Steve Roche, group communications director for the Persimmon Group, said: “Mortgage rates may be historically low for buyers with a deposit and a good credit rating but for aspiring home owners who may feel like they are struggling to pay their way each month, getting onto the first rung may seem impossible.
“However, there are ways house hunters can squirrel away enough money to get their own home sooner rather than later. Follow this practical, money-saving advice and soon you could be living in your very own home.”
• Set your goal - one of the best ways of getting yourself to save regularly is to set a financial goal then work back from there. So, for example, if you want to save £5,000 over two years that means that you have to put away about £208 a month for the next two years. Once you break it down into months it makes it easier to aim for.
• Do a budget - it sounds obvious but most people don’t work out how much money they have to spend on bills so that they can know how much extra money they have to play with each month. Use an online calculator like my one at moneymagpie.com/
• Pay yourself first - once you know how much you could afford to save each month, set up a standing order to go out from your bank account on the next day to a special savings account you’ve set up for your deposit. In other words, pay yourself before you give money to shops, restaurants, clubs, tour operators etc! You will be surprised at how quickly you get used to living on less money each month.
• Make some extra cash - turbo-charge your savings by making a bit on the side where you can. Use your time, your skills, your hobbies and your space to make money. For example, you could do bar work one evening a week or do some babysitting or dog-walking. If you’re good at making cakes, jewellery, handbags or anything else saleable then make extra and sell them at a local market. If you’re good at a particular subject, language or musical instrument then have a go at tutoring. If you have time free during the week get into being a film extra.
• Save on bills - cut down your monthly spend by switching all your essential bills where you can. Go on a few comparison sites - it’s best to try at least two to compare their offers - and see which companies have the cheapest electricity, gas, mobile, landline, insurance and so on. You should be able to save around £1,000 over the year if you haven’t switched for a year or more.
• Go down a brand - food prices are going up but you can cut your weekly shopping bill by going down a brand where possible. Beat the supermarkets at their own game. Look at the lower and upper shelves when you’re shopping because that’s where the cheaper brands are placed. Shop at street markets where you can because their prices are generally 20-30% cheaper than the shops. Use up leftovers - there are some great recipes at lovefoodhatewaste.com - and pick up marked-down food at the supermarket and freeze it for later.
• Switch to free entertainment - get rid of expensive satellite packages and switch to Freeview which offers a lot of entertainment for nothing. Get free dinners, hotel stays and drinks in bars by doing becoming a mystery shopper (join agencies like performanceinpeople.co.uk or retailactive.com)
• Get into swapping - don’t buy new stuff, swap with friends. If you get rid of your satellite TV package you can still watch films by swapping DVDs with friends. Have a swapshop with friends and neighbours one evening and get new clothes and accessories that others don’t want. You can also get nearly-free holidays by swapping homes with people abroad. Try websites like homeexchange.com and you will find people all over the world to swap with. If that’s not an option then get very cheap holidays through couchsurfing.com where you can go round Europe or other parts of the world from sofa to sofa or spare bed to spare bed.
• Find free money - There is at least £15 billion in unclaimed financial assets lying around in Britain, according to UAR (Unclaimed Assets Register). You never know, some of that could be you. You might have an old Post Office savings account that you had forgotten about or maybe your Nan opened a savings account for you when you were small and forgot to tell you! If you’re not sure about which bank your old account might have been with, or if you’ve got one at all, go to the new website for looking into lost bank and savings accounts mylostaccount.org.uk. You could have quite a few quid stashed away that you didn’t know about!
• Build up your credit rating - even if you have a good deposit saved up, you still won’t get a decent rate for your mortgage unless your credit rating is excellent. Clean yours up by making sure you are on the electoral roll, paying your bills by direct debit so that you are never late, using at least one credit card and making sure you pay the bill off every month before the interest rate kicks in and checking that no one else has used your identity to buy things and not pay for them. It costs £2 to have your credit record sent to you from experian.co.uk or equifax.co.uk (the main credit-checking agencies) so get a copy from them and see what is being said about you. If you have such bad credit that you can’t get a normal credit card, get an expensive one like the Vanquis card and use it regularly. Just make sure you pay off the debt every month before you have to pay any interest. If you keep paying bills on time, over six to twelve months your credit rating will gradually be cleaned up.
For information about Persimmon Homes’ range of starter homes across the UK, or for details about the range of first time buyer incentives currently available, please visit www.persimmonhomes.com