If you’re saving up for that big down payment on your first home, you know how tough it can be to trim your expenses and stick to your budget. While scrimping and saving are rough-going all year round, it’s particularly difficult during the holiday season. Between the obligatory gifts and the compulsory parties, it seems as if the season of giving was designed explicitly to rob you of all your hard-saved money.
The good news is that the holidays don’t have to ruin your plans to get first-time home buyer pre-approval. If you follow a few simple tips, you can keep those holiday expenses in check and stay on track to owning your first home.
Giving a personal gift instead of an expensive gift may be easier said than done, but it’s well worth it if you want to save money while still showing that you care. In the end, thinking more in terms of sentiment than cents may pay rich dividends in stronger relationships. After all, many people appreciate a gift that has heart behind it, even if it comes with a low price tag.
What to Do: Perhaps you can’t afford to buy your friends a lavish gift, but maybe you have some spare time to bake some homemade treats. Maybe your budget rules out buying your parents that new knife set they always wanted, but you can always give them a coupon for a home-cooked meal or a thorough housecleaning. Get creative, use your talents, and select something meaningful.
Budget Your Gift List
If you’re in the habit of saving, then you’re probably used to creating budgets. While yearly and monthly budgets are great for keeping the big picture in mind, there’s nothing that says you shouldn’t create budgets for smaller goings-on, like holiday gift giving.
What to Do: If you know exactly how much you’re going to spend on presents (many experts recommend spending no more than 1-1.5 percent of your total annual income on holiday gifts), then you can afford to be generous without breaking the bank. If you want to be really thorough, make a list of all the people you plan to give gifts to, and then decide how much you plan to spend on each person, making sure the total gift amount doesn’t exceed your limit.
Downsize the Holidaymaking
The holidays are synonymous with good cheer. ‘Tis the season of huge office parties, massive gatherings, and expensive getaways. While we would all love to throw a big bash every year or take that week-long vacation to Aspen, it’s probably not a good idea if you’re walking a financial tightrope.
What to Do: Instead of the usual get-together that includes anyone you ever knew (and many you never laid eyes on), consider throwing a small party for close friends and family. Not only will you have fewer mouths to feed, but those closest to you will probably be more forgiving when you replace those expensive appetizers with homemade dips and breads. If you’re in the habit of visiting faraway relatives or taking a major trip, try staying close to home for one year. After all, you can always entertain big when you get the keys to your very own home.
While cutting down on gifts or parties may seem like a drop in the bucket when it comes to stashing money for a down payment on a home, wise savers know that every penny counts, and sound holiday saving strategies can put you one step closer to achieving your goal of owning a brand-new home. If you want more tips and tricks for becoming a homeowner, visit your trusty Chicago mortgage brokers at A and N Mortgage for expert advice.