GETTING on the property ladder has always been a challenge – even more so now that the cost of living has risen so much.

But one woman has revealed how her savvy saving methods enabled her to put away £20,000 for a house deposit.

Amy Ward, 24, works as a medical information researcher, but started several side hustles during the Covid-19 pandemic when she had more time on her hands.

“I’ve been able to save quite a lot over the last few years, a combination of the lockdown, budgeting methods, side hustles and mindset have helped me get there," she said.

"One of my main side hustles is completing online survey sites. It’s a really convenient way to make extra money, as all you need is a phone and internet connection.

"I like completing surveys to make money as I can do this when suits me best, I commonly complete surveys when travelling via public transport or when I’m watching TV in the evenings."

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Through side hustles such as the survey taking, she has earned £7,000 – adding to her existing savings of £20,000, which she has saved since starting her Instagram page Amysbudgeting, and through budgeting.

"One of my other side hustles is cat sitting," she added.

“I get paid to look after cats when their owners are away.

“This usually involves topping up food and water bowls, having a cuddle and playing with the cats.

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“I have some recurring customers which is great as it means I’ve created some great relationships with the cats I visit."

And the third way Amy makes money is to "create and sell digital products".

"I have made several products such as savings trackers and even an eBook discussing survey sites as a side hustle," she added.

She's now hoping to increase her side hustle salary from £7,000 to £10,000.


  • £3,000 from referrals and sign up offers
  • £1,500 from survey sites
  • £800 from cat sitting
  • £700 from daily spins/cash saving apps
  • £600 from cash back sites
  • £400 from digital products

Amy also relies on budgeting to keep her money on track.

She uses "zero based budgeting", as she explained: "This is when your income – your expenses – your spending: is zero.

“This budgeting method ensures that all of your money is accounted for, it encourages you to save money each pay day and essentially ‘pay yourself first’ which I really like.

“This method has allowed me to save more money each month and I think this method is responsible for a large amount of my savings over the last few years – potentially around an extra £10,000 more than I used to.

She also uses "sinking funds", which involves putting money into small pots that you keep separate from your main bank account.

Who is eligible for the First Home Scheme?

ONLY first-time buyers can purchase a home under the First Home scheme and it's not available in Wales or Scotland.

As the scheme is aimed at helping buyers on lower incomes get on the property ladder, you won’t be eligible if your combined household income is over £80,000, or £90,000 if you live in London.

Those who can afford to buy one of the homes without a mortgage will not qualify for the help.

Buyers must use a mortgage for at least 50% of the price of the discounted home.

However, further conditions can be set by local councils so the eligibility criteria may vary depending on where you're looking to buy.

For example, some authorities may give key workers first dibs.

But after the first three months of the homes going on sale, extra conditions set by the local authority will be removed for any First Homes which haven’t been sold or reserved.

“For example, instead of having a super expensive December with Christmas taking place you can create a Christmas sinking fund and save all year round," Amy explained.

“I have been doing this since January and save £50 per month into my Christmas sinking fund, by December I will have around £550 to spend on all things Christmas.

“Using sinking funds alone I have saved around £5,000 over the last few years.”

Through these methods, alongside 26-year-old partner Greg, the couple were able to buy their first house together recently.

“By using various methods such as budgeting, savings challenges and having lifetime ISAs my partner and I were able to save for our house deposit and all the additional fees required when buying a house," she said.

“Using a lifetime ISA was a great help during our house buying process and any first-time buyers should 100% consider doing the same, the government matches 25% of the money you save.

“You can save up to £4,000 per tax year, meaning you can get up to £1,000 for ‘free’ from the government."

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They purchased a £217,000 two-bedroom Victorian mid-terrace house, and put down 10% as a deposit.

The pair are planning to use the rest of their savings to make improvements to the home, which they aim to largely do themselves.

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