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I bought my dream home three years earlier than planned by not buying new clothes’

Steph Naylor had set herself a target of six years to buy her own home, after splitting with her ex – but some serious savings in lockdown meant she was able to achieve her goal three years earlier than planned

Cutting back on clothes and takeaway coffees helped content strategist Steph Naylor buy her dream home three years earlier than planned.

Like thousands of other Brits, the 32-year-old found herself working from home when the UK was plunged into lockdown at the start of the Covid pandemic last year.

But being stuck inside meant she could use this time to ramp up her savings – and now Steph is the proud owner of a two-bed, new-build house in Barnsley.

Steph had initially set herself a target of owning a home in six years after she split up with her partner three years ago.

The pair had a mortgage together, meaning Steph couldn’t use schemes such as Help to Buy to get on the property ladder.

She was also renting and paying bills on her own, which made it harder to save.

Steph had around £10,000 saved following her break-up and wanted to get to £16,000 so she’d have a 10% deposit for a new home.

Speaking to The Mirror, Steph said: “I wanted to own my own home, just me, as I’d had my fingers burnt before.

“I knew I’d have to save quite a bit of money – as it’s so much easier to do with another person.

“I was renting privately, so that also made it harder. I was just trying to put away as much as possible.

“Before the pandemic, I was only able to put away around £300 a month – I couldn’t realistically afford to put away much more.

“I’m not a big socialite anyway but I needed to stop buying clothes.”

Steph said she was “pretty much straight away” able to save much more money when Covid hit, due to no longer commuting to work.

She estimates not driving in saved her £350 on petrol and parking each month, while not buying takeaway coffees, lunch and going out after work gave her an extra £100 each month.

She also didn’t buy any new clothes for six months, saving her around £100 per month.

“I started to notice quite a rapid change in how much I could save pretty much as soon as Covid hit,” said Steph.

“A couple of months in, I was putting in an additional £400 on top of the £300 I was putting in before – so I was almost at that £1,000 a month mark.

“I might have been just over a year of working from home, that I had the extra £6,000 I needed saved – whereas it would’ve taken me years to save that before.

“I found myself really pulling back on luxuries like clothes. Because I wasn’t going out or seeing anyone, I didn’t buy clothes for about six months. I had no need to.

“When I added up how much I was spending on food at work, I was disgusted in myself.”

Steph had her eye on a new-build development and said it was “like fate” that the properties became available to reserve shortly after she’d reached her deposit amount.

She’d set up an email alert and was notified when the properties were ready to secure.

“They let me put down an early bird deposit down, which was around £100 and this meant I got first refusal on the properties,” Steph explained.

“I paid that deposit and waited a couple of months, then I got a message in February saying they were ready to go on the market.

“I only had two days to get a mortgage in principle together, which was really stressful.

“From there, it went so quickly – from February last year they started building the house and then I moved in October.”

Steph paid a 10% deposit on a £160,000 new-build, end of terrace two-bed property – and is thrilled with her new home.

She said: “It was a very emotional day when I got my keys. It’s an end of terrace house, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“It’s only me and my cat so we don’t really need much more space – it’s the perfect size. I do feel like I’ve got a lot for my money. I’ve got a front and back garden and a driveway.

“There’s a loft and so much storage.”

Steph says her advice to other savers looking to buy a property on their own is to save up as much as possible.

You should also remember to take into account additional fees – such as reservation costs and solicitor fees.

She said: “What shocked me the most about buying alone was how expensive the reservation fees and solicitors’ fees were.

“Usually, this would be a cost divided between two people, but I had to pay all these costs myself.

“Prepare for those costs, so they don’t creep up as a surprise if you’ve not considered those.”