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Aspiring first-time buyer? Tips on saving for a home deposit

Short term savings pain for long term gain.

It can be really hard for first-time buyers to pull together the deposit they need to purchase a home.

Low incomes, expensive rents, and high property prices make it tough to set aside enough cash.

Typically, first-time buyers will need a deposit of somewhere between 5% and 20% of a property’s value.

That means you’ll need thousands of pounds—possibly even tens of thousands of pounds—just to step onto the first rung of the property ladder.

But plenty of people do manage it. And not everyone relies on inheritance or the Bank of Mum and Dad, either.

It’s hard, and perhaps unfairly so compared to past generations, but it can be done through saving alone.

Here are some tips to help you reach your savings goal.

Set a clear target and a deadline

Know exactly what amount you need to save—and don’t forget to take into account things like stamp duty, removal costs, solicitors fees and so on—then set a deadline to achieve it.

Work out what you’ll need by the sold prices for similar properties in the area you’re looking to by. Be realistic with what you can afford.

Your savings goal gives you a clear target to aim for, which should help to keep you focused and disciplined, especially as you track your progress along the way.

Spending temptations are easier to avoid when you can see clearly how it will set your savings back.

Hardcore budgeting

Once you have a clear target, work out how much you need to save each month to reach the savings you need to buy the property you want.

Then budget, and budget hard. Take your income for the month, minus what you need to save, then budget with what you have left.

Cut all costs possible. For example, set yourself a strict limit for food spending, including eating out. Then shop to your budget, getting creative with your food, using coupons, cutting waste, and so on.

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The same goes for clothes. Don’t buy what you don’t need. And if you do need to buy something, sell an old item of clothing to recoup some of the cost.

If your rent is high, look for a cheaper home. It may mean moving somewhere less desirable, or into a smaller space, but remember that this is only short-term and is a means to an end.

Keep a little notepad on you and write down everything you spend during the day. This will help you to stay focused and avoid unnecessary spending.

Make your savings earn

Don’t just have your savings sitting in a current account earning no interest. Put them to work.

There are all sorts of ISAs out there that will give you a decent return on your savings.

Or, if you’re comfortable with taking on some risk, you could look into peer-to-peer lending, investment accounts, bonds, and more.

Always seek proper financial advice when making these decisions.

But don’t just let your hard-saved money just lay dormant. With a couple of simple, savvy decisions, your savings can grow without you lifting a finger—bringing your goal closer.

Help to Buy ISA

The government is helping first-time buyers save for their deposits through the Help to Buy scheme.

A number of banks and building societies offer a government-sponsored Help to Buy ISA.

If you use a Help to Buy ISA to save money, the government will boost your savings by 25%.

For every £200 you save, you will receive a government bonus of £50. The maximum government bonus you can receive is £3,000.

It’s free money from the government for first-time buyers. You’d be mad not to take it.

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