First aid

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Housing minister Grant Shapps has urged key industry players to work closely to tackle the first-time buyer crisis.

Persimmon Homes North Midlands has been quick to respond with the launch of its latest initiative.

To help aspiring first-time buyers on to the property ladder, Persimmon Homes has linked up with Jasmine Birtles, pictured right, a financial expert and founder of moneymagpie.com, who has put together advice for anyone who is, or would like to start, saving for a mortgage deposit.

Mariana Knight, sales and marketing director for Persimmon Homes North Midlands, said: “Mortgage rates may be historically low for buyers with a deposit and a good credit rating but for aspiring home owners who feel they are struggling to pay their way each month, getting on to the first rung may seem impossible.

“However, there are ways house hunters can squirrel away enough money to get their own home sooner rather than later. Follow this practical, money-saving advice and soon you could be living in your very own home.”

Set your goal – one of the best ways of getting yourself to save regularly is to set a financial goal then work back from there. So, for example, if you want to save £5,000 over two years that means that you have to put away about £208 a month.

Do a budget – it sounds obvious but most people don’t work out how much money they have to spend on bills so that they can know how much extra money they have to play with each month.

Pay yourself first – once you know how much you could afford to save each month, set up a standing order to go out from your bank account on the next day to a special savings account you’ve set up for your deposit. You will be surprised how quickly you get used to living on less money each month.

Make some extra cash – use your time, your skills, your hobbies and your space to make money. If you’re good at a particular subject, language or musical instrument then have a go at tutoring. If you have time free during the week get into being a film extra.

Save on bills – cut your monthly spend by switching all your essential bills where you can. You could save £1,000 a year.

Go down a brand – food prices are going up but you can cut your weekly shopping bill by going down a brand. Beat the supermarkets at their own game. Look at the lower and upper shelves when you’re shopping because that’s where the cheaper brands are placed. Shop at street markets where you can because their prices are generally 20-30 per cent cheaper than the shops.

Switch to free entertainment – get rid of expensive satellite packages and switch to Freeview which offers a lot of entertainment for nothing. Get free dinners, hotel stays and drinks in bars by becoming a mystery shopper (visit performanceinpeople.co.uk or retailactive.com) and get free tickets to local concerts, plays and shows through myboxoffice.net.

Get into swapping – don’t buy new stuff, swap with friends. If you get rid of your satellite TV package you can still watch films by swapping DVDs. Have a swapshop with friends and neighbours one evening and get new clothes and accessories that others don’t want. You can also get nearly-free holidays by swapping homes with people abroad. Try websites like homeexchange.com and you will find people all over the world to swap with.

Find free money – there is at least £15bn in unclaimed financial assets lying around in Britain, according to UAR (Unclaimed Assets Register). You never know, some of that could be yours.