Shopping for new digs is an exhilarating time, especially when you find the perfect little jewel in the perfect little neighborhood. The way you budget for a new home depends largely on how you live now. For example, couples moving from a starter home to a second-stage home differ significantly from first-time home buyers who are transitioning from paying rent to paying a mortgage. The most prudent budget course to follow for renters about to advance to home ownership is to live within the confines of a large monthly payment while still renting.
Determine an exact date when you would like to move into your new home. Make sure you are specific. For instance, rather than saying, “we’d like to have a new home in the next six months,” say “we will move in to our new home on October 1”.
Calculate a mortgage payment that you can both afford. Use the mortgage calculator tool in the "Resources" section to settle on an amount that works within your current budget.
Split this payment between the two of you.
Open a high interest savings account or money market account. Make sure the funds are guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Deposit the two halves of the mortgage payment into this account at the first of every month. For example, if the mortgage payment you agreed upon was $1150, each of you would deposit $575 into your savings account each month. Cut back on flexible expenses such as entertainment, eating out, clothes, shoes, travel and electronics to make room for this savings. This is easier to do than you might think. Dropping your $5 morning latté alone will net you $100 per month.
Continue this practice for the duration of time up until your projected move-in date.
Put this money toward the down payment on your new home.
- Washington State Department of Financial Institutions: How To Pick The Short Term Investment That Fits Your Needs
- The Smart Consumer's Guide to Home Buying; Peter A. Schkeeper et al.
- MSN Real Estate: Why your First Home Shouldn't be your Dream Home
- Bankrate: How much House can you Buy?
- Home ownership differs significantly from renting in that houses often require expensive repair and maintenance bills for plumbing, HVAC systems and structural repairs. Add an extra amount per month to your savings account, or open a separate account to function as a repair kitty. This will help you get into the habit of thinking like homeowners and preparing to fund the upkeep your new home requires.
- Resist the temptation to take on a massive mortgage. Inflation, rising costs, shrinking raises and the fact that most couples will have to self-fund their retirement can all conspire to place too heavy a strain on your finances. The general industry standard, according to Bankrate, is that your monthly mortgage payment must not be more than 28 percent of your pre-tax income (see Reference 4). This amount reflects not only the interest and principal on the loan, but also homeowners insurance and property taxes.
Emma Cale has been writing professionally since 2000. Her work has appeared in “NOW Magazine,” “HOUR Magazine” and the “Globe and Mail.” Cale holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Windsor and advanced writing certificates from the Canadian Film Centre and the National Theatre School of Canada.