Michelle’s quick note: Today, I have a great blog post on how to save money for a large deposit from Rachael, who is a long-time reader of Making Sense of Cents. Rachael purchased her first investment property at the age of 20 by saving for a deposit and found many great ways to save for the 20% deposit. Below is her blog post. Enjoy!
I bought my first investment property with a 20% deposit when I was 20 years old (admittedly I was 2 weeks shy of turning 21!). I accomplished saving for a deposit with my own money, my parents never gave me a cent. So how did I do it?
1. The first thing I did was start applying for jobs as soon as I turned old enough to get a job. I started working when I was 15 as a checkout chick at Woolworths. Not very glamorous, a bit boring and repetitive but I was earning money! I worked about 10 hours a week during my last 2 years of high school, and worked around 20 hours per week during the school holidays. I worked at Woolworths for 3 and a half years and saved a good chunk of the money I earned.
2. When I worked during high school the only time I would ever say no to a shift is if I was sick or had an exam the next day. It didn’t matter if I didn’t want to go to work (does anyone ever actually want to go to work?) I hated that job but I wanted a property so I went to work.
Sometimes I’d get home from school, get changed into my work uniform then go straight to work until 9:30 then come home and study until midnight to get homework and assignments done, then go to school the next day. I know some people don’t agree with kids working while studying but it was really helpful for time management as it didn’t leave me with any time to procrastinate!
3. The main contributor to earning enough money for the deposit was opening an Etsy shop I’d been designing printables to help keep me organized for a while and decided to start an Etsy shop to save up some money for a trip to the USA (I live in Australia). I ended up making enough money to cover most of the cost of the holiday. The intention when I got back from vacation was to close up shop and focus on my university studies. But I came back to tons of messages from people asking when my shop would be reopening because they wanted to buy my printables. I thought I may as well leave the shop open and make some extra money to supplement the income I was earning as a checkout chick (which was not much!)
About 6 months later my sales kept growing even though I wasn’t creating many new printables – I was earning more than I was scanning groceries (and having a lot more fun!) so I decided to turn my Etsy shop into a business. It also made me realise that I’ll never earn an above-average or life changing money working for someone else.
When I started my 3rd year of my university course, I got a job in my field. For 3 months I worked 10 hours a week scanning groceries, 25 hours a week at my day job, juggled my 2 Etsy shops, a blog, and maintained a high GPA at my university studies. I say this not to brag, but to point out that the money wasn’t just handed to me on a silver platter – if you want something you have to work for it. Needless to say I was burnt out. I quit being a checkout chick (that was a wonderful day!) and sought other ways to save the money I was no longer making from working those 10 hours a week. If you’re looking for ways to make extra money, Michelle has dozens of posts with side hustle ideas.
My biggest advice when it comes to saving money is not to increase your standard of living when you start earning a higher wage.
Aside from starting an online business, I saved money in numerous other ways:
4. I don’t have a car. When I did the math it was cheaper for me to pay higher rent and live closer to the city and use public transport (plus it’s more convenient). I share an apartment with my sister which also helped me save money as bills are split in 2, and it’s cheaper to rent an apartment with someone than it is to live by yourself
5. I buy stuff when it’s on sale & stock up. Yep, I’m one of those crazy people that buys 30 rolls of toilet paper when they’re on sale. When a sale does come around, I’m organized and have a list of everything I need to buy – the key is that you only buy what you need not just stuff that you want.
6. I bring my own lunch. I see so many of my work colleagues wasting their money on donuts, coffee and buying lunch every day. Then they whinge and seem confused that they don’t have any money by the end of the month when they’re screaming out for payday. One of the reasons I work as much as I do is because I never want to live paycheck to paycheck
7. When I was saving up I put most of my money into a term deposit. Not only did this prevent me from spending it, it also earned a higher interest rate than an everyday savings account. When the term deposit expired and I still didn’t have enough for the deposit, I went to my bank every couple of months and opened a new savings account so I could get their 3 month introductory bonus interest rate (by the 3rd time of doing it the bank knew me by name and just reset the interest rate rather than making me open a new account!)
8. I track where all of my money is spent using my budget binder printables – no joke, every single dollar gets accounted for. I do the same with my business income and expenses using these spreadsheets.
9. I set a maximum amount I would pay per piece of clothing and stuck to it (still stick to it!) no matter what ($20 for shirts, $40 for a pair of shorts in case you were wondering – keeping in mind that clothes are more expensive here in Australia). If I find a piece of clothing that I like I also buy it in multiples when it’s on sale. I have an ‘around the house’ wardrobe which consists of cheap clothes I wouldn’t wear in public but are perfect for blogging!
10. I utilise credit cards. A lot of people have a misconception that credit cards are bad but they’re not if you use them to correctly i.e. not to buy stuff you couldn’t otherwise afford. Not only do I not have to carry cash but when I makes purchases on my credit card I accumulate points that can be converted to cash.
Plus most credit cards will give you a signup bonus (such as cash or frequent flyer points) – just make sure you check that the bonus is more than the annual fee. You can always cancel the card before the end of the year then sign up for a new card the next year to get a new signup bonus.
By purchasing on credit card, you can keep money in your savings account for longer meaning YOU earn interest on your money, not your bank. I use my budget planner to keep track of when money needs to be transferred so I’m not hit with a late fee.
11. I’m on the lowest phone plan with the smallest amount of data and I still never reach the limit because I utilise free wifi. I always make sure my phone is set to wifi when at home, and if I need directions somewhere I’ll look it up and take screenshots before I go so it doesn’t use up data.
12. I try and travel during off-peak season. And if I do travel during peak season I travel with others so the cost of accommodation and airport transfers can be split.
13. Comparison shopping research. I always compare the cost of basically everything before purchasing. Each week I go through the grocery catalogues and see which shops have the same item for the cheapest price. If I’m buying electronics I make sure I take advantage of price matching.
14. Before I buy anything I ask myself: ‘do I really NEED this?’ We all have that one thing that we can’t resist. For me, it’s stationery. I’m a massive stationery addict and the number of times I’ve had to tell myself no when I see a cute notebook or another pen sucks, but if I don’t actually need it then I don’t need to buy it.
15. I use ATM’s that don’t charge me transaction fees. Make sure you check with your bank if there are any banks they partner with i.e. won’t charge you fees, or at least look at which ATM’s charge the lowest fees if you withdraw money and aren’t a customer with that bank.
16. I never buy stuff from convenience stores – they charge double the price for a chocolate bar, a bottle of water etc. as the supermarket. I was with a work collage at lunch and she spend 4x the cost on 2 items that she could’ve got for way cheap if she walked 100m up the road to the supermarket. She didn’t even bat an eyelid and all I could think was you just spend a third of your hourly wage on stuff that’s going to be consumed in 5 minutes!
17. I’ve never ordered dessert at a restaurant. Ever. Why pay $12 for a bowl of ice cream when I can buy 3 tubs for the same price?!
18. I never buy scatchies, lottery tickets or participate in sweepstakes at work. I believe you’ve got to make your own luck!
19. When I catch up with friends I do so over lunch or afternoon tea rather than dinner as meals are usually cheaper.
20. I walk around my neighbourhood rather than paying for an expensive gym membership.
The 20% deposit on my first investment property
All in all it took me about 5 years to save the deposit. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It was hard. Really hard. ‘Training’ myself to say no, to really ask myself if I actually need something as opposed to just wanting it was not fun.
And just because I have the property now, doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly stop being ruthless about saving money. My mentality is now ‘I could buy this for $100, or I could put that towards an extra mortgage repayment.’ I tracked my savings and spending (no joke, I account for where every dollar goes) using my budget binder printables (which I still use to track my spending).
As for whether I’d buy a property at 20 again, I’ll admit there have been times when I’ve regretted my decision. I could’ve done a LOT of travelling with the money I’ve poured into my mortgage (as well as all the other ongoing costs such as property management fees, body corporate, maintenance etc.).
I’ll admit I do get jealous of my carefree 20-something friends’ holiday photos, and that they have no qualms about dropping a couple of hundred dollars on a concert ticket. I also wouldn’t have to awkwardly ask friends to pick me up if we go out since I can’t afford a car (I do pay them money for fuel!) If interest rates weren’t at historically low rates at the time, then I also probably wouldn’t have been able to purchase the property.
But whenever I feel ‘depressed’ looking at how much money I’ve poured into the mortgage and how much interest is added to the balance each month, I remind myself that I’m on track to paying off my mortgage by the time I turn 30 and I feel a whole lot better! ☺
What have you done so that you can save a large amount of money such as saving for a deposit?