Dear Friends and Hopeful Homeowners,

If you rent your home, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage! Buying a home is a great way to spend money on your housing that builds equity and value for YOU. It’s not only a home that you own, but it’s also an investment, a great way to build future wealth, and an asset you can be proud of.

Of course, you may want a home but simply can’t afford to buy right now. You’re definitely not alone! A recent survey by a personal banking firm reported that one in five Americans don’t even have a savings account and a significant portion of those that do don’t have any funds in it. Times can be tough and life is expensive. That’s for sure. 

One of the hardest parts of affording a home is coming up with the down payment. Coming up with 5%, 10% or 20% for a down payment may seem daunting…but it’s not impossible! And once you’ve come up with a down payment, if you buy wisely, your monthly mortgage and associated costs can be equal to (if not less than) what you pay in rent! I’ve found these steps to be helpful for clients who thought they’d never be able to come up with a down payment. 

1. Set a target goal. Talk to a mortgage professional to find out how much home you can afford. That way, you’ll know roughly how much you need to save for a down payment. Research shows that people who have specific dollar amounts in mind for a savings goal have a better success rate. 

2. Assess your spending habits. Don’t just make a rough audit of your monthly rent, utilities, insurance, and grocery costs. Really look into your monthly bank and credit statements from the last three months to see where your money is going. That will allow you to discover where you can start to cut back.

3. Shrink your TV package. The average cable bill hit a record $99.10 last year. That’s nearly 40% higher than the average from 2010! You can always - ALWAYS - call your local provider and try to negotiate a lower rate. If they have competition, use that as leverage. Also consider consolidating to only streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Sling TV.

4. Drop the gym membership. This could be tough if you frequent the gym - but many of us don’t. Think about what you can do outdoors, and research some of the endless home workouts available online.

5. Unload your stuff. This can be done locally or online, of course. Even niche items can be sold with online services like Craigslist and eBay. You may not be sitting on a fortune of stuff that people will pay for, but in combination with other savings, it will make a difference. 

6. Downsize your apartment. In Central Pennsylvania, moving from a one-bedroom to a studio could save a lot of money without sacrificing too much space. This can also help you purge some unnecessary belongings, which can also bring in some more cash. In addition to savings in rent, a smaller space can also create savings in heating and cooling bills. Every dollar counts!

7. Get a side gig. You’re probably thinking your 9 to 5 job is enough work, but think about opportunity cost. That hour you just spent watching the Kardashians or Sports Center is $10 you could have made pouring coffee at the local coffee bar, driving for Uber, or doing freelance work for services like TaskRabbit or AgentAnything. A couple of night shifts or even a single weekend shift at a part-time job could contribute thousands toward your future down payment. 

8. Open a high-yield savings account. If you’re saving more or earning more with a new part-time job, don’t keep that money in your checking account where it’s not accruing any interest. High-yield savings accounts offer immediate access to money and accrue interest on a daily basis as well.

9. Get a cash rewards credit card. Ditch the no-frills credit card for one with cash-back rewards. It's an easy way to earn extra cash by paying for regular expenses, like utility bills or groceries, on your credit card, then paying them off each month. Credit cards typically have higher interest rates, so you should only do this if you are able to pay off your statement balance every month.

10. Save your tax refund. This is a nice yearly chunk of change depending on your work. If you can commit to socking away your tax refund in a savings account, it’ll be easier not to spend it when the check shows up.

Remember, buying a home isn’t easy, but it is one of the best long-term investments you can make.

If you’re not sure if you can afford to buy a home, or how to begin planning for a down payment, please give me a call (717) 609-8265 or email at I’d be happy to help you strategize…and that consultation won’t cost you a penny. When the time comes that you’re ready, we’ll find the right house for you – one that meets your needs and fits your budget.

I’m here to help!