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Invest In My 401k Or Save For A House Downpayment?

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We all know we need to be saving for retirement. But it’s hard to focus on something that seems so far away when owning a house is something that’s on our mind right now.

So, where should you focus your money? Have you been pondering, “Should I Invest In My 401k Or Save For A House Downpayment?” Generally, you’ll get a higher return on your investment by contributing to a retirement account, but owning your own home is a decision that affects your quality of life today. Here’s how to decide what to do.

Can You Save Money By Renting?

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Owning a home might be your dream, but is it the right thing for you financially? We’ve heard that buying a house will help you build wealth faster than rent, but a new study shows that might not be entirely true. The catch is, you’ll need to take the money you’re saving by not making a down payment for a home and invest it wisely. Your return might be even greater if it’s cheaper to rent than it is to buy in your area.

Can You Use Your Roth IRA For A Down Payment?

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As a millennial, chances are you’re in a lower tax bracket now than you will be ten years from now. That’s what makes now such a good time to invest in a Roth IRA. Since you’re paying taxes on the money now, you’ll be taxed at a lower rate than if you defer through a traditional IRA or 401(k) and pay later in life when you’ll likely be in a higher tax bracket. The other benefit is that Roth IRAs allow you to use some of your savings to put a down payment on a home if you’re a first-time buyer.

Look Into First-Time Buyer Programs

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If you’re not ready to dip into your retirement savings, but you can’t quite shake the dream of a new home, you might want to look into first-time buyer programs. We all know that 20 percent is the gold standard for a down payment on a home, but these programs allow first-time buyers to buy a home with a smaller down payment. There are plenty of first-time buyer programs nationwide. Some cities even offer incentives for first-time buyers with certain income levels or who are willing to move to a certain area of town. You’ll most likely need to pay private mortgage insurance when you use these programs, so keep that in mind when you’re making plans.

  • Your account has been open for less than five years
  • You are withdrawing $10,000 or less to purchase a new home (For reference: 20 percent of a $100,000 home is $20,000).
  • You’re using the money for a down payment, closing cost, or other fees directly related to buying a house.

If you go this option, remember you’ve just taken a big chunk out of your retirement savings, so you’re going to want to focus on rebuilding that amount. That might mean maxing out your retirement contributions, so be sure your new mortgage payment allows you the flexibility to save.

Don’t Neglect Your Other Debts

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Where ever you decide to focus your money, remember not to neglect your other debts, like your student loan payments. Falling behind on these payments can be disastrous for your credit score, which will make buying a home even more expensive when you’re ready to do it.

Related: Your Step-by-Step Millennial Mortgage Guide
What Millennials Should Know About the Home Down Payment
Are Millennials Buying Homes? Should You Rent or Buy

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Kylee Della Volpe
Kylee Della Volpe is a writer and editor for mortgages.com.

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