11 things that you wish you had known when you bought your first house
Buying a house in your 20's is the one of the best ways to prove you're succeeding at life (and showing your parents you're not a failure). Just make sure you don't get in over your head, and ensure that you can service the debt you've accrued.
Don't stress. Here are 11 tips from someone who survived the second half of their 20's with a $300,000 debt on their shoulders…just.
1. Don't panic
You've just made one of the biggest decisions of your life, but remember, don't panic. You've probably got 30 years to pay off the money, so relax and remember that this is now your home.
2. Don't lose sleep
Whilst the thought of a six-figure debt may loom large over your head, don't forget your sanity. You might spend many, many sleepless nights thinking of that incredibly large amount of money you will now pay off for a third of your life. Once you can learn to shut this to the back of your mind, you'll sleep easier.
3. Throw a house party.
Maybe going out every weekend was amazing in your early 20s, but you're a property owner now and there isn't much left in the disposable income column. Instead of hitting the bars, invite some friends around for drinks. You won't have to pay for rounds, or taxis, just the cleaning.
4. Save at least $10 a week
A high interest savings account sounds like a grown-up phrase, however you should seriously consider getting one. You'll never know when you'll need to do repairs or pay an unexpected bill that arrives. If you start by deducting $10 a week from your pay, you'll end up never even realising the money is gone. And in a year you'll have accrued more than $500, and that's not even including interest.
5. Squeeze every penny
While it may seem that every cent you earn may be going straight into your mortgage, remember to get the most for your money on anything you spend. Don't waste your food, buy in bulk and even switch to no-name brand groceries and get rid of the Foxtel.
6. Learn from others
You're not the first person to buy a property in their 20's. As much as it may pain you, listen to your parents. They know what to expect and where the pitfalls may lie. There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained just by asking questions.
7. Get a roomie
Living with your friends was great in your early 20's, and there is no reason it shouldn't be in the latter either. You'll get companionship, someone else to share household chores with, and more importantly, some extra cash-flow in your pocket. Just remember to make sure everything is legally binding, or you could get screwed.
8. Shop online for bargains
Supermarkets and retail shops are designed to take your money. End of story. Don't waste time by shopping in store. Shop online, save cash. It's simple. Some sites offer discounts when you shop online, so remember to be on the lookout for a bargain.
9. Use birthdays and Christmas for useful gifts
You don't really need that PSP or the latest limited edition box-set release of Season 6 of The Simpsons from your siblings. You can use these occasions to save your cash to get items that will be useful around the home. Do you need a new frypan, a wok or new sheets? Put these on your list to Santa and you'll be guaranteed to save a few hundred dollars.
10. Get a pet
You may find that your social life has tailed off since you bought a house, and sometimes this can be quite a lonely time. A dog can make those nights spent at home more bearable. You can also ditch the expensive gym membership and hit the cardio with your new four-legged friend.
Refer to Tip Number 1. Owning a home is a big commitment, but if you tackle it with a mature approach you'll be on your way to successfully owning your own home.
Did you buy a house in your 20s? What were your tips for survival?