Do You Want A McDouble Or A House?
Are you a single parent currently thinking about buying a home? Does the thought of buying a home sound unattainable and impossible? If you have been struggling to make headway as a single parent and are trying to figure out how to achieve the “American dream” you have heard of I am here to tell you it can be done. Four months ago, I spoke with someone that said I was probably not going to buy a home for another 8 months and I move into a new home in exactly one month.
As a single parent, there are many sacrifices you make on a day to day basis. More than likely your finances are already stretched as far as they can go and you may be thinking, “How would I even be able to start saving money for a down payment?”
I looked at my finances four months ago and thought the same thing. I was frustrated with where I was at, realizing my savings account was nonexistent. I asked myself what really was going on with my finances and called a local financial planner and we talked through an expense sheet. Very quickly I noticed how much money was going to non-essentials.
Re-Evaluate Your Expenses
I wrote a note on my desk that read “Do you want a Mcdouble or a new house?” It was that simple. It wasn’t that I was spending my money at Mcdonalds, but that I was constantly allowing a dollar here, four there and it starts to really add up!
You may be shocked to see how much money you actually have when you cut out the things that are not a necessity to your family.
I figured out that I was not going to be able to buy a home at the rate that I was going. I had good credit, but no savings and knew I would need money for a down payment. I found three steps that were necessary to get to buying the first home that worked for me and that may be a good starting point for you as well.
The Goal of Homeownership
Here’s what I did first:
When my paychecks deposited, I changed my mindset. When payday came, I challenged myself to think how much money I could save, rather than how much I could spend.
Paid all bills that needed to be paid on the first, immediately (rent, daycare, and utilities)
Set a budget for groceries and gas until next pay period with a little to spare for miscellaneous things or to roll over to the next check
Moved everything left into savings
Depending on your job and pay, what you move may not be a lot of money, however, starting the habit of moving things over into savings immediately starts to train the brain to pay yourself first and not spend the extra money.
I was able to start by saving about $300 for the month by moving my money over immediately. Once the second check of the month came, I found I couldn’t move as much over due to the rent being due but I stuck to the plan and remained consistent.
The next thing I did: Found a part-time job
This is where the game changed for me. My side job allowed me to bring in $300 extra a month exactly. Any time I made any extra money for anything, birthday, Christmas etc it went to savings as well and I didn’t touch it again. Maybe you don’t have the ability to work part-time or don’t want to. For me, this is how I was able to cut my time frame down to four months.
Took half of each check and paid down my lowest credit card
Took the other half of the money to put straight to savings
Thirdly, I knew that in order to get approved for a home loan, my credit scores would have to be better. I got both of my credit cards paid down to below 30% utilization and then once that was accomplished put all funds from the side job immediately into savings and watched it grow. If your credit is what is keeping you from buying a home, you may want to speak with a credit advisor about what you can do quickly, in order to maximize your credit scores.
The last piece of advice was probably the hardest for me to do but helped the most. I cooked two meals for the week every week, something different for lunch and dinner and ate the same two meals. If I did go out to eat, it was because I had a gift card or a free meal. Shopping at Aldi and taking lunch saved me the most money while trying to build onto my savings and start to become more disciplined about my spending.
I didn’t want a McDouble; I wanted a house!
Clear to Close
Preparing to buy a home was not easy but it is manageable and if you want to, it can be done. What excites you? If it is having a backyard for your child to play in, I invite you to put a photo up at your office so you can see every day what you are working toward and who you are doing it for. I personally wanted to get my daughter into a great school district and that was the goal so we could move by the time our lease was up.
Prior to November, I didn’t even have $30 in my savings account and now I am moving into my own home. In four months, I did what I thought was impossible! As soon as I changed my thought process about where the money went, everything changed. I used to get a paycheck and think about where I was going to spend the money. Now, it goes straight to savings without even a thought. Yes, you may have one income and the process may seem lengthy, but you will not get there without taking a chance! Cut out the spending, start saving, find a side hustle and start dreaming about all the things you can do.