Here’s How This Millennial Homeowner Saved Enough Money to Buy Her First Home


Friends drinking wine
Friends drinking wine | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Homeownership might be a dream of yours, but finances are holding you back. How can you realize your dream without breaking the bank? In part two of our discussion, first-time homeowner Chelsea, a team member at HomeAdvisor, talks to The Cheat Sheet about how she budgeted and saved her cash so she could buy her first home.

The Cheat Sheet: Why was buying a home important to you?

Chelsea: I felt that buying a home on my own was a challenge I was ready to take on. I’ve been working and supporting myself since I was a teenager and wanted something tangible to show for it. Having a home to call my own and incurring the responsibilities and freedoms that come with homeownership are rewards I wanted to give myself. Ultimately, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

The Cheat Sheet: How did you save up for the down payment on your home?

Chelsea: To save up 10% of the total home cost, I had to be diligent and patient when searching for homes to ensure I’d stay within my budget. This proved difficult when I’d find homes outside of my budget that had large yards, extra rooms, or design elements that appealed to me. It also limited my ability to engage in a bidding war with other potential buyers for homes in a popular area.

The Cheat Sheet: What are some financial sacrifices you had to make?

Chelsea: After living in New York City for most of my 20s, I learned how to make sacrifices to build my savings, so that one day, I could fulfill my dream of buying a home. I found it easy to be frugal, even at a young age and in an expensive city like New York. I kept a weekly and monthly budget and got in the habit of making tough decisions. I value traveling, so while I made little sacrifices in that area, I rarely bought clothes, didn’t eat out at restaurants, did my own laundry at coin laundromats, used coupons at the grocery store, and always made coffee at home.

Surrendering small conveniences over a long period of time helped me save enough to make the move from New York to Denver. Retaining these habits and working a night job while in Denver proved even more lucrative, allowing me to pay off my car and student loans, and saving enough for a home by the age of 30.

The Cheat Sheet: What were some expense that caught you off guard?

Chelsea: When I first moved in, there were a few expenses that I didn’t anticipate. I had to hire an insulation professional to add batt insulation in my attic to help regulate my home temperature. I also paid a significant amount of money to have a radon mitigation and vapor barrier installed in my crawl space. These were not expenses I anticipated. As a result, I have yet to purchase and install a washer and dryer in my home or install the deck outside that I want.

The Cheat Sheet: What have you learned from your homeownership experience?

Chelsea: Patience and sacrifice continue to be valuable virtues now that I own a home. After my move, I made a list of projects with large price tags and chose only three to pursue this year. I have split the remaining tasks and purchases over the next four years. Within the next five, I hope to be living in my dream house. I am not always patient, but I remind myself daily that homeownership is a process. I’m proud of where I am today.

See part one of our discussion here.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!