We raised nearly £3,000 for our first-home deposit by selling on old laptops and giving up holidays

We raised nearly £3,000 for our first-home deposit by selling on old laptops and giving up holidays


SOMETIMES simply cutting back isn't enough while saving up for a house deposit – which is why Tom and Frank had a thrifty side hustle selling their old junk too.

The first-time buyers rifled through their unwanted gadgets and furniture and sold them on eBay to boost their savings by over £800.

Along with their decision to ditch holidays for three years to save £2,000, these two money saving tricks helped the duo save up nearly half the deposit needed for their £134,995 first home.

Tom Justice, 26, who runs his own business Just Wicks, and Frank Cecha, 26, who works at Nando’s, also used the government’s Help to Buy scheme to get an extra £27,000 to put towards their budget.

The Help to Buy scheme sees the government lend first-time buyers up to 20% of the value of their property – or 40% if they live in London – to help them get on the ladder.

The loan is interest-free for the first five years and it allowed them to take out a smaller mortgage and reduce their monthly repayments.

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They also got £1,500 for free to put towards buying their home by cashing in their Help to Buy ISA.

This was a government scheme which rewarded savers with a 25% bonus if they used the ISA to save for their first home.

The scheme was closed to new applications in 2019 but is still operating for those who have one in place – the couple opened one before the deadline so they didn’t lose out.

But even if savers did manage to set one up in time, they might struggle to cash in on the free cash benefit as house prices soar.

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Help to Buy ISAs can only be used on properties worth up to £250,000 outside of London.

But the latest Land Registry figures show that the average house price stands at £278,436 – which means more buyers could be frozen out of getting the free cash boost.

Luckily, their property was under the £250,000 threshold, and they got £1,500 added to their savings.

They bought their home in 2017.

The Sun picked Tom’s brains about how he and Frank kept on track to buy their dream home for our My First Home series.

Tell us about your home

It’s a three bed semi detached house in the Carlisle Park development in Rotherham, built by housebuilder Gleeson.

There’s an open plan kitchen and dining room, lounge, and toilet downstairs. 

It has one bathroom .

There’s a front and back garden, a driveway to park our cars on, and a garage too.

How did you decide on location?

The development is located in a lovely rural area – and it’s more affordable too.

Rotherham is less expensive to buy in than other areas – so it meant we could get more for our money.

How much did you pay for it?

We paid £134,995 for our house, and used the Help to Buy scheme to get the money we were short for to buy the kind of house we wanted.

It put our minds at ease because we were nervous about taking out a big mortgage – so taking out a Help to Buy loan helped lower our monthly repayments, which are £380.

You can only use the scheme if you buy a new build home.

We took out a loan of £27,000, and a mortgage of £101,000, which we took out over a 35 year term at a fixed rate of 2.8%.

Because we used the Help to Buy scheme, we only had to put down a 5% deposit at £6,750.

How did you save for it?

By cashing in our Help to Buy ISA, we were able to get £1,500 free from the government to put towards our first home.

You get a 25% bonus on top of what you’ve saved in this ISA if you’re using it to buy your first home.

We also sold a lot of our stuff to boost our savings.

Before we moved in, we realised we needed to slim down our belongings – we didn’t need two laptops, two iPads or two bedside tables for example.

We raised £800 by selling all the stuff we didn’t need – £300 of which was from my old laptop which I sold on eBay.

Ditching holidays for nearly three years helped us save over £2,000.

We would go once or twice a year – but we wanted to put all our extra cash into getting a place of our own.

Cutting back on clothes shopping meant we saved thousands of pounds between us.

We were spending up to a combined total of £300 a month on clothes, but we didn’t spend a penny for a month – which meant we saved £3,600.

Reigning in how much we were spending on meals out helped as well. 

We used to be really bad for this, going to the pub or going out for tea frequently and spending up to £500 between us per month.

But we made an effort to cook more at home instead, saving us £300 a month – we would only go out for a treat.

How have you afforded to furnish it?

We made the most of sales to get our furniture for less.

A lot of our furniture is from Ikea – we would make a beeline for the “bargains corner” of the store.

That’s where all the old and returned stock is resold at a fraction of the price.

We got our TV unit for £50, down from £200, and our armchair was half price.

Our friend works at Next and they helped us get access to “secret” stock that’s sold at a discount.

If you have a Next access card, it allows you to buy items which have been damaged or returned to the store for less – we saved £1,500 in total.

We bagged a marble table for £25 instead of £250, a bed for £200 instead of £800, and a settee which was £300 down from £1,500.

What’s your advice for other first time buyers?

Buying a house might seem like a really daunting thought, but it’s worth it – no matter how overwhelming it is.

If you’re having trouble staying motivated, then think about the freedom you will have when you have a home of your own.

I think if you’re in doubt just go for it – you won’t look back.

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