Kirsten is a 42 year old single parent to her son. When she and his father separated, she worried about housing. With careful budgeting, saving and long term planning, she eventually made her dream to own a home a reality. Here’s how…
I’m Kirsten & I’m a 42 year old single parent to one beautiful boy. 6 years ago, when I split from his father, one of my biggest worries was housing!
We lived in Norfolk where property is pretty cheap by national standards. My marital home was a 3 bedroom, 3 storey new build and a few years ago these were around £200k in the area I lived. Still, as I was building my business and earning very little, I was terrified by my options. I had a small amount of equity in our home, but not much, as I’d moved in with my son’s dad to his home.
Facing the housing reality as a single parent
I was facing life in a £500 a month bedsit on a street you wouldn’t walk alone on at night… and it scared me!
I was lucky enough to have a parent in a position to take my minuscule amount of equity & add a little, then get an interest only mortgage on a little 2 bed cottage. For a couple of years, I was lucky enough to be set.
Planning for the long term
The plan was always to buy, and I set ambitious savings goals!
Essentially while I have always been one to live life, I tried to do it on the cheaply as much as possible – vouchers, favours, squirrelling money away here & there for the big things! I also sold almost every item my son had as a baby, and that would be my holiday fund. I also tried to chuck any cash I could into savings, by choosing something cheaper or going without something – and saving this way mounted up too.
Starting the home buying process
I knew a mortgage broker through networking for my business, and about a year after moving in I decided to chat to him about what I’d need to do to purchase the property. Most people seem to approach their bank or building society when looking for a mortgage – you simply won’t get the best deal this way! Independent brokers only take a fee once you’ve signed on the dotted line, and it’s hundreds not thousands – compared to what you save, and the fact you don’t have to take up their offers, it’s a bit of a no brainier whether to use one!
Saving for the long term
Amazingly, there are many lenders who will take into account tax credits as income, so while I couldn’t buy at the time, Andrew, my broker, and I spoke, it gave me a clear indication of what I needed to do to get there.
I needed to save a little more, and earn a little more. It sounds easier said than done but for me once I have those goals in mind, nothing can stop me, and being self employed there’s arguably more leeway with earning more.
Getting the keys
It took me 4 years of grafting on my business and working evenings too, before I finally had a chunk of savings & a salary big enough to get a mortgage.
In December 2021 I finally completed. There was a very frugal month when all the fees came out, but finally being on the property ladder was worth it!
Kirsten Smith is an independent HR consultant with her own business. If you’d like to learn more about her consultancy, click here.