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Tips to save for a down payment

Posted September 17, 2014 in Advice Column

Before transitioning from renter to home owner, potential buyers must typically save between 5 and 20 percent of the home’s value for the down payment. WCF Financial Bank is offering tips to help consumers prepare for one of the first steps in the home buying process — saving for a down payment.

Saving money for a down payment, while balancing life’s many other expenses, can be incredibly challenging. However, with a few adjustments, consumers can put themselves on track to make a down payment on their dream home.

WCF Financial Bank suggests the following tips to help consumers save:

• Develop a budget and timeline. Start by determining how much you’ll need for a down payment. Create a budget and calculate how much you can realistically save each month — that will help you gauge when you’ll be ready to transition from renter to homeowner.

• Establish a separate savings account. Set up a separate savings account exclusively for your down payment and make your monthly contributions automatic. By keeping this money separate, you’ll be less likely to tap into it when you’re tight on cash.

• Shop around to reduce major monthly expenses. It’s a good idea to check rates for your car insurance, renter’s insurance, health insurance, cable, Internet or cell phone plan. There may be deals or promotions available that allow you to save hundreds of dollars by adjusting your contracts.

• Monitor your spending. With online banking, keeping an eye on your spending is easier than ever. Track where most of your discretionary income is going. Identify areas where you could cut back (e.g. nice meals out, movies, clothes, etc.) and instead put that money into savings.

• Look into state and local home-buying programs. Many states, counties and local governments operate programs for first-time homebuyers. Some programs offer housing discounts, while others provide down payment loans or grants. Contact your local banker for more information.

• Celebrate savings milestones. Saving enough for a down payment can be daunting. To avoid getting discouraged, break it up into smaller goals and reward yourself when you reach each one. If you need to save $30,000 total, consider treating yourself to a nice meal every $5,000 saved. This will help you stay motivated throughout the process.

Information provided by  Kylle Swon, WCF Financial Bank, 820 Des Moines St., Webster City,

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