Sunday, January 19, 2020

40 Money Saving Tips For First Time Buyers ♥

We are saving up to buy our first family home and it's been a long time coming! We recently met with a mortgage advisor who advised us on what to do to save up for our first home and things we should put into practice and I wanted to share them on my blog for any other potential first time buyers.

In this day and age, saving for the deposit for your first home can almost seem impossible due to crippling rents (in our previous rental we were paying 1,000 a month!), but by putting some financial tricks into practice and cutting back (or altogether!) on lifestyle luxuries (that you probably won't even end up missing!), saving up that all important mortgage deposit can be done.

Here are my 40 money saving tips for first time buyers, that will hopefully be helpful for those like us who are trying to save for their first home.

1. Take control of your finances
The first thing you need to do before even contemplating applying for a mortgage, or indeed starting to save for one, is to sit down and work out your monthly income and outgoings. How much spare money do you have left over after all of your expenses have been paid for? By sitting down and working all of these things out, you'll be able to determine how much you have to spend on daily spends/luxuries (unexpected trips to the local shop, etc.) and how much you're able to put away in savings. By doing this, it also gives you a good idea on the things you can and should cut back on - what are you wasting your money on and how to stop doing so.

2. Buy secondhand
I'm such an advocate for buying secondhand things because there's absolutely nothing wrong with them and they are so much cheaper! I buy a lot of the kids clothes secondhand and I have never been sold anything that wasn't in great condition - I've picked up brand new Next coats for the boys for as little as 50p at a car boot sale! Buying things secondhand, no matter what they are, means that you can get what you want/need at a fraction of the cost, therefore being left with more money to put into saving for your mortgage deposit!

3. Open a savings account
This is such a simple step, but honestly, some people will never get around to open a savings account because they find it to be too much hassle, or they do open one and save for a little while but then give up. I purposely chose to open my savings account with my local credit union because I knew that without the access to it online, etc. I would never go and take the money out of it. By never touching the money (except for when I had to buy a new car because the other one was completely broken!), I was able to build up my savings amount quite quickly and there's nothing better than seeing the number increase and the dream of owning my home becoming closer with each cent saved!

4. Don't impulse buy
This is something which I have been so guilty of in the past. I suddenly get it into my head that I desperately need something, when I really, really don't and it always ends up being a waste of money. Now, if I see something I want I don't buy it immediately and if I'm still thinking about it a few days later I may buy it then, but I never impulse buy anymore. It's always such a waste.

5. Cut back on the luxuries
Go through your monthly expenses and decide what luxuries you could really live without. I used to buy a magazine once a month but then the price increased a lot and I realised it just wasn't worth it anymore. I also cut way back on my energy drinks and protein bars because I was spending a small fortune on them without really needing them. What luxury expenses could you do without to give your savings a boost?

6. Stick to a weekly meal plan
The most effective way of saving money on your food shop is to write and stick to a meal plan for the week. This way you can work out what you're going to be eating every day, using the ingredients you already have at home and not wasting products. It also means you'll be wasting less food too which is also a great thing!

7. Don't eat out if you don't have to
Do you find yourself going for lunch a lot when you could easily pack one for yourself or getting a takeaway when you could have prepared dinner? Usually eating out is just down to the convenience factor and not the fact that we actually want a takeaway, etc. So, by being more prepared and cooking meals in advance, packing a lunch the night before work/school, we can save a lot of money.

8. Buy own brand products
Did you know that the majority of own brand products are actually the main luxury brands a lot of the time? Supermarkets contract the leading competitors to manufacture their own brand products for them, so you can essentially be paying a whole lot less for the same thing! I honestly couldn't tell you one brand name product we buy now unless it's from a discount store, so we save a lot of money without compromising on quality or taste.

9. Pack a lunch for work/school
Find yourself buying lunch everyday or giving your kids lunch money each day? Stop! This is such a waste and this money can be better served by going towards your mortgage deposit. Pack a lunch for work or school the night before and not only will you be more organised, you'll be saving a whole lot of money each month too.

10. Use up your leftovers
As a family we end up eating leftovers 2 or 3 nights a week for dinner. I always cook extra so that it can be used the following day and if there's something like chicken leftover from dinner I use it up the following day for wraps or sandwiches for lunch. This means that nothing gets wasted and we're not wasting money on buying more food that we don't need.

11. Use cashback sites when shopping online
I use a cashback site to get money back on my online purchases. This is a great way of buying what you need, but still making a saving on it too. The amount of cashback builds up quite quickly too and is especially handy for occasions that require you to shop online, such as birthdays or Christmas.

12. Switch your providers
Been with the same provider for years? Why not look up if you're actually getting the best deal? There are sites which can show you who the cheapest providers are now for everything, from utility bills to insurance and it's worth switching to get the best deal for you. Save those cents!

13. Haggle, haggle, haggle!
Did you know that you can haggle for almost anything you can buy? Yes it takes a bit of guts to do but is so worth it! It's a great way of saving money but still getting the item/services you want.

14. Get rid of services you don't use as much as you should
My children won't watch TV, they just have no interest, so we got rid of our Sky package. This saved us €60 per month - €60 that was previously going towards a turned off TV, I'm sickened! Go through the services you pay for each month, determine if they're worth your hard-earned cash and get rid of any that aren't.

15. Don't take out loans
I was mistakenly told that in order to get a mortgage, the bank will want to see that you've taken out a loan and have been able to pay it back - this is false! The bank want to see that you earn money, can save money while still paying rent and living a life and that you will be able to pay your mortgage. They do not want to see that you can afford loans!

16. Buy outright for things
This is a follow up of the point above. If I don't have the physical cash for a big spend I don't buy it. I won't take out a loan for anything, I own nothing on higher purchase and I have no car loans. Sure, my car isn't the newest, but I own it outright and that means I'm saving money by not having a car loan or interest outgoing every month.

17. Sell items you no longer need
Selling items you no longer need is a great way of acquiring cash fast. Go through what you own and anything you no longer need or want - that is in good condition - sell! I sold all of our baby equipment and earned over €500 in a day which went to paying off my orthodontist bill - leaving me free from any month repayments. I also sold the kids old clothes and made €100 in a month by doing so. All this extra cash from simply selling things you don't need or want can really be useful.

18. Use cash only
If you don't have the cold, hard cash in your pocket to buy something, then don't buy it - unless it's a necessity of course. I don't have a credit card and I never want one. By using cash only you're able to better record what your spending and not getting charged for using a card.

19. Label your outgoings
The bank will want to see that you're able to repay your mortgage, so if you're renting make sure to put a covernote of 'RENT' on your outgoing bank transfer to your landlord. It's so important to have a record of this so that the bank can easily see your payments for accommodation.

20. Do the 52 week money saving challenge
The 52 week money saving challenge is a great way of saving money throughout the year and the money saved can be a great top up for your mortgage deposit - without feeling like you're doing yourself out of disposable income. You can even invert the challenge if you want to change the amounts you'll be saving at the beginning and end of the year.

21. Unplug things when you're not using them
Don't simply switch things off when you're not using them because if they're still plugged in they'll still be using electricity. Get in the habit of unplugging things when they're not being used and it'll save you so much on your utility bills.

22. Switch to pre-pay power
Having a pre-pay power meter in your home is a great way of keeping track of how much electricity you're using and a great way of being able to determine an electricity budget each week. This will save you money on your electricity bills because you will know how much you're using, instead of waiting for a bill or estimate.

23. Do the 365 day money challenge
This is such a simple money saving challenge that, if started in January, you will save a total of €667.95 by the end of the year! And the great thing is that because it's only a few cents at a time, you probably won't even notice that you're having to save this money either!

24. Only shop once a week
When looking at our finances we realised that we wasted so much money on going to the shop, when a weekly shop had already been done! Those €10 spends add up to a lot when you do them throughout the month and it's such a waste of money. By only shopping once a week you're saving money, not impulse buying and should be sticking to your weekly meal plan.

25. If you can, move back with your parents
This is a big change and can take a lot of getting used to, but if you think you can deal with it and if the option is available to you, moving back with your parents can save you a lot of money and quite quickly too, allowing you to save for your mortgage deposit quicker.

26. Shop in discount stores
I honestly will never buy anything at full price when I can get it in a discount store. I buy all my cleaning and laundry supplies in discount stores, as well as my hygiene products too, meaning I get to buy the name brands at a fraction of the cost.

27. Use a discount extension when internet shopping
I use the Honey extension when internet shopping and it lets me know of the discount codes available for the websites I'm shopping on. It's a great way of finding a discount quickly and availing of it, allowing you to buy what you need but not waste any money that you don't have to.

28. Switch to energy saving lightbulbs
This is the first thing we did in all the properties we moved into - changed all the lightbulbs to LED. This meant that we saved money on our electricity bills without much effort and you can pick up LED bulbs from your local discount store for as little as €1.50.

29. Have nights in instead of out
The cost of a night out can really end up being a lot when you factor in food, drinks, entry to a club, etc. so buy opting for a night in as a couple or with friends, you can still have lots of fun socialising, but without the big price tag. Cook a meal, watch a film, or just invite your best friend around for a glass of Prosecco and a chat. It'll probably end up being more enjoyable too, as well as saving you money.

30. Cut back on the travel, for now
This is a hard one as people love to travel and explore new places - we love our days out and city breaks, but right now, as we're saving for a mortgage deposit, our trips have to go on the back burner for now. The only way I get through this is by realising that our mortgage repayments will be much less than our rent ever was, so we can travel all we want when we're homeowners. The cut back for now will be so worth it and allow us to save up quicker for our deposit.

31. Give up your takeout coffee
Invest in a travel mug and bring your own coffee with you when you're out and about. If you spend €2 on a takeout coffee during your working week that's already €10 a week, €520 a year! That'd be a great saving towards your mortgage deposit.

32. Let your hair grow
If you're someone who loves going to the hairdressers regularly, cutting back on your visits, at least until you secure your mortgage deposit, can really help you to save money. A cut and colour for someone like me with long hair is €150 minimum - money which could be better spent towards a mortgage deposit. It's not a big sacrifice to give up for a short time and who knows, you might even like your hair longer!

33. Look for deals on your transport or carpool
If you need to travel for work look for the best deals when it comes to transport. It's cheaper to buy a monthly or weekly train ticket rather than a day to day one and it's the same for bus tickets or a travel pass. If you need to get to work by car, why not try carpooling to save you money on fuel? Transport costs can be one of the highest weekly outgoings for people and by being a bit more thoughtful in planning your transport, you can save a lot of money.

34. Make use of a family plan
If you are on a contract for your phone, try and get on a family plan instead of an individual tariff. This can save yourself and your family money each month, which can be better spent towards your savings account.

35. Get the cheapest car insurance possible
If you own a car, insurance can be the most expensive aspect to having your car. It pays to shop around and tailor your insurance to your needs. It can be cheaper to use a broker rather than going direct with a car insurance company. If you add your partner or other family members to your policy it can also bring your premium down.

36. Compare your shopping
Use comparison sites to compare the prices at the supermarkets in your local area. This could be for a specific item or your whole shop and it really does pay off when you realise that you're spending unnecessary money every week on your grocery shopping. You'll be surprised at how much you could save by shopping elsewhere and this will all add up towards your savings.

37. Make use of buy one get one free offers
Make use of buy one get one free offers - but only if you know you'll actually end up using the products. Use for items such as toothpaste, toilet paper and non-perishable food stuffs that you can store in the cupboard, that won't go off and will come in useful in time.

38. Wash your clothes on a cold wash
Washing clothes in cold water is a world wide known rule and tip to reduce the energy usage of washing machines - and it'll keep your clothes in better condition too! Doing this helps you to save money on your energy bills and have more money for savings.

39. Wash your car yourself
Instead of taking your car to a car wash or valeted, why not clean it yourself? Basic car washes can cost at least €8 - which is actually quite a lot of money for something you could do so simply yourself.

40. Remember, it's not a good deal if you don't need it!
Too often so many of us end up wasting money on things we don't need just because we think it's a good deal. This is rampant during end of season sales, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the January sales, but if you really don't need something it's just a waste of money and this money could be so handy towards saving for your mortgage deposit.

These are all things which we're doing to save up for our mortgage deposit, which, for us as first time buyers, is 10% of the house cost price. We're looking at a minimum of €20,000, which is a huge amount for us, but hopefully keeping these 40 things in mind and in practice will help us to save up.

Can you recommend any other money saving tips for first time buyers?

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