Posted by Steven Sawyer on 6/16/2019

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The idea of homeownership can seem daunting if you doubt you can save up a down payment. After all, even a modest house on a conventional mortgage requires twenty percent plus the closing costs. When saving up seems out of reach, try these creative tips to grow your nest egg:

Delay gratification

A lofty word for a simple idea, delaying gratification means doing without for now so that to attain a specific goal. Nearly every budget has discretionary funds—what’s left over after paying rent, utilities, and other necessary bills. Once you’ve identified what’s left over, you get to decide how to spend it. When homeownership is the goal, some purchases become less necessary, and others can wait until you’ve attained your objective.

First, open a savings account specifically for your down payment. Consider setting it up in a credit union or a different bank from your regular financial institution so that the extra effort it takes to move it into your regular account mitigates the temptation to use it to pay bills.

Then, consider ditching these items for less expensive alternatives (or altogether) and putting the savings directly into your new account. Treat the savings as an expense, the same way you did the bill payment, or else the extra funds could just slip away:

  • Gym membership: finding a less expensive gym or utilizing a local park for workouts could save you an extra $35-50 per month.
  • Dump satellite or cable. Try to opt for less expensive online streaming alternatives or plan regular evenings with friends to share viewing your favorite shows. Depending on the plan you have, savings can really add up and more time socializing with friends is a bonus.
  • Instead of expensive meals out, plan a movie or game night at home. Invite friends and share potluck or have everyone bring ingredients to cook together.
  • Local libraries have current books, DVDs, audiobooks, and magazines so make a habit of stopping there to check them out instead of paying for your own. Many electronic media memberships have options for sharing with a friend or family member and qualifying for free books and audios.
  • Make saving a game. See who saves the most each week—you or your spouse/partner—and allow that person one small indulgence—a latte, for example, or an evening free of the children for a spa bath.

Set a price on each of these events and pay that amount into your savings account. If you don’t isolate the savings, you’ll find it harder to keep it up.

Find alternative income

You could take a second job to add to your savings or a freelance gig. Put 100 percent of what you've paid into your savings account. Other options include monetizing a hobby (if it doesn’t cost you more money than you make) to sell online or through local outlets. Perform seasonal jobs such as raking leaves, shoveling snow or washing windows.

Put all loose change in a piggy bank (or coin jar). Determine to spend only paper money, then save all the loose change. When the jar or bank is full, take the coins to the bank or a coin-counting machine. Discipline yourself to put the cash in your savings account though so it doesn't slip through your fingers.

As you near your savings goals, reach out to your real estate professional for tips on finding the perfect home in your budget.





Posted by Steven Sawyer on 9/10/2017

If it always seems like your money disappears as fast as you earn it, you're not alone. All too many people live from paycheck to paycheck -- even when their income is well above average.

Why is this condition so widespread? Well, the reasons are as varied as people's spending habits, lifestyles, and financial obligations, but there is one factor that is often overlooked: self-defeating attitudes toward money. Here are a few examples you may be able to relate to:

  • "I don't have the time or patience to compare prices." The truth of the matter is that it doesn't really take that much time to do a few quick price comparisons when you're in the supermarket, department store, or on the Web. During the course of a typical week, you probably make dozens of spending decisions, many of them almost unconsciously. By simply increasing your awareness of how much you're spending and what the alternatives are (if any), you can often save hundreds of dollars a month.
  • "People who use coupons are penny pinchers." Although the term "penny pincher" is frequently used to describe someone who's stingy or overly careful with their spending habits, some people consider it a badge of pride to be frugal and careful with their money. It's all a matter of perspective. There are numerous blogs, small businesses, and newspapers that have no reluctance about including the words "penny pincher" in their name While few people want to be thought of as cheap or stingy, frugality has different connotations. It's associated with being economical and thrifty.
  • "I don't want people to think I'm cheap." This can be a tough self-defeating thought to overcome because it's often so deep rooted. However, if you're a compulsively high tipper or often feel obligated to pick up the check at restaurants (rather than splitting it with your fellow diners), this could be a contributing cause of your budgetary problems. Generosity is a wonderful thing, as long as it's not based on a desire to be liked, accepted, or approved of by other people. As a side note, concerns about being perceived as "cheap" is one reason some people don't take a closer look at their retail receipts, restaurant bills, and other invoices. Remember this: There's nothing cheap about being unwilling to pay extra for cashier or restaurant staff mistakes -- which are more common that you might think -- and unauthorized or redundant fees on bills.
Another factor which contributes to tight household budgets is not having a budget at all. If you don't take the time to identify your expenses and deduct them from your monthly income, then it's next-to-impossible to gain control of your finances. While there's no panacea for spending beyond your means -- and some people clearly need professional advice and help in dealing with financial management and debt problems -- sometimes a few simple attitude shifts can make the difference between scarcity and surplus in your life.




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