finance

The 10 tactics a husband and wife used to save for the first home on ONE income.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial guru. In fact, I failed Year 10 Maths so badly that my friends and I took my hated exercise books down to the bottom oval and set them alight. I have not studied accounting or financial management; any knowledge I have simply comes from life experience.

I employed the following tactics when my husband and I were saving for our first home. We only had one wage because we had made a pretty dumb financial decision to continue with an unplanned pregnancy (which turned out to be a fabulous life decision though – our first beloved daughter.)

There were quite a few times we had sardines on toast for dinner, and we drove a car that was nearly as old as we were. We joined friends for a drink at a restaurant, citing work or other commitments as for why we couldn’t stay for dinner. We cut up our credit cards and paid cash for everything. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t been so coy about what we were trying to do.

We drove a car that was nearly as old as we were. Image supplied by Roxanne Martens.
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The reality is that Sydney, along with cities such as New York, London and Tokyo, is an international city. Rent and house prices in these places reflect that fact, and as such, are exorbitant. If you want to enjoy the beauty, lifestyle and benefits that go with living in a city as sensational as Sydney (and let’s be fair, Melbourne) then you must stop whining about property prices. They are a fact; they are not going to go down. Get over it, or move to Canberra.

The bad news is that saving money is not easy. You can’t keep living your life as normal and expect that by giving up the occasional latte you will have the deposit for your home by the end of the year. Saving means sacrifice. It hurts.

The good news is that this period of deprivation while you save does not last forever. Put on your armour, buckle up and get ready to do battle.

David and Libby Koch share some advice on how to manage your money. Post continues after video...

1. Figure out how much you need to save.

Calculate exactly how much you will need to put away each pay to reach your goal.

2. Open a separate high interest bank account.

Banks and building societies usually require you to make a minimum deposit every month and you will forfeit your interest for the month if you make a withdrawal. However this will not be an issue because there will only be one withdrawal – the one you make when you pay the deposit on your first home.

3. Arrange with your employer or your bank to transfer the agreed amount to this account every payday.

For all intents and purposes, this money does not exist. Even when you’re feeling crappy and there is a shoe sale on at Nine West, you do not touch this account. This is the Holy Grail of your secure financial future, and you must protect it with all your strength.

4. Cut up all your credit cards.

Okay, you can keep one, but it cannot have a limit of more than $1000. It must be put in a sealed envelope at the back of a drawer, and may only be used if a member of your immediate family dies and you need to get to the funeral.

5. Work out how much you need - not want - to live on.

Take this money out of your regular account in cash at the beginning of every week. You will be astounded by how hard it is to hand over cold hard cash to make a purchase. What you have left at the end of the week will determine how you spend your weekend.

saving for home deposit
Work out how much you need - not want - to live on. Image via iStock
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6. Needless to say, pay off any other credit cards as quickly as you can, but do not use your savings to do this.

As with your savings, work out a plan to pay them off, speak to your bank about consolidating all your debt into a low interest loan. Paying this off, as well as saving, will help you develop a really good credit rating.

7. During this time, you can boost your savings by taking a weekend job.

No, this is not fun, but remember, it’s not forever.

8. Sell stuff you don’t use.

Downgrade your car. All spare change goes into the savings account. Sublet a spare room, or, shock horror, move back in with Mum and Dad. Once again - it’s not forever - it’s just until you hit that magic number.

Sell stuff you don't use. Image via iStock.

9. Enlist your family and friends as allies in your quest.

Ask them to give you cash for your birthday and Christmas. This money goes straight into your account – not your wallet. Better still, ask them to make a direct deposit. It will help you stick to the plan.

10. Now might be a good time to ask for a raise – let your employer know what you’re striving for.

A serious, goal-driven employee who wants to get ahead and isn’t planning to go swanning off on a grand tour of Europe, is a very attractive proposition. Look for a better-paying position if your boss is too short-sighted to recognise your true worth. Note to millennials – you need to be employed longer than six weeks before you employ this tactic.

So that’s the deal. Every payday, look at your balance. Watching that number grow will make you feel powerful. You may notice that people start to treat you with more respect because – congratulations - you are a grown up.

It is important to note that your first home will not be nearly as nice as the house you grew up in; your mum and dad probably started off in a dingy flat. Thirty years ago they didn’t have what they have now either.

Be a warrior, stay strong, remain focused and believe in yourself. There is no strength without struggle, and nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. Good luck.

Roxanne Martens is a Melbourne based literacy tutor, serial renovator and mother or two millennials.

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