10 Tips for Saving for your Down Payment


by Renee Huse

Are you DYING to save for that down payment for your first home? Do you feel like it’s time to step into this depressed Calgary Real Estate Market? Maybe this little story might help you out!

In 2009, my husband and I had over-extended ourselves. We went through a time where we REALLY needed to get our savings under control again. We sat down with that dirty, hated thing—a budget. By the time we finished entering all our expenses into the ol’ spreadsheet, our computer was smoking. Out of our hard work came some cool, common sense savings tips. I thought I might share them.

Go Cups

Coffee – OHHHHHHHHH how I love coffee. So much. I’m particularly addicted to Phil and Sebastian’s coffee (I even use their gift cards as my “referral thank you” gift). Previously, I’d buy two or three coffees a day without even thinking. And I’m not alone. Purchasing daily coffees equates to between 8-10 dollars a day. If we simply brought coffee from home, we’d be looking at saving $3000/year.

Lunch Bags

My husband and I both worked downtown for 10 years. During that time, we both bought our lunches a LOT, to the tune of about $25/day. $25 per DAY. Are you crazy? Well, we were. After re-injecting that money into our savings, we found ourselves with an extra $6000 that year.

Meal Plan

Do you know how much food we waste in North America? It’s bananas. (Ouch, bad joke. Sorry.) Anyway, in Canada on average we’re wasting about $1450/year/household on food that just gets thrown out. Making a commitment to meal planning and eating the foods you buy should inject about $1400 back into your budget.

Drive a Reasonable Car

Do you know how many people I rent homes to, that also pay vehicle lease payments? The answer: All of them. In certain cases, leasing a vehicle might be sensible, but in most cases, it just isn’t. Here’s the thing: cars are depreciating assets. Find a reliable vehicle and be satisfied that it gets you from A to B; don’t waste thousands of dollars a year on a vehicle payment (or worse—a lease). This could inject $5000-$10000/year back into your budget.

Get Rid of that High Interest Debt

OH MY GOD, PEOPLE. Credit cards are bad news! That interest rate is crazy! If you have debt outstanding on a credit card, make sure that you’re exploring options for obtaining a lower interest line of credit from your financial institution.

Drink at Home

Now, let’s be clear on one thing—I am a SUCKER for a spendy cocktail. But when we were young and living downtown, we were no strangers to the Rule of Seven. Seven, $7 cocktails, 7 days a week. Learn how to make some fancy cocktails and have your friends to your place. (Email me for my chili coconut margarita recipe!) This could easily inject $2000 back into your budget annually.

Try a Staycation

I feel like, these days, when I’m browsing Instagram or Facebook everyone is biking in France, drinking wine in Cali or raving about the latest Broadway show in NYC. I mean, really? Doesn’t anyone ever stay home anymore? Well, the truth is, they do. And we’re lucky to live in such an amazing part of the world! Try a staycation this year. Ride your mountain bike on the world class trails in Bragg Creek, hike along the Douglas Fir Trail, wander through Heritage Park or check out the National Music Centre, etc., etc. Calgary has some amazing things to offer—skip that $5000 vaca and enjoy our city!

Set a Budget and Stick to It

I put together a little budget worksheet that I’m happy to share. It’s important to track for a month or two, decide where you can make changes, actually make those changes and stick to them! Email me, and I’ll send you the deets.

Learn to Love Winners

Listen, I like Nordstrom’s, I LOVE Holt. Like – love it. A lot. But do you know what I can afford? Winners, EBay, Home Sense and the like. Every year I buy a few key pieces, maybe a bag, a pair of shoes or a great pair of jeans, but I don’t need to spend thousands of dollars a year on clothing and accessories at this point in my life. I just don’t. I’ve made a commitment to building my real estate portfolio so—(almost) all the time—the budget trumps the jeans!

Reward Your Wins

If you’ve made a budget, stuck to it and get some positive results when you assess at the end of the month, reward yo’ self! (Important: This doesn’t mean fly to Vegas and put it all on black.)

Following these simple tips might give you the opportunity to put $10,000 – $20,000 back into your budget in just one year. This is nearly enough for a 5% down payment on your first home! If you’re trying any of these tips and have any success stories to share, connect with me! I want to hear about your budget victories—[email protected].