9 Creative Ways To Save For A House (That Actually Work)

Key Takeaways

  • The earlier you can start saving for a down payment, the better.
  • Start saving for a house today by organizing your finances and tackling your debt.
  • If you’ve been having a hard time saving for a house, try one of these unusual ways to save.

If you’ve been looking for ideas on how to save for a house in today’s economic landscape, you’re not alone. According to a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors, the majority of Americans today want to purchase a home, but are concerned about affordability and increasing home prices in their respective areas. However, saving up for a down payment is not an impossible feat to triumph over. With the right amount of diligence and creativity, you can start saving for a new home today.

When And How Do People Start Saving For A Down Payment?

If you plan to purchase a home in the next few years, you’ll want to start saving for a down payment right away. Offering a large down payment can lower your monthly mortgage payments and eliminate private mortgage insurance (PMI) fees, thus saving you a lot of money in the long run. The sooner you get started, the larger of a down payment you’ll be able to save up for by the time you’re ready to buy.

Sitting down with a mortgage lender can be a great way to get started. Make an appointment for a pre-qualification, during which the lender will go over your finances and outline how large of a mortgage you currently qualify for. This is also a great time to find out what areas need improvement, such as your credit score or income. This process should not be confused with pre-approval, which helps you become a qualified buyer once you’re ready to shop for homes. To learn more about the pre-qualification and pre-approval processes, as well as a guide on estimating how much house you can afford, click here.

After sitting down with your lender, you should have a much better idea of how much house you can currently afford, and what goals you need to meet if you want to increase that budget. For example, let’s say that you currently qualify for a property worth $200,000, but you want to increase that budget to $350,000. Establishing this goal allows you to calculate exactly how much more you need to save up for a down payment.

Down Payment Calculator

Smartasset.com offers an easy-to-use calculator that provides down payment options based on your estimated purchase price. Continuing with the example from earlier, if you input a home value of $350,000, you will find that you’d need to save a minimum of $12,250 for a 3.5 percent down payment, or up to $70,000 for a 20 percent down payment. The different down payment percentages shown in the results section are determined by the loan type. Although opting for a mortgage with a low down payment requirement might help you qualify for a house faster, anything lower than 20 percent typically results in higher mortgage payments and mortgage insurance fees. Be sure to keep these implications in mind when determining how much to save.

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Down payment

6 Steps You Can Take Today To Start Saving For A House

Once you’ve determined your home buying timeline and down payment amount, you can now calculate exactly how much you need to save per month. When thinking of a down payment as a lump sum, it’s easy to feel discouraged. However, breaking it down into monthly savings targets can help you save mindfully without getting overwhelmed. Here are six steps you can take to start saving today:

  1. Track your spending: Experiment with using your credit or debit card for every purchase for at least one month, so that you can take a microscope to your spending habits. Budgeting apps such as NerdWallet or Mint make it easy for users to link their bank accounts and organize their spending into categories.

  2. Tighten up your budget: After analyzing your spending, find ways to cut back on any extras or luxuries. You may find yourself making some sacrifices, but try to keep your eyes on the prize. Canceling that premium music subscription will feel well worth it when you’re signing the documents for your new home.

  3. Set up automatic savings: Once of the best ways to save money without really missing it is by setting up an automatic savings account. You can work with your bank to set up a recurring transfer from your checking account to a separate savings account.

  4. Save any windfalls: Instead of spending any windfalls you receive during the year, such as that annual bonus or tax return, put it in your savings account. Saving any large inflows of cash can help you accrue a down payment much faster. If you receive a raise and are able to cover your basic needs, take the extra amount in each payment and have it automatically transfer into your savings account. Just because you received a raise doesn’t mean you need to increase your spending.

  5. Tackle your debt: Student or credit card debt payments can eat up your budget, and accruing interest can sometimes make them feel impossible to pay off. Try implementing debt payoff strategies that will help you free up your budget so you can save up more toward your down payment. For example, learn how to implement the debt snowball method, one of the most popular strategies for paying off debt.

  6. Look for ways to boost your income: Ask yourself if it’s time to ask for that raise or promotion, or consider taking on a part-time job or freelance work on the side.

9 Unusual Ways To Save For A Down Payment

Creating room in your budget so that you can start saving for a down payment can be challenging. Even after tightening up on spending and increasing savings, some will find that they still cannot save up enough each month. If you find yourself in this predicament, try some of these creative hacks to increase your cash flow opportunities:

  • Get paid to advertise: There are companies out there that will pay you to advertise on your blog, share posts on social media, or even use your car for ad space. Here’s a great blog article on how to get paid to advertise for companies.

  • Sell your belongings: Go through your belongings and round up items you don’t want or need. List these items for sale on sites like eBay or Craigslist to make some extra cash. You can even spend your free time hunting through yard sales, flea markets or consignment stores to find goods you can up-sell online.

  • Become a driver: If you have a clean driving record and a vehicle that meets requirements, sign up to become a driver through a ride share company like Uber or Lyft. These programs allow the flexibility of creating your own schedule.

  • Provide care: Do you like animals or children? The gig economy has paved the way for sites like Wag or Care.com, which make it easy to sign up as a care provider for children or pets in your neighborhood. Upon registering, you can specify your availability and desired activities.

  • Go on a spending diet: Try going on a spending diet, or detox if you will, for at least one month. This means limiting your spending to purchases that are absolutely essential. You might be surprised at how much you can save when abstaining from daily coffee runs, dining out or shopping.

  • Cancel your subscriptions: Along with your spending diet, try canceling all of your subscription-based services, such as cable, music, gyms or even internet for one month. Force yourself to find free alternatives, such as reading books, using free wi-fi, or working out outside. Then, gradually add back the services you can’t live without. This could also be a great opportunity to find cheaper services or new customer specials.

  • Seek free entertainment: Money spent on social activities, such as going out with friends or date night, can quickly eat up your discretionary income. Try to make a fun challenge out of planning activities that are free, such as potlucks or free events hosted in your city.

  • Switch up your commute: Consider riding your bike or taking public transportation to work, if you live close enough. Not only can this save on gas and parking, alternative modes of transportation can double as your daily exercise. You can also carpool with a coworker or participate in a ride share program to cut down on gas and wear-and-tear on your vehicle.

  • Change your housing: For those willing to go the extra mile, consider switching up your housing arrangement. This could mean anything from adding a roommate, downsizing or even moving back in with your parents until you can save up for your down payment.


According to a recent report from Zillow, it can take roughly 6.5 years to build a 20 percent down payment for a median-value home. These calculations are based on an individual who makes the national median income, and who saves 20 percent of their income each month. Beat this statistic by getting started saving for a down payment today and utilizing some of the numerous strategies available on how to save for a house. Achieving the dream of homeownership is entirely possible for those willing to put in the work and find creative ways to save.

Do you know any other out-of-the-box ways of saving up for a down payment? Feel free to share in the comments below:

Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies