First of all I want to state that this isn’t a brag, yes i’m proud of what myself and john have achieved and want to share it but I in no means mean to boast about it. I’m writing this because I said I would be transparent in everyday life and not just the life portrayed online, which is all unicorn lattes and designer dresses. I have split this into two blog posts because its quite a long one and I think can be categorised into two sections: one being, the whole savings and the lead up to being able to make an offer for a mortgage and the second being the process of actually buying the house and the (horrific) struggle of securing it.
Buying a house is not easy, without a helping hand it is near to impossible, but I am going to share my journey at becoming a home owner at the age of 21 and as morbid as it sounds, but imma be honest (because it would be something id consider if I read this, probs cause i’m a psycho) but no, no one had to die for me to inherit the money to buy a house. (There was many near deaths on my part during this ordeal but I can safely say no one died in the process of buying this house).
There has been a lot of news in the press about the fact that millennials nowadays are most likely never going to afford to get on the property ladder, and whilst this is vaguely true if we are stereotyping the sociological aspects of a millennial, not all young adults can be grouped by this.
In society teenagers and young adults have a typecast of living the #studentlife and whilst some people do like to ride the journey of being the labelled student, binge drinking the £1 shots every night, living out of the overdraft and relying on the words ‘I’m a student’ to justify the fact that your future is still unknown and make yourself feel better, that right now you are just enjoying life and don’t particularly have a plan. There are a vast growing majority of others who, whatever their circumstance or reasoning are having to think about supporting themselves and their families in the long run – in the right now. (I’m not saying that students don’t acknowledge their post uni life, i’m stating that in society it is stereotyped in that way.)
I have a lot of friends who, like myself, got small jobs to support themselves in their teenage years and I also have friends who haven’t worked a day in their life and focused on their education. Neither is right or wrong.
When I was turning 16 my parents forced me (quite literally would’ve dragged me if they had to) to get a Saturday job, and despite my reluctant tries at getting out of this, I ended up working at a children’s farm, in their café. If only I realised what a great job that was then, because I would be so happy to have that job now, working 6 hours amongst animals making coffee and having no pressure of anything, but yknow I was 16 and wanted to get drunk on a Friday night without the repercussions of having to get up at 7am the next day.
Since then I have worked various jobs, part time and full time in different areas of life, I didn’t go to sixth form and instead got an apprenticeship (one in which I have absolutely no use for now in life, may I add) and having been earning the dollar since 16.
It was only from around 18 that I decided to start putting little bits away, sometimes left over money at the end of the month would go into a savings account I had set up or the odd coins from a shift at the pub would go into a smash only money bank, where it was not too easy to get back to it.
I am gonna be transparent with you, I was not an introvert or a “bore”, almost every day in my late teens I would be out drinking and partying, spending money on cigarettes and overly priced burger van food and well, I can openly say I was not someone who saved money enough to let it ruin having a good time.
You don’t need to give up having a social life in order to save money. It may slow down the process in getting to your end goal, but it isn’t something that you have to forfeit just to save up what you want/need.
When I was 18 I worked 3 consecutive jobs, whilst living with ME and Crohns and maintaining a social life and enabling myself to put away a few extra pennies. I could not do this now because at the ripe age of 22 I’m a full blown grandma and my body cant even handle a once a month sesh, let alone a working one (but the progression of my medical issues are to blame for this). Monday to Friday , 10-4 I did my apprenticeship, then on Wednesdays and Fridays I would work 7 – close (note how from 4 – the start of my second job I would be in the pub because I always thought being a little merry to work made me work better, yes, I was an idiot) at my local bar. On Saturday nights and Sunday daytimes I would work for an events company, doing waitressing, wedding set ups, conferences and bar work. These were all in the same area in which I made all my friends and also did my socialising, so I was surrounded by the people I wanted to be with and earning money at the same time. However, in the long run I would not recommend doing this, the phrase ‘don’t shit where you eat’, comes to mind and this played a huge part in my undoing later in life (yes, its as dramatic as it sounds, haha).
I didn’t have a lot of outgoings, I was living with my parents and would pay them a small fee of £100 a month in rent, I had my phone bill of around £40 a month, my travel pass which was also £40 a month and then any non essentials (like a takeaway pizza or an unneeded pair of new pjs) I would pay for myself. My mom and dad still supplied me with the essentials that were household items, i.e, shampoo and conditioner, food that would be for a family meal and would treat me often to a new piece of clothing so I wouldn’t have to fork out for myself, so I lived a cushy life really. Because I was only earning around £500 a month in total it meant I had a decent amount left over every month after paying out what I needed to. I wouldn’t hold back on my spending, if I wanted to treat myself to a new top or the latest make up palette, I would do, however ive never really had majorly expensive tastes. Primark has and will always be my best friend but I can be persuaded by a Michael kors bag or god forbid I see something (EVERYTHING) in Oliver Bonas. Instead any (if any) money I had on my next pay day left over from the previous pay day I would then transfer that into my savings.
If I received a £500 paycheck on the 6th of the month, on the 6th of the following month anything left from that original £500 (could be anything from £1 – £200, realistically) would go into another account and I would start fresh at £500 again. So the 6th of every month I had £500 in my account, no more, even if I hadn’t spent all of my previous £500. (Hopefully that makes sense)
*Because I worked separate jobs, pay days would vary but I would stick to one day in the month to round up and transfer any leftovers.
Since then, I have continued to live by the same rule, even now when I don’t have a permanent full time job I try to put away little bits that are leftover each time a new payment comes in. But instead of it being one day a month it is on a job by job basis now.
This is a slow building process but it allows that extra emergency money when you need it, whether it was to save up for a holiday or for a piece of furniture, that is the method I use in order to save up for those luxuries.
Now back to the less technical part after I’ve bored you all with finances…
I had always had this emergency money that would build up, be emptied and build up again and in January 2015 I left home to move in with my boyfriend John. John is older than myself (by a fair bit) and he already had an established career, he earnt over quadruple what I was earning (approx) and had the knowledge and wisdom that came with living life. He was renting a small two bedroom, two up, two down house in kings heath and I moved in with him there. He continued to pay the full rent but I would then pay other bills, the council tax, food shopping, and although our earnings were nowhere near equal we both looked after each other, I would pay what I could, where I could. John has never expected me to pay for something I cannot afford, he has never made me feel pressured because he earns a high wage and I cannot always maintain the same substantial amount every month to contribute but we work together and live comfortably and equally.
We had been living in this two bed house for around 6 months when things were becoming obviously a ‘waste of money,’ We could not refurbish or redecorate the house and little things were just pretty poor. The bathroom leaked and flooded everytime you had a shower, the floor was coming up and the kitchen units were not grouted or sealed in place correctly, meaning the walls were crumbling and the units were becoming mouldy. Don’t even get me started on the garden…
The cost of living in this house was extortionate, when you leave home for the first time, you know there are bills to pay that no one ever mentions or your parents don’t ever tell you they cover but you never fully realise until each day a new bill arrives. Its not just a cost of surviving, (rent, food, essentials, luxuries) its costs for things you don’t even realise you need (a tv licence, the electric bill, the wifi, the water, insurance.) Things I’d never even considered, I never even knew you had to pay for a tv licence, and the wifi I thought was paid by the magical broadband fairy. I thought water came from taps for free and I could turn on and off the lights or the heating as I pleased so when dad always followed us around switching everything back off I thought he was a mad man. But they cost money, sometimes A LOT of money.
All in all living in the 2 bed house was costing us over £1400 a month and what did we actually have? We had a nettle jungle and four plain white pebble dashed walls that we couldn’t touch. We didn’t own anything, we were paying that amount to simply live in someone else’s house and pay for the upkeep of their property. We also had some creepy neighbours who were controlled by their dog and didn’t speak to each other (but that’s a whole other story).
After a lot of conversations over too many ciders we came to the conclusion that we really needed to start saving up more a month and think about getting our own place, so in the long run our money was being put into something we could actually own. An investment. However how could we possibly save up enough money to put down a deposit on a house whilst still forking out enough to live in the meantime?
This is where our family have been incredible. And without them, it wouldn’t have been possible. We approached our families and suggested moving back home, we would cover our own expenses, give them some rent a month and live in their house with them until we could save up enough to move out again.
They crazily accepted, mom because she secretly wanted me back home (and couldn’t cook so was happy to have me back to cook her food for her, sorry mom but its true) and dad I don’t think really had a choice after mom had decided. So Monday to Friday me and john lived in my parents conservatory, which sounds lovely, but it was hard work. No nighttime, no silence, no privacy, we were sleeping in the middle of a glass room like animals on show at the circus. The adjustment to having to follow someone else’s rules again was frustrating, for myself and for my parents. I’d gotten used to buying and eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and now I was like a child again being told ‘don’t stay up too late you’ll be tired in the morning’ the standard parental lectures that ill soon be instilling on my child. On the weekends we would stop at John’s parents to give mine a bit of privacy and time to themselves.
We were now able to save up a larger amount each month and had decided that £1k a month minimum be put aside into savings to go towards buying a house. This theoretically was like continuing to pay our lifestyle back in kings heath, but instead of the money going into a private landlords pocket it was going into our own savings account.
We lived with this arrangement for 9 whole months, and that wasn’t the difficult part. The hard part of securing a mortgage, putting down the deposit and actually purchasing a house was the excruciating part.
End of Part one.
Make sure you are following the blog to be notified when part two is published and find out the struggle of actually buying a house as a young first time buyer.