Buying a house is super stressful at any time and it can be so hard knowing where to start when it’s your first time. Aside from finding a location and working out what your must-haves are, there are many factors at play when making this decision; such as working out your budget based on your earning and savings, together with finding a mortgage.
My husband and I had spent 3 years looking for the perfect house. At first, back in 2018, we weren’t actively looking, just trying to figure out the size of house we’d be able to afford with all the money we’d saved. I quickly realised it didn’t amount to as much we needed, so I spent the next two years saving like crazy. Frugal isn’t a word I like to use, as I love spending money, if I’m honest, but I was just very careful about spending on unnecessary stuff.
Here are some ways I saved
- I started batch cooking and freezing meals in order to cut down on food waste.
- Selling on Facebook marketplace was the best way I made a lot of money in a short space of time! I sold lots of stuff from around the house including furniture and kitchen/electrical items – this also helped me declutter, so there was less to move when we eventually did! Personally, I think the pandemic really helped with this, as fewer shops were open and so people were shopping locally and online more
- eBay was another platform I used to sell things when I didn’t have any luck on facebook as it reaches a wider audience. Only downside to this platform is that they charge a fee.
- Selling clothing on Vinted is really easy and best of all, no fees involved!
- I started doing surveys in my spare time while watching TV to earn a bit of extra money
- One of the most challenging things for me was cutting down on takeaway coffees – this is my weakness, and one I used to indulge in almost every other day. Saving all the money I’d ordinarily spend on coffees added up to a surprising (read: horrifying) amount.
Once I had my savings in check, I had to work out our outgoings..
- I went through all our household bills and shopped around for better deals, changing providers where necessary
- Cancelling streaming services was next on the list. Nobody needs Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Now TV all at the same time! We whittled it down to just two.
There are other things you can do to cut down household expenses, such as reducing the luxuries you get in your grocery shop (things like cakes and biscuits). Consider shopping for clothes and household items second-hand, or use a discount site like Raise (https://www.raise.com/coupons/lowes) to get a shaving off the cost. Since these outgoings vary month to month depending on your situation, it can be hard to see how much you’re saving. But the general rule people use is “a penny saved is a penny earned”.
Mortgages are a huge part of your monthly outgoings, but probably the most important. Once you have checked all your outgoings, you need to check if you can afford a property. From that point onwards, I obsessively trawled though listings on Right Move at least 3 times a day.. and that was the fun part!
We eventually found a house we love and I have to say the stamp duty holiday and COVID-19 pandemic really helped us out. It was a drawn out process due to all that was going on in the world and that extra time helped us save a bit more money, and made us realise our priorities had shifted. For example, we now knew that we’d have to find a home that had enough space for two home offices, instead of just one with both of us now working from home. Being as close to a tube station was less important to us now, in comparison to good high street etc.
I also found this First-Time Buyers’ Guide to be really informative when we were going through the process. Since moving in, we’ve even looked into loan overpayments; this isn’t something we can afford to do immediately, but as and when I get back to flogging some more of our clutter online, I’ve decided that any extra money we make will go towards the mortgage.