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‘Fun’ way couple saved $120k deposit

Sydney couple Anna and James Beaver recently bought their first home after ditching their car and moving in with mates. Picture: Supplied
Sydney couple Anna and James Beaver recently bought their first home after ditching their car and moving in with mates. Picture: Supplied

ANNA and James Beaver are only 26 - but the Sydney couple are already proud homeowners.

And they've managed to pull off that impressive feat by getting creative when it came to saving a deposit.

After tying the knot 18 months ago, the young couple knew they wanted to buy their own apartment and began saving as much as possible.

Welcome to News.com.au’s regular first homebuyer’s column, Foot in the Door.
Welcome to News.com.au’s regular first homebuyer’s column, Foot in the Door.

With a combined income after tax of $85,000, the Beavers knew they needed to strip back any extra expenses in order to save enough for a deposit on a place of their own.

So after Mrs Beaver's car "blew up" on the way to work around a year ago, they decided not to replace it immediately, instead relying on Uber Pool and car share company Car Next Door to get around.

But they were amazed by how cheap car sharing turned out to be - and ended up abandoning plans for car ownership altogether.

They spent just $1200 in one year with Car Next Door - less than they previously paid in rego for their own car - and also earned an extra $50 per week by renting out their unused garage in their former apartment.

It brought their total transportation bill down to a "fraction of the cost" they usually spent owning a household car.

The couple also swapped their rented Crows Nest apartment for a Glebe sharehouse with friends - a decision which slashed their rent by half.

And they went entire months without eating out, and started cooking more vegetarian meals at home to cut down their grocery bills.

Those strategies paid off, and in August this year they snapped up a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Sydney's Eastlakes for $615,500.

They pooled the money saved via those specific strategies with prior savings and some money from family, and had a $120,000 deposit in total.

Mrs Beaver, a former teacher turned university chaplain, said she and her graphic designer husband were thrilled with their new home.

"The apartment was at the cheaper end for Sydney so we feel very lucky," Mrs Beaver said.

She said while some people may see their saving strategies as "radical", it had actually been an enjoyable experience.

"At the start of the year we moved in with housemates in Glebe as another way of saving money but we love having people around so it was really fun," she said.

"Moving in with other people especially when you're married seems to be such a countercultural thing to do, but there's a lot to say for living together as a community and sharing costs as well as cutting costs by sharing cars with other people.

"It benefits other people, the environment and you save money as well."

Mrs Beaver said she realised buying a first home might not be as impossible as many people believed after reading popular personal finance book The Barefoot Investor.

"I always wanted to buy property but after reading The Barefoot Investor, it was the first time I was really hopeful that we could do it if we put our minds to it," she said.

"After that the second step was thinking of radical ways to reduce our cost of living, and the third step was talking to family and friends and getting good advice and help from them."

She said they had been approved for a bank loan of $740,000 but had decided to spend less in order to take advantage of the NSW Government's First Home Buyers Assistance scheme, which provides a stamp duty exemption on new and existing homes valued up to $650,000.

"It was super tempting to look at places up to $700,000 but we knew we didn't want to be bound by our mortgage," she said.

Have you recently bought your first home, or are you about to buy? Email alexis.carey@news.com.au and share your story.

Topics:  couple editors picks money saving sydney