LUCIA Harrison managed to turn her passion for quizzing into a lucrative side-hustle, raising £10,000 to put towards her deposit.
The 29-year-old accountant worked four shifts a week as a quiz host at pubs around Bristol to boost her savings.
The keen quizzer, who has also appeared on ITV's The Chase, was able to pocket between £800 and £1,000 a month in extra cash.
This helped her to get on the property ladder quicker, and she got the keys to her three-bedroom terraced house in Bristol in August this year.
Setting herself a goal to buy her first home as soon as possible, Lucia also made the most of her Lifetime Isa.
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 40 can open a Lifetime Isa to save for buying a first home.
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Savers are able to withdraw money from their ISA if they are buying a home, over 60, or terminally ill with less than 12 months to live.
But you’ll pay a 25% charge if you withdraw money or transfer the Lifetime Isa to another type of Isa before the age of 60.
Lucia put the maximum of £4,000 a year into her Isa, with the government paying an additional 25%.
Over three years, Lucia bagged a £3,000 bonus from the government to put towards her deposit, which was £50,000 in total.
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We sat down with Lucia to discuss how she went from being a saver to a homeowner for The Sun's My First Home series.
Tell me about your home
It's a three-bedroom terraced house in Bristol.
The property still needs a fair bit of renovation, but it's a really good size and has a lot of potential.
Downstairs there is a a fairly large living room and a kitchen-dining room.
I have a garden and an outdoor toilet, which definitely came in handy when I had my bathroom renovated.
Upstairs there are two double bedrooms and one single bedroom, which I am planning on using as an office.
How did you decide on location?
I have lived in Bristol for the last five years after moving here for a graduate scheme and I knew I wanted to stay.
My house is close to the high street which has lots of shops, good pubs and access to nightlife.
I also live near a park which is really nice for taking a stroll through.
The area is also quite sought after, so I know that when I come to sell, my house will hopefully have increased in value quite a lot.
How much was it?
My house cost £295,000 and I put down a 17% deposit of £50,000.
I took out a mortgage of £245,000 for 37 years with a fixed rate interest of 2.79% five years.
My monthly mortgage repayments are £885 a month.
How did you save for it?
I gave up holidays
I started to save really hard from the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020.
I love travelling and I have visited almost 40 countries now.
So while not being able to travel over lockdown was sad for me, I managed to save a lot of cash.
Before, I would spend around £250 every three months on a trip, so I saved around £2,000 in total over two years.
I saved £1,000 out of my wage
The lockdown also meant I was able to save around £1,000 out of my salary every month.
I split this money, with £500 going into my Cash Lifetime Isa and £250 into my Stocks and Shares ISA that I had with Moneybox.
I also had a trading account, with Plum and I put £250 in here.
With my Lifetime Isa, I got a £3,000 bonus from the government for saving £4,000 each tax year.
I made around £1,000 in profit from my Moneybox Stocks and Shares Isa and around £200 from my Plum account.
I moved house and saved £225 on rent
In November 2020, I moved out of a shared house in Bristol city centre, and moved into a flat further out of the city.
I was spending £675 a month on rent in the shared house.
But moving out of the city slashed my rent down to £450 a month, which I split with my former partner.
So I only paid £225 a month.
We were lucky because the property was owned by a friend, and he let the property to us at a lower rate.
My pub quiz side hustle
In May 2021, I took up a second job hosting pub quizzes.
This started with just one a week at first, but I quickly fell in love with it and then started doing around four quizzes a week.
This bought in between £800 and £1,000 extra a month.
I know that walking around with a microphone and hosting isn't for everyone, but I think it's great fun.
You also get free food and drinks, which is a bonus.
I managed to bag a pay rise
I was also lucky enough to get a new job, which offered me a 20% pay rise.
This meant that I could borrow more money from the bank and I could look at higher value properties.
My parents also gifted me £25,000 towards the deposit.
I was very lucky to get this help and I know not everyone is as lucky.
The main reason I got the help from my parents was so I could lower my monthly mortgage repayments and secure a better interest rate.
How did you afford to furnish it?
I have been buying everything in stages and I still have some stuff to get as I only moved in fairly recently.
Facebook Marketplace was really useful for finding some good quality, second hand furniture.
I would look for things people giving away for free and set up alerts with key words like 'dining table', so I knew as soon as they were posted.
I managed to get a dining table for free – the only catch was I had to collect it from Bristol city centre myself.
By using Facebook marketplace, I was also able to get a longer table for entertaining friends and five dining chairs for free.
I was also lucky enough to spot an armchair going for free.
While I was there, the seller also offered me a brand new Ikea desk for free.
All in all, I think I managed to save around £300 by looking for free furniture.
What advice would you give to other first-time buyers?
If you haven't already, open a Lifetime Isa – you can do this with just £1.
If you can save £4,000 a year, you get £1,000 free from the government, which is a great incentive.
While I know it's not realistic for everyone, if you feel like you are underpaid, I would consider looking for a new job.
I was able to borrow more because I went for a new job, with better pay.
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