5 Lazy Person-Approved Ways to Save for a Down Payment

published Oct 4, 2018
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Saving money for a down payment on a house may seem like a monumental task, but it doesn’t have to be. By taking baby steps toward your goal and giving yourself enough time to reach it, you can make the entire process more palatable.

And, if you’re not the most motivated person, these five tips and tricks from real estate and financial experts are so easy that even the laziest among you will likely approve.

1. Set it and forget it.

It’s difficult to spend money when you don’t have access to it. That’s the philosophy of Holden Lewis, a writer at NerdWallet specializing in mortgages and homeownership. He suggests setting up a portion of your paycheck to automatically deposit into a savings account every time you get paid. “Open up the account and dedicate it toward the down payment,” he says. Then, deposit either a dollar amount every paycheck or a percentage of your income.

If you’re a gig worker or a freelancer, this might be harder to do because you have to split up your paycheck yourself. “It may help to set up rules in advance: Don’t deduct anything to savings until you reach a threshold for the month, then save a percentage after that,” he says.

2. Learn to say no.

If you’re a “yes” person, learn to be more of a “no” person to easily save some cash: “Saying yes requires a ton of energy and money,” Steven Gottlieb, an agent with Warburg Realty, says. “Just say no to every evening or weekend activity that comes along. You’d never have to leave the house and could save that down payment money in the process.”

While giving your entire social life might be a bit of a stretch for some people, you can start by saying “no” to some—but not all—invitations to dinners, concerts, vacations, and the like–or at least cutting back on such unnecessary expenses.

3. There’s an app for that.

Need a cheerleader in your corner to save some dough? The NerdWallet app is just the ticket, Lewis says. It allows you to set a savings goal, tracks your progress; and uses positive reinforcement to motivate you to stay on track. Here are 5 other apps that make saving easy.

4. Make your money work for you

Compounding interest can be a huge factor in your savings, says Emily Boothroyd, a private wealth advisor with Price Financial Group LLC in Wilton, Connecticut. Don’t settle for a low interest rate like 0.15 percent in your checking account, she says.

Also, seek out safe options to get some interest on your savings: “Many FDIC insured institutions have high-interest savings. If you know it’ll take you two years to save up, check out CDs and high-yielding savings accounts to let your money grow while you wait.”

5. Switch it up.

When you’re spending more than you’re saving, reaching that down payment might never happen. You might have to make some lifestyle changes to meet your goal.

To make it as painless as possible, Lewis says, initially commit to saving a modest amount per month, like $20. Decide what you can do differently or give up to save that money, such as taking a side gig or canceling your music subscription. He notes that you’ll quickly figure out what expenses aren’t a priority. Over time, continue to incrementally increase that monthly goal and gradually make more and more changes until you reach your goal.