RUTH Pope knows saving for a house means making tough sacrifices – the first-time buyer gave up the job she loved to buy her £80,000 home.
Council worker Ruth, 29, loved her job as a teaching assistant, but earning just £1,060 a month meant she couldn’t save any cash to put towards a deposit for her first home.
Desperate to own a place of her own, she made the tough decision in January 2021 to switch careers in a bid to put aside more money each month.
She scored a job at her local council, working in the social care department in a role that would pay roughly £500 more a month.
The job switch meant she managed to save £8,100 in just 12 months – £6,000 more than she would have been able to put aside in her previous role.
It meant she had raised more than enough money to cover all the money needed for the £7,995 deposit for her first home.
It wasn’t the only sacrifice that Ruth made to save more money.
She also cut down on takeaways and meals out to bank an extra £30 a month, while quitting the gym helped her save £25 a month.
Scaling back her love of shopping helped her save around £30 a month too.
Ruth was lucky enough to live with her family rent-free while raising the money, which helped boost her savings.
While she received no financial help for the deposit, her family are helping her renovate her home, saving a hefty £5,800 in building work costs.
She got the keys to her £79,950 first home in January this year.
We sat down with Ruth to see how she went from being a saver to a homeowner for The Sun’s My First Home series.
Tell me about your home
My three-bed house is in Peterlee, Durham. It was built in 1978.
Downstairs, there’s an open play sitting room and dining room, as well as a toilet.
And upstairs there’s also a kitchen and bathroom.
I’m not planning on renting out any of my spare rooms – I’m enjoying having my own space.
There’s a small grassy garden out the back, and a patio out the front.
How did you decide on location?
I’ve lived here my whole life – the house is really near mum and dad and I feel safe in the area because I know it so well.
It’s a 10 minute drive from work, so the commute is great.
I saw the house on Rightmove, and viewed it on the day it went up.
I loved it, and put in an offer there and then so no one could outbid me – at this point, people were putting offers in for homes way over the asking price so I wanted to beat my competition.
How much did you pay for it?
The house was £79,950 – the same type of houses around here go for up to £90,000 so I got a good deal by putting in a quick bid for it.
I put down a 10% deposit for the house of £7,995.
My mortgage is £71,955, and I took it out over a 40-year term.
That’s because I wanted more money available in the short-term to do up the house – the longer term meant I could reduce my monthly mortgage repayments.
The interest rate is fixed at 2.4% for three years, and after that I’ll remortgage and get a shorter term so I can avoid paying more interest.
My monthly mortgage repayments are currently £224 a month.
How did you save for it?
I could never have afforded to buy this house if I hadn’t have given up my job as a teaching assistant for a higher paid role.
As a teaching assistant, I earned £1,060 a month.
Because it was quite a low salary, I only managed to save around £1,190 over the space of two years.
So I changed jobs in order to afford to buy a house.
I loved my old job, and it was a sacrifice having to give it up. I really enjoyed working with children and it was difficult to leave that behind.
But I love my job now with my local council, and I’m happy I made the decision to switch – particularly as it means I now have my own house.
I make an extra £500 a month now compared to my old job -and I put that directly into my savings, banking me £6,000 in a year.
I saved another £2,100 from other money saving tricks such as quitting the gym, which saved £25 a month – adding up to £300 over the year.
I also reduced the amount of takeaways and meals out I was having from around £40 a month to just £10, which saved me £360 over the year.
I didn’t go on a night out for a year – whereas I used to go out five times a year, so that saved me £500.
And cutting down on buying new clothes helped me save lots of cash.
I used to spend £40 a month on new things to wear, but reduced that to £40 every three months – that saved me £320 over the year.
In total, these changes saved me £1,480.
The remaining £620 I saved was from putting any leftover cash I had each month into my savings.
How have you afforded to furnish it?
I have been buying bits and pieces for the house over a number of years – I bought things on sale and left them in my mum’s spare room.
I have a Blue Light card for key workers, which can bag you up to 25% off your shopping at lots of high street stores – that helped me save money too.
How are you affording to renovate it?
I’m saving £5,800 on the cost of doing up my home because my family are helping me.
I’m lucky that my brothers are in construction – which means they’ve been really handy doing up the house.
My brother is rewiring it for free and fitting the kitchen, new floors and skirting boards for too.
That’s saving me roughly £3,800 all together, compared to the quotes for work I got from other professionals.
All my family are helping me paint and decorate the whole house – that’s saving me roughly £2,000.
I’d be lost without my family, they’ve offered to help with a good heart and I couldn’t do it all without them.
Advice for other first time buyers?
Your house will come along at the right time – you just have to be patient.
It can be easy to get disheartened if you haven’t found the property that’s right for you – but just keep saving and take your time.
Keep in mind the end result to help you stay motivated.
You’ll have a place you can call your own – so it’s all worth it in the end.
Here’s how one couple had to save £9,000 in three months – or risk losing their £154,000 home.
One first time buyer got £3,100 of freebies when he bought his first home.
Another couple got £30,000 extra for their first home – and it wasn’t through Help to Buy.
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