Look after the pennies and the house will look after itself
It's Friday! Better than that today marks the end of the last full week you'll work until May. Surely nothing can beat the prospect of working just seven days out of the next 16? Except maybe just maybe that feeling you get when you receive the keys to your very first home.
I can remember that moment like it was only yesterday a sense of true independence financial security and a million decorating ideas (not all as sensible as my fixed first fixed term mortgage if I am honest).
I was part of the lucky generation. We bought our houses young and watched the values rocket. I have made many mistakes in life but investing in property has never been one of them. I have a home I love and it's mine all mine!
That is why I am passionate about helping First Time Buyers onto the property ladder. And I am lucky enough to work for a company that feels just the same. Together we do everything we can to help - which is why readers of First Time Buyer Magazine have just voted us Private Developer of the Year for the second year in a row.
It's also why Fridays are now First Time Fridays for us - the day we give over to helping people looking to buy when everyone else seems to be telling them they can't.
So here are my personal top tips for saving for a deposit. In short look after the pennies and the house will take care of itself.
- Clear your debts. If you can't clear your debts now make sure you are paying the lowest possible interest. Shopping around is time well spent.
- Plan a budget. Set a limit for what you spend on food socialising and clothes - and set a savings target.
- Plan for the unexpected. Most people who plan for a budget don't include things like car repairs Christmas presents and holidays. Have separate accounts for this sort of thing so you can cope with the unexpected and still have a treat once in a while.
- Write down everything you spend. That will help to cut your spending more than anything else!
- Take cash shopping not cards. It feels a lot more real this way.
- Get an ISA and earn money on your savings.
- Shop around. Don't just go with your usual gas or electricity supplier and don't just renew your insurance policies. Try sites like uswitch and moneysupermarket to save money on life's essentials.
- Look at easy ways to supplement your income like being a mystery shopper with Retail Eyes or being paid to complete online surveys through companies such as Valued Opinions.
- Have a clear out and sell things you don't need on eBay or at car boot sales. You'll be surprised how much money you can raise.
- Save money in the house turn off appliances left on standby take showers not baths don't use the tumble dryer install a water meter don't leave the tap running whilst you brush your teeth turn down the thermostat close the curtains in the winter and only boil the amount of water you need.
- Shop wisely plan meals in advance don't buy branded goods buy in bulk don't buy expensive ready meals and always take lunch to work.
- Do use supermarket loyalty cards and if using credit cards try and choose those that reward spending (provided you can pay the debt off each month).
- Instead of buying expensive presents for people you can't afford give them a gift of your time - and instead of having flippant presents back ask for money or vouchers.
- Finally ask for help. Every year we help hundreds of First Time Buyers onto the property ladder though a range of schemes including Deposit Match MiWay and Homebuy Direct. Firstbuy is the next big thing so watch this space...
Sue Warwick - National Sales & Marketing Director Miller Homes