INBdownpaymentI’m fortunate to get to spend my days helping people buy their homes.  It’s exciting to help them look, plan and prepare to take on homeownership.

But before they can sign any papers or schedule an appraisal, they need to figure out how to handle one major piece of the puzzle: a down payment.

A down payment is a percentage of a purchase price that is paid upfront. When it comes to a home mortgage, most banks today expect a certain percentage of the home’s purchase price to be paid by the buyers in the form of a down payment. Here’s how you can save to come up with the money for your down payment:

1. Set a realistic goal for a home within your budget. Visit with a mortgage lender who will allow you to get a good idea of your target price in your budget, or even get pre-qualified for a loan.

2. Choose the right type of savings account and make savings automatic. There are several kinds of savings accounts available to jump-start your home savings, and you can also set up scheduled transfers between your checking and savings accounts so that saving is easy and automatic. Or a vehicle like a Certificate of Deposit will hold your money for a certain period of time and often yields higher interest rates.

3. Make adjustments to your lifestyle and budget to boost savings. Consider reducing living expenses by renting a cheaper apartment or downgrading your vehicle to a less expensive model. You can also focus on steps like decreasing your grocery budget (Try clipping coupons; you can save a lot of money doing this.) and cutting back on eating out at restaurants. Reducing those smaller expenditures each month may seem slow but will only help to bolster your savings.

4. Make more money. If there is no wiggle room in your current budget for more savings, a simple option is to increase your income, even if just temporarily to save for your down payment. There are many kinds of opportunities for extra income, from freelancing to part-time jobs to service jobs like babysitting or lawn mowing.

5. Temporarily scale back other savings. To focus on the sole task of saving for a down payment, consider trimming back the amount you are contributing to other savings like retirement or college education. Then once you buy your home, you can resume those savings again.

6. Be patient. It can often take a long time, even years, for your savings to add up in order for you to put your desired amount down on your mortgage. But the short-term sacrifice of saving will mean that you are more comfortable in the long run with a mortgage that fits your lifestyle and your budget.

Time and discipline are on your side as you save for a down payment on a home, and all of the planning you put in now pave the way for you to step through the doors of your dream house with the title of “owner”!