Have you ever browsed through Zillow and seen the many beautiful houses in your area that had you thinking to yourself, “I wish I could afford that”? Well, you aren’t the only one. Many young Americans have been struggling to save for a house – or really anything for that matter. The key is affording the down payment on your dream home, but this article isn’t about how to do that in a week….or is it?
We can be deceived by shows on HGTV where couples with typically lower-paying jobs are shopping for a downtown Manhattan condo with a budget of $900,000. In real life, you have to dedicate quite a bit of time and money to saving for a house and you have to be realistic about your budget – a tidbit they tend to leave out of these home renovation shows. You have to ask yourself whether or not you can afford the house payment along with all of the other expenses that come with owning a home.
Most sources say that you should only devote 35% of your income towards debt payments (house payments, car payments, and credit cards). So, do some quick math and take 35% of your income and make sure you aren’t overextending yourself. Remember that the goal is to be financially successful so that you don’t have to worry while you’re completing all of your life goals! What is going to help you make sure you’re keeping expenses down is saving at least 20% of your income.
Today, many people in my age group are struggling with student loans and general debt. We were never properly taught in school how to deal with this and how to truly financially succeed. A federal study showed that about 40% of adults couldn’t cover an emergency expense of $400. So, before you even consider saving up for a down payment, it’s crucial to have an emergency fund with at least $1,000 in it. Then, you can save up for your down payment while keeping the $1,000 set aside for emergencies only.
Don’t feel discouraged by all of the saving you may have to do. You can get the house of your dreams; it may just take you some time – or maybe not. This is up to you. I don’t know if you can save up for a down payment in a week unless you make a lot of money, which isn’t impossible. There are even some people who have sold items or started small businesses that increased their income tenfold. You will need a down payment of upwards of 20% of the house’s value, but it can also be as low as 3.5%. Don’t forget about closing costs!
So, you have a few choices when saving for a down payment:
Choice One: you can tighten the belt and cut your expenses in order to save more money for the down payment necessary to buy the house you want. You will probably have to create a written budget and pinch your pennies when spending or maybe cut out the daily iced coffees. I know it can be hard and saving money can be tough, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Choice Two: make more money. In the digital age this isn’t as hard as it once was. You can become a delivery driver for apps like Door Dash or Uber, or even start your own online store using Shopify. Increasing your income allows you to continue to live your currently lifestyle, but at the expense of working a little (or a lot) more if you’re looking to make a lot of money for a down payment.
You can make sure that you can afford the house you want by taking the steps necessary to get there. Remember that being financially healthy can ensure one less worry for you in your life and on your way to ultimate success. So, save up an emergency fund and make sure you don’t overextend yourself with debt payments. Finally, do the math backwards. If you have to save $20,000 for a down payment, then what steps do you have to start taking to achieve that? Do you tighten up your wallet or increase your income? Ultimately, all roads lead to Rome – it just depends on how long you want your journey to be.