James talked to Phil, Aspire’s Money Matters Specialist, because he was having a hard time budgeting and saving money for a deposit on a flat with his partner. 

At the first meeting James said, “I am frustrated as we are struggling to save money for a deposit for a flat that my partner and I could own together, instead of both living at home, but the money just seems to go in one hand and out the other. Also, if I do save over a certain amount, my means-tested benefits would be reduced, even though the savings will be used specifically for the flat deposit.  I feel trapped and unable to move forward.”

The first step agreed was for James and his partner to use the Aspire Budget Planner to record what money was coming in and then drilling down in detail to where money was going out, even though James originally said that there was no ‘spare’ money each month.

Phil gave James the example of how spending can become a habit and that spending just £2 a day on take away coffee can add up to £730 per year.  James and his partner took this on board, completed the Budget Planner over the next four weeks and were surprised to see how some of their spending habits had become the norm.

“The budget planner was a real eye opener and we decided to change the way we spent and budgeted from then on."  

"The next key thing was setting a realistic savings goal; we used to pay all our commitments, spend some and then save whatever was left.  Now we pay everything due, save a set amount and then spend what’s left. The money is always there if we have an emergency but it’s just out of reach and, to be honest, we’ve have got used to spending what we have left over each month.

Phil also gave James information on the Help to Buy ISA (no longer available for new customers) where the government will top up first time buyer’s savings by 25%.  This could amount to an additional tax-free amount of up to £3,000 each towards buying their flat.

Through good money management, I can now see it is economically viable to work full time.  We have a clear savings plan to build our deposit and the potential to take advantage of our Help to Buy ISAs. This gives us independence and takes away the fear of coming off means tested benefits.”

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