Financial Capability And Buying A House At 23 – The Lessons I’ve Learnt

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I’m something of a rarity. I’m 25 and I own my own home.

I’ve found myself in that lucky position, although, I must admit the journey there has been no walk in the park.

I moved out of my parents’ home at 22. My work at the time found me rented accommodation, but I realised very quickly that becoming independent was going to be more difficult than I had expected. I was living in a cold flat with constant mould, bonkers flat mates and an overbearing landlord to boot.

At that point in my life, renting felt like such a waste of money. I was living pay check to pay check, spending all that I had on the flat. Some months the Bank of Mum and Dad had to rescue me. Asking my parents for financial help, made me feel like a failure, not only embarrassed but also really disappointed in myself.

Compounding this difficult time was the death of a family member. But somehow, as they say there is always light at the end of the tunnel and this specific light came as an inheritance. This amount was enough for a 5% deposit on a flat, but unfortunately as a single 23-year-old the bank was not willing to provide the rest of the mortgage. So, once again, I had to turn to the other bank - Mum and Dad. I was able then, to buy a teeny tiny flat.

The whirlwind of buying a home soon kicked in, as my offer to purchase the flat was accepted in only four days. A few months later and I became the proud owner of a flat with a precious garden and a little stream.

Two years have passed by. I have now learnt a bit more about money, what it’s like to live on a budget, and really experiencing being a homeowner, and here are some of my tips:

  • Shop around for your regular expenses, e.g., WiFi, and make sure you stay in contract, as you can end up paying additional charges
  • You don’t have to go with the life insurance the mortgage broker suggests. And that goes for other ‘suggestions’ from brokers and experts. The life insurance I have now comes with a free cinema ticket and Starbucks every week, amongst some other pretty great perks!
  • Spread your big bills, such as car insurance, house insurance, water etc throughout the year, it’s scary when they are all due in the same month). Some bills are cheaper to pay annually rather than monthly, so put some money in savings every month so that you can do this.

The process of becoming a homeowner and understanding my finances has been a whirlwind. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, broken my boiler, blown my electrics, and many times locked myself out. However, I’ve also learnt how to lay lino, and have even became a champion at IKEA flat packs. I’ve even added a new element to the teeny tiny flat with a cute little teeny tiny dog! Overall, even though I claim be a strong, independent woman, ready to face life’s challenges, the Bank of Mum and Dad still has to bail me out now and again… at least for now.

Abi Bates is fundraising events officer for the Church Urban Fund.