Robin Tanner | Benicia Real Estate, Vallejo Real Estate, Napa Real Estate, Fairfield Real Estate


Your 401K is a great resource of investing for retirement. Many people use their 401k’s as a part of their overall investment strategies, pulling money out of it when it’s needed. When you’re ready to buy a house, you may think that pulling money out of your 401k for a down payment is a good idea. But think again. 


Although you should always speak with a financial professional about your money matters, the bottom line is that is probably not the best idea to use your 401k to supply money for a downpayment on a home. 


First, your 401k funds are pre-tax dollars. That means that you haven’t paid any taxes on these funds. Your employer will often match the amount of money that you put into your 401k, as an incentive to help you save money for your future. You need to keep your 401k for a certain amount of time before any funds in the 401k become available to you without having to pay any kind of penalty. If you decide to take on the penalty, you can often face a cut to your employer’s match programs as well. This is why you must make this decision wisely. 


The Penalties


Anyone under the age of 59.5 pays a penalty of 10 percent to take the money out of the fund. In addition, you’ll now need to pay taxes on this money, because it becomes a part of your adjusted gross income. 


Alternative Actions


If you are looking to invest in a property, there may be other options for you rather than pulling money out of your 401k. While some plans allow you to borrow money from it. However, if your only option to get money to invest in a property is to pull money from your retirement account, it may not be the best time to invest in property for you. 


Keep It Separate


If you’re younger (say in your 30’s or 40’s) your best option is to have a completely separate account that is used to save for a downpayment and other expenses that you’ll incur when you buy a home. In this sense you aren’t spreading yourself too thin as far as investments go. You should compartmentalize your money. Buying a home is a large investment in itself. Home equity can also be a good source of a nest egg in later years when you need it. However, even if a property will be an income property, it’s never smart to take from one investment account to provide for another unless you’re shifting your focus. You don’t want to reach retirement, only to see that your funds have been depleted and you can’t retire as expected.


One of the biggest hurdles in becoming a homeowner is that of saving for a down payment. In today’s world, it’s hard for anyone to save sizable amounts of money due to the extreme cost of living in most areas. With less income and higher expenses, many people have less of an opportunity to save money.


Saving Isn’t Impossible


Many homebuyers are first-time homebuyers. While many simply dream of owning a home, others work to make it happen. Saving money is a goal. Once you save the money, you have made a real accomplishment. You’ll have a huge reward waiting for you once you reach your goal. How can you save effectively? There’s a few simple steps that will allow you to start saving for a down payment on a home. Remember that no matter how slow you go, every step is one step closer to hitting your goals. 


Get A Savings Account


Preferably, the savings account that you open should be dedicated to your house expenses. Most of the time, your bank will allow you to set up automatic transfers from your checking account. See how much you can afford to save and set up these transfers. Each time you get a paycheck from work, have a certain amount put right into the savings account. You’ll be saving without even thinking about it.


Be Budget Friendly


Budgeting sounds complicated, but really, it’s quite simple. First, put your monthly gross income on a spreadsheet. Then subtract things like taxes and fees that come out of your paycheck. Next, subtract all of your necessary monthly costs. These can include student loan debt, car loans, rent, and how much money you spend on food and entertainment. There's so many little things that we spend our money on everyday, you may be surprised to see how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. Some categories are important and others are not.       


See Where You Can Cut Costs


After you have made a concrete budget, see where you can cut some costs. If you need to cut out going to dinner and the movies, then do that. There’s bound to be something that you can cut out of your budget that’s not a necessity that can help you to save some cash. The sacrifice will be worth it in the end!       


Indulge For Your House


Every time that you get a small bonus, a gift, or a tax refund, put it away. It can be tempting to want to go buy a brand new TV or spend your money on entertainment, but saving that money for your house fund will be a lot more rewarding. 

The bottom line is that it won’t be a huge task saving your money for a down payment once you put your mind to it. Happy saving!


For many of us, it can seem like our paychecks are gone before we even get a chance to see them. With seemingly endless bills and expenses, both recurring and unforeseen, saving up for a house is a daunting task.

Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare yourself for those intimidating down payments and many closing costs.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through how you can start saving for a home right this moment. After all, every day is another day you could be contributing to your savings and taking another step closer to owning your own home.

Use a Budgeting Tool

The first step to saving and determining how much you can save is to start budgeting. Many people hear the term “budget” and get nervous thinking they’ll have to start counting the number of coffees they buy. However, there are less anxiety-inducing ways to budget.

From your phone, tablet, or computer you have access to a large number of free budgeting tools. Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), and PocketGuard are three of the top budgeting tools that will get you started.

With apps that integrate with your bank accounts and loan balances,  there is little work required on your part. Just set an amount to save each week or month, and direct the funds into your savings account.

Set up a dedicated savings account

Speaking of savings accounts--now is a great time to set up a new one. It’s almost always free to open a new account with your bank. What’s more, it’s a lot less tempting to pull from a savings account when it’s labeled something like “HOUSE SAVINGS - DO NOT TOUCH.”

Once you have your budgeting app and bank account set up, it’s time to dig into some of the ways you can save money without skipping meals.

Cutting Monthly Expenses

Rather than telling yourself you can’t buy any more fancy Starbucks drinks anymore until you have a house (don’t torture yourself), make a list of all your monthly expenses. That can include anything from Netflix and Spotify to haircuts and car washes.

A great way to make this list is to go through your credit and debit card transactions. If you have autopay set up, you might not even realize how many services are withdrawing directly from your accounts each month.

For each item on your list, determine if you can either eliminate the expense or spend less on it. Maybe you go for the deluxe car war rather than the basic. Or, you might pay for services you don’t use as much as you used to.

If you’re worried about having no entertainment if you drop Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, you could try out your local library system. Most of the time you can have books, movies, and music shipped for free from all around your state.

When it comes to cable, cell phone plans, car insurance, and other monthly bills give your provider a call and tell them you’re thinking about switching over to a cheaper competitor. They’ll likely offer you a discounted rate. If they don’t, follow through on your promise and call other providers to see if you can get better rates.