Canada's Condominium Magazine

How to save up to $31,836 per year towards your first home condo downpayment with 7 lifestyle changes

With a little discipline and seven lifestyle adjustments you could save between $26,836 and $46,336 per year — all of which could go towards your downpayment on your first home. Yes, it would be hard — even gruelling. And, of course these numbers are based on averages from various sources — so, results certainly vary. For example, our savings numbers are based on average Canadian salary and average rent in Toronto. Not everyone earns the “average” $51,000 per year.

 

The dream of first-time condo-ownership is still alive — with a little budget sense.

 

Average spending

On average, couples with children spent $88,273 on goods and services; singles spent $34,674.[10] For a first-time home buyer — imagine if only 20% of that amount could be saved towards your condo downpayment, the dream of home ownership. For a single, you’d have saved $6834 per year. Not possible? Here are seven ways to not only make it possible — but to actually exceed that amount. (Again, results vary based on your location, situation, salary and needs.)

 

 

“I’ll never save enough”

“I’ll never save enough to buy my first condo.” It’s human nature — we like to complain. New mortgage rules and high market values may be a barrier to first-time home-buyers; but, it’s not an impenetrable wall. As any home-owner can tell you: once you’re into the market, things change. You can slowly upgrade — and in the fulness of time even downsize for retirement, with a nice bit of cash.

So, here’s the thing. Instead of complaining, start changing your life-habits, and you’ll find you can save that downpayment much faster than you thought. It’s a matter of prioritization. Is the car or the home more important? Can you take transit, or do you really need that expensive car? Can you adjust to a brown-bag lifestyle for the short term?

Here are some ways you can dramatically speed-up the savings-process, which really comes down to priorities:

 

E-bikes and transit are two ways to save on annual budget if you are now currently spending on a car.

 

Do without the car

$6709 average annual savings
(Based on $8464 annual average savings (per car) less $1755 to buy monthly metro TTC pass)

We all go through the phase where the car is the centre of our Canadian lives. Yet, this is one area where you can really put a dent in your savings goal. Consider selling, and using transit and car-shares if those are options. If not, if you’re a family with two cars, consider just one for now. If you’re a one-car single, consider trading it in on something less expensive. Pay it off and don’t trade-up — at least not until you’ve bought your first condo. Cars are the second biggest expense after your home, especially when you include insurance, maintenance and payments.

Average savings:

  • Annual average cost of small sedan $6354
  • Annual average cost of small SUV $7606
  • Annual cost of a medium sedan $8,439
  • Overall average of all types annually $8464 [1]

Lunch

$2,480 annual average savings based on 260 work days (for fast food addicts)
$4,120 annual average savings (for healthy food choices every day) [2]

Skip the fast food, or even the healthy food court alternatives. You could save between $1860 and $5,500 a year if you switch from bought lunches to packed lunches. It’s probably healthier, anyway.

Credit cards — pay it off

$543 annual savings based on average credit card balance of $3854

This is perennial advice from money managers, but don’t ignore it. The average Canadian carries $21,500 in non-mortgage debt. Even a small carry-forward balance of $1,000 can add up quickly through the year. For example, if you carried only $1,000 (most of us carry more) on your credit cards, you’d end up paying $141 in interest (depends on your credit card.) [3]

However, most of us carry more than $1,000, based on current information from the industry. In Canada, the average Canadian holds $3854 in credit card debt, and is paying approximately $543 in interest. [4]

While saving for your condo, keep the cards — you’ll need that perfect credit score — but pay down the balance every month to zero. Not only does this save on interest, it will encourage you to spend less and save more.

Automate savings

$5,100 average savings based on 10% of wage and Canadian 2017 average income of $51,000 [5]

Instead of waiting for a windfall bonus, or the income tax rebate at the end of the year, save as you go. Force yourself to save with an automated savings right off your paycheck if you can — at least 10 percent or more. You’ll be surprised how fast this can accumulate. Don’t touch the savings. Of course, you’ll have to cut $5,100 in spending to achieve this.

Roomies or parents

$12,000 average annual savings based on one room mate at average rent in Toronto
$24,000 average annual savings if you stay with the reluctant parents a little longer

The average rental cost in Toronto is now $2,000 for a one bedroom — $1850 for the median price.[6] Of course you can rent for less, the further you are from urban centres, but this increases car and commute costs. A better solution: stay close to work, and bring in the roomies.

A little crowding now can help you save enough for your downpayment — probably faster than any other method. If you have the luxury of living with the parents awhile longer — assuming they don’t mind, or you pay them some rent — you will find your down payment reachable in a much shorter time. Failing that, consider taking in as many roomies as possible. It may be uncomfortable, but the rent savings goes straight to your downpayment.

Coffee

$860 annual savings based on low average price of one cup a day
$1720 annual savings for the two-cupper habit

For most of us, coffee’s not a luxury. And, let’s face it, we all love our $5 plus coffee. According to Barista magazine, the average cup of coffe is $3.60. [8] Statista has it at $3.10. [7] One or two per work day adds up fast. Hold your nose and drink office coffee, or bring an old-fashioned thermos from home.

Skip the international holiday

$4,144 average annual savings based on Canadian average for 14 day trips

According to Statistics Canada, the average spent by Canadians on overseas trips is $89 per night. Add in food and travel costs (approximately $207 per day for an average 14 day trip). [9] One in three of us travel overseas each year for pleasure.

Yes, we all have stress and need a holiday. Consider the day trip in Ontario, or a backpacking/camping trip across Canada instead. Or, just fill the days with all the wonderful things Toronto has to offer. That $4000 per year adds up fast towards your downpayment.

NOTE: No promise of savings or performance is offered or suggested. This feature is designed to encourage you to think of ways to save for your downpayment, not to indicate your specific results. All numbers are based on average statistics or even ball-parks.

NOTES
[1] Average Cost to Own a Vehicle, AAA Reveals True Cost of Vehicle Ownership .
[2] Packing your own lunch will save more than you think.
[3] Here’s what happens to $1,000 in credit card debt when you make only minimum payments.
[4] Average Canadian credit card debt.
[5] Average Canadian salaries by industry and region: Data from Workopolis
[6] Average cost of a one bedroom rental in Toronto hits $2,000.
[7] Price of a cup of coffee worldwide 2018: Statista.
[8] The average cost of coffee in your city: Barista Magazine.
[9] Statistics Canada
[10] Statscan data

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