Dayna Robertson
At Home Hawaii 808-430-5383

There are many ways to save money for a down payment. Some people get a second job and actually earn more money, but far too many people will spend everything they make. They key is not how much you make, but how much you have left over at the end of the month. Here's some thrifty tips on saving money:

1. Track your spending from the last three months. Do you put everything on credit cards - look at the statements. Do you cook at home or eat out a lot, look at all your receipts. And keep up with the tracking for the next 3 months.

2. What are your biggest expenditures? It might be rent, if so, do you have any options? You should try to rent the cheapest place that you feel safe in. If you can save hundreds of dollars on rent - that will help you save faster for your down payment. Maybe you have an option of living with a parent or grandparent or another family member. Perhaps if you offer to pay them market rent, but half the money could be put aside in a "savings account" to go toward your house fund. This is particularly helpful if you just cannot save money without assistance. Another thought is to find a roommate or move into a bigger place with a roommate if that is a money saving option. For example, if you pay $1,500 for a studio in Kailua, but can find a two bedroom in Kaneohe for $1,800 - you save $600 per month and that adds up fast.

3. How much are you spending on food. Food is important, but it doesn't have to be expensive. Look at the grocery store advertisements each week. Buy the items you like that are on sale and plan your meals around those sale items. Make leftovers for lunches. By not eating out, you can save hundreds of dollars a month. Don't eat on paper plates either - just wash your utensils and dishes and save money on paper products. You can even use a real napkin (not paper) that you throw in the wash afterward. Little things add up.

4. What are you driving? If the goal is to buy a house, you hopefully do not have a car payment. If you do, consider selling the car and purchasing something reliable but cheap. Again, not having a car payment can save you hundreds of dollars. Just be sure to have a mechanic check out the used car you plan to buy to verify it's in good running order and take into mind the kind of gas mileage the car will be getting. The more you save on gas - the more you can put toward the house fund. You should also shop around to find the best deal on car insurance.

5. Change your shopping habits. By this, I mean try not to shop at all. You probably don't really need any new clothes or shoes, electronics or furniture. Shop only for the basics if you are trying to save money and if you MUST shop, try visiting garage sales or browse Craigslist to get it out of your system. Finding a $1. shirt you just love is a fun way to shop without depleting those down payment dollars.

Keep setting the money aside in a special account and once you have a decent amount saved up (let's say at least 3% of the purchase price) it's a good time to talk to a Realtor and a lender about where you're at and if you're financially ready. During this time, be sure to pay all your bills on time and if you have not yet established any credit, you will need to do so by opening up two credit cards. Having credit and using it responsibly and paying bills on time is the best way to boost up your credit score. Remember this saying, "If you really want something, you'll find a way, if you don't, you'll find an excuse."