Piggy bank

18 Tips for Saving that Elusive Downpayment

If you show money the respect it deserves today, and carry it through in all your actions, then one day, when you can no longer take care of it, your money will take care of you. Respecting your relationship with money, you see, is the key not only to your security and independence, but to your happiness as well.

— Suze Orman, Women & Money

Respecting your money means taking care of it properly. To quote Suze Orman: “Your money is governed by how you treat it: it’s that simple. It thrives when you are being responsible, respectful, and doing honorable things with it.”

Shortly after I was first divorced, I was watching an interview with Suze on Oprah. She said some things that made so much sense to me. “If you respect money, you put it in your wallet and keep it organized.”

So I started observing people I knew who had money and every single one of them put their money in their wallet! Those who didn’t seemed to be always digging around in their pockets trying to find where they put it. How many times had I just shoved money in my pocket or thrown it on the kitchen table?! I immediately bought a wallet and have religiously used it correctly ever since.

Suze also said, “Money is attracted to those who respect it and are open to receiving it.” To this day, if I find a nickel or dime (and yes, even a penny) on the ground, I pick it up and thank it for finding me.

Learning more about managing money and finances was my top priority following my first divorce as I worked towards saving for a home and my future.

In today’s real estate market, saving for a downpayment can seem like a dream too far out of reach. But with the right attitude, discipline and hard work, you can make it a reality.

Here are 18 ways you can “find” money and save for your first home.

  1. Take on a second job and put those extra earnings straight into savings.
  2. Reduce your cable and/or streaming expenses by cutting back to only what you really need.
  3. Do you really need that landline? Most people use their cell phones for everyday use making a home phone an unnecessary expense.
  4. Put yourself on a strict grocery budget and shop with a list. Knowing what you need will help avoid those impulse buys.
  5. Cook at home and avoid eating in restaurants and using delivery services.
  6. Consider paying cash for that second car. It won’t be sexy but it’ll save you money and serve its purpose.
  7. Reduce your utility costs. Turn the furnace down a few notches and wear a sweater. Do laundry at off-peak times.
  8. Put your tax refunds, raises and bonuses into savings.
  9. Learn to live on 10% less income and save the difference. It takes sacrifice but it’s worth it!
  10. Shop around for auto insurance and ensure you get the best price. If you opt for the higher deductible, your annual premiums go down.
  11. Take lunch to work (leftovers from the night before) and bring your own thermos of coffee. You’ll save $50-$100 a week just doing this!
  12. Sell unused items around the home for some quick cash.
  13. It’s too easy to “tap and pay” these days. Try using only paper money for purchases and save the leftover change.
  14. Avoid paying ATM fees. If you withdraw cash from your own bank, it’s usually free.
  15. Renegotiate the interest rates on your current credit cards and lines of credit. Yes, you can do this.
  16. Once you pay off your credit cards, get in the habit of paying the balance every Friday. You’ll never pay interest again, and those savings add up!
  17. Review your chequing and savings accounts and look for accounts that have no monthly bank fees.
  18. Take in a roommate or boarder. If you have an extra bedroom or unused basement, put it to work for you and earn cash every month!

One of the first things I say to my first-time buyer clients is to live like you already own your house. Figure out how much it would cost to pay for the mortgage, property taxes, and utilities and practice with this budget for 6 months. If you can do this, you can afford to work towards your dream! Save that surplus money in the bank until the day you buy, and you will be ready.

A lot of these tips have become permanent habits for me, but many of them were just for a time in my life – a short time. The sacrifices were so worth the reward.

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