By Jacquelyn Francis
The most daunting aspect of buying a home for any would-be buyer is pulling together a down payment or getting your financial house in order.
Okay let's face it, saying you want a home isn?t that hard, what's more daunting is committing and mapping out a path towards that sense of order. Discipline is the key to any dream of owning, but get a little inventive, or in some cases add a dollop of humour, and presto - you're saving money.
"I kept all my change for a year," says David Bishop. The bulk of his down payment for a downtown townhome came from his RRSPs by means of the first-time Home Buyers Plan, but after a year of socking all his change into a Darth Maul piggy bank no less, he'd accumulated a whopping $2,500.
"You may laugh but if you include loonies and twoonies, it can add up," says Bishop. "That's a nice little helper. But that is after putting all my change away every day."
At the time he managed a fast food chain and was able to eat at work cutting most miscellaneous groceries from his overhead. If at home he observed a strict pasta and sauce diet.
"I didn't have to spend any money on food really. And the pasta and sauce was just that. No meat, no veggies."
You might also want to try Ron Tashkewych's equally ambitious down payment savings scheme. The 34-year-old chiropractor and his wife had three resealable plastic bags hanging near the front door of their rental.
"We put ourselves on a strict budget," says Tashkewych. "We put 20 dollars in two bags, one had my name and the other had my wife?s. A third baggie was our 'fun' baggie and it had 30 dollars in it. The 20 dollar bags were what we could personally spend in one week and the 30 dollars would be for what we'd spend together."
This guerilla tactic lasted only a month - until the pair became parents - but Tashkewych says he absolutely noticed the savings.
Avoiding additional debit fees at the instant teller has become a personal campaign. Living in the downtown core makes it simple to walk an extra few blocks, to find my home institution, and avoid the penalty. Recently I cut voicemail from my residential home phone. The rationale was this: if I'm home I'll answer, but if I'm not, I'm on my cellular phone which already has voicemail. It worked out to be a savings of roughly seven dollars per month.
Recent condo owner, Jennifer Pardinas, agrees the biggest challenge to saving money was her mindset. She says once she started doing it, it became not only rational, but second nature.
"My shopping habits have changed from 'I want that!' to 'Do I need that?'" she says. "I would also keep my credit card statements and review it at the end of the month to see what I could have done without. It was hard at first trying to change my spending habits but once I got in 'the zone' I can honestly say that I stuck with it and that I've been pretty good."
Mind Over Money Notes
First and foremost, prepare a budget. The saver's guideline is 60 per cent for essentials (housing, food, utilities, etc.) and the remaining 40 per cent should go in blocks of 10 towards retirement, emergency money, miscellaneous things, and personal fun funds.
The bank can help. Open a high interest savings account that cannot be accessed at the instant teller (a simple banking option) and have a certain amount automatically deposited in. What you don't know, won't hurt you.
Dry cleaning: it's remarkable how fast and easy it is to wash certain items by hand.
Pop into the grocery store regularly and peruse the day old produce section, often produce is ripe and perfect for cooking that night. On big shops, always take a list. You will spend less with a list.
Get a mug and take your coffee or tea to work.
Potluck clubs. Set personal goals with a few friends and start a potluck dinner club, strength in numbers will keep you motivated and well fed.
Lunch is a serious expenditure. Bring your own. Keep a stash of drinks, fruits, and healthy snacks at your desk.
Choose items that you buy regularly, like shoes or movies, and don't buy them!