Four bedrooms with a large backyard and a white picket fence.

For most people, this is an American dream that they cannot wait to attain.

But turning that dream of homeownership into a reality can take a lot of grit and determination in this day and age. Considering that a traditional mortgage requires a 20 percent down-payment and that the average price for a single-family home sold in 2014 was $345,800 according to the US Census Bureau, you would have find a way to save a whopping $69,160 (not to mention additional closing costs) before you would be able to sign on the dotted line.

So how is it that 437,000 people were able to do that?

We at Modernize have a few tips to help you reach your goal without having to give up everything.

1. Save a Specific Monthly Amount

Homes are as diverse as the people who live in them. Take the time to evaluate what you can realistically afford and what your needs are for your new home, such as size, location, school district, etc. With this knowledge, you are able to determine the home price range you are aiming for, and subsequently, your down-payment size. Once you know your goal, look at your current budget and pick a portion to start saving.

budget for down payment

You can go about this in one of two ways: either by setting a specific dollar amount to be saved each month or a certain percentage of your paycheck. If your salary is consistent per pay period, then the first option tends to be easiest to live by. But if your wages fluctuate, then living by that rule can prove to be a challenge in the lean months, and saving a percentage of your paycheck instead would still allow you to afford your budget.

2. Create a Separate Down Payment Account

Set up a cash savings account at your own bank or credit union, or through an online banking system, so you can easily transfer funds between accounts. The less work you have to do in order to save, the more likely you are to do it. By separating your down payment savings from your regular banking account, you are less likely to accidentally spend those designated dollars on incidentals. Plus, you then have a clear picture of just how close you are to achieving your goal.

3. Judiciously Save Any Excess

Don’t only think about saving in terms of your monthly income, but also include any extra month that pops up throughout the year. Sure, it is fun to splurge on something new with money you get for your birthday, yearly bonus, and tax return, but the more conservative you are now, the sooner you’ll be relaxing in your new home. Also, consider setting up a checking account that automatically rounds your purchases up to the nearest dollar while moving the change over to savings. It may only be a few cents a day, but every little bit helps.

4. Slash Items from Your Monthly Budget

Now that your budget is set, look at each expense. Do you really need that gym membership or could you get the same health benefits by working out at home or outside? When is the last time you used that home phone line? Could you save a little with a different cell phone plan or car insurance? Once you start examining each byline and making changes where possible, roll those dollars over into your homeownership piggy bank.

5. Purge Your Possessions

One of the major agonies of moving is having to sort through all your possessions under a tight timeline. Get a head start now and purge all items you are willing to part with. Then, make use of sites like Craigslist or eBay or have a garage sale and save all the earnings.

6. Monetize Your Talents

Look at your own talents. Everyone is good at something, but not everyone takes the next step and monetizes that skill. If crafting is your hobby, start a small business on Etsy. If you are an incredible baker, ask around at local coffee shops to see if they would be willing to carry your goods. Websites like Task Rabbit can get you working on any small job from handyman to shopping and delivery to party planning. Then, you will be working towards your new home by doing the things you already love doing in your free time.

As the saying goes, there is no day like today. So start saving now and you’ll find that the dream of owning your own home is well within your reach.

This article was contributed by Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel.