Spring is in the air, okay, maybe not yet, but the market is slowly starting to warm up.  What this means to potential buyers is that the perfect place, in their dream neighbourhood may hit the market any week now.  The big question here is, are you ready?  It’s no secret that the housing market in Toronto and Canada continues to be hot and very expensive.  By increasing your down payment you can increase your financial security and often avoid mortgage insurance by securing a down payment of over 20 percent of your loan.  Here are 10 ways, some conventional and some unusual to beef up your down payment fund.

  1. Set a savings plan and stick to it
    Have a set amount regularly going into a savings account that you won’t touch on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.  In a matter of months a couple of hundred dollars a pay cheque can become thousands of dollars towards your home.  The longer you look for a place, the more you’ll have saved!
  2. Draw from your Retirement Account
    Many retirement savings plans will let you draw a certain amount without penalty and pay it off over a number of years.  Talk to your plan or bank for further details and options that will meet your needs.
  3. Ask your parents
    Talk to your folks about providing you a loan.  Be sure to write out the terms and conditions, having both parties sign, and remember to pay them back as laid out in your agreement.  Sample loan agreements can be found here.
  4. Stop collecting and begin selling your junk
    Sell those old books and university textbooks to other students, on Amazon, or to a local bookstore.  Do you really need that movie in DVD and Blue Ray?  By simplifying and selling you’ll be purging pre-move and be able to set aside some much needed cash.  Other hot ticket items could be name brand or good condition formal wear that you won’t need again sold on consignment to high end used clothiers, furniture, or musical instruments that have been collecting dust in the corner of your closet.
  5. Get a part time job
    Consider seasonal work doing gardening, working retail over the holidays, babysitting, or picking up a shift at the local pub. Become an Uber Driver or set up an AirBnB in your spare room.  Set all of this money aside exclusively for your down payment goal.
  6. Sell your car
    Planning on living somewhere walkable?  Consider selling your car now to save money on gas, insurance, and maintenance.
  7. Renegotiate your rates
    Talk to your cable, phone and credit card providers about the best rate and bundling options.  By doing your research you can save hundreds of dollars each year. Plan on really saving, cut your cable and rely on Netflix to save you money each month.
  8. Turn off the lights
    Save money on your utility bills by turning off the lights when you aren’t in the room. Set your thermostat by setting it to heat and cool when you aren’t at home, or when you’re in bed can save you lots of cashola.
  9. Make a grocery list and stick to it
    Plan your meals around the sales, and stop wasting your money on fast food, restaurants and take-out!
  10. Cancel that gym membership
    Exercise in other ways.  Go for a run, dust off that treadmill (or sell it on Craigslist if it’s just acting as a clothes hanger). Walk or bike your errands, especially since you sold your car!