The start…

Hi,

My name is Bryony Hill and I am writing this blog to share the stresses of being a first time home buyer in 2017. I am most certainly not the only one going through this life of cheap food and constant boredom. All first time buyers (I’m sure) share the same struggles.

This blog is mostly for myself to see how far we have progressed and if anyone reads this and it helps them at all in any way, then that’s an amazing bonus for me.

The trouble is, no one teaches you at school how this kind of shit goes down. No one tells you about interest rates, tax, debt or credit scores. Shocking, considering this is one of the most important steps in life we can take.

I wish when I started work when I was 16, I had saved even a little bit each month. But no. I was too interested in going out with my mate Stacey and getting pissed pretty much. It was never drummed into me at an early age either, my family has never been rich and so it’s pretty much just been living hand to mouth, if there was any spare money it would go on new school shoes or something.

No one in my family apart from an aunt and grandparents has bought a house. I have grown up in social housing my whole life and so there’s no one I can really turn to for advice about this kind of thing. When my grandparents bought their house they managed to buy a 3 bedroomed big-ish house for £10k – I know, it makes me feel sick.

Me and my fiancé don’t have wealthy parents, have no inheritance or anyone to help financially so we have to save everything we can get. Of course our parents have been hugely supportive. My mum has moved into the smallest room in the house to accommodate me and Caine (my fiancé) and Caine’s mum lived on a sofa for a year so we could have a room in her house! Everyone has been so supportive to us, even our friends! Of course, saving as much as we possibly can limits funds for social events so I’m so glad our friends haven’t forgotten about us.

No one tells you about the effect that this can all have on your relationships either. I know the relationship between my Mum and I has been strained because we are all on top of each other. I then disappear to my room only to be sat in a room with Caine where we constantly argue about what to put on the TV, loose our shit about it and then go to sleep at 9pm. Saving is such a hard thing to do and it’s so easy to get pissed off one day and say, I’m renting now. I’ve had enough. It’s all about being patient and persevering. Caine recently bought me a book from paperchase where we can monitor our savings, the words on the front have become my mantra ‘save money and money will save you’

Life story

So, a brief-ish version of events that’s lead me to where I am.

I was born in 1992 when my mum was 21. To put it bluntly, I was an accident LOL. My mum still lived at home with my grandparents and my 2 aunts and my dad wanted no part in my life.

I grew up just out of the centre of Bristol in a high rise block of council flats with my mum. My best friend Keely lived on the 12th floor and I lived on the 6th so we were very close growing up. We went to the same primary and secondary school too and spent all day and all night together so were practically like sisters.

Whilst we were growing up our mums had their own issues to deal with so we both helped each other through life. We would never be who or where we are without her Nan and my grandparents.

I would stay with them every weekend and go on holidays with them abroad every year. Most weekends were spent in Woolacoombe in their caravan. Just me and my Nan and grandad. In this aspect I was very lucky as god knows where I would be were it not for the support of my family through these years.

I was an only child until I was 11 when my auntie had my cousin. My auntie was married and had a stable home environment so my grandparents didn’t need to help out here as much.

My mum ended up having another child, my sister Bliss when I was 12 and then had another, my sister Bria.

We moved to my current house when I was 14 which is a 3 bedroomed council place in an ok ish area of Bristol. I went to school but didn’t do as well as I could have. A lot of my school reports even from primary school say the same thing. ‘Bryony could do so well if she applied herself and stopped getting distracted so easily’. YAWN. I just love a chat.

So I came out with a few D grades, my only C grade was in religious studies. I did actually achieve a Merit in Business studies. So pretty shit all in all.

I did the only thing I could (besides hairdressing) which was go to The City Of Bristol College and study business studies. Alongside this I worked at La Senza and at a computer shop to earn some cash for myself and to pay my mum rent. I dropped out of college after the second year as it just wasn’t for me, so boring! I managed to get a temp contract at the Bristol Post for an admin assistant and did this for 6 months. From then I kind of just went from admin role to admin role until I met my partner Caine. He has always encouraged me to do what I love and to be the best I can be.

I’ve always had a passion for animals and used to say growing up that I would love to be a vet. I tried to get into nurse training but it’s such a competitive industry and there aren’t many placements around. Luckily, I managed to get a job as a receptionist in a vets which was my foot in the door. They offered me a chance to study as a veterinary care assistant and I happily accepted. Once I started training for this though I received some bad news.

I had some trouble with my fertility levels.

Early menopause runs in my family and so I decided to get myself tested. Unfortunately it came back that I have very low AMH levels which basically means I don’t have a lot of eggs left. They have advised me to start trying to have kids by the time I’m 28. I am 24 now and so if my work had given me a placement in the following September as a student nurse, this would last 3 years and would take me until I was 28.

Having spoken to Caine about this, it was a risk we weren’t willing to take. I only took the receptionist position to get my foot in the door to the veterinary world and was earning a lot more money before. We had a chat and decided that whilst saving for a house, we needed the money so I went back to the office world to earn more money which is where I am now.

I met Caine when I had just turned 20 through a mutual friend on a night out. Obviously he couldn’t believe his luck when he met me, he asked me for my number and thought I’d given him the wrong one. Literally had to stand there whilst he called my phone to check it went through!

We were both sceptical about getting into a relationship. Caine just wanted to be single and I had just got out of a horrible long term relationship.

We booked our first holiday to Corfu (first of many, you’ll see that we have an addiction) when we were together 6 months and then we kind of knew we could live with each other. We were together 2 years when we decided we were going to save for our first home together and this is where it all started…. We have now been together 4 years and are engaged <3.

Unfortunately a wedding is on hold at the moment as we can’t afford to do both :(.

We planned a holiday to Florida as our last hurrah and just went all out. We were convinced this would be our last holiday so we just thought, fuck it. Why not. This was also helped by a car accident that me and Caine were in where a car rear ended us. We both had quite a nasty case of whiplash and so received compensation for this. This pretty much paid for our trip.

We had the best time but really had to knuckle down when we got back. Totally prepared :/

Now, we have decided not to rent and to buy because we can’t ever see ourselves getting out of the renting situation. This is a huge chunk of the trouble, some people have no other option but to rent and the rent is sky high. There is absolutely no chance in ever saving for a deposit whilst renting and on an average person’s wage which really angers me. How is one ever supposed to get out of this cycle unless they win the lottery miraculously?

We have been lucky in the sense that although we have been living out of one room our entire relationship, we have had that one room! Some people don’t have that and so the cycle continues of sky high rent. Albeit we have literally lived on a mattress for the last near enough 5 years and have never had a bed that we haven’t inherited or isn’t broken.

At one time, even a homeless person in the centre had a better sleeping arrangement and better bedding than us.

Deciding to save for a house was a huge thing for both of us. Bearing in mind my background and Caine’s, it’s slightly daunting and at times I wondered, is it even achievable? People with a past like mine don’t tend to buy houses? More like live in council houses with 4 kids by 5 different dads (Vicky pollard style Bristolian accent) and just wait for their benefits to come in.

WRONG

I am a firm believer in that your background doesn’t define who you are, you can be anything you want to be. People who blame the way they are in adulthood for their upbringing is the one thing I cannot stand. People have choices in their life and unfortunately, those people make the wrong choices. Falling into drugs, the wrong crowd or the wrong relationship. I think I am a prime example of this given my past (which I won’t go into) and I think my family would agree. Having a kid and getting a council place to some, is an easy way out. I completely understand that these things happen but it’s never too late to change your life. If life has dealt you a shit hand, do something about it. Shit happens unfortunately but you’ve just got to make the best of it.

So, we got into the world of spreadsheets and credit scores. The first thing to do was to clear my credit card debt around £1k and Caines ‘WONGA’ type loan. This didn’t actually take us that long once we cut out the enormous amount we were spending on just shite. I cleared my credit card and gave it the chop. Literally.

We both signed up to clearscore where we could see our credit score for free (other sites charge a monthly fee) and this helped us see everything that was against our name.

One tip on this would be to be aware of family financial status. When I first started out my credit score was just lower than average but these companies take available credit from credit cards, store cards etc into account. This is called credit card utilisation. So basically the more credit you have and the less you use of it as a percentage is better for your credit rating. As I didn’t have a high level of credit available to me (once id chopped up my credit card and closed the account) I applied for a Barclays credit card to give me a higher level of credit but they would only give me a limit of £400. I requested this be increased however this was rejected.

I then went to TSB (my bank) and asked them why this could be. They told me with them I had a good credit history as I had been with them for so long however because I was living at home with my mum and had the same last name, my credit score was bad. My mum had previously been blacklisted and apparently they take family members and address into account. Just a tip for anyone wondering why they can’t get credit, this could be it!

Going forward then to actually save, we needed to start to minimise our spending. Things like Netflix and the gym had to go (never went anyway) so we started to cut all of this down. I used an excel spreadsheet format to put in all my bills and subtract this against my salary. I also then could see how much was left that was available to put into savings.

I kept overspending on this. Shock! So what I did was open up a new current account with a new debit card. My bills and pay would come and go from one account and then any spare money for me, I would manually transfer to the new account and once it was gone, it was gone.

This really helped as I only had this card in my purse so I could only spend what was on there.

I also have an account that I pay money into for petrol and car insurance so that I know when car insurance comes around, it’s not a huge chunk out in one go. Lord knows that’s going up this year after the amount of accidents I’ve had. Non fault I’ll add.

Because me and Caine are quite bad at saving and are impulsive buyers, (him more so than me. I always suffer with buyer’s remorse after I buy something) we have set up savings accounts with the best interest rates that we can’t access until the time comes when we are buying a house.

These accounts might not work for everyone, just right for us and our current situation. Its best to look into all these and do a compare the market search as each account has different requirements in order to gain the interest.

At the moment we have: (this will change shortly to make the most of interest rates)

  • A TSB monthly saver
  • Caine’s sharesave account with work
  • 2 TSB classic accounts
  • 2 help to buy ISAS

I consider me and Caine the lucky ones. Caine has landed a really good apprenticeship with British Gas which pays really well and I have a lower than average paid job. Now we have cut down our bills, Caine can usually save £900 whilst I can save £600 a month which is good going to be fair. I’m not going to say how much we have saved as a total but document each month how much we have saved which I think is the best way to go in order to motivate us. We need to have a life besides saving also so I think it’s best to take each week as it comes.

We set aside whatever is left for us. A while back I was living from £40 a month to myself, £10 a week however I found I was getting quite down about it. I never had any money to buy anything for myself at all! I have now upped this to £100 so I can buy myself something and still have money left over for a few things social.We tend to spend our money on food to be honest and were piling on the lbs to prove it. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been (slight exaggeration) and so is Caine so cutting down this will help us both ways to be fair. I can’t help it, I didn’t choose the McDonalds life, the McDonalds life chose me

It’s also so hard to stay in in one room all the time. And when we do stay in its like we both just have this look that we give each other which usually means, McDonalds or KFC. Before we have even mentioned the words we are both getting our coats on and are in the car driving to get our 2000 calorie meal. Without going out and socialising, this is the only thing that excites us these days.

We’ve had a bad month already this month as I have changed jobs so that’s caused financial strain. I have worked my ass off and am still -£50. Not a single penny saved either FML. I’ve lived off my credit card for the last month so I’ve had that to pay off.

Caine has managed to save his £900 which is amazing so it’s not all a total write off.

I am heading to my Nan and grandads caravan this weekend in Woolacoombe which is usually a cheap weekend.

Well… it will have to be as I’m as skint as a badger.

We have been engaged a year this Saturday and I’m finding the whole thing bittersweet.

  1. Because this time last year we were in Florida and I had no idea that tomorrow would be the day where I’d get a ring on my finger, in my most favourite place on earth ever outside of the Cinderella castle.
  2. And 2 because I would love to at least have had a wedding booked by now

It is still nice to celebrate though that we again, have come a long way in the last year and I am very proud of us. When I say celebrate, I mean cheaply. With whatever my Nan and grandad cook and a glass of squash because I’m so broke it’s a joke.

I also turned down the pub at lunch with the work colleagues for a microwave meal at my desk. I’m reciting ‘it will all be worth it in the end’ whilst crying into my microwavable £1 chicken satay asda meal that went out of date yesterday.

Next month will be better….Oh wait, we need spending money for our 2 week Cyprus holiday :/