FIRST-TIME buyer Amber Ellison managed to cut a common monthly bill to help afford her £117,750 dream home.
Saving up for a house often requires giving up the things we love, and Amber gave up her car in order to boost her savings.
3Amber took on extra shifts to be able to afford her first home
3Amber moved into her two-bedroom detached house in April
3Her house in Rotherham cost £117,750
The 30-year-old, self-confessed petrol head was paying £280 a month to keep her Volkswagen Polo on finance.
Scrapping this meant she was able to pocket an extra £1,980 towards her deposit, helping her to get on the ladder quicker than she expected.
It’s not the only thing she did in order to boost her savings.
Amber’s day job is a booking clerk at Rotherham General Hospital and she took on extra shifts so she could keep on top of her spending.
And while working back-to-back shifts was tough, particularly during the pandemic, it meant she could afford to add more money to her savings.
Amber, and her miniature labradoodle Bella, got the keys to their two-bedroom home in Rotherham in April.
She kept strict tabs on her spending for around four years, but really ramped up her saving efforts during the pandemic.
Although Amber saved up for the £11,750 deposit herself, she also got a £2,000 free cash bonus from the government for using a lifetime ISA.
The Sun picked Amber’s brain on how she saved for the My First Home series.
Tell me about your house
It’s a new build, two-bedroom detached house in Rotherham.
It also has one bathroom and a downstairs toilet.
Our kitchen and dining room is open plan, with a lovely breakfast bar area.
It has a driveway, which is great because I love cars.
We have a garden at the back too which is perfect for my dog.
How did you decide on location?
I grew up in Rotherham and all my family are still here, so I didn’t want to move too far away.
It only takes me ten minutes to drive to Rotherham General Hospital where I work.
The house also has great transport links and is really close to the supermarket.
I can also get to the Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield quite quickly too.
How much was it?
My house cost £117,750, and I put down a 10% deposit of £11,750.
I took out a mortgage with Halifax of £107,000 over 35 years with a fixed rate of 2.53% over five years.
My repayments are around £379 a month, which is considerably cheaper than rent in the area.
I used to pay £550 a month in rent for a one-bedroom flat in Rotherham before I moved into my house.
How did you save for it?
I started to save really hard in 2019.
When Covid hit in 2020, it was a really busy and quite scary time to be working in a hospital.
So to help out, I took on extra shifts in A&E – this also helped me to earn some extra cash to put towards my house.
I put between £300 and £500 a month away – splitting this between my Lifetime Isa and my savings account.
When you open a Lifetime Isa the government will add 25% to your savings, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year.
When the time came to put down my deposit, I had put away just over £9,000 – with the remaining £2,000 coming from the government.
In September 2021, I decided to give up my car, which was on finance, in order to save more money for the house.
This saved me around £280 a month.
How did you afford to furnish it?
I knew that I needed to save beyond my deposit to afford the furniture that I wanted.
I bought everything in stages to spread out the cost.
I was also able to get the shower I wanted because of Gleeson’s key worker scheme.
Because I work for the NHS, I was given £1,000 towards extras such as tiles and different types of shower.
This was really helpful and turned out to be a huge saving.
What advice would you give to other first-time buyers?
Just be patient and keep going – it can be challenging but it’s worth it in the end.
I would go and see the house every week while it was being built to keep me motivated.
Hard work always pays off, and the house isn’t going to pay for itself.
You just have to remember that at the end of the process you will have your own home, and you won’t be reliant on anyone else.
One couple got £4,500 worth of freebies for their first home.
Another couple took on a second job pulling pints to help pay for their first home.