If you have been thinking about buying a home, one of the first things you need to prepare for is the down payment.

While you’ll pay off your home over the course of your mortgage, a down payment will require you to put down a significant amount of money to secure this financing. Conventional loan down payments are typically between 15 and 20%, but there are also options available with lower requirements. Of course, your down payment goes towards your overall mortgage cost, so the more you can pay up front, the less you’ll be responsible for in the long run.

If you’re ready to make a move towards homeownership, these ten tips will help you improve your finances in 2018.

Meeting with mortgage lenders will help you understand your down payment options. 

  1. Sell Your Extras

You probably have plenty of unwanted or unused items laying around your house, and there is likely someone out there willing to pay you for them. Whether you have an old baseball card collection or just some dresses you never wear, look for ways to liquidate your extra items. Not to mention, you’ll make it easier on yourself when it comes time to move.

  1. Do-It-Yourself Whenever You Can

Whether it’s gifts for your coworkers or a holiday haul for your niece, start making things by hand to cut down on your shopping. Baked goods, homemade candles, and even flowers from your garden can make meaningful gifts that won’t break your budget.

  1. Reconsider Your Banking Options

Have you held the same bank account for years? You may be missing out on lower fees or increased interest. Shop around for different account options, and you may even find perks like bonuses just for opening a new account.

  1. Negotiate Interest Rates

If you’re responsible with your credit card payments, your card issuer may be amenable to dropping your rate—and you’ll never know unless you ask. If they don’t give you a lower rate, consider consolidating your higher-interest credit card debt into a balance transfer card. Find one with an introductory rate of 0%, and you’ve knocked out that pesky accumulating interest.

  1. Step Away From The Credit Cards Altogether

Start thinking about your credit card as a last-resort emergency funding source, and start relying on cash and debit cards. That way, you’ll only be spending the money you have on hand, and you won’t get trapped by a growing balance.

Pay in cash whenever you can to avoid credit card interest payments.

  1. Eat Healthier

How much does it cost to fill up a glass of water at the sink? How much does it cost to buy a bottle of soda? When you eat healthier and drink more water, you’re saving money immediately and in the long run by staying healthier.

  1. Become A Loyal Shopper

Many retailers are happy to reward you just for being a customer, so sign up for any loyalty programs they offer to take advantage of discounts, exclusive sales, and promotional offers. Be savvy by setting up an individual email account or a filter in your general inbox that lets these offers go to one place, so you always know where to look when you’re ready to buy.

  1. Always Make A List

When you wander the aisles of the grocery store without knowing exactly what you are there to buy, you are more susceptible to purchasing things you don’t need. Always make a list before you head to any store, and stick with it.

  1. Learn To Delay Gratification

If you’ve been to a major store sale where items are flying off the shelves, you’ve likely felt the competitive desire to spend. Start training yourself to wait to make purchases, rather than buying them right away. Set simple goals like waiting 24 hours to buy anything over $100, a week for anything over $200, and a month for anything over that. You may find that after waiting, you’re not that enamored with the item after all.

  1. Cut Your Monthly Bills

Look at your spending on utilities, including your phone and cable, and see if there are ways to cut down your consumption. Turn off lights in every room until you are in them, set your thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter, and consider getting rid of cable or dropping down to a cheaper package.

Finding ways to save money will help you build up savings for your down payment, but it will also help you avoid debt and even stay healthier. Start looking into what loan options you qualify for, so you have a savings goal for your down payment. Answer a few questions here, and a home lending expert will contact you.