Save for a down payment without sacrificing your social life
It’s no secret that one of the significant obstacles facing millennial would-be homebuyers is the struggle to save enough money for the downpayment. While many in this age bracket have learned how to be frugal with their finances, it is often at the expense of their social lives. Here are some tips on how to approach having a social life while trying to save:
Going out for coffee: There’s no escaping the coffee shop culture. And who wants to? Coffee shops are a great place to sit and work, catch up with friends, or even conduct a business meeting. The trick is not spending $10/trip on a specialty latte that, frankly, sounds amazing and would go great with the freshly baked scone in the pastry case. As much willpower as this one might take, when meeting someone at a coffee shop try and opt for a plain tea or coffee and skip the treat. If you have to, eat a snack before you go so you aren’t tempted. By sticking to the simpler drinks you can sip the afternoon away without blowing your budget.
Going out for drinks: We all need to blow off a little steam after especially long days at work, so it’s pretty easy to suggest grabbing drinks with a co-worker at the end of the day. If the people you are grabbing drinks with are good friends, consider asking them to come over to your place instead. Have everyone bring over a different mixer and make it a cocktail potluck! You can experiment and make your own drinks for a fraction of the price while having a quiet place to vent about the day. If you really want to go out, try to hit happy hours and limit what you get. Stick to one drink and if you order food, see if someone is willing to split it with you. Just because you go out doesn’t mean you have compromise your goals.
Gift Giving: Millennials are in the prime age bracket for weddings, baby showers, holiday parties, bridal showers, and everything in between, meaning gifts on gifts on gifts. While it’s not always possible to show up empty-handed, it is possible become more clever with your approach to these events. If you’re the creative type, you have the upper hand because chances are you can come up with some pretty cool handmade gifts. However, the key is to find a budget and stick to it. More than likely events like weddings, birthdays, and holidays you know of well in advance, so decide how much you are willing to spend ahead of time. Take time to sit down and prioritize these events and see where you’re at. For example, a wedding gift for your brother could take precedence over a bridal shower gift for a coworker. And remember, it’s okay to say no to attending certain events if you really can’t afford them.
Vacation: If you are serious about buying a house, you have probably already cut back on vacation expenses. Plans of that trip to Hawaii or Thailand will have to stay on hold for a little while. However, don’t let your saving goals stop you from taking a much earned break. Look into other options. If you have friends and family you haven’t seen in awhile who are within driving distance, go visit them! It gets you out of town while having a free place to stay. When you’re there, offer to make everyone meals at home. Your hosts will appreciate it and you will save money on going out to eat the whole time you’re gone.
Date Nights: If you and your partner are saving up for a downpayment but don’t want to give up date nights, don’t fret. Check online for coupons to your favorite places or even someplace new. Hit up the library and check out a few DVDs for a movie night. If it’s nice outside, you have extra options: having a picnic and watching the stars, floating the river on inexpensive tubs, or heading to a nearby State Park and exploring in the wilderness. Who knows, by forcing yourself to think outside the box for date night you may even discover a new favorite place.
Don’t do it alone: You aren’t alone in wanting to save money. Look to your partner, friends, co-workers, and siblings for others wanting to cut back on expenses. When you aren’t alone in trying to save, it becomes much easier (and more fun!) to have a thrifty social life. Plan group activities like hiking or making dinner together that allows all of you to save money together. Having that support system can make all the difference when you are struggling save.