Five Tips For Saving That You Haven't Heard of YetPosted by Steve Minino on Monday, April 1st, 2013 at 10:43am.
Need some motivation to save up for that down payment? Want to put more back into your mortgage? You've likely heard many tired tips and tricks for saving: buy in bulk, stick to a budget, the list goes on and on. We've collected some tips you likely haven't come across yet, to give you the extra help you need to reign in your spending so that you can make some headway on purchasing your home.
- Get healthy. Paying attention to your own health and wellness is probably the most overlooked strategy for giving your bank account a boost. There are many reasons that being healthy physically will make you healthy financially. For starters, being healthy means you'll be able to work more days, which means more money in your bank account. It also means less costly health insurance, doctor's bills and medications. Homemade meals with fresh vegetables are cheaper than eating out (or about the same cost, depending on quality and quantity), and benefit you far more. Exercise is as free as taking a walk, and has been proven to drastically improve the state of one's mind.
- Try no-spend days. Ever heard of this? It can be a pretty powerful weapon to have in your arsenal of frugality. A no-spend day is one where you spend zero dollars on non-essentials. Essentials would be scheduled bill payments and gas for your car (if it's empty); that's about it. No-spend days require planning, which is what makes them so effective. When you plan your days, weeks, and months ahead of time, you leave less room for impulse purchases and end up using what you already have on hand. This can be very effective for cleaning out the freezer, or wearing clothes you haven't pulled out of the closet in a while. Some people even like to set a monthly goal, for example: "this month, I will have four no-spend days".
- Save your impulses. If you can be really mindful when you're about to engage in an impulse buy, this tip might be right up your alley. The next time you're at the checkout counter at the store and you reach for that pack of gum, check yourself. Record what the price of that item is, and transfer what you would have spent on it from your checking account into your savings account. If you have a smartphone, it's even easier to do this with various apps. For chronic impulse shoppers, this can really make quite a bit of difference, as long as you practice being very aware of when you're about to have an impulse buy.
- Never new. Try making the bulk of your purchases pre-owned. This would include clothing, household items, cars, and just about anything else. When you're getting together a down payment, it only makes sense to make saving up that chunk of change your first priority. Don't have a TV as big as you'd like? Need to make do with a second-hand sofa? It will pay off when you move into your own home. It will also make you take a second look at what you're spending money on: maybe you can live with your current bedroom set after all. You might find, unexpectedly, some great outcomes from buying used. Clothing swaps not only help you save money on new clothes, they also allow you to visit with friends on the cheap. Likewise, you can meet some great people in your community by buying on Craigslist or other similar sites. Make sure you keep your safety in mind for these transactions, however.
- Share, and share alike. If you live centrally in your city and don't need to use your car much, consider giving it up. Now, this is a drastic measure, but hear me out. Not having a car is a big change, but it can also put a lot of money back into your pocket, especially if you're still making payments. Think about how much you pay for insurance, gas, and upkeep on your vehicle. Now think about how much your car's value depreciates every day, week, month, and year. A car will never be a good investment, but a house is. If you require the use of a car (say, for a big shopping trip or a weekend away), there are plenty of options. Car share programs, like ZipCar, are a great alternative to renting, the costs of which can quickly add up.
Saving up for a down payment doesn't have to mean giving up everything you love. With careful planning and discipline, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to budget a down payment into your financial plan. Do you have your own insights to share? Weigh in below, in the comment section!
Steve Minino - Realtor, CRENHopkins Minino Home Team
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