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First-Time Home Buyers: How to Save for a Down Payment

• Right-size your cell phone plan. Use the tremendous tools at www.myvalidas.com to see if you are paying too much for cellular service. You upload your bill and the website tells you if you should switch plans or even carriers.

• Switch to a high-deductible health plan. This is great advice if you are healthy. I shopped around for a friend and found she could save $1,428 a year by switching from a $500 deductible to a $1,500 one. That's nearly enough to cover the deductible itself if something does go wrong!

• Finally, check out first-time homebuyer assistance programs. They are offered in most every state and maybe you won't have to save up such a big down payment after all. Some of these programs help with your down payment, others snag you a lower interest rate. Here's a website to find your state plan: www.ncsha.org.

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