saving for a home in your twenties

by Amanda Pereira

In 2012, Globe and Mail mortgage columnist Robert McLister predicted homeownership for 20-somethings would be a daunting and near-impossible task, especially while trying to pay down overwhelmingly large student debt. Two years later, his prediction could not be more accurate.

As a 20-something, trying to manage my finances, pay the bills and save a reasonable portion of my paycheque seems to be a never-ending battle. However, with time, practice and an abundance of research, I have uncovered easy money-saving tips, and things to consider when venturing into the realm of home ownership. These eight tips will help you assess your plan and make the down-payment-saving game a little easier, and even a bit fun.

examine your spending
Are you spending too much on an apartment rental that is hindering your home ownership dream? Consider making a living arrangement change – whether it’s downsizing the size of your apartment or relocating to an area better aligned with your financial means and goals.

understand your finances
Before you can commit to a mortgage, you need to understand your financial situation. Whether you are making this purchase alone or with your partner, it is imperative that you understand where your money is going, and the type of mortgage you can afford to carry. Your landlord might be understanding on a couple of missed rent due dates, but the bank is not nearly as forgiving.

set aside some money
While it seems like a no brainer, saving is the number one thing most adults in their early and late 20s routinely fail to do. While saving more is always better, consider other expenses that you have in your life before you commit to a percentage. Kevin O’Leary, Canadian entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den venture capitalist, suggests creating a “fun money” fund. Each paycheque, set aside a portion of cash to splurge on whatever you choose. This method allows you to enjoy the process of saving money, while reaping guilt-free rewards for purchases you paid off outright.

curb impulsive shopping
We have all done it – a bad day at work results in being arm-deep in the sales rack at the mall. Step away from the cashmere sweaters! Personal financier and The Wealthy Barber writer, David Chilton, strongly advises against emotional shopping. He recommends learning to remove triggers for overspending. If you are an emotional shopper, find a new way to cope; the sales rack is not the answer.

pay off your debt
No one wants to go into the biggest purchase of his or her life carrying $20,000 worth of consumer debt. Your outfit might be fabulous come possession day, but you’ll feel a lot better knowing you bought it with cash, versus credit.

implement a jars system to manage your money
Gail Vaz-Oxlade, television personality and financial writer, is queen of the jars money-management system. She endorses putting cash into clear jars for each budget item every month, and use the jars as a road map to better money management. For people who are visual learners, this system is the best way to give yourself a financial reality check.

increase your income
Whether you take on a part-time job, pick up an odd job, or start a side business, every penny counts! Assess and consider your talents: could you utilize them in order to make more?

utilize home investment programs to save
Daniel’s Corporation is just one of several home-investment companies that offer great programs for renters who aspire to be homeowners. Every month, $200 of your rent goes towards a down-payment program; you could save $2,400 in a year!

— Amanda Pereira is a 20-something caffeine advocate, burrito connoisseur and writer. She is gradually working through the edits of her first novel, “November Rain.” When she is not procrastinating on her book edits, she can be found nose deep in a book, watching Japanese cooking videos, or playing with her Nintendo 3DS. Read more of her work at