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Money Talk: Eight strategic ways to gather down-payment funds

William Mandrell

One of the largest obstacles between you and home ownership is coming up with enough money to fund the required mortgage down payment. Let’s assume that you’re looking for the average single-family home in Massachusetts, which is roughly $350,000. Let’s also assume you are like the majority of home buyers in this state and qualify for an FHA Loan, which is a 3.5 percent down payment or roughly $12,250. This isn’t an amount of money most people have sitting in there bank accounts. So how do you find the cash to fund your dreams of homeownership? Here are a list of things most buyers do to save up some cash:

Side job or temp work: Can you pick up a side job or work for a temp agency? It may not be something you want to do permanently, but it’s worth it to reach your homeownership goals. Let’s assume you can pick up a part-time job working 10 hours per week at $15 per hour. If you worked 48 of 52 weeks in the year you’d have an extra $7,200 (before taxes) to add to your home savings account.

Cut cable and phone bill: Many of us have Comcast or Verizon packages that consist of every movie channel, sport package and various other upgrades. Are these things you can live without for a little while? The same goes for many phone bills. Many of us are paying $40 or more per month for data packages while the only thing we do with our phone that requires data is posting to Facebook. If you can reduce one of these bills by $50 or two of them by $25 each, you would be saving a total of $600 for the year.

Cut gift spending: We all love our family and friends but could you cut back on birthday and holiday gifts for one year? I think your friends and family would stand by you if your gifts were less expensive this year because you’re saving to purchase a home. Statistics show cutting this spending out entirely can put another $600 in your pocket for the year.

Work overtime: Are there overtime hours available at your current job? Maybe it’s time to stay late or come in early. It may be a good idea to approach your manager and see what extra hours he or she can offer you.

Save your tax returns: Are you getting a nice check back from the government this year? Don’t view this influx of cash as discretionary spending. Many Americans look at this check as a chance to buy a bigger TV or various other luxuries. Be smart and save this money for your down payment. The big-screen will look better next year in your new home.

Hang at home: Let’s assume that you’re like most of us and you love to hang out on the weekends. If you’re spending an average of $100 per weekend (drinks, food, movies, etc.) and you’re going out every other weekend, you’re spending an average of $2,600 per year on entertainment. Can you cut that down this year to just one weekend per month? If so, you’re saving $1,300 per year and you’re that much closer to you saving goals.

Cut your 401(k) contributions: I’m a big believer in saving for your retirement, but I believe even more that every individual should own their own home. It may be a good idea for you to speak with your HR department and cut down (or cut out) your retirement contributions and add those additional funds to your savings.

Ask your family for help: When your family sees all the lifestyle adjustments you’ve made to save for home ownership, they will see how important it is to you and will become important to them as well. Can they help you with your down payment?