Decades ago, the United States of America promised the American dream of
opportunity while living in a suburban home with a white picket fence. Americans would save enough money to finally move into their dream home and host their weekend barbecues. While this was easy for Americans 50 years ago, Americans today often struggle to generate a large savings balance. In 1975, the personal savings rate for an American hit 17 percent, however in 2018 its a mere 3.1 percent month over month. The average down payment on a home was 11 percent in 2016 and 8 percent for borrowers under the age of 35.
Americans are often spending more of what we earn every month. Education, cost of living, and housing have all skyrocketed in the recent years, leading to a low 32 percent of home purchases by first-time home buyers. The ability to save up for a down payment is difficult, but not impossible. Here are the top six ways you can save money for a home with low income.
Get a roommate
One of the simplest ways to save money every month is to get a roommate. Rent makes up the majority of our monthly expenses every month. Getting a roommate will effectively cut these expenses in half. This is especially convenient if you travel often or rarely spend time in your apartment. If your rent is $1,500 a month, you can be saving $750 every month by getting a roommate. That is $9,000 a year you can add to your savings account.
Read more about how to save for a house while renting with Onerent (now Poplar Homes).
Cancel unused monthly memberships
Monthly memberships are a straightforward business model for companies to charge services to the customer. They are a great fit if you are a devote customer who uses these services on a daily basis. If you find yourself rarely using these services, it might be time to cut the ties and cancel your membership.
- Gym: Save $60 per month
- Meal kit subscriptions such as BlueApron or Freshly: Save $240 per month
- Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, HBO Go, Amazon Prime: Save $10 – 100 per month
- Cable television: Save $100 per month
Although affordable video streaming services are on the rise in popularity, 83 percent of households still subscribe to cable television. Most households are also doubling up on services as well, such as having Google Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Prime music, which essentially all do the same thing. We recommend picking one service and sticking with it to save big bucks.
Reassess your budget
Reprioritizing your monthly budget can save you a few bucks when saving up to buy a home. Budgeting your monthly expenses will give you an estimate of how much you can spend and save. The more you spend, the less you can save, and thus would take longer to purchase a home. Adhering to this budget will give you a proper estimate of how many years it would take to purchase a home. Important expenses to include in a personal finance budget are:
- Monthly rent payment
- Renter’s insurance
- Home utilities
- Phone payment
- Television, cable, and entertainment
- Health insurance
- Transportation: Car payment, gas, bus fare, train fare, Uber rides
- Car insurance
- Groceries and meals
Shop for a better cell phone plan
When was the last time you renegotiated your cell phone plan? 2 years ago? 5 years ago? Cell phone plans have been more competitive in the recent years. There is a plan for data heavy users, families, high speed data, or straight talk or text. Here is an overview of the top cell phone plans of 2018, noted that pricing may vary. Best Unlimited Plan – T-Mobile:
- $40 monthly a line for a family of 4
- Unlimited Data, Talk, Text
- 10GB free 4G LTE Data for Mobile Hotspot
- In-flight texting and data on Gogo-enabled flights
- Free stuff on T-Mobile Tuesdays
- Free Netflix subscription included
Best High Speed Data – Verizon Wireless:
- $160 monthly for 4 lines. $75 for one line
- Multiple data packages
- The first nationwide LTE carrier
- Solid 4G LTE coverage and speed
Best Individual Plan – Sprint:
- $60 monthly individual rate
- Free Hulu subscription
- Unlimited 2G data for 180 countries
- 10GB free 4G LTE Data for Mobile Hotspot
Best Prepaid Phone Plan – MetroPCS
- $30 monthly individual line. $120 monthly for a family of 4
- Wide array of phones however requires a full price purchase
- Add unlimited LTE data for $10 a month
Spending your monthly discretionary expenses can severely trim into your savings balance. These are a few ways you can save cash and reduce unnecessary expenses.
- Cook home meals instead of eating out: Save $250 per month
- Buy generic brands at the grocery store: Save $160 per month
- Spend less on clothing: Save $100 per month
- Bike or walk instead of driving: Save $70 per month
- Limit watching movies in the theater: Save $50 per month
- Brew coffee at home instead of Starbucks: Save $60 per month
Ask for cash instead of gifts at events
Birthdays, holidays, and the New Year are all times where you’ll be receiving gifts. Instead of receiving a physical gift that you will would not necessarily need, why not ask for cash instead? Let’s face it, you do not need another knife set or living room candles from your parents. There is nothing wrong with kindly asking for a cash donation instead of physical gifts. Just tell your friends and family you are saving up for a down payment on a home and every penny would help.
Join Poplar Street by Onerent
If you’re renting now but planning to eventually buy a home, burning 35 to 50 percent of your income each month on rent does not always feel like the best way to save for your future. In a traditional rental situation, you will never see a penny of your rent come back to help you in the future. Instead of building equity in a home you own, you get short-term convenience at a steep price.
Onerent is pioneering a new way to rent with the launch of a first-of-its-kind product named “Poplar Street”. When you sign up for Poplar Street, you can earn 20 percent back on each month’s rent payment as a credit towards buying your first home. By saving a portion of your rent for a future home purchase, you get the convenience of renting plus the tools to build equity in your future home purchase.
Get early access to the Poplar Street below to be the first to know about homes enabled with the program or to convert your current rental to a Poplar-enabled home.
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