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Saving money for a down payment on a house can feel daunting. With many people struggling with high rents, credit card bills and student loans, the goal of owning a home may seem out of reach, but it doesn’t have to be.

Set a Savings Goal
The first thing you should do is figure out how much you need to save for a down payment. While lenders traditionally required 20 percent, you might not need to save that much. Loans for first-time homebuyers, veterans and people in certain occupations may have much lower requirements when it comes to down payments. Once you have an idea of how much you need to save and a goal of when you would like to buy a house, you can create a plan to get there.

Reduce Expenses
The most effective way to save money is to cut your expenses. If you live in an area with high rents, consider moving to a cheaper city. The lower housing costs might outweigh the additional travel expenses, and your boss might even be willing to let you work from home sometimes. If moving is not an option right now, look for a roommate to share living expenses.

If you have student loans or credit cards, look for ways to reduce your bills. Explore student loan refinancing options and transfer credit cards balances to lower your interest rates and monthly payments.

Find ways to reduce your everyday spending. If you buy coffee and lunch every day, you can save money by making coffee at home and packing a lunch. If driving to and from work is expensive, consider public transportation or carpooling. Look for cheaper entertainment options, such as movie nights at home with friends or attending inexpensive performances by up-and-coming local artists.

Earn and Save Extra Money
If you have a skill or a hobby that you can use to make money, look for a side hustle. You can earn additional income by doing freelance or consulting work, making arts and crafts, or teaching any skills you have mastered. You can also look for odd jobs, such as yard work, household repairs or running errands. Even if you only devote a small amount of your free time to a side gig, you can earn a significant amount of extra money that can go directly toward your down payment.

If you get a raise, bonus or income tax refund, don’t spend it. Immediately put the extra money toward a down payment on your future home.

You will reach your savings goal faster if you invest the money you set aside. Just be sure to put it somewhere safe, such as in CDs or a money market, where you will have a guaranteed return.

Chart a Clear Path
Making your dream of homeownership a reality will require hard work, determination and some sacrifices. Look for ways to cut your expenses, increase your income and boost your savings, and stay committed to your goal.

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