If you’re looking for a home, then you’ve already realized the amount of preparation and planning it takes. Behind the scenes of a happy couple moving into their new home hides the stressed out couple who wish they had started saving years before a new home was even a thought. Regardless if you’re already on the home searching journey, or if you have a few years before you move out, here is how you can start saving for a downpayment on your future home.

Research Your Location Options

To gain an idea of the real estate industry in your area, research the locations you’re considering moving to. Look at the market and see what houses you like, but also what you can afford. This is also a great time to reach out to a real estate agent to see what locations would work for your budget and wish list of amenities.

Create a wishlist for yourself of items you want in your home, and then create a separate list of items you absolutely must have in your home. Some of the items may be the same on both lists, however this will give you an idea of what you can check off when you’re looking at a home. If a home doesn’t have everything on your checklist in your price range, you may have to look for other options.

Calculate How Much You Can Afford

There is a standard calculator for determining how much you can afford for monthly payments on your home in terms of a mortgage. Your monthly mortgage shouldn’t be more than 28% of your monthly income. This is your gross income, and sticking to this payment plan will ensure you an affordable life. Additionally, with the mortgage payment included, 32% of your total gross income should account for other home such as insurance, association fees and property tax.

Set Up a Savings Plan

Saving isn’t always easy, especially when you have to knowingly move the money yourself. That’s why automated savings plans are great for building your savings account without you having to lift a finger each month. Without effort, you can place a portion of your money in an account so it’s away in case of an emergency. If for any reason you can’t pay your mortgage one month, your savings is there to cover both you and your credit score. Having a savings is the smart way to becoming a homeowner.

Once you’ve done your research and know what you can afford, your automatic savings plan is there for both your down payment and emergencies. In the long run, a downpayment on a home can save you a lot of money and get you out of debt much faster. If you’re looking to purchase a home soon, or even a few years down the road, make sure you have a good savings plan first and foremost.