A woman has revealed how she has managed to save £15,000 for a deposit on a home.
Abbie Drown, 36, says she reduced her monthly food bill to just £20 and saved enough to buy a house by moving into her sister’s garage for two years.
In 2012, after splitting with her boyfriend and selling their house, Drown was left with nothing, so her sister offered up her garage as alternative accommodation where she would have to pay just £20 a week in rent.
In two and a half years, Drown had saved £15,000 for a house deposit. She says: “I bought a house with my ex in November 2011.The deposit came from him so when we broke up in March 2012, after two-and-a-half years together, I had nothing out of it.
“I moved into a house share for about six months, but then my sister suggested I come to live with her family and save for a deposit.”
Drown, who lives in Truro, Cornwall, says she moved into her sister’s garage and while a friend put carpet down, she was still living between bikes and a fridge.
It was while living in the garage that the customer services advisor learnt how to be frugal - and she still saves around £700 a month by being smart with her cash.
Drown says: “It was tough, as I really didn’t do anything. I’d maybe go out for a slice of cake at the weekend, but that was about it. I had no holidays, but luckily living in Cornwall I was able to go to the beach.
“My friends would ask me if I wanted to go out and I’d refuse. I would say, ‘When I’ve stopped saving will you remember me?’ I was working full time and really I didn’t spend any money. My savings grew to £15,000 during the two and a half years I lived there.”
Before the split in 2012, Drown says she used to be “frivolous” with money.
She confesses: “I remember my laptop broke and I just went to buy a new Apple mac on my credit card, not thinking anything of it.
“I didn’t care about money at all. I would always get things on credit if I could not afford them, but this experience completely changed me.”
In March 2015, Drown’s belt tightening reaped massive rewards when she bought her house – a two up two down with parking and a garden for £103,205, then using an interest free credit card to pay for carpet, flooring and furniture.
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Drown paid her credit card off within a year, so she did not start being charged interest. “I wanted to keep saving and I’d got good at shopping on a budget,” she says.
“I still keep my food bills to £20 a month. I will always use my clubcard, nectar and advantage card points. I will buy eight tortilla wraps for 90p and make pizzas with a bit of tomato paste at 35p, mozzarella for 45p and some vegetables. With eight wraps that can be a meal for eight days.
“I’ll spend £3.60 on all of the ingredients – but they stretch to at least four meals – making it 90p a portion. I make tortilla pizzas with my niece and nephew, who have fun adding their own toppings.”
Drown adds that she also makes a lot of bulk meals - from chicken curry to Bolognese or a veggie stir fry with noodles. She will then freeze any leftovers so they last a long time.
Rather than buying lunch every day when she is working in the office, Drown often takes veggies, cheese and Ryvita with her.
“I don’t deprive myself but I’ll always look at ways of saving,” she adds. “I use a lot of apps to get deals. I’ll use the Meerkat app by Compare the Market, because if you’re going on holiday and buy travel insurance for about £3, they will give you a discount on meals.”
Her other tips include using websites such as YouSwitch to get the best deals on energy providers.
“Living in the garage, I got used to not having the heating on, so I hardly ever put it on now, which saves me a lot of money. I have an electric blanket on my bed, which I put on while I’m brushing my teeth.
“I’d rather wear layers and have a hot water bottle, or snuggle under a blanket if I’m watching television than put the heating on.”
Drown adds that she turns all the plugs off before going to bed “except for the internet” and will always unplug her phone charger. Her television is also never left on standby.
“As the water in Cornwall is quite expensive, I keep an egg timer in the bathroom so I can keep my showers to under four minutes, which is good for the environment and saves money,” Drown says.
Drown adds that it’s also worth haggling with providers to see if you can get services at a reduced rate.
“If you tell companies you want to leave they will often offer you something else or something cheaper,” she says.
“I buy petrol at the supermarkets, as it’s always cheaper and quite often you will get a voucher to then use in the shop. I always look out for a deals on holidays as well. In January this year I got a two-night trip to Venice for £99 per person.”
As for clothes, Drown looks to websites like Vinted, which sells second-hand ware.
For holidays, Drown’s family have a secret Santa rather than buying individual presents. Drown keeps an eye out on Black Friday sales each year to try and pick up some bargains.
“I’ve saved £7,000 so far this year, which I used to pay off my car and will use to pay off a bit more of my mortgage,” she explains.
“I think my family are proud of me. Perhaps they think I take it a little bit too far, but when they see how much money I actually save they are really impressed.
“My friends and colleagues do make fun of me, but then I will sign them up to things. For example, Bulb Energy will pay £50 to you and a friend if you sign them up, so I help them out with it too.”
Drown says she wishes she had started saving in her early twenties as she “would have been able to accumulate so much more”.
She adds: “I manage to save about £700 a month now through being savvy and my message is that if I can do it, you can too.”
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