The presents are unwrapped, the holiday decorations are packed up (or not, we won’t tell), and the ball has dropped on the end of 2015. It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions—homeowner-style.
You can make 2016 the year of the down payment. Really.
By cutting a few things from your budget this year, you can speed up your progress toward having a down payment by the time those holiday decorations come back out of the closet. You probably knew these were splurges eating up your discretionary income, but did you know just how much? Don’t worry—we’ll do the painful math for you so you know what to kick to the curb in 2016.
1. Skip the latte
Annual savings: $876 (plus taxes!)
A medium latte at Starbucks costs $3.65. If you stop by every day before work, that adds up So, suffer through the free coffee at work and think instead of the new kitchen where you can create your own coffee bar.
2. Cut the gym membership
Annual savings: $696
The average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58 a month, or $696 a year, and that’s assuming you’re already a member and not paying sign-up fees as well. Not to mention that most of our good intentions taper off sometime in February and we end up paying for something we’re not even using.
We’re not telling you to stop exercising. But try getting creative with your routine instead. Enjoy the great outdoors! Walk on your lunch break! Ride your bike! You’ll bag a surprising amount of cash toward your down payment.
3. Cancel the cable
Annual savings: $1,189
Cable gets more expensive every year. In 2015, cable customers paid an average of $99.10 a month, or $1,189.20 for the year, according to the Leichtman Research Group. If you drop the cable in favor of, say, Netflix at $7.99 per month, you’ll save $91.11 per month—or $1,093.32 for the year—and get commercial-free original shows.
4. While you’re at it, drop a streaming service
Annual savings: Nearly $100
You don’t really need to subscribe to all the streaming channels at once. If you have Netfix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, you’re paying roughly $25 a month. If you drop Amazon Prime, you could save $99 a year. If you drop Hulu or Netflix, you could save $95.88 a year. Tip: Hulu allows you to put your subscription on hold. So if you find yourself having less time for binge-watching, try suspending your Hulu account until you have more time for it and save yourself that dough.
5. Lower your mega smartphone plan
Annual savings: Up to $300
Did you get one of those unlimited everything plans when you bought your phone and never changed it—even after you realized you don’t talk on the phone that much and Candy Crush Saga doesn’t use much data? If you switch to a lower plan—or at least drop a couple of gigs of data—you could save $10 to $25 a month.
6. Pack a lunch instead of buying it
Annual savings: $1,714
Taking a sack lunch to work might make you feel like you’re back in elementary school, but let’s do the math on how much it saves on your lunch costs. The average daily cost for the American worker who bought lunch from a restaurant in 2015 was $11.14,according to Statista. That amount adds up to about $56 a week, or $2,674 a year. If you can make a sack lunch for $4 a day, you will spend about $20 a week, $80 a month, or $960 a year—an annual savings of about $1,714.
7. Quit drinking
Annual savings: $3,168
If you’re an avid social drinker, you may not realize how much those $10 cocktails are adding up.
Say you go out three times a week, ordering at least two cocktails at $10 each plus the standard $1 tip per drink. That adds up to $66 a week, $264 a month, and—wait for it—a whopping $3,168 a year.
8. Go to the cleaners less often
Annual savings: $1,354
Are you still taking most of your clothes to the cleaners? Costs of dry cleaning or laundering items can vary a lot. A survey by Consumers’ Checkbook determined the average price of laundering a men’s dress shirt was $1.87, laundering men’s khaki slacks was $5.57, and dry-cleaning a two-piece suit was $11.13. If you take in two pairs of slacks ($11.14), five shirts ($9.35), and a suit every week, you’ll pay about $31.63 a week before taxes, which can add up to about $1,645 a year. Based on those numbers, if you wash your own slacks and shirts and reduce by half the number of times you have your suit dry cleaned, you could save up to $1,354 a year.
Best of all, you won’t miss the things you cut (OK, maybe some), but you’ll rack up a truckload of money in 12 short months. In fact, drop everything from this list and you could bank nearly $9,400 by the end of the year. Take that, down payment!