I am not a millionaire. I didn’t win the lottery. I’m not a trust fund baby. I didn’t have a sudden windfall of money from a settlement or a long lost rich aunt. I am not a wall street banker or even married or dating one. I am a saver though.
I realize that telling you that thrifty isn’t exactly the sexiest thing but it is one of my qualities that helped me to buy an apartment in New York City. I remember sitting at my computer at my computer a few years ago googling “How to Save for A Downpayment” and being kind of frustrated. I was looking for some kind of easy way out, unfortunately I did not find it. It was a long and winding road and it took me about five years but I did it!
I’m definitely not a financial genius. What I am good at though is saving and is probably honestly because of my dad. True story when I was little my dad set up a bank for my sister and I to teach us about saving. He would give us a small allowance and at the end of each month we would sit down and count the money we had left and he would give us interest on it. I don’t actually remember what % it was but I remember being very excited about getting that interest. I think the whole thing may have actually backfired because at one point we just started saving all the money and he had to close up shop because he thought the interest was getting too high. Growing up and my parents were very frugal. but I would say my parents placed a large emphasis on saving especially so my mother could stay at home with us.
So its not exactly rocket science how I saved but but I wanted to share the steps! The first step was to set up a high interest savings account where I would not be tempted to touch the money. I use My Savings Direct but there are lots of other options out there. Make sure it is liquid and not tied up in something like stocks) as you are going to need to liquidate this money fast when it comes to go time. A lot of people recommend setting up an auto pay but I set up the calendar reminder when my paycheck hit and put the amount to save in the reminder. For me I liked the satisfaction of manually doing it but if you feel like you can’t be that disciplined and keep your eye on the prize automating it may be better.
I also keep a savings account tied to my checking account. I always keep at least $1,000 in here for immediate needs. Things I’ve used this for are things like: vet visits, medical bills, short term vacations or plane tickets for weddings, holidays, presents for Christmas/weddings/baby showers. I think I only touched my high interest savings account once or twice and only if it was an emergency. Otherwise it was off limits!
My motto was always pay myself first, after the money left my checking account I’d pretend like that money left was the only money I had. Its not exactly glamorous but I definitely made a lot of conscious choices with my eyes on the prize, the prize being my future apartment! This meant bringing my own lunches to work, being mindful of money spent out in social situations and one big rule I had for myself was rarely taking cabs. I have to say that for the most part I didn’t miss grabbing lunch with coworkers, or that extra cocktail. Should I have taken that skiing trip to Colorado when it presented itself? Possibly? In the end I feel like 99% of my sacrifices were worth it in the end though.