I’m a first-time buyer – my Christmas side hustle added £3,600 to my deposit


CHRISTMAS is a busy time of year, but Yvette Barnes found time to make £3,600 extra cash to put towards her first home.

Yvette, 32, worked three shifts a week at a local restaurant alongside her full-time job to boost her savings.

Yvette Barnes moved into her home near Doncaster in August

She lives in the same village as her mum and grandma

Her house cost £156,000

She was able to pocket between £400 and £500 a month in extra cash, helping her to get on the property ladder quicker.

Yvette’s day job is with the charity Magic Breakfast, which provides breakfasts to children at risk of hunger.

And while working back-to-back shifts over Christmas was tough, she was able to move out and get her own place.

Yvette got the keys to her two-bedroom semi-detached house near Doncaster in August this year.

Setting herself a goal to move out as soon possible, Yvette also made the most of her Help To Buy Isa.

She got £750 free cash from the government after opening the account just before the scheme closed.

The Help To Buy ISA is a savings account that allowed first-time buyers to save for a mortgage deposit and then claim a government bonus when they buy their first home.

For every £200 you save, the government pays a £50 bonus towards the purchase price of a property.

This particular government scheme closed in November 2019, although if you already have an account, you can continue paying into it until November 2029 and claim the bonus until 2030.

We sat down with Yvette to discuss how she went from being a saver to a homeowner for HOAR’s My First Home series.

Tell me about your home

It’s a two-bedroom semi-detached house just outside of Doncaster.

The property is still relatively new – it was just three years old when I moved in and I am its second owner.

My lounge and dining area is open plan.

I have a driveway and a front and back garden – which is perfect for my dogs Frankie and Darcy.

I have a large bathroom upstairs and a spare room, which I use as an office.

How did you decide on location?

I knew I didn’t want to move far away from my family, so I looked for a property in the same village.

I now live just a stone’s throw away from my mum and grandma.

The village has great transport links which is really important because I travel a lot for work.

It’s also near a canal so there are lots of lovely walks nearby that I get to enjoy with my dogs.

One of my friends actually spotted the property listed for sale online while I was on holiday.

She called me and sent me pictures, and I was able to arrange a viewing – it all worked out perfectly.

How much was it?

My cost was £156,000 and I put down a 5% deposit of £8,000.

I took out a mortgage of £148,000 for 38 years with a fixed rate of 3.86% for two years.

My repayments are £640 a month.

I also opened a Help To Buy Isa, and added the maximum amount of £200 a month.

By the time I was ready to buy, I had £3,500 in this account.

The bonus from the Help To Buy Isa was around £750.

How did you save for it?

I was living with my mum before I decided to move out, so this saved me a lot of money.

This really suited my lifestyle because it meant I could use most of my money towards travelling, which is my passion.

In around 2018, I had saved around £5,000 towards a house deposit, but I decided to spend the money on a trip to see killer whales in Vancouver and Alaska instead.

It was the most incredible experience and I don’t regret it at all and I decided to save up again a few years later.

I started to save really hard from around October 2021.

I started off with around £1,000 in savings and decided it was time to get my own place.

So to help me reach my goal, I took out a second job at a restaurant to earn extra cash to put towards my deposit.

I would finish my day job at around 5pm, and then head to the restaurant for a shift waiting tables.

It was really flexible because I was on a zero-hour contract, so I could pick up as many hours as I wanted.

I usually did around 18 hours a week mostly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

I did waitressing at university so I knew I could do it.

Although it was hard work, I found it really enjoyable.

I worked over the busy Christmas period and took home between £400 and £500, plus tips, from this job.

Taking this money allowed me to put around £800 of my wages from my full-time job into savings.

I would then live off of the money I was earning from waitressing.

Over the summer, I also cancelled a lot of my subscriptions to save cash.

This included a £5.99 Netflix subscription and a £7.99 Disney+ subscription.

I went without them for around six months, saving me around £84.

How did you afford to furnish it?

I knew that I needed to save beyond my deposit to afford the furniture that I wanted.

I have been buying everything in stages, and I still have some stuff to get as I only recently moved in.

Facebook Marketplace was really useful for finding some good quality, second hand furniture.

I would also visit second hand shops in and around Doncaster.

I found a furniture range I liked from Next and made a wish list of all the items I wanted.

I would then look for people selling those exact items on Facebook and in second hand stores.

In the end, I managed to find a set of a TV stand, sideboard, chest of drawers, bedside tables, a dressing table with a mirror and a set of drawers.

In total, everything would have cost around £1,000 to buy from Next, but I got it all for around £250.

Everything is still pretty good quality to say it’s all second hand.

What advice would you give to other first-time buyers?

I would say definitely go for it, but make sure you’re ready.

It wasn’t the simplest route for me, but it was completely worth it in the end.

There was a really lovely moment when all the people who’d helped me move left, and I was on my own at the house for the first time.

I just kinda sat there and thought- I did this! It’s definitely a moment that makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Another family used the snowball method to clear £26,000 worth of debt and buy their first home.

One savvy saver managed to put half of his wages away while still renting to buy his first home.