account (even a few extra dollars), the more you’ll earn on that balance — month after month and year after year. Start today, and let time work in your favor.
I’m a freelance writer and journalist from Houston, covering real estate, mortgage and finance topics. See my current work in Forbes, The Motley Fool, The Balance, Bankrate, New Home Source and The Simple Dollar. Past gigs: The Dallas Morning News, NBC, Radio Disney and PBS.