If you perform a Google search for U.S. housing prices, you’ll find a slew of blogs and websites with graphs that show the steady rise of real estate prices. Most of them also depict the scary sharp, downward dip when the bottom fell out on the real estate market in 2012. However, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s April 2019 report shows a 4.9% increase in home prices from 2018 to 2019.

There are also those who claim that housing in the U.S. is becoming unaffordable.

With all of that said, saving for a down payment for a house and purchasing a new home can feel like an impossible goal. With some planning and a bit of creativity though, it is indeed possible to squirrel away enough dollars for a down payment, especially if you are searching for a new home in Chicago

Following are 5 tips to get you well on your way to buying the house of your dreams.

1. Refinance your Car

If you have good credit, refinancing your car can be a great way to lower your monthly car payments while also scoring a lower interest rate. Not all banks and lending institutions offer the same rates or incentives so be sure to research more than one option.

Once you've found a good deal, deposit the money you save each month as a result of your refinance into a separate account. If you're in a pinch, opt for selling your car or trade it in for a used vehicle to save on monthly payments.

2. Consolidate Credit Card Debt

Another excellent tool for freeing up some money every month is to consolidate any credit card debt you may have. Transfer balances from cards with higher interest rates to those with low ones. Just be sure to either cut up those high rate cards or put them somewhere you won’t be tempted to use them.

Keep your ultimate goal in mind: the one of buying your own home in Chicago. Unless it’s a true emergency, don’t acquire any new debts on your credit cards.

3. Cut out Minor Everyday Expenses

Many people don’t realize how much money they spend on daily or monthly expenses like coffee, video or cable services, and gym memberships. Start by picking one small thing to cut out of your routine, like your afternoon coffee. You don’t necessarily have to cut the coffee out altogether but instead of buying the $5.00 latte from a chain coffee store, buy the simple regular drip coffee. Or better yet, equip your office with its own coffee pot and brew your own every day.

If you have a cable television subscription as well as Netflix, consider getting rid of one of them.

Not sure how much you spend on things every month? Print out and your bank statements and get out your highlighters. Color code all your expenses into categories, then determine what you can live without.

4. Create a Savings Plan

While you have your highlighters and your bank statements out, add up all your expenses for the month and subtract them from your earnings. Figure out how much money you have left over every month and set up an automatic transfer plan so that dollar amount goes directly into a savings account every month.

This sounds super easy but many people never do this.

5. Debt Elimination and Financial Clean Up

You could also commit to eliminating your debt altogether. There are some great online calculators you can use to help you determine your best plan of action. Most of them show you how much interest you’ll end up saving.

If you have medical debt, most hospitals will let you set up a payment plan. Evaluate all of your outgoing debts and create clear plans of action to eliminate them. This will help free up more money that you’ll be able to then put toward a down payment on a house.