How I got a 20% discount and saved £1,800 a month to buy my first home aged 24

WHILE most third year university students are cramming for final exams, hitting the pubs and worrying about overdrafts, Bolutife Sofoluwe was starting to save for a house.

After researching money saving tips and finding financial gurus to follow on social media, the now 25-year-old made a plan to save up to £1,800 a month towards a deposit.

Bolu Sofoluwe, 25, started saving for her first home when she was still in universityCredit: The Sun

She was lucky to be able to live with her parents after Uni, living on just £100 a month from her £36,500 a year salary for three years. 

This enabled her to save up the £29,760 deposit to buy her 198,400 one-bed first home in Barking when she was just 24 years old. 

As she works for a bank, she was also eligible for an affordable homes scheme which gave her a 20% discount of the market value of the property. 

We had a chat with Bolu about becoming a first-time home buyer: 

Tell me about your home

I live in a ground floor one-bed apartment located in a block built by Pocket Living in Barking, London.

Bolu saved an extra £5,000 to furnish her new home

Bolu saved an extra £5,000 to furnish her new homeCredit: The Sun

Because Bolu is classed as an essential worker, she got a 20% discount off her home

Because Bolu is classed as an essential worker, she got a 20% discount off her homeCredit: The Sun

It’s open-plan, so the living area, dining area and kitchen are all in one room.

I have a patio outside my bedroom and living area.

There’s no parking here, but I don’t drive. 

There’s one bathroom too.

It’s near the tube so it’s a great location.

How much did you pay for it?

I’m classed as an essential worker because I work in the financial services sector, so I’m eligible for affordable housing.

Her ground floor flat has one bedroom

Her ground floor flat has one bedroomCredit: The Sun

Her flat is open plan, so her living room, dining area and kitchen space are all in one room

Her flat is open plan, so her living room, dining area and kitchen space are all in one roomCredit: The Sun

Because my flat is classed as an affordable home, I got a 20% discount off its market value.

So instead of paying £248,000, I paid £198,400 for it – and I got no financial help from parents or family.

I put down a 15% deposit of £29,760 to secure it, and reserved the property in September 2020.

I also used the mortgage advisor and solicitor that was recommended to me by Pocket Living to get a £500 discount off my end bill.

I took out the mortgage over 32 years at a three-year fixed rate, and my repayments are £700 a month.

The 25-year-old knew she wanted to get on the property ladder asap

The 25-year-old knew she wanted to get on the property ladder asapCredit: The Sun

There's a patio outside her bedroom and living area

There’s a patio outside her bedroom and living areaCredit: The Sun

How did you save for the deposit?

By using the Government’s Lifetime ISA scheme (LISA), you can get 25% interest added on top of what you’ve saved.

I put in a total of £8,000 into my ISA, and I got an extra £2,000, giving me a total of £10,000.

I then opened 10 savings accounts to put the rest of my money in to get the best interest rates possible.

My motto is “every little helps”, so I was saving anywhere possible.

My phone contract used to be £37 a month, so I switched to a SIM-only contract and now only pay £8.

That’s a saving of £348 a year – it all adds up. 

Bolu thought her flat was in a "great location", near the tube and a big Asda

Bolu thought her flat was in a “great location”, near the tube and a big AsdaCredit: The Sun

When I was commuting for work, I had Spotify Premium, which costs £9.99 a month.

But when Covid hit, I was working from home and didn’t really need to download music – I just listened to music on Youtube during advert breaks.

I’ve also shared my Netflix password with my mates – saving me at least £5.99 a month.

I followed people on social media and listened to their tips to help me save and keep motivated.

There’s an American businessman on Youtube called Dave Ramsay, and his show helps people get out of debt.

So I used his mentality to help me save intensely for my goals – there was no time for luxuries.

How to buy an affordable home and get 20% off your home

IF you’re a key worker, you may be eligible for affordable housing – and save tens of thousands of pounds on your first home.

Affordable housing are homes that have been made cheaper for Brits to buy or rent.

They’re homes for people on lower incomes and key workers – and they are 20% below market value.

Since 2017, developers have to make at least 10% of the homes being built under new schemes affordable.

Here’s how to apply for affordable housing:

Who’s eligible for affordable housing?

To be eligible for affordable housing, you must have an income of less than £80,000 – or £90,000 if you live in London.

You’re also eligible if you’re a key worker.

You’re a key worker if you work in:

  • Childcare and education
  • Key public services like charity and frontline workers
  • Local and national government 
  • Food industry such as in production, distribution, sale and delivery
  • Public safety and national security such as police and armed forces
  • Transport and border industries
  • Utilities, communication and financial services such as banks, oil and gas sectors

How do I apply for affordable housing?

Currently, there’s no national scheme you can apply to in order to get affordable housing.

Instead, each housebuilder – or local authority – will run their own scheme.

So you’ll have to do your own research and see what affordable housing schemes are in the area you’re looking to live in.

It might be worth checking out which first time buyer events are being hosted around your local area.

Bolu found out about Pocket Living’s scheme by visiting the London Home Show – an event held annually to help people get on the property ladder.

There are websites that can help you search for affordable homes too, such as HomeHunt.

Simply type in the postcode you’re hunting in into the site’s search engine to see what properties are available.

What happens if I want to sell my affordable home?

The rules for selling your affordable home may vary depending on who you bought it from.

But it’s highly likely that you’ll need to sell on your home to someone who is also eligible for affordable housing.

For example, if you buy a Pocket Living affordable home, you must sell it to someone who fits the criteria for affordable housing.

She made her plans to start saving while still at Uni

She made her plans to start saving while still at UniCredit: The Sun

Her friends and auntie live close by to her flat

Her friends and auntie live close by to her flatCredit: The Sun

I had an Excel spreadsheet to log my budget for each month, and I downloaded money saving apps to log how much I was spending each day.

I started saving £1,500 a month, and then it went up to £1,800 a month.

For the months that I got a bonus, I would be able to put over £2,000 away.

How did you decide on the area?

I knew I wanted to stay in London because of work, and because I like the city – I’ve lived here for all of my life, more or less.

I chose Barking because I’m familiar with east London. My parents live in south-east London, so I know the area.

My auntie lives near me, as well as a few friends. 

There’s a huge Asda down the road and the tube is near, so the area has all of the elements I need.

Bolu moved in with her parents after Uni to save money

Bolu moved in with her parents after Uni to save moneyCredit: The Sun

How did you afford to furnish it?

While I was saving up for my deposit, I also made sure I had enough money for furniture. I saved £5,000 towards appliances and essential pieces, such as my bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, sofa, kitchen, washing machine and so on.

I wasn’t gifted anything and I didn’t want to buy anything using credit cards or buy now, pay later schemes, so I made sure I wasn’t broke once I paid for my deposit.

I got a few key pieces like my sofa, coffee table and dining table from, which was a little more expensive.

Then, I shopped at Ikea, Furniture123, Argos, and Amazon for the rest.

Did you have any problems buying the property?

Bolu was able to put aside up to a whopping £2,000 a month while living with her parents

Bolu was able to put aside up to a whopping £2,000 a month while living with her parentsCredit: The Sun

Her motto she lived by to help her save was "Every little helps"

Her motto she lived by to help her save was “Every little helps”Credit: The Sun

The block was still under construction when I reserved my home.

I only saw the exact flat I was buying for the first time just a few days before completion in January this year.

When Covid hit, I was also worried about whether my completion date would be delayed due to the pandemic.

But I would say I underestimated the moving process the most. 

I didn’t want to pay for a company to help me, so I relied on family and friends to drive and move my stuff in.

I had to do multiple trips to get moved in.

What is your advice to other first time buyers?

Don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated – it’s quite a big task to buy a home but it is possible.

Knowledge and information is the major key, so make sure you do your research.

I didn’t have anyone helping me or holding my hand through the process, so I was relying on watching other people’s stories on social media and a lot of videos.

Find out what government schemes are available and what savings accounts are available.

I created an Instagram account to help motivate people and show it is possible to get your dream home too.

Find out how an NHS worker did four jobs and ditched haircuts to buy his £299,000 four-bed first home.

Another couple bought a £480,000 two-bed flat in London despite facing redundancy by ditching holidays and working extra shifts at Nando’s.

While a third switched energy tariff and batch cooked to help buy their three-bed home.

Victorian house built in 1895 on the market features very creepy secret in the basement


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