Down payment savings hacks!

Whatever your down payment goal, it can help to mount a multi-tiered attack. Here are some savings hacks:

  • Automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings can help to make the process mandatory — and maybe a little less painful.
  • The $5 bill savings plan. Every time you receive a $5 as change, you set it aside. One woman claims to have saved $36,000 with this little trick, though it took 12 years.
  • Save raises and bonuses rather than spending them.
  • Set aside tax refunds.
  • Keep the change. At least a couple of banks have variations on this theme. For example, Bank of America allows debit card users to sign up for a service that rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and puts the change into a linked savings account.
  • Use cash rewards credit cards to get cash back on purchases and put the rebates in savings.
  • Snag a few bucks here and there. Got a checking account a few bucks over a round number? Take the extra and transfer it to savings.
  • Keep the car and save the payment. Paid off your car? Resist the urge to buy new and save the monthly payment.
  • Start fast, and the momentum will build. Seed your down payment fund with a bonus or other windfall. A quick start might motivate you to see the balance build even bigger.
  • Visualize your goal. Slap big, beautiful photos of your dream house on the refrigerator, near your office workspace — and wrap a small one around the primary credit card in your wallet. You might charge less and save more.
  • Use an app to track progress. Mint, SavedPlus, Dollarbird and other budgeting tools may give you even more incentive to save.