I’ve been trying to save cash to buy a home, but things always seem to come up that eat away at my savings. I have $130,000 set aside, plus an emergency fund, and I make $120,000 a year. I’m debt-free and renting right now, but eventually I’d like to buy a house in the $300,000 range. I really hate the idea of owing the bank money, so would you advise continuing to save and pay cash, or is it okay to make a big down payment and take out a small mortgage?
I love your idea, but right now you have more of a dream than a plan. You’ll need $170,000 to go from $130,000 in savings to $300,000, right? So, let’s start planning.
If you save $60,000 a year, it would take you a little less than three years to get there. If you set aside $40,000 a year, it would take a little more than four years. A little division—just divide $170,000 by the amount you want to save each year—and you’ve got the beginnings of a plan. A dream is a good place to start, but I want you to develop this into a plan that focuses on a goal. Break this down, and figure out how to achieve it.
I see three ways to achieve this home ownership goal. One, you do the long division math and save like crazy for however many years it takes to save up $170,000. The second is to put $130,000 down on a $300,000 home, and take out a $170,000, 15-year fixed rate mortgage. This is the only kind of debt I don’t beat up people for having. The good news is, with your income, you could probably pay it off in half that time.
A third possibility is to buy a $130,000 house. Write a check for nice, modest home now, and in five years—saving wildly the whole time, since you’ll have no house payments—move up and pay cash for a $300,000 home. If I’m in your shoes, that’s what I’m doing!
Financial advisor Dave Ramsey is a prolific author and radio host.