- My old apartment was severely leaking and my landlord did little to fix the problem.
- Fed up with mold, my boyfriend and I decided to look for a house to buy.
- Thanks to a roundup offered by my bank, I had $ 13,000 saved for a down payment.
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The trickle of water running down the bedroom wall appeared a month after my then-boyfriend and I moved into an apartment together. It was New Years Day, and after a brief snowfall in Ohio, the snow on the roof was melting in the sun and the water had made its way through a hole in the roof and into our apartment.
Over the next 13 months, that little trickle would spread throughout the closet and kitchen, with black mold staining the ceiling and damp bits of drywall falling to the floor. We sent the owner dozens of photos and begged her to fix it, but at most she sent a handyman to fix the interior of the apartment to make things look better aesthetic, which did nothing to repair the leak.
We decided to think about buying a house
After hours of Google searching for “tenant rights” and “how to escrow your rent,” my boyfriend sighed and said, “Maybe we should look at the houses”.
I knew he didn’t mean renting a house. We were tired of begging owners to do basic maintenance on their properties and we were exhausted having to live in a damp, spore-filled apartment that smelled like stagnant mold.
Buying a house was something we always thought we would finish, but we were both 26 and worried we couldn’t afford it. I had a job in customer service and my boyfriend is a journalist, which is not a job known for his high salaries. Also, my boyfriend still had student loans to pay off and wasn’t able to contribute a down payment. And since we were tenants, we couldn’t sell one property to finance the purchase of another. The idea of buying a house seemed impossible.
I had saved thousands without really realizing it
I opened checking and savings accounts with Wells Fargo when I was 18. When the banker asked me if I wanted a card attached to the savings account, I said no because I knew it would make spending easier and I wouldn’t. end up saving.
Then the banker asked me if I wanted to sign up for Save As You Go transfers. Back then, the program allowed you to fund your savings account without thinking about it – every time you swiped your debit card. debit, the purchase was rounded up and the remainder was placed in your savings account. For example, if you made a purchase of $ 9.25, you will be charged $ 10 and $ 0.75 will be transferred to your savings account. If your purchase was for a whole amount, then $ 1 would be transferred to savings.
By using Save As You Go when I was 18-26, I had managed to save $ 13,000 without really trying and hadn’t tapped into it because I didn’t have easy access to that money. But would $ 13,000 be enough for the usual 20% down payment?
The bank agreed to grant us a mortgage with my savings
My boyfriend and I found a house a few miles from our run down apartment for $ 168,000. It’s a small Cape Cod built in 1946, with the original hardwood floors and glass door handles. As soon as we saw the built-in bookcase – which meant one less shelf we had to buy for our 600 or so books – we were in love.
In the end, it was the ability to use that $ 13,000 as a down payment that convinced the bank to give us a mortgage. The $ 13,000 was still not the preferred 20% reduction, so we had to pay for PMI insurance, or private mortgage insurance, until we hit that 20% threshold. If it hadn’t been for Wells Fargo’s Save As You Go option, we wouldn’t have had that money to reduce the down payment and would have been stuck in our moldy apartment or something like that.
While we no longer do banking with Wells Fargo, I encourage everyone to ask their bank if there are any automatic savings programs. If your bank doesn’t have something like Save As You Go, they probably allow automatic daily, weekly, or monthly transfers to savings. These small amounts of money really add up over time and you never know what need, emergency, or bucket list item that money might help you buy, even a home.