The past year was really big for us. My husband started a new job, we had a baby in June, and bought a home in July! Lots of big life changes all at once. We were able to buy our home because we were trying to make smart financial decisions and I want to share how we saved for a house in a year.
That being said, I do have to leave a little disclaimer here. The tips I’m going to share are small ways to save. What helped the MOST was the fact that my husband got be better-paying job, that I work from home, that we got some money from family, and that we used some of our IRA’s for our down payment*. However, we couldn’t have saved the rest of our down payment without these tips. It’s also helped us budget and afford our mortgage payment every month.
How do I Become a First Time Home Buyer?
My best advice is to be diligent and patient! Smart choices over even a short amount of time can catapult you towards your goals. You will likely have to make sacrifices if you’re serious about becoming a homeowner, but it will all be worth it in the end. Here are the easy steps we took to save for a house:
1. If you want to save for a house, reducing debt not only frees up money to put towards a down payment, it will also make you a more attractive candidate to receive a home loan. This is one of the most beneficial things to do before becoming a homeowner.
Before we bought our house, we took a look at our finances. Our only debt was a second car we purchased last year. We took all of the income I made at my job and put it towards our car loan so we had no debt when we applied for a home loan. No debt on a loan application = happy lenders.
2. I’m the spender in our family (big surprise) so I went on a spending fast. I only bought a few clothes here and there and we didn’t do big gifts for Valentines or our anniversary. We basically only spent money on our monthly expenses and eating out once a week. This was probably the hardest part for me. I love to online shop so I really had to reign it in. BUT, the “sacrifice” of whatever clothes and gifts I would’ve bought paid off because we have a home now. We had to remember what we were saving and working for. If you’re tempted to spend, just think of your goal to save for a house and all the benefits that will come from home ownership.
Stick to a Budget
3. When we first got married, we didn’t really keep track of our spending. I knew how much we had in our bank account and how much we needed for rent and that was it. However, it quickly became apparent that wasn’t the best way to keep track of our finances, so I made a realistic budget and decided to reduce our our grocery spending to $300 a month to cut back.
Meal planning is my biggest tip for how to become a homeowner with low income or on a student budget. After housing, food is generally the largest expense. Making a smart grocery budget and sticking to frugal meals is key!
Save on Cleaning Supplies
4. I cut down on cleaning supplies. Those can add up! I started making my own cleaning wipes and found cheaper options from the dollar store and online.
Shop the Dollar Store
5. I shopped the Dollar Store! It sounds kind of lame but they have so many things there that are more expensive at the grocery store. For example: plastic bags, dish soap, cleaning supplies, foil, toothpaste, q-tips, party supplies, holiday candy, and greeting cards. You have to do some math and make sure the amount you’re getting is really cheaper than the bigger sizes at the grocery store, but usually it’s cheaper!
*Generally, the amounts an individual withdraws from an IRA or retirement plan before reaching age 59½ are called ”early” or ”premature” distributions. Individuals must pay an additional 10% early withdrawal tax unless an exception applies. One exception is first-time home buyers up to $10,000. You can read more on page 26 here or speak with a licensed tax professional.
Final Thoughts on How to Become a Homeowner
I hope you found these tips to be helpful and informative. I am so happy to be in our first home and am proud of the hard work we did to save for a house. If you follow these steps to becoming a first time homeowner, You’ll be there in no time, too!
I’ve got more great home ownership tips! Now that you’ve read my tips for how to become a homeowner, check out these 9 Easy Tasks That Should Be On Every New Homeowner Checklist
Are there any great tips I missed that you’d add to my list? What are your home ownership goals? Let me know in the comments!
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