Saving enough cash for a down payment may seem impossible, but with planning and discipline you can make it happen. It might not be tomorrow, but owning your own home is something worth waiting for, working for and, perhaps, sacrificing a few expensive coffee drinks for as well. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Track every dollar. Find out exactly where your money goes each month by keeping track of every single thing you purchase over 30 days. Review your card and bank statements carefully to categorize where you spent each dollar (e.g., entertainment, food, clothing). Sites like mint.com can also help you track and categorize spending.
2. Rate every purchase. Using the month of expenditures, rate each item or service you bought as a "want" or a "need."
3. Set savings goals. Using your "needs" and "wants" list, determine where you can realistically cut spending. If it means that much, you don't necessarily have to cut out Starbucks altogether, but reducing your trips will certainly help. Use the budget to set monthly and yearly savings goals.
4. Set aside funds. Create a separate savings account for your down payment. It's not only easier to track, but blocking off the funds may make you think twice before dipping into that money for something other than your future home.
5. Save automatically. If you are paid through direct deposit, chances are you can split your paychecks into more than one account. Set up your new "down payment" savings account to take in a portion of your regular direct deposits. You can't miss money you don't see in the first place.
6. Maximize your returns. Once you have a bit of money saved, talk to a financial professional about other places you might invest it to get a bigger return than you would by keeping it in your savings account – perhaps a money market account or a certificate of deposit (CD).