Buying your first home is a wonderful experience.
It can be that life-changing step towards freedom, but in order to take that step you need a deposit. The more money you save the less you’ll have to borrow, and the less you’ll have to borrow, the less you’ll have to pay in interest.
Sound easy? The truth is saving a home deposit is no walk in the park; it takes discipline, sacrifice, focus and determination. The good news is that we have made it easy for you to do, just follow our 10 saving tips and you could be on your way to save for your first home!
TIP #1: SET GOALS
Goals are the best way to know where you are and where you want to be, otherwise your strategy will unravel fast.
Work out how much you think you need for your property and how long it will take you to save. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable. It’s no good aiming to buy a million dollar home if you only can afford to save $25,000 over three years. Set short term goals that you know you’ll be able to reach first and then later you can reassess your finances to see if you can increase your savings.
TIP #2: MONITOR YOUR FINANCES
When you make the decision to save for a home you don’t have to throw your social calendar out the window completely, but you may need to make some lifestyle adjustments.
Target the simple things; you’d be surprised how your day-to-day expenses add up. Here are three things to consider:
- Write down your income for the month, what you have bought and how much. Having a visual guide will allow you to see what you didn’t really need and how you can improve for the following month.
- Bring lunch from home instead of buying it, or if you are paying for a gym membership you don’t use, get rid of it!
- Consider reducing your inflexible costs. Are you paying rent? Think about potentially moving in with your parents or renting somewhere cheaper.
TIP #3: DO AWAY WITH DEBT
Debt can often be a barrier to achieving savings goals. Credit cards and personal loans can have very high interest rates, and people get into the trap of paying off the interest only, without even touching the principal.
Once you start to pay the principal off, make sure you reduce your credit limit. Don’t get lured in by the bank’s attractive advertising to increase your credit limit – it is a trap! There are loads of savings/debit cards that can be used like credit cards but only use the money you have available.
Another good idea is to create an easy-view table outlining your current loans. Start by making a list and order them from most important to least important. Make sure that most important is the loan with the highest interest rate with the least left to pay. Once you’ve paid it off you can use that money to target the next.
TIP #4: BANK THE UNEXPECTED
Be smart with unexpected money. Tax returns, pay rises, Christmas bonuses or an inheritance can all be used cleverly.
To get ahead, rather than spend that money on the latest Flat Screen LED TV, think again. If you can put that extra cash towards your debt to help pay it off quicker, you will waste less money on interest. This will help you not only form good habits but it will also help you build up a good credit rating.
TIP #5: FOUR WORDS: HIGH INTEREST SAVING ACCOUNTS
If buying a home is a few years away, secure your home deposit with a high interest savings account. Most high interest accounts are online to avoid administration costs, so be sure to check out any restrictions there may be for the account before committing.
Term Deposits are also a great savings tool for first home buyers. A Term Deposit is a cash investment held at a bank or financial institution for an agreed rate of interest over a fixed amount of time.
Most financial institutions ask that you invest from a minimum of $5,000 and choose an investment term that suits you (from 1 month up to 5 years). The beauty of Term Deposits is you can nominate to receive your interest payments monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually on deposits of 12 months or more.
TIP #6: MAKE IT EASY: AUTOMATE
We all know the old adage ‘time is money.’ Imagine all the time you could save by automating the day-to-day stuff; paying bills, transferring money and saving can all be done for you. All you have to do is automate!
To become an expert saver, set up an automatic transfer of money to a high interest savings account on the day you get paid. That way you won’t notice the money’s gone and it will be a lot easier to stick to your budget.
Online banking has made the process a whole lot easier and can save you hours of tiresome administration. Another option is to ask your work to automatically pay a portion of your wage into a different savings account. If you don’t see it, you won’t spend it!
TIP #7: LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
The ‘accidental’ parking ticket and the ‘unexpected’ root canal are just some of life’s lemons that can derail even the most cautiously coordinated savings plan.
To prepare for the unexpected, set up a ‘just in case’ account with an automated payment of $100 a month. This gives you accidental money so you don’t have to dig into your savings.
TIP #8: SHARE THE LOAD
There is no doubt that when saving for a home that two incomes are better than one. Dual income equals greater capital which means you’ll not only be able to get into the housing market sooner but you’ll also have less financial stress when managing your home loan.
For those who want to keep their finances separate, many banks and lenders offer what’s known as Property Share. This is a home loan option which allows friends or business partners to purchase a property together whilst keeping their funds flexible to reflect their individual financial requirements.
Making the commitment to buy a property with your partner or friend is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Here are three things you should do before you take the property plunge.
- Establish a civil working relationship.
- Draw up a co-ownership agreement that is signed by all parties.
- Consider all legal requirements dependent on your situation.
Click here to calculate your borrowing capacity.
TIP #9: DON’T BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW
Just because you can save that much doesn’t mean you can afford to.
If you managed to save over $2000 last month but have been sitting by candlelight at night and living on nothing but two minute noodles, then perhaps it’s time to re-examine your finances. Whilst it is important to make sacrifices, it shouldn’t be at the expense of your health and well-being.
This also applies to when a bank or lender recommends a loan for you, don’t assume just because you qualify for approval that you can afford it. Go back to your plan and work out exactly how much you can afford to save or pay, so you don’t end up biting off more than you can chew.
TIP #10: MASTER THE ART OF SAVINGS AND TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR FUTURE
Forming a good, long-term savings strategy is extremely important and, like many things, is a habit that needs to be worked on.
Don’t get disheartened if you don’t build up your savings as quickly as you had hoped. If you have a clear and concise road map of where you want to be, there is nothing stopping you from getting there. It is normal to hit bumps along the way but if you stay positive and on track you will eventually get to your destination.
By following our 10 savings tips, you will be able to apply your refined savings skills to some of life’s other milestones.