The thought of creating a budget may seem a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! A few small changes and fixing a habit here and there can add up over time. If buying a home is in your future, getting started with a budget now can pay off tenfold when you’re ready to become a homeowner. Keep reading for tips you should consider when budgeting and saving for a future home purchase.
Review every expense for 2-3 months.
First things first – when you’re setting up a budget, it’s a good idea to see where your money is currently being spent. Pull up your bank and credit card statements and create a spreadsheet (or print them out), allowing you to see which transactions are recurring vs. spontaneous, how much you’re spending overall, and check to see if there are any transactions that you were unaware of. This is a great starting point and allows you to categorize fixed expenses vs. variable expenses.
Decide where to cut back.
When lining up your expenses, chances are, you’ll quickly realize there are areas in which you could save money. Whether it’s cutting your daily coffee shop run, canceling subscription services you rarely use, or simply using less electricity or water, these small changes can make a big difference over a year. This doesn’t mean you need to take away all of the ‘fun’ expenses and little luxuries you enjoy, it simply allows you to decide where you’d prefer to put that money.
Think outside of the box.
Likewise, you don’t have to give up all of the fun and excitement in your life to create a budget. It’s okay to set aside a sum of money for things you enjoy, but it’s also fun to think of new ways to do the things you love. For example, if you enjoy date nights at local restaurants, perhaps take a virtual cooking class from home with your significant other and prepare a gourmet dinner. Maybe you drive into a big city to work and pay for parking each day – consider taking the train or bus to your office instead to save on those parking bills. If you have a hobby that you enjoy, consider ways to monetize it and turn your passion into extra income.
Inquire about reducing your bills.
More often than not, there are recurring bills that you may be able to negotiate a better price. Things like cell phones, cable, internet, home services, and more are typically flexible and a simple phone call to the company may save you some cash each month. There are even services for hire that can handle the negotiations for you, but note that they’ll expect a percentage of the savings after successfully lowering your bills.
Decide how much to dedicate to savings.
Once you’ve determined your monthly spending and cash flow (money in vs. money out) and understand how much of it goes to your fixed expenses, it’s time to decide how to utilize the additional cash coming in each month. It’s okay to leave some wiggle room for ‘fun’ money and entertainment, but before you do that, determine how much you’d like to put into a savings or investment account. but if you’re able to stash away even more than that, it will help you reach your savings goals more quickly! To make this process more painless, set up a monthly automatic transfer from your bank account into your savings and/or investment accounts.
If buying a home is in your plans, it’s never too early to begin planning for this life-changing purchase. Setting a budget is always beneficial, no matter where you are in your home buying journey. It’s a good idea to consult with a mortgage lender well before you’re ready to buy, as he or she can provide helpful budgeting advice and even provide insight into how much cash you should be prepared to have on hand when purchasing a home. You may be surprised how little you actually need with many low to no down payment mortgage options.
At C&F Mortgage, our local industry experts are here for you every step of the way and aim to make your home buying journey as easy and exciting as possible. Get in touch with us today to get started on your future home purchase.