“My journey in purchasing my very first home in New Zealand didn’t come easy. My biggest worry was coming from a third world country, the Philippines. Almost everything here is at least three times more expensive—food, bills, rent and especially raising two kids. So, when we migrated, my wife and I became committed to make everything work to create a better future for our children.”
"We worked out a five-year plan to achieve our goal. It wasn’t easy, but with some help and dedication, we moved into our first home earlier this year!"
Here’s how Jermaine achieved his home ownership dream.
Year 1: Planning
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Buying a house was on my 30’s checklist. My motivation was simple: instead of spending money on rent each week with no long-term benefits, owning a house channels my hard-earned money into an equity that consistently builds up with my repayments.
With KiwiSaver, I was able to rapidly save up for my deposit. My contributions, plus my employer’s and the annual government contribution all helped to build up my savings. As soon as I figured my KiwiSaver could be used as my deposit for my first home, I increased my contribution rate to the highest rate. I also talked to my financial adviser to ensure my funds were invested in the right places and to map out my first home journey.
Year 2: Saving
“Do not save what is left after spending; instead spend what is left after saving.” ― Warren Buffett
I became money-conscious the minute I realised being an adult mostly means having to fend for oneself! I made a decision to be careful with how I spent my money – and not waste it on things that I didn’t truly need. Of course, it’s easy to look back and think about the money that you wasted when you were younger. But, I decided to use it as a lesson to myself. So I made a commitment to save money wherever I could.
I started a habit of setting aside a regular amount for my savings and KiwiSaver accounts first, before starting to budget from what was leftover. This greatly increased my savings, and in no time, I found myself tracking well towards my target house deposit.
Year 3: Budgeting
“Budgeting has only one rule: Do not go over budget.” ― Leslie Tayne
As I was still 1-2 years away from my target goal, it became more crucial to stick to my budget and think about what other ways I could do to save more. I resolved to doing extra little things to take my budgeting skills to the next level. This included things like:
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
Social media can encourage us to “keep up with the Joneses” by playing on our FOMO – the fear of missing out. A friend recently went to Paris and posted pictures of the Parisian cityscape while another just purchased a sports car. It’s hard to keep focused on your goal when it feels like you’re missing out on life! But I soon realised that material possessions aren’t the true source of happiness. Once I learnt this, it made it much easier to focus on my own journey and find happiness in other things. Simple experiences like having a picnic at the park, reading my children stories and doing chores together as a family.
Year 4: Decluttering
“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don't.” ― Joshua Becker
Just a few more stretches and I’d be a homeowner! It was quite important to have this vision so I could zero in on the execution of our big plan.
It was important for me to have a map that showed the progress I’d made. Obtaining pre-approvals was a big advantage in not only establishing my credibility as a buyer but also in fast-tracking the final application processes. This applies to KiwiSaver, first home grant and the home loan.
Getting everything together and crunching the numbers to make sure everything is in the right places were necessary steps:
☑ Budget (Deposit, Building Report, LIM, moving, insurance, etc.)
☑ Pre-approvals (KiwiSaver, HomeStart Grant, Home Loan)
☑ Practical property checklist before making an offer (house type, condition, location, etc.)
☑ Good lawyer/solicitor
Once I was confident with how everything was panning out, it was time to declutter. We had too much stuff that we really didn’t need, and the best idea we came up with to get rid of them fast was to set up a garage sale which quickly turned into profit. The ones that didn’t sell were then listed on TradeMe and Facebook. Surprisingly, we got rid of 90% of our unwanted stuff.
Our four-and-a-half-year journey towards first home ownership (although not entirely smooth sailing!) was worth all the sacrifices we’ve made. Together as a family, we succeeded in finding joy in the experience itself.
Now, we are the proud owners of a perfect three-bedroom house in Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt!