Bank Balance Confessions: The 24-Year-Old Who Bought A House
Here at The Cusp, we believe that talking about money empowers us to make more informed choices – and that tracking your spending can be revelatory. Here’s the latest instalment in our series exploring the income and expenditure of young Australians. Want to get better with money? We can help you there, too.
I’m a 24-year-old communications professional, first-home owner and self-professed chronic saver. I’ve been a saver for as long as I can remember, starting with pocket money for household chores.
I got my first casual job at 15 and, luckily, haven’t been out of work since. I knew I had chosen to enter a competitive industry with some pretty meagre salaries on offer so during my university years I worked three part-time jobs in communications to try and get ahead of the pack. And, it worked. Before my graduation I had a permanent, full time job with a salary of $69,000. Juggling full time study and up to 38 hours of work a week paid off, thank goodness!
During these “saving years”, at least 50 per cent of every pay immediately went into my savings account via scheduled transfers. I paid bills via direct debit and whatever was left was for life. I still use this budgeting system – I figure if the money gets transferred before I see it then I won’t be tempted to spend it.
Why was I so obsessed with saving? Because, since the age of 16, I’ve wanted to buy a house complete with a backyard and a dog.
How to buy a house
In 2014 I came to the conclusion that this was never going to happen in Sydney – I couldn’t save at the same rate that the Sydney property market was skyrocketing. So when the opportunity to move to Bathurst, a major regional centre in NSW, came up I took it.
My commute went from three hours a day at a cost of $14, to 14 minutes a day at a cost of $3.80. I was paying $75 a week board (a sweet deal, I know) and was pleasantly surprised to find that groceries were cheaper, drinks at the bar were cheaper, even “Taco Tuesday” was cheaper in Bathurst.
The result? I continued to save money, bought a block of land, built a medium size house and adopted a border collie. I did this for the same price as a one-bedroom apartment in Chippendale that’s the size of my living area.
At the moment I have $17,000 in savings and a crapload ($370,000) in debt thanks to my home loan but I feel better if I think about it as an investment in bricks and mortar.
So, what does the weekly budget of a 24-year-old professional, first homeowner in a regional area look like?
I get paid fortnightly and today is payday! $1976.36 appeared in my account overnight but I don’t see most of it thanks to the magic of direct debits and scheduled transfers:
- $870 goes into my homeloan
- $70 gets taken out for my health insurance
- $275.90 pays my quarterly electricity bill (I make sure I pay early to get a discount)
- $300 is transferred over to my savings account. The amount going into savings would be higher if my electricity bill wasn’t due.
So $1215.90 in total goes to bills and $300 to savings which, together with the cash in my wallet, leaves me $475 disposable income, which I start spending straight away.
- After work I buy $63 worth of groceries which should get me through the week.
- Winter always arrives early in Bathurst and I’m overdue for a new pair of trackies. They set me back $20 but are oh-so-fluffy.
- I broke my phone case during the week and after a quick look around the shops I decide it will be cheaper to buy a new one online. I order one on eBay for $7.29.
- It’s Friday and I’m running a 9am training session so coffee is required! I pay $4.00 for a regular soy latte.
- I catch up with a friend for afternoon tea and a movie. A pot of green tea sets me back $4.30 and my movie ticket is $16.50.
- My boyfriend and I go to the pub for dinner with friends. We take it in turns paying for meals when we eat together and tonight it’s my turn. Two mains cost me $42.00.
- I go to Bunnings to look for some plants for my garden. Instead of plants I walk out with a $0.95 bucket, $7.85 broom and $6 duster… #ImpulseBuy (who could walk past a $0.95 bucket though?)
- It’s an uneventful day at work and a quiet night in.
- For $35.48 I stock up on enough fresh fruit and veg, and hot cross buns to get me through a long weekend and to the next pay day.
- I’ve got family coming to stay for the Easter long weekend and need to buy a quilt for the spare bedroom so they don’t freeze. I find one in town for $39.00
- It’s another normal day at work and a quiet night in with leftovers.
I’ve now got $228.63 left to get me through another week before it’s payday again. Looking back on my expenses, I’m pretty glad I’m not a regular coffee drinker and enjoy cooking at home – eating out is expensive no matter where you live.
The cost of living in a regional area makes a huge difference to my budget and means I can live the dream of owning my own home and still put money away for the fun stuff in life like travel – the grass really is greener on the other side!