Saving for a house deposit is challenging. The real estate market continually runs away from people, leaving house affordability and access even more out of reach for many Australian first-time buyers.
With house prices soaring in the past two years, Finder research shows that in July 2022, the average first home buyer in Australia is saving almost $120,000 to get a start in the property market.
Before you get going, you should understand what you are working towards; this will help you know what you need to do and set a plan and timeline to get there.
Chatting with a lender or a mortgage broker will help you understand your borrowing capacity for a home loan, what your ideal loan-to-value ratio (LVR) will be (likely 80%), and what your monthly repayments will be. When you have the loan amount, you know this will be your max purchase price, which puts a number on your 20% deposit.
Whether you are actively saving for a house deposit, boosting your funds to kick off with OwnHome or want to set yourself up for the best success in the future. This article will dive into ten things you should do regularly to check that you are on track for the best savings plan for your lifestyle.
Our Top 10 Tips
Set your SMART goals and get a budget
Setting clear goals and understanding what you need to do to reach them will help you be goal-focused and motivated in pursuit of your deposit.
What is a SMART goal? Let's take a look.
SMART goals help you identify precisely what you want and how you plan to achieve it. By identifying the purpose you want to accomplish, you will be able to use this template to create a plan and make it happen.
How does this relate to my budget?
Specific: What do you want to accomplish?
Write down your goal. Make sure this sets the foundation for the rest of your plan.
Measurable: How will you know that you've achieved your goal?
How are you going to measure and track your progress? Does your banking app allow you to pursue a goal, or would you prefer something more visual, like a spreadsheet?
Achievable: Is your goal realistic?
It is best to set a goal and track your spending to see where you can cut it down in the future. If you're trying to tell yourself you will save 50% of your income and cut down on all discretionary spending, all while trying to pay rent and live, then you probably won't hit your goal, which will be demotivating. Better to save little and often than ad-hoc and in lumpy bumpy chunks.
Relevant: Is your goal aligned with your identity and needs?
Is what you are saving for tracking towards a goal aligned with what you want to achieve? Whether you are saving for a mortgage, taking a new path to homeownership with OwnHome or looking at rentvesting, it’s best if you are motivated by your goal and what it will help you achieve.
Time Bound: By when do you hope to achieve your goal?
Is the goal set for a certain period? If you are developing a savings goal, work backwards to understand if you save $300 a week and how long you will need to do it to reach the goal you have set for yourself. This will help you be motivated and closer to your plan every time you save!
Although this is Tip #1, we recommended doing this step last. The reason for this is that some of your money-saving tips below may help you find extra money in your budget that you can put towards your home deposit.
Back to setting your goals, one of the most important steps is making the amount and period achievable for you and your lifestyle. By structuring your budget in a way that helps you get closer consistently, you will give yourself the ability to form a habit that will just become a part of your weekly savings plan when you get paid.
Saving consistently also helps you build great spending habits and prepares you for home ownership. When you eventually save your deposit and are in a great financial situation to get onto the property ladder, you will have already taught yourself to make consistent repayments to your savings account, which will help when your mortgage repayments come up.
Adopt a goal-oriented mindset
Having this mindset where your goal is in front of your mind will help you be critical about where to spend your money and prioritise how you decide to finish it.
- Needs are items you can't live without. This includes rent, groceries and insurance.
- Wants are items that aren't essential but make life more pleasant, like nights out, tickets to events and new clothes.
Having a goal-oriented mindset will give you a clear set of ways to spend your money, and you will make the best choice based on your personal and financial priorities.
Visualise yourself and your life when you meet your goals: how will it feel? How will your life look? Getting into your family or first home is a significant motivation for sticking to your savings plan.
Sell or reorganise
It may be time to cut ties with things you don't use anymore or things that no longer meet the goals you are trying to achieve in life. This could mean selling the second family car that doesn't get used or reorganising your finances to have a few months of focused savings. Here are some things to try:
- Sell off assets that you don't use. A second car, boat, bike or old phone may help make a dent in your savings.
- Living on one salary and saving a partner's salary may cause a tighter budget for some time, but it could support a quick boost to help you build a bigger deposit.
- Selling off old clothes online. Facebook marketplace, eBay and online retailers are great for selling second-hand, pre-loved items that you are no longer using to make some extra cash.
- Declutter. This is a great time to assess what you need and don't need. You also might thank yourself for selling unwanted items when moving into your new home.
Check that you're getting the best deals and track spending.
Reducing your outgoings is an immediate and impactful way to save more money in your budget instantly.
Do an audit on your accounts for the past 90 days to ensure you understand recurring payments, bills and subscriptions well.
By writing out a list of all the things that come out of your account and nominating stuff you can get rid of, you will immediately see the impact of those decisions on the amount you can save. Although that $15-a-week subscription doesn't sound like much, over a year, you can save roughly $780 extra.
Once you have checked for all the non-essential bills, you may be willing to part ways with them. It is also important to check out your essential accounts. Insurance, phone and internet providers love customer loyalty and would hate to lose you from their company. By sending an email or chatting with your provider, they will likely offer a loyalty discount to you to try and entice you to stay. Remember, if you don't ask, you will never know if they can help! So prepare the best competitor deal you'd be happy to move to.
High-Interest Savings Accounts
As the cash rate rise, interest rates and repayments are more expensive for credit products. Luckily, this also means that savings products receive an increase as well.
As banks are navigating a higher interest rate environment, the rates that were the best 12 months ago are likely far less competitive now. Even a few months can make a significant difference to your savings plan and the amount of interest a bank is offering to have your house deposit sit with them.
Be sure to check out the conditions of receiving the interest rate to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria every month to maximise your savings. Having your money in a savings account instead of a standard bank account will ensure you get the best rate possible.
Another way to earn significant interest on your savings is to look at alternative options like term deposits. It is essential to check the period for which this money is locked and make sure it is right for you.
When you decide on your budget and how much you want to save, it could also be helpful to set up an automatic transfer to ensure that you have a set-and-forget mentality to your savings plan.
Consider a side hustle or use your skills.
Consider using your job or hobbies skills to help people as a side hustle. In August 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics research showed that nearly 48 per cent of Australians either have or are planning to start a side hustle.
Registering for a personal ABN means you will need to learn a few extra things about tax and setting up a small business, but it can be a great way to earn extra money by repurposing your skills at work for some extra side hustle money. Also, using third-party websites to hire clothes or rent out your car are ways Australians have made money in 2022.
Look for bargains
Finding small ways to save money will help you pursue your homeownership dreams. By simply doing a quick search on Google, you may find you can buy the same product much cheaper from a different retailer. If you purchase the product anyways, you may as well see it for the best price or try to use a browser extension service like ShopBack or Honey to ensure you find the best discount codes available.
Use public transport or ride a bike.
Petrol prices are rising alongside the cost of living, and while this has occurred, petrol prices have surged. With the end of Australia's fuel excise tax cut in September, fuel prices are about to be even higher. Riding a bike, taking public transport or walking to your location may help save an extra few dollars a day towards your deposit. The cost of transportation can get expensive, so it pays to see where you can cut down.
Avoiding the use of a credit card or credit products will help you to be able to spend within your means and only purchase things you have the cash for. Paying off car loans, personal loans, or other credit products will help you funnel more money into savings then and have a more considerable borrowing power for your home.
If you have credit that you want to pay off, try looking at your options for refinancing to a lender to get a better rate. Some refinance options give you interest-free periods that can support you to focus on paying down the debt without the monthly interest.
Saving for a home loan deposit can be challenging; we get it. Not only will you need to plan for the massive upfront deposit, but stamp duty and lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) are other significant costs to consider. Look at the options for first-home buyers in Australia that may help you save your deposit or save on these costs. They vary state by state, but some include the first home super saver scheme, first home owner grant and first home loan deposit scheme.
At OwnHome, we help you navigate the home-buying process and get onto the property ladder, without needing hundreds of thousands in savings for a home loan deposit.
If you’re considering buying a home and would like to learn more you can use the buying power calculator.
When you're ready to begin the house hunt for real, check out our ultimate guide to bidding and negotiation.