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If you’ve been thinking of buying a home, you probably know that you need to start saving for a down payment. However, for many of us, that’s easier said than done. With that in mind, I’ve brought you four easy tricks to help you achieve your savings goals. Read them over so that you can get started saving ASAP.
Set specific savings goals
The first step towards saving for a down payment is getting clear on your goals. It’s easy to say you’ll start saving, but without a plan that clearly outlines how much you aim to save and how often you intend to add to your fund, it can be difficult to get started.
These days, all you really need for a down payment is 3% - 5% of the home’s purchase price. That said, if you aim for a higher number - like the traditional 20% - you’ll be able to avoid paying extra costs like private mortgage insurance (PMI).
If you’re unsure how much you should aim to save, start with this post, which breaks down how to find your total savings goal. Then, after you have that number in hand, take a long, hard look at your budget to see how much money you can afford to put towards your down payment on a regular basis.
Once you’ve decided on both those numbers, it’s all about making the commitment to start saving.
Designate a separate savings account
Particularly if you’re saving towards multiple goals at one time, having a separate savings account for each one can help you keep your finances in order. Designating one account as your down payment account will make it easy to keep track of your progress and may also help to deter you from spending the money on other things.
If you don’t have an account ready and waiting for this purpose, consider the following as you look at where you may want to open a new account:
- Should it be with your current bank? Opening an account with your current bank will make for easier transfers, but other banks may have better terms and having to wait to transfer your money may deter you even further from spending it unnecessarily.
- What’s the interest rate? All savings accounts let you earn interest on the money you keep in your account. However, the rate at which your money earns interest can vary widely.
- What are the fees and account minimums? Some accounts come with monthly maintenance fees or high account minimums. Make sure you’re okay with the prospective costs before you agree to open an account.
- Is the account FDIC-insured? Whenever possible, opt for an account that is insured.