Congratulations! You’ve at last reached the point where you’re fed up with throwing money at the anti-investment that is rent, and you’re ready to get comfortable and begin planning to purchase a home.
Whether you’re planning to put the standard 20% down on your home, or take advantage of programs that will allow you to put less money down (more on this in future posts!), you’ll need to do some steady saving.
Here are 3 no-brainers that will help you bulk up that bank account and prepare for your investment in homeownership.
1. Automated savings!
Set up your checking account so that it will automatically transfer a predetermined amount of money to your savings account each month. Just ensure that the amount is manageable enough so that you won’t end up overdrawing from your checking account, because we all know how much that blows.
I distinctly remember the day my dad took me to the bank as a teenager to open my first ever checking account. He set me up so that every month, a nominal $75 would automatically transfer to my savings. For over a decade, I’ve watched my savings account grow because of this tactic, and it also put me in the mindset early on that setting aside some savings each month is simply something that needs to be done. Thanks, Dad!
2. Know your spending habits!
Face it: Gone are the days of the all-you-can-eat university cafeteria and your unrestricted access to Mom & Dad’s fridge and/or wallet. You probably came to this conclusion when you first started renting on your own, but do you actually have any sense of how much dough you spend each week/month on eating out? On happy hour? On groceries? On AMAZON?
You probably have some basic, intuitive understanding of your finances and whether you can afford the lifestyle you’re living, but if you actually break down your expenditures and see what you’re spending on necessities like your car payment/student loans/prescription medications, and what you spend on online shopping/daily Starbucks runs/that new gastropub you’ve been frequenting twice a week, you might find it easier to reign yourself in and stash more in your savings.
Your bank should have a tool that will break down your debit/credit card spending into various categories. If you’re committed to saving a bit extra, check out the leisure/entertainment/food categories and see where you might be able to survive cutting back a tad.
3. Keep your credit clean!
Don’t be sloppy when it comes to making your payments. Don’t avoid credit altogether – it’s good to build credit. But stay on top of your credit cards, student loans, and car payments. Set automated payments when you feel comfortable doing so, especially if you feel that you might just forget to make the payment yourself (say on that Macy’s card you almost never use but still carry a balance on ).
When it comes to approval from a mortgage lender, it may not matter what your salary amounts to if they see that your payments are always late.