Saving Tips for the First-Time Buyer
How to save BIG and hit your deposit target quicker! A handy guide for the first-time buyer.
Getting the keys to your own home and becoming a first-time buyer is a huge milestone in your life. We’ve heard in the news about all the barriers facing young people as they try to get their foot on the property ladder. Renting is no longer a viable option for the vast majority of people so making steps to buy your own home seems like the best path for people to follow. The lack of rental accommodation and exorbitant prices is forcing us all to revisit the idea of becoming homeowners. Buying a home requires you to have significant savings in your bank account to pay the deposit price. Having that kind of money requires us all to make changes in our lifestyles to help us save money to put towards this massive expense.
Central Bank rules mean first-time buyers must have a down payment of at least 10pc, with 20pc required by other borrowers – Irish Independent.
We’ve put together a list of ways you, the first-time buyer, can begin to save money to put towards your dream home.
Create a monthly budget
Anyone who’s studied business even at second level knows a little something about budgeting. Budgeting is an easy way to keep track of your income and expenditure, the money coming in and out of your pocket. Creating a budget allows you to plan for how you spend your hard-earned money. It allows you to see how much you make, how much you spend on bills and utilities, petrol, food, TV, electricity, heating, broadband, phone, travel, clothes, socialising etc. By keeping track of your expenditure you can then begin to identify ways you can begin to save money. It gives you a good starting point to go from. It is advisable that you keep a budget for a few months before making any spending changes. Get an idea of what your current situation is and then start planning from there.
Budget for each category and stick to it
After you create your budget and have filled it in for the first few months, set a limit for your expenditure under each category (food, bills, travel, social, health etc.) Once you have your limit set then stick to it. By keeping to this limit you can begin to save up money. It may only be a little at first but every cent counts. By being disciplined it will become a habit and you can then cut back even more as you progress along each month. If you find you’re spending under your limit then you can make your limit even smaller and start to cut some unnecessary expenses out entirely.
Hide the Credit Card
Credit cards make it so easy for us to spend above our limits. We’ve all experienced the sudden panic when the bill arrives and you suddenly realise just how much you have spent without even realising it. Some people have quite quirky ways of curbing their credit card spending, one of these is freezing it in a block of ice. If that’s something you’d like to do, then do it but otherwise just put your card away somewhere safe and out of reach. You can’t use it if you don’t have it on you!
Instead, take out a specific amount of money from the ATM each week. Set that withdrawal amount as your spending limit for the week, nothing more. Setting yourself a limit like this will let you know just how much you have spent and how much you have left at the end of the week. It’s a visual representation of your spending. Even if it’s only loose change you have left at the end of the week that’s still better than nothing. Be proud of any and all savings you make!
Piggy banks are back in fashion
Remember when you were a child and got your first piggy bank, a safe place you could save all the loose change you were gifted or found? It’s time to break out the piggy bank again! Save up any loose change you have or any you find, every cent adds up in the end. You’d be surprised by how much you can accumulate in a short space of time. You can then either use this to pay off utility bills or else you can lodge it into your savings account when you accumulate a nice sum of money. It’s always a nice feeling when you are lodging money rather than withdrawing it from your account.
Hustle like a Boss!
If you have skills that you can turn into a side hustle then do this. Gary Vaynerchuk your way to the top. Whatever your skill is, be that crafts, painting, sewing, blogging, vlogging, coaching etc., use that skill to help you make extra money on the side. Depending on your job and income level having a side-hustle can really help you to accumulate a nice sum of money to put straight into savings. Check out this list of side hustle ideas for some inspiration.
Look for better deals on utilities & insurance
Utilities are a huge expense for everyone. Every month we’re paying out on heating, electricity, phone plans, broadband, insurance etc. You’d be surprised at the savings you can make on these utilities. See what savings you can make on these sites; Bonkers.ie and Switcher.ie.
It is also advisable to contact your service providers and see what deals they can give you. No service provider wants to lose loyal customers so they may offer you a new deal to retain your custom. It’s definitely worth a try, if you don’t ask you won’t receive, so pick up the phone and see if you can save yourself some cash.
Leave the car at home
Irish people, tend to want to drive everywhere we need to go. There are very few households without a car sitting in the driveway or yard. Change your mindset and try to find other cheaper ways to get where you need to go. Try some public transport options in your area, walk or cycle if you can to work or ask around at work and see if anyone is interested in starting to carpool/car share to and from work. These are small changes but they can make a big difference to your pocket. You’ll be saving money and also helping to save the planet, so it’s a win-win situation really.
Switch from Bill Pay to Pay-As-You-Go
If you are not a big consumer of your monthly allowances then why pay extra for things you don’t use or need? Do some research into pay-as-you-go plans for your phone and broadband. If you can make some savings and still have all the allowances you need then swap over to a pay-as-you-go plan instead. Call into your provider and see what deals are available, they’ll be more than happy to help you. If your provider isn’t very helpful then shop around with some other providers to get yourself the best deal possible.
Cut back on cigarettes and alcohol
This may not apply to everyone but if it does apply to you then read on. Cigarettes and alcohol are two big expense areas for people. If you are a smoker consider cutting back first and then progress it along to quitting completely. Visit the Quit Smoking site for help and advice on how to do this.
Likewise if you consume alcohol regularly consider cutting back on the amount you drink and limit yourself to a set amount of money you spend on a night out with friends or family. You could also quit drinking completely if you so wished. Visit the DrinkAware site for help and advice.
Cutting back on these two things will save you a considerable amount of money every year.
Sell items you don’t use
We all have things in our homes that we no longer use. Some of these things are pre-loved and others may not have been used at all. They are usually hidden away from sight, collecting dust. Marie Kondo your home and find items that you can sell. Selling these items second-hand gives you another income channel. You’d be surprised at the amount of money you could make by selling things second-hand. There’s no point in cluttering up your home and life with unnecessary items that other people may actually want to buy and use. There are many sites and apps you can sell through online or you could use the old fashioned method of selling at local markets and car-booth sales.
Shop in Charity Shops
This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but you can pick up some excellent pieces of clothing and other items from second hand and charity shops. Some of these items may never have been worn or used and are available to buy at rock-bottom prices. When people declutter their lives they tend to donate their unwanted items to charity shops. It’s a common myth that charity shops only have dated and damaged goods available to buy from them. This is definitely just a myth. Call into your local shops and see what’s available to buy. You can find some hidden gems in them. Why not call into a local shop this weekend and see what’s available.
Use your library
If you are a self confessed bookworm and find yourself regularly buying new books, there’s a simple solution to this problem. Your local library is an excellent resource for you to use. Signing up is free and you have ample usage of all the books on offer. It’s a cost effective way to read all the latest page-turners.
Another option is to share books with family, friends, neighbours and coworkers. There’s no point in everyone buying a copy of the same book. You could set up a group where you share books around. This is a cheaper option but it’s also a more social one.
Create a capsule wardrobe
Disclaimer alert, this goes for both men and women, it’s not targeted specifically at the ladies. We spend hundreds of euros every year on clothing, sometimes even more. We do an annual and sometimes bi-annual ‘spring clean’ of our wardrobe where we end up throwing out quite a considerable amount of the clothing we’ve accumulated. It is estimated that we only wear 20% of our wardrobe, that is a staggering statistic. Fast fashion and online shopping makes it so easy for us to spend so much more on clothes we don’t really need. In the last year or so the idea of a capsule wardrobe has really caught on with many influencers vlogging their attempts at creating their own one. If it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for us. Take a look online and learn how you could create your very own capsule wardrobe that will save you hundreds of euros in the long run. Build a wardrobe of clothes that will work for you.
Use energy efficient appliances
Being eco-friendly and saving the planet have experienced something of a revival lately. While being more eco-friendly is helping to save the planet it can also save your pocket too. Using older appliances and light bulbs uses up much more energy and electricity which results in higher utility bills. Invest in some energy efficient appliances and light bulbs so you can cut back on your bills and also save the planet. Be an eco-warrior!
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Being eco-friendly and saving the planet have experienced something of a revival lately. While being more eco-friendly is helping to save the planet it can also save your pocket too. David Attenborough’s documentaries on climate change have resulted in people actively trying to live a plastic-free life. People have cut back on their single-use plastic and are more environmentally conscious when buying products. Buying reusable products can also save you money. By buying a reusable water bottle and coffee cups we are saving ourselves from having to buy the disposable versions which over time can add up to massive sums of money. Use BPA free water bottles and coffee cups to save the environment and your pocket!
By DIY, we’re not implying you should unleash your inner Property Brother and start tearing down walls. We all spend a weekly sum of money buying take-out foods and drinks. It has become so easy and convenient to purchase these things rather than buying the ingredients and making them ourselves. It is shocking really how much money you can spend on these commodities but to actually make them yourself will save you a lot of money. Homemade foods and drinks are more delicious and nutritious (sometimes) than your take-out versions. Sunday afternoons or Monday evenings are a perfect time to prepare your meals, lunches and smoothies in preparation for the week ahead. Pinterest is full of recipes and methods to help you meal-prep like a pro for the week. It may take some getting used to but when you see the savings it will definitely be worth it. And remember you can always have a treat day when you can get take-out rather than Doing-It-Yourself!
Channel your inner Nigella or Gordon
Everyone loves eating out especially for dinner in the evenings or brunch on the weekends. This is perfect as a treat once a month but when it becomes a regular habit it can really start to cripple you financially. Channel your inner Nigella or Gordon and become a domestic god or goddess in the kitchen. There’s a vast array of recipes available on-line and YouTube has a library full of how-to tutorials to help you make your very own culinary masterpieces.
You can even make it into a cute date night idea where you and your S.O. can cook the meal together. A warning in advance though… this may result in some minor disagreements! It may also result in some culinary disasters but with a little practice you can make it perfect.
Start off with some easier recipes if cooking isn’t your strong point. Cooking your own meals can also be better for your waistline as you know exactly what is going into your food. You may save some money and also lose a few pounds too, a win-win for you. You could be surprised as to who the better chef is in your household!
Cancel subscriptions and memberships
January is always the danger month for people signing up to things we may need but won’t use. One of these things is gym memberships or exercise class bundles. They might seem like the cheapest option but if you don’t use them then they are just a waste of your hard-earned cash. Instead opt to pay-as-you-go, that way you will only pay for what you use.
It’s also easy to forget about some things we subscribe or sign-up to. It is worth noting that some sites automatically renew your membership for the next year and you may end up paying again for something you don’t want. It’s a good idea to re-check and visit anything you’ve signed-up to, to ensure that the automatic re-subscription option isn’t activated.
Always think before you sign on the dotted line or click the button and make sure that you get the value for the money you spend.
Gyms are fantastic facilities where you have an expert on hand to advise you on your fitness and help keep you injury free, but there are other exercise options for people to avail of that cost a lot less. We all know that the Irish weather can be less than ideal at times but getting outdoors for exercise is good for both your mind and body. There are so many different exercise options to do outdoors such as; walking, running, jogging, cycling, hiking, swimming, rowing, canoeing, surfing and team sports. The list of options is endless. It is also a really great idea to exercise with a group of people. Whether you choose to do it with your partner, siblings, friends, co-workers or neighbours, doing something in a group makes it more enjoyable and sociable. So rethink your gym or class memberships and get outdoors with your own exercise crew.
We all love to plan out our weekends and pack them full of fun events. It’s nice on a Friday to know what your weekend will entail and an added bonus is you will have something to brag to your co-workers about on Monday morning. We tend to think that anything worth doing has a cost, the more expensive it is then the better it must be. We forget that sometimes you can have an enjoyable time and make great memories without having to fork out for it. Be more creative with your weekend and day-out activities. Search online for free days out and also for discount codes. Drop into your local tourist office where you can get booklets that provide you with special discount codes for admission to attractions and events. You can save yourself a considerable amount with even a 10% discount. Other ideas are to go for a drive, visit the beach, go for a hike, visit a local park, cycle around town, have a picnic, stroll around museums and galleries or do your own architecture walk. The list of activities you can do that are cost effective are endless. Soak up some of the scenery, culture and history in your local area.
Coupons and loyalty points
Our purses and wallets are weighed down with the sheer amount of loyalty cards that we all have. Anytime we forget one we somehow manage to walk out of the store with another new one in our hands. But anytime we go shopping we always seem to have left the loyalty card (full of points!) at home and we end up forking out full price on something we could have saved on. Loyalty cards and coupons are of no use to us when they are left sitting at home. Every time your new coupons and points balance comes in the letterbox make sure to leave them in your bag and/or plan out your spending to incorporate them. They can help us to make huge savings and can cut your spending down a considerable amount when used wisely. Be like your American counterparts and become coupon Kings and Queens!
Home pamper sessions – Treat Yo’ Self
Spa days and pamper sessions can cost an arm and a leg. When the therapist quotes you the final cost it can sometimes bring a tear to your eye quicker than a waxing strip can.
Doing your own spa sessions at home may not be as relaxing as going to a salon but they can sometimes be just as effective. The shops have so many home spa packs available for you to choose or you could always make them yourself using some everyday ingredients you can find in your cupboards. You can always treat yourself to a professional session for your birthday or for other special days but you can pamper yourself at home every week for a lot less money. There are some services that you need a professional for so we recommend you don’t try to cut your own hair at home. We will not be responsible for any dodgy haircuts or for the countless tears that will be shed afterwards in regret.
These are just some small hints and tips to help you save money. While they won’t save you thousands in the short run they will make a big difference to your savings annually. It is difficult to get your foot on the property ladder but having a little something in your savings account could mean the difference between getting accepted or declined for a mortgage. You should start saving as early as you can, whether that’s in your teens, during your college years or in your early to mid twenties. It’s always nice to have money sitting in your savings account as your rainy day fund. Remember that little changes in spending can make a BIG difference!
Good luck on your journey to becoming a first-time buyer!
Your dream home is waiting for you in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands!