Category: House & Home
Chapter Select
Sub category: Buy
30 April 2021

How I did it: making my first-home dream come true

So much happens between that “I want a place to call my own” lightbulb moment and actually taking the plunge. Planning, working hard, saving harder, learning the difference between LVR and LMI (what the? More on those here), picturing your dream – even changing your mind about what your dream might be.

We had a chat with a few young Australians who told us how they turned a plan to buy into owning their dream home – and how they managed their money along the way.


Lucy, 35, and Patrick, 37

“Our decision to buy came about through the slow realisation that this thing that had always felt unattainable might be within our reach.

“One of the best things we did was rearrange our finances so that one income went into a spending account and one income went into a savings account. So one income had to cover rent, bills, food, socialising, everything. The other income we didn’t even see so theoretically never spent.

“At first we were sceptical. How on earth were we going to get by on basically half the money we were used to spending? But once you get into the swing of things it’s actually not too bad. You don’t have to think about it.

“We separated our money into a ‘bills and rent’ account, an everyday joint account, and then a separate account for each of us with money to spend how we wished. It wasn’t a huge amount, but having a little bit of our own money was important for a sense of independence and spontaneity.

“Set up a system that works for you, that’s achievable and incremental, and then just get on with your life. Don’t get too caught up with needing to reach a certain amount in a certain timeframe. It’s like watching a kettle boil – it’ll feel endless if that’s all you focus on. If you’re able to create a set-and-forget system, it’ll come together without too much frustration or impatience.

“It feels so great to know that the monthly payments we’re making are towards our own future. We can paint a wall if we want, and we’ll never have to worry about a notice to vacate or a grumpy landlord ever again.”


Charlie, 30, and Melissa, 29

“For us, a home seemed so unobtainable. When we bought, the property market was hot. But it was a sudden moment when we realised that we were on the way to having close to enough saved to get it done.

“We were just talking about it one day – that we should probably try and buy somewhere if we can. So we sought out expert advice and set up a savings path to our goal of 20 per cent for a deposit.

“To start, we had a spreadsheet where all of our monthly expenses were laid out. It was shocking to see how much we were spending on things like nights out or entertainment, all that kind of stuff.

“So we looked at changes we could make and created a budget to reduce costs. Like, for groceries, we would allocate $200 at the start of the month and try to stick to it. We had the spreadsheet to track everyday costs and we stripped back on luxuries where we could. But we weren’t roughing it, by any measure. We still managed to go on holiday overseas twice while we were saving.

“Once we started budgeting, it became second nature. We become more aware when we were buying things – like, we would ask ourselves, ‘Do we really need this?’

“We were also looking to buy in the same year we planned to get married, so we had a wedding to budget for too. It got a bit stressful once we got closer to the wedding, which we had to push out a bit. So with big life events, we would recommend focusing on one at a time!

“But when we finally bought and moved in, it felt kind of surreal. It was our home.”


Jenna, 34

“I had saved a decent amount of money myself when my brother asked me if I’d like to go halves in buying a house with him. I looked at my finances and realised I could afford it, so I agreed and we put in an offer.

“I’ve always been a saver, squirrelling money away in savings accounts. My parents taught me to save, so it comes naturally. From the time that I started my first job in a supermarket, I’ve always done it. It’s simply a habit that when I get paid, I transfer money into a savings account that I don’t touch.

“To save for the house deposit, my budgeting technique was pretty simple. Every week I gave myself an allocation for weekly expenses – including going out for dinner or buying something new. Then every single other dollar of my income would go into my savings.

“I stuck to these rules (and I still do). I don’t buy anything that I don’t have cash for. If I buy something with my credit card, I pay it off immediately. I never use Afterpay. If I want something, I won’t buy it until I have enough money. I’m pretty strict with my ongoing long-term savings account, too – I don’t touch it.

“Be strict with your budget, cut up your credit cards if you need, and don’t buy anything that you can’t afford while you’re saving. Oh, and shop your wardrobe: rethink the need to buy a new outfit for every event that you attend. Instead, mix and match pieces that you already own.

“I’m so happy that I jumped in and agreed to buy with my brother. While it can be a hit to the ego to check your bank balance and see that the money you had saved has gone, you have a house to show for it! It’s really not as daunting as it seems.”


Dreaming of a place of your own but don’t know where to start?

We can take you through it step by step, from deposit to purchase. Find answers with our online tools and guides or talk to one of our home loan specialists by calling 1800 267 809, 8am – 8pm (AEST/AEDT) from Mon to Fri and 9am – 5pm on Sat.

Our home loan specialists can talk you through our options - with no obligations, just friendly support. Talk to us on 1800 267 809, 8am - 8pm (AEST/AEDT), Mon to Fri and 9am - 5pm on Sat.

ING does not endorse and is not affiliated with third parties mentioned in this article.  ING is not responsible for any services provided by third parties nor does ING accept any liability or responsibility arising in any way from any products or services supplied by the third parties.

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