10 ways to come up with a down payment

6. Get a gift.

Aunt Edna always liked you best. Take advantage of that favored family status and ask her to make a present of your down payment. Tax law allows gifts of several thousand dollars a year to be bestowed without tax consequences to either the giver or recipient. The gift-exclusion amount is adjusted annually to reflect inflation (it's $12,000 now), so check with the IRS to ensure guidelines are met. Many wealthy people use this tax rule to reduce potentially taxable estates while they're still around to get the thanks. Not close to your family? Not a problem. The gift exclusion isn't limited to relatives. The monetary present can be from anyone, so track down a well-off friend now!

7. Ask for a raise.

No luck finding a benefactor? Then maybe it's time to ask your boss for more money. Just make sure you do your homework beforehand, and base your request for a salary increase on your accomplishments rather than your needs.

8. Get a second job.

OK, so you work for the original Ebenezer Scrooge and he humbugged your raise request. Moonlighting could help you earn the extra money. This option makes the most sense for those who are young and not yet fully established in their professional lives.

9. Look for lost loot.

Around $14.5 billion worth of savings bonds is sitting around, ignored by owners and not earning a penny of interest. Do you have any stashed somewhere? Make sure your bonds are still adding to your net worth. You could also have money languishing in an old bank account somewhere or deposits paid to utilities that were never recovered.

10. Auction off unwanted items.

You didn't find any forgotten riches as you were digging through the attic, but there was plenty of other junk up there. Transform it into your down payment. Thanks to eBay and similar sites, it's never been easier to prove that one person's trash is another's treasure. Check out Bankrate's tips for selling in an online auction. Then clean out the closets and log on.


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