Is It Wise to Put Investing on Hold to Save for a Home?

March 10, 2023

Should you pause investing in order to save for a home? In this highlight, Bo and Brian discuss if you should pause investing to save for a home.

Our Financial Order of Operations course is a great resource to know exactly how you should prioritize every dollar that comes your way.


All right, Hutch has a question: “Is it okay to pause 401K contributions for a year or more to save up for my first home purchase? I’m currently maxing out all my buckets, but a five percent down payment is still brutal on the west coast. What do you guys think?”

Hutch, I love that you’ve been listening to the show, because obviously, you know when it comes to first-time home purchasers, we give you a little leeway. Well, we don’t say that you have to save 20%. You don’t have to get that down payment. We’re okay if you save as little as three to five percent for that first home so that you can get there. But even with that leeway, Hutch, it sounds like you’re saying, “Man, five percent on the west coast is still a lot of money. Is it okay if I stop my savings? Is it okay if I peel back from the Financial Order of Operations to build up for that down payment?”

I think the way that I would answer the question, Brian, is you’ve got to have somewhere to live, right? Ultimately, our money is nothing more than a tool that allows us to do the things that we want to do. Well, for a lot of us, one of the things that we want to do is own a home so that we can establish roots, so that we can start a family, so that we can fill in the blanks of all the things that we want to do.

Well, one of the problems for young people is if you stop saving in your 401k, that’s a costly decision, meaning you don’t have dollars going into your army of dollar bills, and you’re going to lose out on all that compound that could happen with those dollars. So that one dollar that could turn into 88 for a 20-year-old by the time they get to 65 won’t be happening.

Having said that, we live in the financial world of marginal decisions, and we have to make decisions based on not only what is best for us in the future but also what is best for us now. So if you need to get into a home and if you need to establish that first home and you need to take some time off of saving to do that, I think that’s okay, but I think you have to do it like you have to be so scared of it, you have to realize, “All right, what this means is maybe I’m gonna do some of like, you know, there are other commentators out there to talk about the eating beans and rice and not going out to eat and all those kinds of things.” You may have to adopt that kind of mentality to save up that five percent as absolutely fast as you can so that once you get your pot of money built up, once you get into the new house, then you can get your army of dollar bills back working for you.

Because I just, and if possible, so maybe I was saving 25%, maybe I’m gonna drop to 15%, but I’m still gonna have dollars working for me. I like that a lot better than the, “I’m just gonna stop saving altogether and only build up cash,” because man, what if next year turns out to be another really good saving year because there’s volatility or whatever else that might be going on?

It’s too important to pass up on getting your employer’s free money. I hate to say it, but don’t think about cold turkey and shutting down all retirement plan contributions so you can turbo charge your down payment. That free money, with a guaranteed rate of return of 50 to 100, is so powerful. Respect that step number two in the Financial Order of Operations and get that free money from your employer if that’s an opportunity.

Make yourself as small as possible. I’m always amazed when people tell me they don’t have enough money to do something. Let’s talk about this. Do you have roommates? How are you paying for your current housing situation? It stinks, but in your 20s, you can put up with anything. Let’s take advantage of that. When I find out that you’re living alone and trying to save up for something, I’m like, “You haven’t squeezed enough yet.” You’ve got to make yourself as small as possible because how bad do you really want this? Realize you can either make more money or spend less money when you’re trying to save extra money. So, if you’re making all you can, the only other lever you have to pull is to make yourself as small as possible.

Lean into what Bo shared with you when you’re hungry to make something happen. You’ve got to make those hard decisions. It’s that whole Jerry Rice quote. “Today, I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” That goes with the second point I was making.

Step number four of the Financial Order of Operations, the emergency reserves, has a lot of grace built into the rails. We do three to six months on purpose. You might be more of a three months person, but because you’re trying to save up three to five percent, that expands out to six months. Take advantage of that.

In summary, don’t miss out on the employer money. It’s too important. Make sure you’re making sacrifices in all aspects so you can really get into this difficult decision of getting a house out on the west coast. And, take advantage of that extra flexibility that’s in the emergency reserve step of step four. You do have to make some sacrifices. That’s the whole concept of deferred gratification. Do it now so you can have the awesomeness later.

For more information, check out our free deliverable called, “Home Buying Checklist



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