I was what some may call a ‘late bloomer’ when it came to getting married. I had chosen to focus on my career in my 20’s, putting myself through university as I grew up in a household where my mother believed that education was ‘wasted on a woman’.
This only made me more determined to build a secure financial foundation for myself which led me to establish a system which helped me to purchase my first home when I was 21.
By the time I turned 30, I had managed to buy 4 more houses. I did so independently and without any assistance from a partner.
This is the system I established to help me stay on track.
1. Set a goal
I work best when I have something to work towards because there’s an ‘endgame’ in mind. I set a goal when I was 18 to buy my first place by the time I was 25. I wrote it on a piece of A4 paper and put it on the back of the toilet door. Not the sexiest of places but it ensured I saw it a few times a day.
2. Break the goal down into steps
Buying my first house felt overwhelming at the time. I was 18, had just left grade 12, was putting myself through university by working two jobs and I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. A hack to overcome the overwhelm was to break the bigger goal down into smaller steps that had meaning for me.
My steps were:
My suburb of choice: I had grown up in East Melbourne near the MCG and had always dreamed of buying a place in Armadale. I loved the tree lined streets, the character of the houses and the gorgeous boutiques on High Street. While this seemed a stretch, it attached emotion to my goal which helped me to stay focused.
Suburb research: I chose to do a lot of ‘in-person research’ in the area which meant driving up and down the streets, attending random auctions and pouring over the real estate section of the newspaper every weekend. While many of my friends would spend time at Chadstone or in the city shopping, I was spending my spare time doing research and envisaging my life in Armadale before it came to be.
The deposit: As a result of all my research, I had a really good idea of how much a house in Armadale was going to cost and so I knew I needed a minimum of 10% deposit which gave me a figure to aim for. This number was also then written on the piece of A4 paper on the back of the toilet door and circled a number of times in red.
I created a budget once I knew where I wanted to live, in what type of house and knew how much it was going to cost. I then calculated my expenses such as rent, utilities, food, university fees and textbooks, petrol, public transport, gym, medical etc. I assessed what I absolutely couldn’t live without and what I could. I cancelled my gym membership, started shopping at markets, stopped getting my hair done as often and increased the number of shifts I was working around my university classes.
4. Set up a banking system
Pivotal to my success was the banking system I established after I had set my budget. I set up multiple bank accounts for different reasons. I had a savings account, a spendings account, a rent and bills account and then an account which my pay would go into which gave me four in total. I was paid on the same day each week so I set up automatic transfers from my main account to the other three on payday, based on my budget allocations. This meant I could ‘set and forget’ and I’d only spend the money I had in my ‘spendings’ account while the rest was allocated for rent, bills, university, petrol and most importantly, my deposit.
Following this system I was able to buy my first house in Armadale when I was 21. I had five by the time I was 30 purely because I kept to the system and didn’t deviate. Yes, I had to make sacrifices and miss out on holidays, nights out, new clothes and makeup, but for me, the goal of securing my financial independence, was worth it.
About Your Guest Blogger: As one of the real estate industry’s most prominent female leaders, it’s easy to see why Anna Thomas, the current Chief Operating Officer of Victoria’s most well-known real estate franchise Stockdale & Leggo, is a standout. Under her leadership the group has doubled net profits, revolutionized its technology platforms and rolled out a financial services firm and complimentary relocation service, essentially innovating the experience clients have with the Stockdale & Leggo brand.