Balancing A Print Career With A House Renovation [ONWARD]

As I mentioned in a previous post, at the time that I was saving for my first home I was lucky enough to be working in a half-decent job.

I’d studied graphic design in university and although I’d done this with the initial intention of setting up my own business, I soon found that there weren’t many clients who were willing to take on a freshly graduated student with no work experience and a portfolio of degree-level work. With my tail firmly between my legs, I went to the Job Centre and dutifully applied for any job that would take me.

As luck would have it, there were a number of firms in the area who were looking for junior designers, so I soon found myself put to work designing vinyl cut decals, creating branding for thoroughly dull companies and losing slyly siphoning off clients’ details to build up my own database of useful future leads. In hindsight, it was perhaps best that I’d delayed the start of my business, as the renovation of my home would prove to take up much of my spare time, when I finally got around to buying it, that is.

It took me just over 2 and a half years to get the money together to move into my new home, this move was delayed by the rising costs of ancillary matters such as solicitor’s fees and insurance for my new home. No one tells you about these added costs when you start to save; you set your budget for your home and then aim to pull together 5-10% of these costs with the hope that by the time you’ve saved it all your dream house hasn’t moved outside of your price range. After 20 months of scrimping and saving, I was finally able to put my money down and move into my first home, but I was far from done yet.

Starting, as I was, on the first step of the property ladder, I was forced to settle for a property that was certainly far from the dream home that I’d initially had in mind. Whilst my new home certainly had plenty of space, this space was far from in a finished state. My new home had been victim to a rather half-hearted renovation already and as such was left in a forlorn state of disrepair. Floors were half finished, walls had been gamely hacked at and then left to the elements. In short: it was a mess and a mess that was down to me to sort out!

The laundry list of tasks that were ahead of me was daunting to say the least, but that hadn’t stopped me from making a start. Every day I would return from work just before 6, quickly stuff a sandwich in my face and then get to work with whatever I had to do. One day it might be sanding down walls, the next day it might be pulling up floor boards. I’d work until 11pm every night and then sink into my bed for 11:30pm, before waking up at 7am to start it all over again. Naturally, weekends became dedicated to renovations, a job that would take me even more years to complete…

Making The Move From Rented To Mortgage

Nobody really likes to rent, but unfortunately everyone has to pay their dues, which means biting the bullet and handing over a tidy sum of cash to a landlord once a month whilst also somehow saving money for a deposit on a home that you eventually want to move in.

Unless you’re paid a handsome sum of money, or are particularly good at sticking within a low living budget it can be difficult to get this deposit saved up, which is why so many people find themselves stuck renting for years on end.

I was lucky enough to not get stuck saving for years on end as I moved to the North of England for University. Although it was a bit of a challenge for me to get used to the bitterly cold winters as a student, the bonus of settling in the North was that rent and house prices were significantly cheaper than down South. When I graduated and found myself a half-decent job, I was able to start focusing on saving money, although this proved to be a little more tricky than I’d thought it would be.

The problem with living as a young professional in a bustling city is that there is temptation absolutely everywhere. There are pubs and bars open throughout the week, offering tempting sojourns for men and women looking to blow off steam. A string of concerts and gigs are always on offer to music lovers, and then there’s the cinema for those looking to lose themselves in film for an evening. When you’re working full-time in a stressful environment, it’s only natural to want to be able to enjoy yourself in your spare time, but the most common ways of doing this inevitably involve spending money.

My first major step towards saving the money that I needed to put my deposit down was to fundamentally change the way that I spent my spare time. Since moving away from the South I had unknowingly developed a string of habits that were not only bad for my health, but also cost me a fortune. I had never considered that my weekly pack of cigarettes, or my regular visits to the pub would be costing me so much, they were so ingrained into my day-to-day routine that they were automatic spends – a self-imposed tax that I had come to accept.

Saying ‘no’ to pub trips and resisting the temptation to pick up a pack of fags on a Friday were my first real challenges, which were made twice as difficult when I had to deal with the biological withdrawal from these substances. I was crabby for weeks, easily distracted and sorely tempted to ditch in all of my efforts and head to the pub. However, after a month, something incredible happened: I saved money! When I spotted an extra £250 in my bank account at the end of the month, I realised that by making a few more changes to my lifestyle I could save even more money and be that much closer to buying my very first home…