My simple budget rules helped me save up deposit for £262,000 first home

IT'S really easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to saving money – but first-time buyer Annie Baker stuck to a few simple rules which helped her stay on track.

Accounts analyst Annie, 26, kept to a budget of £50 a week for treats as part of her financial regime while saving up the deposit for her £262,000 first home.

She also aimed to spend £50 a week on her food bill by buying cheaper brands and making packed lunches and put cash into her savings account immediately when she got paid.

Her thrifty ways helped her save £20,000 in a year and a half to buy her £262,000 first home in Buckinghamshire- but it meant sacrificing a lot along the way.

She doubled her shifts nearly every week for six months, working gruelling 80 hour weeks sometimes to add an extra £1,200 into her savings pot per month.

Annie also sold her car for £4,000 and bought an old banger for £900 to put over £3,000 towards the £28,000 deposit needed for her home.

She stopped clothes shopping and rarely went out for dinner or bought takeaways, helping her to save up faster.

She received £6,000 in inheritance from her nan, which she put towards buying the property.

“Ridiculously” high rent prices also motivated her to buy a home sooner, as she was paying £1,200 a month in rent with her boyfriend before she moved in.

Annie bought the house by herself, but her boyfriend lives in it with her.

She’s kitted it out in second-hand furniture to save her a whopping £5,000.

We sat down with the savvy saver to see how she went from being a saver to becoming a homeowner for The Sun’s My First Home series.

Tell me about your home

It’s a two-bed end of terrace cottage built in the 1900s.

The previous owners did some work to the house five years ago, extending the bedroom and making the kitchen, living room and dining area open-plan downstairs.

There’s one bathroom upstairs, and there’s a small courtyard garden outside with a little shed at the bottom.

My two rabbits live under the bottom of the stairs in a bed I’ve put in there for them.

I’m planning on refreshing the house and putting my own stamp on it too – but financing this by myself is difficult.

Buying the house has taken a long time for me to save up and its drained me financially – so I’ll update the house as and when I have the money to do it.

The carpet is worn and there are scuffs on the walls – so that all needs to be changed.

How did you decide on the location?

I chose the location because it’s within an easily commutable distance from work.

The house prices are a little more affordable as well around this area.

I found the house on Rightmove.

How much did you pay for it?

The house was £262,000, and I put down roughly an 11% deposit at £28,000 for it.

I took out a £229,000 35-year mortgage for it, at a five year fixed rate.

My mortgage repayments are £849 a month.

This house would have totally been out of my price range if I hadn’t taken on double shifts to boost my income – and get a bigger mortgage.

I needed to boost my basic salary because what lenders were prepared to give to me didn’t cover the type of house I was looking for in the area I wanted.

So I took on double shifts nearly every week for six months to increase my income and give me more mortgage options.

I worked an average of 80 hours a week, and sometimes didn’t have a day off.

On average, I was getting £1,200 a month extra.

It was exhausting, and working that hard broke me a bit, but I’m looking forward to enjoying life in my new house now and it was worth it.

How did you save for it?

Aside from taking on lots of overtime at work, there were a number of things I did to save £20,000 in a year and a half for my first home.

I would make sure to have a budget in place for my outgoings.

For example, me and my boyfriend aim to spend roughly £50 on food a week between us.

I also spend roughly £50 a week on treats or non-essential purchases.

It’s not a super strict budget – I just have a figure in mind for the amount of money I should be spending on certain outgoings and I made sure to put my money in my savings account when I got paid.

I sold my car for £4,000 and bought an old banger for £900, giving me just over £3,000 to put towards the house.

I also made sure to make my own packed lunches and use cheaper brands.

I would use Tesco own brand bread instead of Warburton’s, for example, to make my sandwiches.

You can easily spend £6 a day on lunch out, which racks up to £30 a week – but mine only cost £1 per lunch, which is a fiver a week.

We rarely went out for dinners or bought takeaways while we were saving – and I wouldn’t spend a lot on clothes or make-up which saved me cash too.

I also had £6,000 in inheritance from my nan, which I put towards the house.

How did you afford to furnish it?

I love my second-hand home – it’s full of quality, older furniture I’ve bought on Facebook Marketplace.

Everything has been bought second hand apart from my mattress, and cost only £1,000 to furnish.

If I had bought everything new, it would have cost me over £6,000 – saving me at least £5,000.

One of my biggest bargains was my £200 Laura Ashley sofa – which cost around £2,000 brand new when I checked it online.

I also got a mattress for the spare bedroom for free – the lady down the road was giving away her old one away so I took it.

The wardrobe I bought was only £100 whereas it would have cost £700 if I bought it from the shops.

I could never have afforded all this furniture if I got it brand new – it’s saved me so much money.

Were there any complications buying the house?

There were no complications buying this place – but I did pull out of an offer I put on another house before this because of surprise works that would needed doing to it.

I got an offer accepted on a £258,000 house earlier this year.

I paid for a building survey for the home, to see what condition the house was in, which cost me £700.

The survey revealed that the house needed a lot of renovation work doing to it – which was a lot more than I could afford or wanted to take on.

The whole floor needed redoing as all the floorboards were rotting, which would have cost £15,000 maximum to sort out.

The survey revealed that there was asbestos in the loft conversion which would have cost thousands to rectify.

In total, the works could have cost me up to £40,000.

I pulled out of buying the house – I was so relieved I got the survey done, otherwise I would never have known the cost of doing up the place.

What’s your advice to other first time buyers?

You need to prioritise your goals – I had to make a sacrifice of buying new clothes over saving for my house.

Now I have a property of my own – it was totally worth it.

It’s hard work saving for a house, and working double shifts without any proper time off was really challenging.

But if you keep on track with your goals, then you will get there.

Here's how one couple saved up nearly all the deposit needed for their £255k first home by selling their cars and old junk.

Being on furlough didn't stop these two first time buyers bagging their first home – here's how they did it.

Here's how one couple haggled £11,000 off the asking price for their first home to save them from losing it.

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