Save Your Way to Homeownership!

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High rents are indisputable, and everyone is feeling the pinch of inflated costs on everyday expenses like food, gasoline and utilities.  Still, those rent dollars are gone forever, with ZERO impact on your personal wealth.  If you’re keen on owning your own home, but struggling to save up a downpayment (and closing costs like moving expenses, mortgage closing costs, etc) - here are some great tips!  

DSA - Designated Savings Account 

It’s hard to measure progress unless you’ve got an easy visual, so first things first.  Set up a designated savings account specifically for your homebuying goal.  Even if it has just a $25 balance for the first month, it’s ok - you’ve made a start! Be sure to find a bank that won’t charge you fees, and one that preferably pays you some interest.  

Start Cutting Expenses

You may feel like you’re already living lean, but consider the savings you can enjoy with some of these tips. Be sure to calculate the savings, and transfer that savings into your DSA!

  • Do It Yourself - clean your own apartment, wash your own car, do your own manicures, make your own gifts. If you can find a good deal on some used equipment, rake your own leaves, snowblow your own driveway, shovel your own walk, clean your own gutters, etc.  
  • Eat In - groceries are no bargain right now either, but find some recipes that use less expensive and healthier ingredients such as beans, veggies and grains and try them a few times a week in place of higher priced meats.  Plan your meals so that dinner can also be someone’s lunch over the next day or so. Make large batches, casseroles, soups -  and freeze.  Make your coffee at home, quit the $5+/day drive-thru habit,  and you’ll save $1500 from that alone!  Entertain at home - have friends over for games, cards, movie night and potluck. 
  • Cancel unused subscriptions - recurring monthly automatic charges to your credit cards and bank account are stealthy saboteurs!  $19.95 a month adds up fast, especially when you’re multiplying it by 6,7,8+.  Are you watching  all the cable channels?  Are you actually reading the online professional journals?  Are you getting value from your memberships?  Do you utilize your paid apps and streaming services? Do you really need the credit card payment protection plan? (this is one I just found and eliminated).  Depending on your usage, this can be a HUGE area of savings.  Make sure all of the savings goes into your DSA and not toward other fun.  
  • Get focused on utility usage - costs will be high enough this year without paying for more than you need. Turn the thermostat down 5 degrees on your heat and your hot water tank.  Unplug countertop appliances and lamps you don’t use regularly.  Run only full loads of dishes and laundry. Experiment with duct vents to focus heat on the rooms you’re actually using. Get those window air conditioners out and eliminate all the other drafts too.  
  • Curb your purchases - basically, if you don’t truly NEED it, don’t buy it. Don’t worry - this isn’t forever - but right now, you’re on a mission!  Join your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook, and check there first for anything you DO need.  Shop at consignment and thrift stores.  Ask friends and neighbors if you can borrow the rarely-needed tool or small appliance. Get your media from the library, where you may also find a “library of things”.  In many instances, access to an item is just as good if not better than having and storing an item.   
  • Rethink your extra-curriculars - if your free time is loaded up with lessons, classes, gym time, and club activities, consider putting one or two on pause if it won't harm your physical or mental well-being. You can always return to to this fun when you've got roots planted in your own home.  

Boost Your Income 

  • Make sure that your money is working for you -  confirm that  your credit card fees and bank account fees are as low as possible if not non-existent.  Consider using a credit card with a points or cash back system instead of a debit card or cash for your day to day usage, as long as you pay it off completely on a monthly basis. Once your DSA grows, start shopping 6 month CD and money market rates.  
  • Get a roommate - if your personality can handle this, and especially if they have a similar goal of homeownership, this can be a boon for you.  Make sure your landlord will allow it -  then verify employment, credit, and references before creating a written agreement.  This may not sound ideal - but can be a very effective means to a rewarding end - for you and your roomie! 
  • Sell your unwanted stuff - there’s a market for just about everything on Facebook Marketplace, EBay or  Craigs List.  If you don’t have the time or energy, there are folks out there that will do it for you, for a percentage of the sale.  Consigning goods and clothing is also an option.  Lightening up on material things has an added benefit - it will be easier and less expensive to move when you buy that first home! 
  • Ask for money - if you’re lucky enough to have family members who shower you with gifts every holiday season, tell them about your homeownership goals and ask them for the cash instead.  This ask may feel awkward, but it’s likely you’ll be doing them a favor by suggesting a gift that is truly meaningful and important -  and one that they don’t need to shop for.  
  • Consider employment gains - and make sure they go straight into your DSA.  Are you due for a raise?  Is there a special project you could sign on for with your current employer?  Do you have the bandwidth for a second job, just temporarily - maybe a few hours holiday retail in your favorite store  (employment shortages are widespread - so use this to your advantage)  

Be Inspired by Progress

Start out with just a few of these strategies, and as the balance in your DSA grows on a monthly basis, you’ll  be inspired to try out a few more.  Fuel your dream of homeownership by virtually touring homes for sale online. Many people find that a vision board is helpful for maintaining a positive mindset.  Through a continuance of intentional and inspired effort, you will realize your goal.  


Charlene Frary is a Realtor with Realty Executives Boston West in Framingham, Massachusetts.  For 40 years, she has helped people transition from renting to homeownership throughout the MetroWest region. To access her expertise and guidance , email charlenefrary@gmail, and visit