My 'easy' side hustle helped me save a third of the deposit for our £310k first home – it took just a few hours a week | The Sun

MOST of us just want to veg on the sofa after work, but Jenna Sangwin used her evenings to earn an extra £5,400 towards her home deposit.

The 30-year-old learning and development manager would spend an extra eight to ten hours a week – outside of her day job – to boost her savings.

Jenna's side-hustle, marking exams, helped her to pocket around £300 a month in extra cash over a 18-month period – a total of around £5,400.

This helped her and her partner John Skidmore, who is 29 and works in the military, to get on the property ladder quicker.

The couple picked up the keys to their £310,000 three-bedroom mid-terrace house in Wiltshire in October.

Jenna had been saving for over ten years to afford her first home, but ramped up her saving in the last two years.

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She set herself a strict budget and made the most of her Lifetime Isa.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 40 can open a Lifetime Isa to save for buying a first home.

Savers are able to withdraw money from their ISA if they are buying a home, over 60, or terminally ill with less than 12 months to live.

But you’ll pay a 25% charge if you withdraw money or transfer the Lifetime Isa to another type of Isa before the age of 60.

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Jenna put the maximum of £4,000 a year into the account, with the government paying an additional 25%.

Over five years, Jenna bagged a £4,000 bonus from the government to put towards the deposit, which was £15,000 in total.

The couple are planning to continue their money saving ways by overpaying on their mortgage.

When paying off your mortgage you'll usually pay set monthly repayments, which are calculated depending on how much you've borrowed, the interest rate and the period you agree to pay it back over.

Paying more than the set amount can help you to clear your debt quicker than planned and reduce the interest on your loan.

But it wasn't all plain sailing for the pair as a credit score mistake almost scuppered their mortgage.

We sat down with Jenna to discuss how she went from being a saver to a homeowner for The Sun's My First Home series.

Tell me about your home

It's a three-bedroom mid-terrace house in Wiltshire.

The main selling point for us was the fact that the house overlooks open fields so we have a really lovely view.

It also has a lot of character and period features like exposed beams that we just loved.

The house is spread across three floors and all of the rooms are separate and not open-plan.

The main garden is at the front and we have an outbuilding which is my office.

How did you decide on the location?

We wanted to stay in Wiltshire as we've lived here for a few years and have a great group of friends.

Initially, we had looked elsewhere in more urban areas of the county, but we were just priced out completely.

We knew we wanted three bedrooms, but to get this in a more urban location was simply unaffordable.

How much was it?

Our house was £310,000 and we put down a 5% deposit of £15,000.

We took out a mortgage with Nationwide of £295,000 over 35-years with a fixed-rate of 5.3% over two-years.

We chose a two-year fix because we're hoping to overpay on our mortgage to reduce our loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.

We are hoping this will give us access to cheaper deals when it comes to remortgaging.

Our monthly repayments are £1,500.

How did you save for your first home?

I opened a Lifetime Isa

It took us around ten years in total to save up for the deposit, but we really ramped up our saving efforts in the last couple of years.

I opened a Lifetime 2017 with a few thousand pound that was left to me when my grandma passed away.

I got a £4,000 bonus from the government for saving £4,000 each tax year – around £20,000 in total.

The prospect of getting the free cash was a huge incentive to keep saving and was key to helping us reach our saving target.

Changed our spending habits

To ensure we were able to put away this cash every year, John and I completely changed our spending habits.

The first thing I did was make a spreadsheet and put in all of our ingoings and outgoings.

We worked out that our monthly outgoings were around £1,400 a month for things like rent and our grocery shopping.

At the start of every month, this money would be divided up into different Monzo pots to make sure that it wasn't spent.

For example, I would have a pot named "car finance" and I would put the exact amount to cover the bill into it.

The rest of the money, which was between £300 and £500, would then be transferred into my Lifetime Isa.

The amount would vary depending on if we had extra outgoings, like a car service, that month.

Anything left at the end of the month would also be sent straight to savings too.

I took on a second job

Another way I earned some extra cash to put towards our deposit was by taking on a second job.

I would spend eight to ten hours a week outside of my usual job marking exams and assignments for professional qualifications.

I started doing this about 18-months ago.

It did take up a fair amount of my spare time, but it would bring in around £300 extra a month.

Itwas a really helpful and easy way to add to our savings adding around £5,400 in total.

How did you afford to furnish it?

John and I are buying everything in stages to spread out the cost of furnishing our home.

We brought with us a bed and an armchair from our rented property, but we want to buy new items for the rest of the house.

We factored in the cost of furniture into our savings, and saved a few thousand pounds more than our deposit to cover it.

Did you have any issues with buying the house?

We had our first mortgage application with Accord declined because of a problem with my credit score.

When our mortgage broker informed us of this, I was shocked because I was expecting my score to be pretty much perfect.

I did some digging into the issues, using, which collects data from four Credit Reference Agencies, not just one.

This flagged there was an issue with credit reference agency Equifax.

It turns out, they had somehow combined my credit history with that of my twin sister and this had brought my score down.

I managed to get this issue sorted out pretty quickly, but we have ended up on a higher mortgage rate as a result after being forced to get a new offer.

We will now pay around £3,500 more over our two-year mortgage term than if we had been accepted on our first mortgage.

Do you have any advice for other first-time buyers?

Check everything is accurate on your credit report before you begin the mortgage process, because we've paid the price as a result.

Also, don't be afraid to ask questions to your mortgage broker or solicitor.

It's really important to feel like you are in control of the process because it's such an important process.

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Meanwhile, one couple bought their £453,000 dream first-home with a "lifeline" small deposit scheme.

Plus, another first-time buyer got a £45,000 discount on their first home while working part-time and claiming Universal Credit.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.

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