The majority of Americans—79 percent recently surveyed—still believe that owning a home is a vital component of achieving the American dream, according to a Bankrate.com survey of more than 2,000 consumers. Americans placed achieving homeownership ahead of retirement (68 percent), having a successful career (63 percent), and owning an automobile (58 percent), according to the survey.

While the majority of respondents rated ownership high, they do see several challenges to overcome to achieve it. About half of the survey’s respondents say they don’t own a home because they can’t afford it on their income. Four in 10 Americans say they don’t own because they can’t afford a down payment and closing costs, while one-third cite high home prices as the major obstacle.

 But a rigid savings plan could put more consumers into homeownership. “Put yourself on financial lockdown for at least six months before purchasing a home,” says Dana Scanlon, a real estate pro with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Bethesda, Md. “Don’t buy new furniture, keep your old car running, and check your spending habits.”

Luis Rosa, a financial planner in Henderson, Nev., suggests a two-year plan to save up for closing costs and a down payment and to boost credit scores.