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Joanna Gaines is your spirit animal. You Google-stalk mortgage brokers like they’re college boyfriends. You fall into home decor social media rabbit holes that stir your soul and steal your sleep. You are ready to own a home—emotionally. But first, you need a solid financial plan. Here are five tips you can bank on.

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1. Set a Goal and a Timeline

Start by considering the down payment. For the record, most first-time home buyers aim to put down anywhere from 3% to 10%, and experts say you should aim to amass your down payment in two to three years. Your first step will be meeting with a mortgage broker or lender, like a Chase Home Lending Advisor, to get a clear picture of how much you can reasonably expect to borrow. This depends on A) your income, B) your credit score and C) the amount of debt you’re carrying. Your Chase Home Lending Advisor will work with you every step of the way. 

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2. Rethink Your Expenses

In an ideal world, before purchasing a home you should try to set aside at least 20% of your annual income or 25% of your monthly take-home pay, with the assumption that this is roughly how much you’ll spend on your mortgage. For the average homebuyer with an annual salary of $72,000, that means putting away $14K a year for future mortgage payments. But how in the heck? Cut out any extra spending. Before buying material things, ask yourself, “Do I want it or do I need it?” You’d be surprised how much you can save by asking such a simple question. And don’t worry, you can still get your morning matcha latte and go to dinner on Friday nights.

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3. Download an Automatic Savings App

There are so many creative ways to steal money from yourself. Some apps round up every purchase you make and put all the spare change directly into your savings account (yes, really). Other apps will even reward you for making (smaller) positive choices throughout your day, like going for a run or not making an impulse purchase at the mall. Believe it or not, these little things really add up. All hail positive reinforcement.

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4. Name Your Savings Account

Whether you and your partner have combined finances or not, open a totally new, separate savings account specifically for your down payment. You can even give the account a motivating nickname like “Dream House” or “Do Not Touch!” There are psychological and financial reasons for doing this: You’ll be less likely to blow this money on a new flat-screen or an impromptu trip to see the Northern Lights from an ice hotel.

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5. Put Your Windfalls Into Your Home Fund

This one might be the easiest, but it’s also the most tempting. Moving forward, any tax refunds, work bonuses or “found” cash (an inheritance, a gift from Grandma, proceeds from selling your designer clothes or wedding china online) should be automatically deposited into your home fund (aka “Do Not Touch!”).

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