Making firm decisions and goals is a New Year’s tradition that most of us participate in. Starting over and/or starting again is exciting and challenges our determination! Mark your calendars now to start a savings schedule for 2020 that can be used for your next down payment!
Team Lead & Realtor Diane Mallare says, “The best way to save for a down payment is to open a separate savings account dedicated to this fund. Have your employer automatically deduct this from your paycheck and deposit into this new account. Additional savings can be added when you receive them: gift money, bonuses, tax refunds, etc.! Furthermore, create a budget and adhere to it. Saving up for your home is well worth the wait!”.
It is absolutely the best time of year to turn a new page so move forward with no regrets, no more waiting till the last minute, and start every beginning with specific & realistic goals.To help prioritize commitments, we have an idea for each month to focus on below.
January— Create a spreadsheet or track your expenses via an app. A great way to do this is to list out payments/bills for four months of income on the topic row. In the first left column down, group expenses into three categories: Home/ Maintenance/ Daily. The home group will store your mortgage/rent, vehicle payments, utilities, & auto savings account deposits. The maintenance group stores family expenses like fuel/ travel, dry cleaning, babysitters, animal care, groceries + money savings towards house maintenance and projects. Finally, the daily category is the place to enter extras like monthly memberships for a gym, car washes, beauty products, and eating out to name a few. Use this month to month to track a real snapshot of where your money is going OR use an app like Mint to sync your accounts to and watch your money real time vs. your budget.
February—Consult with a mortgage specialist. Dive into how much you’ll really need and what loans you qualify or could qualify for based on what is found. If this is already known and in play, use this month to check in with your lender, run a credit report, and look into down payment assistance programs. Stay in it and consult those around you when you need motivation to keep going!
March— Organize your home. Keeping things in proper places keeps you from buying more than you need. Get your spring cleaning on this month and maybe there are items you can sell during the process- cash bonus!
April— Lower your expenses. There are many household items that can save you money over time. Invest in a smart thermostat OR get a FREE one through BGE‘s Peak Rewards program. Lower your temperature setting in the winter and raise it in the summer. Consider dialing down your water heater temperature and use cold water for your laundry more. Switch out to LED lighting, while it’s an expensive upfront cost, it can save you hundreds over time. Spend this month revisiting phone plans, cable plans, insurance plans, and setting your vacation dates for the off season.
May—Set a daily budget. Use the spreadsheet created at the beginning of the year to tally up the total cost of the daily category only. Divide that number by 120 and round up to discover what the average daily expenses from the past four months are. Break that number down to these five categories: Coffee/AM costs, Lunches, Afternoon snacks/ activities, and Dinner. Assign an amount for each five daily cost groups and tell the fam! Knowing these numbers like $10 available for lunch per person & $30 for dinner etc. per day will keep you disciplined. It will now be clear if $50 is spent on one meal, the next three will need to be made at home to stay on track. Play around with this and see what works best for you! Also, revisit this every four months to recalculate your average trend and adjust the daily budget accordingly.
June— Avoid debt. If that’s not possible, be proud of what you’ve saved since the New Year and now at the halfway mark, begin decreasing your debt. Tackling debt first and saving second can lead to revolving credit issues and quitting all together. The debt-snowball method is a reduction strategy by tackling one account at a time. It works something like, start with a $200 payment per month to the account with the smallest balance. Once that’s paid off, double the payment (now with one less bill!) to $400 per month towards the account with the next smallest balance. Keep working down the hill, doubling as you go, until you reach the account with the largest debt. Gaining forward momentum vs. being spread too thin between many challenges most likely always has the better odds for success.
July— Practice waiting. Impulse buying will destroy a savings plan the quickest. With all the advertising in every media platform, temptation is hard to resist. Create a mandatory waiting time as in 36 hours (i.e. clothing items) or 30 days (i.e. car) to see if the “I must have this” feeling wears off. Repetition is key; so the more you avoid debt, the less you will have.
August— One extracurricular activity per person. There is a lot of pressure to be in multiple different extracurricular activities. It’s possible for family members to be in art club, piano lessons, and multiple sports teams throughout the year. While exposing the youth to many different interests is wonderful, financially it can add up. Discover ways this month to be more focused as the summer comes to an end.
September— Meal plan. This seems impossible unless you’re forced or super into it! Being parents, the first month of school is the perfect time for inspiration on preparing good, healthy meals for a fraction of the cost.
October— Prioritize. Open a separate account for your down payment fund once you’ve reached $1,000.00 in savings. To protect yourself from yourself, don’t store this money in your regular banking account. There will come a time especially now after ten months into your savings calendar, that a getaway trip or a shopping spree may tempt you (or your spouse!). Prioritize the work you’ve done thus far by giving it it’s own place. This month, get to know what you truly want and WHY you want it. Defining priorities will keep the false impulses away for good.
November— Haggle. It’s amazing what you can save by pressing (not pushing) the point. You can’t get a lower price on a service or item without asking. Ask every time at checkout if there are coupons available that you didn’t know about or search for promo codes online Every. Time. Cha-ching!
December—Believe. The tips above work, but only if you do. Believe in yourself and get after it to see the biggest return on your efforts. You can do it! Ask for help before needing it and trust that you’ll have the willpower to follow through. This month, celebrate the gifts you received throughout the year and with the rewards of sticking to a savings plan! Congrats on a great year!
For more tips on home decor, real estate market updates, & local biz; keep reading the D&C Blog and reach out to email@example.com anytime with all of your questions! We love consulting with you prior to buying/ listing your home to help simplify the process, it’s one of our specialities!
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