56-year-old Christine Dixon completely finished paying off her mortgage when she was 52 although she was initially supposed to be paying it until she was 60. And she’s done this despite being a single parent and living off just one wage.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Christine describes how she bought her ex council house when she was still married to her former husband for just £23,000.
Back then it was possible to buy a rundown house that needed work at a bargain price. Even now though, houses in the former mill town are around five times less than the national average.
Christine is doubtful that she would have been able to buy a property in a more expensive part of the country and suggests those who are struggling to get onto the property ladder consider buying outside of the pricier south of England, and renting it out to cover their mortgage costs.
“It is quite cheap to buy up here,” admits Christine. “I have a nephew who is based in Colchester who bought a house up here and he rents it out to cover the mortgage.
To pay her debt off early, Christine certainly had to make a few compromises, upping her hours as a shop assistant from part-time to full-time and not having anything left over for luxuries.
“When I split up with my ex husband my main priority was to keep a roof over my son’s head,” she explains.
“That meant going from part-time to full time as a shop assistant and being really careful with every penny.
“We didn’t really have many luxuries but I did save £10 a week to take my son on holiday once a year. It was definitely worth making a few sacrifices to become mortgage free. It still feels brilliant!”
When it comes to budgeting, Christine recalls learning a lot from her mum.
“She used to hold cash in separate little plastic bags,” she remembers. “She’d say, ‘Here’s the cash for the leccy bill, there’s so much for food’.”(sic)
She adds: “If there was nothing left over after paying for food, mortgage and bills then we didn’t go out. Things were different back then.”
Now that she’s mortgage-free Christine has some tips for others on a tight budget.
- Don’t overspend – banks will offer you a mortgage of three or four times your income but I’d say start off small. Buy what you can afford, do it up, sell it, move on.
- If you can afford to pay that little bit extra off your mortgage payments, do so, as you could knock years off.
- Definitely make sure you’ve got an emergency fund – houses are expensive to maintain!
- Don’t run away from your debt – talk to someone like Citizen’s Advice if you need help.
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