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November 18, 2018

Mortgages & Money Saving Tips With GiffGaffGamePlan

I was recently invited to attend Giffgaff Game Plan's event held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel to take part in their Life Goals workshop, which I attended with Becky and reunited with Yasmina. The workshop consisted of three sessions by money saving experts covering the topics of Bad Credit, Mortgages and Everyday Saving.

Before the event we were given the choice out of three options of what sessions we would like to attend whilst we were there, The event came at the perfect time as my boyfriend and I are currently saving up for a deposit on a house together so I couldn't wait to attend and learn more about Mortgages so I chose that one and the Everyday Saving one, the latter especially I need to be better at so both were ideal for me.

Photo credit: Giffgaff Gameplan

The event was to introduce their brand new Giffgaff Gameplan app that is due to go live in January to help people be smarter with their money, so keep your eyes peeled for that. They also have more information on their website as well as their own free credit score checker here.

The Mortgage workshop was held by Rachel and Barry from the Mortgage Advice Bureau. Here are some of the pieces of advice I learned from the workshop:

1. Mortgages are usually up to 25 years and can go up and down. You can also work it around your current circumstances.

2. Talk to a mortgage adviser about a mortgage before you start looking.

3. Mortgage advisers can perform an affordability test for you to give you an idea of how much you can spend.

4. You need to question yourself "Can you have a life whilst living in a house? Can you afford to go on holiday? Can you do the things you enjoy doing whilst also owning a house?".
An important one which I firmly believe in too. As someone saving for a house, I think it is extremely important to me that I still have the freedom to do the things I enjoy, important to make sure that a house will be adding to my life, not something that will force me to sacrifice things that make me happy in order to live in it. Not be the person who says "sorry guys I can't do anything because I've got to use whatever money I have to put towards the house" and end up miserable because of it.

5. Take your outgoings into account when applying for a mortgage. Especially for those with children.

6. - credit score checker.

7. Make sure you have taken care of any personal loans.

8. Keep on top of all regular payments.

9. Make sure you are on the electoral roll.

10. Showing that you can make regular savings no matter how big or small can look good to lenders. It shows you can put money aside which shows you can put money aside in order to pay off the loan.

11. Avoid pay day loans. At all costs, as mortgage lenders don't like it and it can make you appear desperate for money to lenders. Which in turn won't make them want to loan money to you if they think you look like you will struggle to pay it back.

12. Don't keep unused credit cards.

13. Don't take the first no as a rejection, always try another lender.

14. Reduce credit card limit if they are not getting much use.

15. Don't max out credit cards or overdrafts.

16. Using an online affordability calculator is quick and easy to use however it is advisable to speak to a mortgage adviser. You will also get a mortgage certificate.

17. You will need your ID, deposit, three months worth of payslips, bank statements from the past 3-6 months, P60 form, proof of benefits received or utility bills.

18. Visiting a few too many high street banks for credit checks looks bad on a credit report and can prevent a mortgage.

19. Advisers will search for the best deal.

20. A higher level deposit for first time is ideal. Some mortgage lenders look for 15%.

21. Mortgage brokers recommend deals better suited to you and can save you more money.

22. You can use mortgage advisers to help with house hunting.

23. Make a list of requirements for what home you are wanting.
Eg. A kitchen, a toilet. off road parking, a garden, near shops, work journey, close to family, schools. Is it a forever home or a home for now? etc.

24. When looking at houses list what you liked and disliked.

25. Before making an offer on a house:

*When did it last sell?
*How much did they pay?
*Why are they selling?
*How long have they lived there?
& look at overall value of the street

26. Talk to an adviser as they can be more sales orientated for you as they have no emotional attachment to the property.

27. There are two different interest rates: fixed interest rate and variable interest rate. Cater it to you. 2 years is usually ok or up to 5 years.

28. Mortgages can be reviewed again. Especially if say for example you started to be paid more money at work or even say you lost your job. It can be changed to fit your circumstances.

29. There are other fees to think about when saving for a house:
*Advisor fees
*Product fees - can be added onto loan or paid upfront
*Lender fees
*Solicitor fees
*Search fees
*Removal fees
*Stamp Duty - first time buyers may not need this

30. There are three surveys that can be taken when looking for a house:
*mortgage valuation
*home buyers
*full structural

31. And finally, find a lender before a solicitor.
Photo credit: Giffgaff Gameplan

After the Mortgages workshop, I then headed over to the Everyday Savings workshop held by financial coach, money blogger and PE teacher, Eileen Adamson. Here are the pieces of advice I learned from this workshop.

1. Encourage more conversations about money. Speak to family and friends. Ask more questions.

2. Three main causes of what gets in the way of saving money: life, knowledge and apathy.

3. Pay off your credit card in full if you can.

4. Overpaying on a loan can lower the years it's paid off.

5. If you are not allowed to do this, you can still save that extra money and use it as a lump sum after your mortgage review.

Eileen then went on to ask "What's your big why?' when saving money, the three main things were:


6. Save money in order to do whatever it is.

7. Dreams are bigger than the why.

8. Think of what you want.

9. Ask questions as you learn advice and tips from people.

10. Topcashback and Quidco were highly recommended sites to use to help with saving money and it is not a scam as some may assume.

11. Hourless and Fiver are websites that are good for those who have a skill that can be used.

12. Those with a Barclays account can use Plum (used through Facebook Messenger) and Chip (use the app) to help with saving money. They scan your accounts and save money based on your spending.

13. Spendalytics was a recommended spending app that checks your spending for you.

14. When it comes to haggling, you can try over the phone if you are confident enough but for those who have never tried before (like myself) or not as confident or worried they may forget something, haggling through online chat can work and is good for giving you extra thinking time and also email too. You can also ask to be put through to the customer retentions team once you feel more confident.

Eileen's workshop was very interactive. We were given a sort of bingo style card and we had to go around and talk to people asking certain things that were on the list and cross them off if the person did, the idea was to get us to talk more comfortably about money.

Photo credit: Giffgaff Gameplan

The second was a game of Jenga which had money questions on it, whoever knocked it over had to ask the question. Again encouraged more conversation about money.
We also had to match up how much money we could save on certain things such as broadband, car insurance, etc which was very eye opening when seeing the results (I was completely wrong btw haha!).
We then had to do menu planning where we planned out meals for the week and then we shared on the board our best shopping tips and best money saving websites.
Photo credit: Giffgaff Gameplan
Photo credit: Giffgaff Gameplan

Overall I found the whole event and both workshops extremely insightful and incredibly engaging throughout. I'm very grateful to have been invited along and come away with a better understanding of mortgages and how and where to save my money better and I know when the time comes for my boyfriend and I to apply for a mortgage, we will be reaching for the brand new app and I will have these tips to refer back to, in the meantime I'll be using what I learned in the Everyday Savings workshop to continue to save until then. I also hope you found these tips as useful as I did.

Thanks for reading! <3
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  1. This is SUCH A FAB post babe!! As someone who is starting to think about saving up for a mortgage, it can seem so scary! But this post has really broken it down and is so useful

    Ellie x

    1. Aw thank you so much for reading this Ellie, I'm glad it was helpful to you :D xx

  2. Thanks for sharing these tips! & very nice blog!

    1. Thank you for reading and for the kind words :)

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