Mortgage Ready in 36 Months: 8 Savvy Saving Tips For First Time Buyers
When you’re just starting out, scraping together a deposit for your first home can seem like an impossible task.
With the cost of living in Ireland now at an all-time high, we understand that money seems to just evaporate from your bank account. It’s easy to feel defeated.
But don’t - because today we’ll show you a how to save your deposit like a boss. And no, you won’t have to become the next Walter White or resign yourself to the life of a hermit.
Follow along and let’s break down how we’re going to stash away €25,000 for your first home within the next three years.
But first some mortgage maths…
Currently, the average house price across Ireland is €236,287.
As a first-time buyer, you’ll need a deposit of 10% saved up to be eligible for a mortgage.
That means we’ve got to find a way to stash €23,629 over the next three years.
So, to hit that goal, we need to save €656 per month for the next 36 months.
If the thought of saving €650 per month puts the fear of god in you, don’t worry – it just means you’re a normal human being.
We know it seems like an unholy chunk of change, but let’s dive deep into the ways in which you can hit that goal.
Before You Save a Cent…
Set up a meeting with a mortgage advisor in a bank you trust.
The reason is that there are many factors that can influence your ability to access finance. And only a mortgage advisor will be able to discuss things like:
- How much you can borrow
- What different mortgage options you have
- Other financial products that may be available to you
There’ll also be different terms & conditions depending on your current financial & employment situation.
So, before you start saving, keep in mind that there are more factors to getting mortgage approval than having the deposit saved.
And an advisor is best placed to help you map out your options.
Action: Call your favourite bank in the next 24 hours and set up an appointment to meet a mortgage advisor.
On to The Good Stuff…
So, now that we’re booked in to meet our advisor – how on earth do we go about saving the bones of €25,000 over the next 36 months?
Well, here’s the answer everyone hates: Spend less than you earn
It’s the kind of thing your snarkiest friend who inherited a fortune and never had to save a penny in his life rattles off down in the pub.
But everyone hates it for a reason: because it’s true. However, just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s helpful.
And here at Perfect Property we’re in the business of being helpful.
So we’d rather show you how you can spend less than you earn rather than just saying it.
So whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been struggling to hit your saving goals - let’s take a look at the top tactics to reduce your spending without putting your life on hold.
1) Pay Off or Reduce Any Debts
The first and most important thing you have to do is get rid of any outstanding debts you may have.
Debt is a saver’s worst nightmare because the interest charged is an expense that erodes your cost-cutting efforts.
So take stock of any borrowings that you have. Starting with the highest interest loan first, put any extra available income into reducing these debts.
If you have high interest debts you can’t pay off right now (looking at you credit card spenders), consider taking out a lower interest loan from the likes of the credit union to minimise the impact of interest your finances.
You spent €6,200 last year using your credit card at 20% APR.
Left unpaid you’re paying a whopping €1,240 extra from your bank account each year. That’s €103 per month down the drain.
By taking out a secured loan from the Credit Union to pay off your credit card debt you can avail of interest rates as low as 2%.
Meaning you’ll be only paying €124 per year. That’s ten times less in interest. You can send us a card in the post to say thanks.
Action: Pay back any high interest borrowings as soon as you can & look for lower interest loans to cover high interest debt where possible. Set a fixed date by which you will have all debts paid off and then work backwards, calculating how much you’ll need to repay each month to hit your goal.
Monthly Savings Boost: +€35 (assuming a debt of €2,000 at 20% APR)
2) Set Up Standing Order (to high interest savings account)
Once you’ve taken care of your high interest loans, the next step to becoming a deposit saving pro is to set up a standing order.
A standing order will automatically transfer a portion of your income from directly into your savings account when you’re paid.
Talk with your bank about getting the best interest on your account, as different accounts have different rates and restrictions.
A standing order is essential because it guarantees a base level of saving each month (something lenders like to see) and prevents you from becoming tempted to overspend when you’re three espresso martinis deep.
Out of sight, out of mind as they say. Just decide on an affordable amount of money each month and forget about it for the next few months.
Action: Call into your bank in the next 48 hours and tell that you wish to set up a monthly standing order to be paid into a new high interest savings account.
Monthly Savings Boost: +€200
3) Track your finances with software
We’ve already learned that that the key to saving is to spend less than you earn (you don’t say?)
But we also know that that’s easier said than done.
Our brains aren’t designed to keep track of hard data. We’re much more influenced by how things feel.
It’s easy to think you’re spending less this month, because you’ve skipped Starbucks every second day.
But it’s also easy to forget about John and Aimee’s wedding at the start of the month. You know the one where you held your credit card in the air and shouted, “drinks on me” before ordering 16 gin and tonics? Yeah that one.
See, lenders don’t care how much it feels like you’re saving, they make their decisions based on hard data. And that’s what you need to do too.
Using a software like YNAB that synchs with your phone and your bank account will help you see your spending in the cold light of day. No matter how bleak or rosy it looks!
Remember that what gets measured improves. Clear knowledge of how your using your money is the first step towards reigning in unnecessary spending.
Action: Right now, go to the app store and download a finance tracking app. Set up your profile and start tracking where your money is going.
Monthly Savings Boost: +€30 (in better money management)
4) Have no loyalty when it comes to bills
You’d be surprised just how much money you can save per year by shopping for the best gas and electricity prices.
Bonkers.ie report that the average person could currently save over €410 per year by simply switching to the lowest rate provider.
Similarly, the majority of people are not getting the best value for their television and broadband packages.
By switching to the best deal, the average customer can save an extra €300 per year on their package.
While we couldn’t find any data on refuse collection, we’d imagine it’s a similar scenario.
So that’s €710 per year saved in what won’t take you more than an hour or two to sort out. Now we’re motoring!
Action: In the next 24 hours go to Bonkers.ie and find the best value deal for your gas, electricity and broadband package. It’ll be the highest paid hour of work you’ll have ever done.
Monthly Savings Boost: +€59
5) Watch Food Waste & Spending
The government estimates that the average Irish household chucks out €400-1000 worth of food each year.
Madness isn’t it? Given that 4/5ths is avoidable waste, that means we’re binning an average of €560 per year.
So, next time you chuck the whole kilo of spaghetti into the pot for two because you’re not bothered getting the scales out, keep in mind that you’re literally cooking away savings.
Safe Food has solid advice to minimise your food waste and maximise your savings on their website. But here’s our simple take:
- Write up a menu each week for what you’re going to eat
- Check what you already have at home and knock it off the list
- Eat something before you shop so you’re not tempted to stray
- Stick to your list at all costs!
- Keep track of your use by dates & stuff at the back of the fridge
Planning your weekly menu won’t just cut food waste, but you’ll always have something on hand. So you’ll save buckets of cash on buying food out, or ordering take-out.
If you’re eating your lunch out every day at work, it’s time to consider if it’s really worth it. Seriously.
If you spend just €8 on your lunch every day for 48 working weeks of the year that amounts to €1,920 in lunch expenses.
By preparing your lunch at home on 4 days of the week instead, you’ll easily save over €1,000 per year.
Similarly, if you’re buying a coffee each day, try limiting to once per week. Enjoy the coffee in work instead. You’ll likely save in the region of €700 per year.
Action: Start the habit of writing your shopping list & sticking to it. Include your lunches in this list. It’ll not only save you money, but you’ll find you’re eating healthier too.
Monthly Savings Boost: +€168
6) Become Choosey About Your Entertainment
How many nights have you been tempted by your friends to go out just because? No special occasion or no good reason to celebrate.
You know, one of those nights when you go to a bar that’s only ok and you wake up €80 poorer and with a banging headache and wonder what on earth persuaded you to hit the town.
To join the ranks of elite savers, we need to get past the FOMO that drives us to partake in such experiences.
Now, I’m absolutely not suggesting that you turn into a penny-pinching recluse and shun all entertainment. But do make sure that you’re getting value for your spending.
Maybe that means booking a nice restaurant once a month instead of getting boozed up every Friday night.
Or perhaps it means having your friends around for a cocktail night instead of going out to the newest trendy ‘that’ll be €16 per drink’ bar.
It’s about choosing things that bring you the most enjoyment for your money.
Whatever you do for fun don’t drive yourself insane fussing over every penny. Allocate a certain amount of your income each month to be spent on having a good time and stick to it.
And remember, there’s an incredible array of things you can do for fun that don’t cost a cent. Check out the Independent’s guide to 20 things to do that cost nothing.
Action: At the start of next month, plan out an entertainment schedule for yourself. Take the time to choose only things you really enjoy (could be the cinema, restaurants, pints, hobbies – whatever!). Allocate a portion of your income to fund whatever you’ve planned and enjoy!
Monthly Savings Boost: +€100
7) Housing Expenses
Now this is a tricky topic to touch on given the current state of the rental market in some areas of Ireland.
But for many people, a gigantic chunk of their earnings are being consumed by their accommodation costs.
Unfortunately, high rents can mean low savings.
We don’t want to be the one to say it. But feel we have to. So please forgive us.
You can save a lot of money by moving back in with your folks.
That’s assuming that it’s a possibility, and if you can bear it and if they can bear it.
We understand if you can’t. In fact, you don’t need to. You’ll just save money a lot faster and easier by doing it.
Action: Send your mother a text now saying ‘Well mam? Has that Spanish student chap left my room yet?’
Potential Savings: The sum of your current rent (minus whatever your mam charges to wash your clothes)
8) Be Patient
Saving your deposit can seem unrewarding.
You’ll feel the pain of reduced spending immediately, while the benefits of owning a home are still so far away. This is where you need to trust in the process and persevere.
Stick to your plan by:
- Paying off any high interest debt
- Setting up a standing order to your savings account
- Tracking your expenses
- Working to reduce unnecessary spending
You’ll quickly adapt to your new lower budget lifestyle, and in a few months, it’ll feel like nothing has changed.
Saving is most certainly a marathon and not a sprint.
The Other Side of the Coin: Increasing Your Earnings
So far, we’ve only discussed how to reduce your spending as a means to save money.
The reason that we emphasise saving is because it’s usually the method by which people have most control.
You know, you can choose not to buy those €320 Balenciaga runners in Brown Thomas, but you can’t ask your boss to pay you an extra €320 next month.
Having said that, earning more is undoubtedly a good way to allow you to save more too - provided that you don’t let your lifestyle expenses creep up in tandem.
So, don’t be afraid to discuss a pay rise with your boss if you think it’s due and keep your eyes peeled for jobs opportunities that offer a better salary.
Action: Arrange an appointment with your boss to discuss what you can do to earn a pay increase or a bonus. Then set up alerts on various Job sites to email you similar roles with better pay.
Monthly Savings Boost: +€83 (Annual pay rise of €1,000)
Putting it all together
We know that this is a lot of information to throw at you in one go. So bookmark this page, let it digest, then come back and take action!
Adding up the monthly savings outlined above we arrive at a figure of €675 euro per month.
That means that we’ll surpass our original goal of saving €23,628 if we keep it up for 36 months.
Of course this guide isn’t a one size fits all. It’s not meant to be.
Different houses will require different deposits. Perhaps you want to put down more than the minimum 10%. Maybe you have kids and can’t afford to put away €200 from your salary each month.
There’s a whole host of factors that can affect your ability to save right now. That’s okay.
The point of this guide is to show you how a few small changes in your everyday life can add up to quite significant savings over a longer period of time.
It’s to encourage you that you can take action right now to boost your saving efforts. No matter where you’re at right now.
So what are you waiting for? Book that appointment with your mortgage advisor right now.
Oh and share any money-saving tips we left out in the comments, so others can see them.
From all of us here at Perfect Property – Best of luck!