BIG tech firms such as Google and Facebook are making huge profits letting crooks advertise bogus financial products that can lead victims to lose their life savings.
They carelessly fail to check if ads are genuine before publishing them – while watchdogs just stick their heads in the sand over the growing scandal.
Today we look at the fraudulent promises that big search engines and social media sites are paid to display – and what MUST be done to stop them.
We also tell you how to avoid being caught out by the con tricks.
Fake savings and investment ads
SAVERS who trust Google to help them find the best interest rates could end up transferring their money to crooks.
Bogus broker sites boasting of Isas and bonds that return up to 29 per cent appear as ads at the top of Google search results, research by Sun Money shows.
Dozens have already been reported and taken down this year but they are quickly replaced with new ones, campaigners warn.
Examples include sites such as fixedincome.org.uk, directfixedincome.com and fixedreturnbonds.co.uk which appeared when savings bonds were searched for.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued warnings about these sites and they are no longer live.
Campaigner Mark Taber, who has reported 100 bogus ads to Google this year, explains that many of the sites have the same template, which is copied from one web address to another.
He says: “It’s like the whack-a-mole game. My advice is never to use Google to search for investments or savings.”
Earnings from scams did, though, help drive up Google’s search revenue to £76billion last year.
Meanwhile, investment scams cost Brits £339million last year, with the FCA forced to spend £600,000 of taxpayers’ money on promoting its own warnings in the search results.
But the FCA has limited powers over Google because the search engine is based outside the UK, in the US.
Insurance scam ads
THOUSANDS of motorists are driving uninsured due to buying sham cover advertised on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Insurance scammers, known as ghost brokers, appear on social media claiming to offer fully comp policies from big brands such as Admiral, Hastings Direct, Aviva and Churchill.
Insurer Direct Line this week warned that ghost brokers either sell non-existent policies, use false information to secure a policy in someone’s name, or buy a legitimate policy, then cancel it while pocketing the refund.
In one case seen by the firm, a scammer offered the first five people to contact them a car insurance policy for just £200 – which is impossible to guarantee.
Many promise “£50 to refer a friend” to attract victims. Driving without valid insurance can bring a £300 fine and six penalty points.
Aviva detected 3,100 car insurance applications linked to fake policies last year and is investigating a further 4,000.
Crypto con ads
SHAM Bitcoin schemes are falsely claiming to have the backing of well-known people such as money guru Martin Lewis and TV chef Gordon Ramsay.
Microsoft was recently profiting from an ad wrongly claiming Ramsay had made millions from a company called Profit Bitcoin.
It removed it from the tech giant’s MSN news site following a complaint.
But The Sun had told how this same fake claim about Ramsay had tricked pensioner Mike Hildebrand and wife Dorothy, both 79, from Kent, out of around £40,000 of their savings.
Microsoft said it would remove fraudulent ads when it became aware of them.
Facebook was last year sued by savers’ guru Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert (MSE), for displaying scam ads claiming he had endorsed various crypto schemes, and the case was later settled out of court.
But MSE confirmed dodgy ads featuring Martin are still appearing on Facebook, and also now on the social media firm’s sister site Instagram.
How to stay safe online
Steer clear of little-known savings and investments brokers that appear in Google Ads.
Use Moneyfacts or Money.co.uk to look for savings accounts. Or use a trusted price comparison site such as uSwitch for insurance.
Check with the Financial Conduct Authority to see if a firm is authorised or registered with it before using them.
Be wary of any ads promising sky-high returns. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t buy car insurance advertised by brokers on social media.
Always contact your insurer directly after an accident. Never go through a claims management firm.
most read in money
Help to Buy error has left thousands of homeowners in arrears
I bought £400k two-bed house by turning off the heating and ditching Netflix
The 14 hidden 'Easter eggs' in the new £20 note
WORK IT OUT
Your rights if you're off sick from work as coronavirus fears spread the UK
CASH IS KING
Rare 20p error coin sells for £59 on eBay – how to spot if you've got one
I can’t save money on £1,200 a month maternity pay – how can I buy a house?
Google, Facebook and other social media platforms to vet financial advertisers to ensure they are authorised by the regulator.
Government to change the law to force them to do this.
Sites to develop better detection systems to stop individuals from posting fraudulent adverts.
Big platforms to donate revenue made from scam firms to victims of scams.
THE Royal Mint has released three new 50p coins featuring dinosaurs for the first time ever, and they could be worth several hundred pounds.
The coins feature three different dinosaurs, including the Megalosaurus, the Iguanodon and the Hylaeosaurus.
They’ve been designed by palaeontologists at the Natural History Museum to create an accurate reconstruction of the dinosaurs and the environment they lived in for more than 160million years.
The coins are only being released a collectors items, so it’s unlikely that they’ll end up in your spare change.
The Megalosaurus coin can be snapped up on the Royal Mint website from today, while the other two coins are launching in March and April respectively.
The prices start at £10 for the brilliant uncirculated coin, which will be available in an unlimited quantity.
What are the different types of coin?
THESE are the coins you can see from the Royal Mint:
Circulated – these are the coins you’ll see in your shop change.
Brilliant uncirculated – these coins are a higher standard than circulating and bullion coins. The machines used to strike these coins are polished and finished by hand.
Proof – these are the highest quality coins produced by the Royal Mint. Machines used to make these are all hand-finished.
Bullion – these coins are made from gold and silver and are usually used as an investment that aims to retain a certain value over time.
The Royal Mint is also releasing 50,000 coloured versions of the coin at £20 each, which will feature augmented reality technology for the first time ever.
Coin owners who download the free Royal Mint Activate app can scan the coin and see facts and diagrams about the creature.
Or if you don’t mind spending even more you can get a silver proof coin for £60, a silver proof coloured version for £65 and a gold coin for a whopping £945.
Colin Bellamy of Coin Hunter couldn’t say how much the dinosaur coins could be worth, but reckons the coloured brilliant uncirculated coin will be worth the most.
He told The Sun: “The coin will be the first from The Royal Mint to be made available as Brilliant Uncirculated colour.
“This base metal colour coin is much more affordable at £20 and the 50,000 limit could well sell out.
“This is the coin that could well increase in value, especially as it is the first coin in a set of three.”
Is your small change worth a fortune?
IF you think that you might have a rare coin then you might be able to make a real mint.
The most valuable coins are usually those with a low mintage or an error.
These are often deemed the most valuable by collectors.
You should check how much the coin is selling for on eBay.
Search the full name of the coin, select the “sold” listing and then toggle the search to “highest value”.
It will give you an idea of the amount of money that the coin is going for.
You can either choose to sell the coin on eBay or through a specialist such as ChangeChecker.org.
If you choose the auction website then remember to set a minimum price that is higher or at the very least equal to the face value of the coin.
Even if your coin “sells” on eBay for a high price there’s no guarantee that the buyer will cough up.
It its terms and conditions, the auction website states that bidders enter a “legally binding contract to purchase an item”, but there’s no way to enforce this rule in reality.
The most eBay can do is add a note to their account for the unpaid item or remove their ability to bid and buy.
Rachel Hooper of Changechecker said: “We expect these coins to be very popular with collectors, especially considering this is the first time ever dinosaurs have featured on a UK coin.
“Looking back at the popularity of previous 50p series such as the 2012 Olympic 50ps and the Beatrix Potter coins from 2016, 2017 and 2018, we would expect demand for these new coins to be high as collectors look to add all three to their collection.”
If the coins rise in value similar to the Beatrix Potter designs, they could be worth several hundred of pounds down the line.
WHEN Allen Parton returned from the first Gulf War with a catastophric brain injury, his wife had to teach him about their life as his memory had been wiped.
A car crash while on duty as a Royal Naval Chief Petty Officer led to him being treated in hospital back in England for five years.
He was in a wheelchair, unable to read, write, walk or talk.
Allen was “in a pit of despair” and he attempted suicide twice. Then help came his way in the form of three amazing assistance dogs: Endal, Endal Junior and Rookie. They inspired him to launch a charity helping other injured service personnel. It was called Hounds For Heroes and celebrates its tenth year this month.
Allen, 60, of Clanfield, Hants, said: “After I was injured I didn’t know what day of the week it was. I needed help to do basic things. I couldn’t even talk, read or write and I found that so hard. I had two major attempts of suicide, not cries for help, but the endgame, because I didn’t want to go on.”
But with the help of the support dogs along with his wife Sandra, 60, and children Zoe, 33, and Liam 34, he “learned to live again”. Allen met his first dog — an 11-month-old Labrador pup called Endal — by chance. His daycare bus did not turn up so he accompanied Sandra to her volunteer role working with assistance dogs.
Allen said: “A crazy, yellow ball of fluff bounced into my life that day called Endal. He wouldn’t leave me alone and by the end of the day I knew we would be inseparable. He dragged me out from that terrible pit of despair I’d been in.”
Endal became his assistance dog and Allen used more than 100 signs to communicate with him, such as touching his chin for him to bring him a razor and his head for a hat. Over time and with intensive rehabilitation, Allen’s speech returned. He said: “As I learned to speak again so Endal adapted with me.”
During the next 13 years together, the dog helped him with operating traffic lights, lift buttons, shopping and even withdrawing at cashpoints. In 2008 Allen welcomed a second dog, EJ, so Endal could enjoy a semi-retirement. And after Endal died the following year, EJ took over full-time.
Today, the 13-year-old dog can perform more than 500 tasks to help Allen with his day-to-day life, including tapping his Oyster travel card.
He is even trained to save Allen if he falls unconscious in the bath, by pulling the plug and using his mouth to keep Allen’s head above water. He said: “While my memories from before the accident are still very much lost to me, our family with our dogs have rebuilt a new life.”
Rookie, an eight-year-old golden retriever, who is used to assess the needs of prospective new owners for Hounds For Heroes, also lives with the family as a pet.
Allen said: “Everyone thinks that when the guns go quiet in the battlefield the battle with disability and trauma ends, but it doesn’t. Dogs have a huge part to play in that rehabilitation — and my three incredible dogs are proof that they really are man’s best friend.”
Star of the week
MEET MAX the moggy who was left with one eye and half a tail after using up most of his nine lives.
The puss suffered from advanced conjunctivitis, which never cleared up with antibiotics and eventually infected the core of his eyeball, so it had to be removed.
In his remaining eye he has glaucoma – where the optic nerve is damaged – so is almost blind. Most of his tail was bitten off during a fight with a fox in his garden and he’s had numerous near misses and scrapes.
His owner, Dan Bermingham-Shaw, 25, of London, said: “More often than not, Max is bumping into things, but he’s still a character.
“He might look pretty scary, but he is a very happy cat.”
Sean McCormack, head vet at the tailored food firm tails.com
JOSH HENNING, 26 has a Persian cat named Fluffy who loves to bring mice and spiders into the family home.
Q: Why does my cat bring in dead animals to the kitchen after she’s been out for a wander? Does she think I can’t hunt for myself?
Fluffy loves you and wants to share delicious treats as a gift. This is natural for cats, from parental instincts. It is usually more common in female cats but both sexes will do it.
A: Unfortunately, cats who are good hunters can be really harmful to local wildlife. If you want to reduce the number of animals killed and brought home, a good idea is to keep her in at night, dawn and dusk when most wildlife is active. And instead of fitting one bell to her collar, fit two. Many cats learn to stalk prey silently, with a single bell, but find it much harder with two.
KATIE MASSEY, 31, of Whitton, South West London takes her six-year-old Husky Trixie out every day for her walk, but she loves to cause a commotion with other dogs.
Q: Do dogs have different ‘languages’? Can they understand each other when they howl and bark? I think sometimes that Trixie is misunderstood.
A: Dogs very definitely have their own language. One of the reasons we often misinterpret their behaviour and emotions is that we try to explain their behaviour using our own language.
MOST READ IN MONEY
IT TECHS TWO
12 great tech gifts you can give as alternative Valentine's Day presents
Enjoy the sweet taste of success with bargain alternatives to favourite treats
Make little spending cuts that can really add up with our cash-saving tips
Aldi is selling a 3.5 litre slow cooker for just £3
Is it worth joining Costco? We show how its prices compare to supermarkets
LESS IS MORE
Three light winter dishes that won't feel heavy on your waistline or purse
Howling is in every dog’s vocab-ulary, but certain breeds are more prone to doing it, like Huskies and Malamutes.
Generally it’s a rallying call when other dogs are around, and everyone is excited.
Trixie’s probably saying: “Come on guys, let’s get this party started.”
Or sometimes, if she’s a little nervous of some of the dogs in the group, she may be seeking reass-urance from the familiar ones that she’s not alone.
Send your questions for the Pet Vet to firstname.lastname@example.org
Win pet feeder
LOOKING for something to keep your dog warm over Christmas?
GREAT for hungry pets if you’re unexpectedly delayed home, the Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeders mean you can feed your furry friend at the click of an app. The feeders are worth £169.99 and we have two up for grabs.
For a chance to win, send an email marked FEEDER to email@example.com.
MILLIONS of households will save £17 a year on their energy bills after Ofgem announced plans to lower the price cap.
The cap is a limit on how much suppliers can charge for electricity and gas – but customers could save even more on their bills by shopping around now.
The default energy price gap is set to fall by £17 from April[/caption]
The default price cap, which affects around 11 million homes on standard variable tariffs (SVR), is set to fall from £1,179 to £1,162.
The pre-payment meter cap, which will benefit a further 4 million households, will fall from £1,217 to £1,200.
As a result, around 41 suppliers will now have to lower prices – but bill payers will have to wait until April 1 before the price drop comes into force.
Ofgem put the reduction down to wholesale energy prices continuing to fall between August 2019 and January 2020.
How to save £268 on your energy bills (Sponsored)
AVOID energy price rises this winter with Switchcraft.
Why is it important to switch suppliers regularly?
Energy suppliers save the best deals to attract new customers, while moving existing customers to higher rates.
Switchcraft lets you know every time you can save money by switching.
Sign up in 3 minutes and get instant energy quotes.
Let Switchcraft find you better deals every year, saving you time and money.
Get £5 free cashback or an Amazon voucher* when you sign up between 9 December 2019 and 2 March 2020.
The £5 will be paid into your bank account within 120 days of completing the switch. *Prepayment meter customers will receive a £5 Amazon voucher. Open to those 18 and over. UK residents only. Click here for full T&Cs. News Group Newspapers Limited has a brand partnership with Switchcraft.
During 2019, households protected by the default price cap are estimated to have saved £1 billion on their energy bills.
Jonathan Brearley, chief executive at Ofgem, said: “The default price cap is designed to protect consumers who do not switch from overpaying for their energy, whilst encouraging competition in the retail market.
“Today’s announcement is further good news for the 15 million households covered by both price caps who will see their energy bills fall in April.”
How to find a cheaper energy deal
FIRSTLY, you’ll need to have a recent bill to hand. This will have all the details you need, including the name of your tariff and your recent spending on gas
Use a comparison website: Customers can use websites such as uSwitch.com or Energyhelpline.com to compare tariffs and find a cheaper deal. You could save up to £400 a year if you’ve never switched before.
There are other service you can turn to: MoneySavingExpert’s Cheap Energy Club will let you set up an email reminder that alerts you when cheaper deals become available.
Things to do before you switch: Compare prices and before you switch check to see if you can get cachback from a website like Quidco or TopCashback
While millions of households are set to benefit from the cap, they could save even more by switching supplier.
In fact, Ofgem says switching from a default tariff to a cheaper deal could save a typical household up to £305.
Alex Dickson, head of research at Switchcraft.co.uk, says: “If consumers think the cap will protect them from paying over the odds for energy, they are sadly mistaken.
“The gap between the default price cap and market leading energy deals is as wide as it’s ever been.”
To see if you can slash your energy bills, use a comparison site to find the cheapest deal for you.
It takes minutes to do and you could save hundreds of pounds, as the cheapest tariffs are only available through these sites.
You’ll need to fill in your name, address and who your existing provider is.
According to Uswitch, the cheapest fixed-rate deal currently on the market is by Utility Point, which charges an average of £785 for a 12-month plan.
If you’re on a pre-payment metre, the best fixed-rate deal is by Bulb, where you’ll pay an average of £1,068 over 12 months.
MORE ON MONEY
How to get extra cash if you're on Universal Credit or benefits
Self-assessment tax returns deadline closes TODAY – how to avoid a £1k fine
SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP
Boots 70% off sale 2020 starts TODAY! Everything you need to know
Can I miss work if it snows and do I get paid?
BACK ON TRACK
Martin Lewis explains what to do if you're in debt – and how to reclaim cash
RACE TO THE FINISH
Use Mr Money's eight tips on how to meet the Jan 31 tax return deadline
In response to Asda, Tesco also announced cuts of up to 3p across all of its forecourts, starting on the same day.
At the same time, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s launched similar price drops which started on January 31.
Ways to cut down on your fuel costs
HERE are some tips on how you can slash the cost of fuel
Make your car more fuel-efficient. You can do this by keeping your tyres inflated, taking the roof rack off, emptying your car of clutter and turning off your air con when driving at lower speeds.
Find the cheapest fuel prices. PetrolPrices.com and Confused.com allows you to search prices of UK petrol stations. All you need to do is enter in your postcode and tell it how far you want to travel (up to 20 miles).
Drive more efficiently. Some ways to do this, include:
Accelerate gradually without over-revving
Always drive on the highest possible gear
If you can, allow your car to slow down naturally as your brake is a money burner
Re-starting your car is expensive, if you can keep moving
We’ve asked Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s if they’re planning further price cuts and we’ll update this article when we get a response.
BRITS can expect a new 50p coin to be entering their pockets to commemorate leaving the European Union.
Butwhat is the 50p Brexit coin and when does it enter circulation?
The Brexit 50p coin will commemorate the UK’s ‘new chapter’[/caption]
What is the 50 pence Brexit coin?
To mark the UK’s exit from the European Union, a new coin has been made – dubbed the ‘Brexit’ coin.
It will be the same shape as the classic 50p coin, but will bear a new description, reading: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, initially ordered the production of Brexit coin for the UK’s original departure on 31 October.
But the Brexit delay meant about a million coins had to be melted down and the metal put aside until a new exit date was confirmed.
When will the Brexit coin enter circulation?
Commemorating the new chapter in affairs, about three million Brexit coins will enter circulation around the UK from Friday 31 January.
A further seven million 50p coins are expected to be added later on in the year.
As part of the launch of the coin, the Royal Mint will open the doors of its south Wales HQ for 24 hours to let people strike their own Brexit coins.
On 31 January, the public can mark the milestone in the UK’s history by having a tour of the Royal Mint followed by an opportunity to forge the coin for themselves.
What has Chancellor Sajid Javid said about the Brexit coin?
Mr Javid, who is Master of the Mint, was given the first batch of coins and will present one to Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week.
MOST READ IN NEWS
RUSH HOUR HORROR
Man killed by 'machete-wielding' attacker in front of horrified commuters
COURT UP IN IT
Ex-GB athlete barrister fights off thug at murder trial in wig and gown
Up to five inches of snow to fall in Britain as -10C icy blast hits
Dad of Danny Tetley victim, 14, compares X Factor paedo to Jimmy Saville
MY STALKER HUSBAND
I fell in love with a monster who ran me over when I was pregnant
Delivery driver brutally beats fox with hockey stick after it steals parcel
As he unveiled the 50p coin, he said: “Leaving the European Union is a turning point in our history and this coin marks the beginning of this new chapter.”
The coin says ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’ alongside the date of Brexit[/caption]
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.
WETHERSPOON is slashing the price of ten drinks, including certain beers and vodkas, from January 31 to mark Brexit taking place the same day.
Its so-called “Let’s stay friends” move will offer customers around 60p off drinks which originate in European countries, as well as from across the UK.
Drinks include Estrella Galicia, Beck’s, Peroni, Tyskie, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and Grey Goose Vodka – see the box below for the full list.
Under the offer customers will be able to buy a bottle of Beck’s for £1.49, a bottle of Peroni at £1.99, Grey Goose Vodka (175ml and mixer) for £2.99, and a pint of Ruddles (England) for £1.49 at 700 Wetherspoon pubs. Prices will vary at the other Wetherspoon pubs.
Customers will see the discounted prices in all of the company’s 870 pubs in Britain, but sadly it’s not a permanent price cut as the promotion will end on February 29.
Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “Many of our customers are keen to celebrate Brexit.
“At the same time we want to remain friends with our European neighbours and offer a range of drinks at an excellent price.
“In my opinion, there has been far too much political posturing in negotiations between the UK and the EU up until now.
“The UK should aim to treat all countries of the world equally by eliminating current protectionist tariffs on nearly 13,000 non-EU imports, which cause every person, and most businesses in the UK, to pay artificially high prices for everyday goods, including rice, oranges, wine and children’s clothing and shoes.
“The EU and UK need to understand that tariffs and protectionism are counter-productive.
“UK consumers will shun EU goods if tariffs are imposed on UK exports – as EU consumers might do if the roles were reversed.
“It is therefore pointless for one side to threaten the other with tariffs.
“The public and businesses will be the ultimate decision-makers through their purchasing choices.
“Let’s stay friends and enjoy free trade, but take account of the economic reality.
“Consumers hold the whip hand in these negotiations, not governments.”
More on Wetherspoon
Wetherspoon to cut beer and vodka prices to mark Brexit
Wetherspoons now offers a build-your-own breakfast option for £3.65
Wetherspoon New Year’s opening hours
BEER WE NO
Wetherspoons customers' fury as Monday Club drink-deal axed before Christmas
Wetherspoon's Christmas menu includes chicken and stuffing pizzas and Baileys pud
Wetherspoon in £200m spending spree on pubs & hotels creating 10,000 new jobs
USING an investment Lifetime Isa for his savings and giving up holidays abroad helped Alistair Clamp buy his first home aged 21.
The financial adviser paid £174,000 for his one-bed Southampton flat in April last year with a £8,700 deposit.
Alistair bought his first home in April last year using the Help to Buy equity loan[/caption]
He saved the cash in three years, tucking money aside after bagging a job as a trainee financial adviser earning £17,000 a year aged 18.
After a year of putting money aside, Alistair opened a stocks and shares Lifetime Isa (LISA), which allowed him to invest his cash and boost his savings – something you can’t do with a Help to Buy Isa.
Over the two years, he made an extra £350 on his savings on top of the 25 per cent annual government bonus that the LISA offers.
That meant after saving £4,000 in the first year and £3,000 in the second, he got £1,750 extra towards his first home.
The modest profit was more than what he would have earned in interest in a Help to Buy Isa, and help him cover the costs of the legal fees.
The one-bed flat in Southampton is near to where he works[/caption]
To increase his salary, Alistair, who’s now 22, decided to take his exams to qualify as a financial adviser because he knew the job comes with a greater pay packet.
He dedicated evenings and weekends to studying, which made him cut back on his social life allowing him to boost his savings.
Paying £200 a month to live with his parents kept his living costs low and he limited himself to spending £200 on seeing friends every month.
I live in a new build block of flats in Southampton, near to the marina.
Alistair only looked at buying new build properties as he wanted to use a Help to Buy loan[/caption]
There’s a double bedroom, a bathroom and an open plan kitchen and living room.
The flat has a Juliette balcony but there is a communal roof terrace I can use when the weather gets hotter.
Buying somewhere was always something I’d dreamed of, and I’d rather own my own place if I could help it.
I’d rather not have to rent and worry about a landlord selling or you coming to the end of your lease.
How much did you pay for the flat?
I bought the flat for £174,000 in April this year. It was on the market for £179,000 but I’d done my research and knew that in December 2018, when I made the offer on the flat, the market was slow.
I haggled them down and negotiated a discount on legal fees too if I went with the solicitor that they’d recommended.
They also threw in £1,000 Ikea voucher which I used to furnish the property.
I used the Help to Buy loan to make my mortgage smaller.
Without it, I don’t think I would have been able to borrow enough to purchase the flat, or I would have had to save for another few years to come up with a bigger deposit.
Alistair haggled £5,000 off the asking price and bought it for £174,000[/caption]
The financial adviser was given a £1,000 voucher for Ikea to furnish his flat[/caption]
I also only needed a minimum 5 per cent deposit to qualify for the scheme, whereas as a single first-time buyer, I would have needed at least a 10 per cent deposit to buy without it.
I put down £8,700 for the deposit, which was equal to the value of five per cent of the whole flat.
The Help to Buy loan was for 20 per cent worth £34,800 and my mortgage is £130,500.
I took it out over 35 years to lower the monthly payments. I’m currently fixed-into a deal for two years at a rate of 1.64 per cent.
It means my monthly repayments are about £410.
I know that I could have got an even lower rate if it’d fixed-in to a longer deal but I think five years is a bit of a long commitment and I don’t know how long I’ll live here for.
Have you got a plan to repay the Help to Buy loan?
I’m not too worried about it at the moment as it’s interest-free for five years.
The flat has one bathroom and a Juliette balcony[/caption]
I got a pay rise shortly after I moved in so I’m saving about £5,000 a year, which I could use to help pay it off before the interest-free period is up.
My other option is to see if I can add it onto the mortgage when I come to renew and keep my savings. I’ll decide closer to the time.
How did you save enough for the deposit?
I’ve been saving to buy my own place even since I finished school and got a full-time job aged 18.
In three years, I saved a bit more than the deposit and kept some to help cover the rest of the moving costs.
What help is out there for first-time buyers?
GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.
Help to Buy Isa – It’s a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there’s a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move.
Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the home’s value – or 40 per cent in London – after you’ve put down a five per cent deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property. You can no longer open a new account, but existing account holders have until December 1 2030 to claim the bonus.
Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25 per cent on top.
Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25 to 75 per cent of the property but you’re restricted to specific ones.
“First dibs” in London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.
Starter Home Initiative – A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20 per cent discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.
I didn’t go to uni but instead got a job as a trainee financial adviser on £17,000 a year, which wasn’t enough money to buy anywhere.
I knew that I needed to increase my income if I wanted to be taken seriously for a mortgage so I decided to get qualified.
I’d spend evenings and weekends studying for the exams, which really ate into my social life. I guess that helped me cut back on my spending though too.
I had to take six exams over three years and every time I passed one I got a pay rise.
I qualified in February last year so by the time it came to getting a mortgage, my salary had increased to £28,000 a year. This meant I could borrow more.
For the first 18months that I started saving, I put aside £200 a month but it wasn’t until I turned 20 that I seriously began saving to buy somewhere. By this point, I’d saved £2,000 and I upped my monthly payments to £400.
I lived with my parents paying them £200 a month to cover bills, which is obviously much cheaper compared to renting somewhere.
The kitchen opens up into the living room in the flat[/caption]
Alistair has lived in the flat for eight months now[/caption]
Alistair put down a 5 per cent deposit worth £8,700 for the flat[/caption]
I kept my £25 a month gym membership and Spotify subscription but budgeted myself to £200 a month for socialising.
I mean to be fair, I’m not a massive drinker so I’d offer to drive, which cost me less.
But it did mean that rather than going for dinner with my friends, I might them afterwards for a drink instead
I also didn’t go on holiday abroad at all while I saved and instead went on road trips in the UK to places like Cornwall or Wales.
I found it hard to pace myself on the tight budget that I’d set. I’d easily spend £60 on an event just after payday but then I’d find that I’d have to limit myself for the rest of the month.
It was so much easier when I automated my payments. For example, I sent up a standing order on payday for my savings to go straight into my LISA so I couldn’t spend it.
Alistair bought his home aged 21 after three years of saving[/caption]
I also traded in my old car and bought an electric car so that I didn’t have to pay for petrol. It was a Nissan Leaf and my friends totally took the mick out of me because it was so naff.
I didn’t really save much by doing this as before I was spending about £240 a month on fuel but the finance deal for the Nissan cost the same.
But it helped me manage my money as I knew exactly how much it would cost me every month because it didn’t cost me anything to charge it, whereas petrol would always vary.
Why did you choose the Lifetime Isa over the Help to Buy Isa?
The Help to Buy Isa limits you to saving just £200 a month and you don’t get the bonus until completion so you can’t use it for the deposit.
The LISA lets you save up to £4,000 a year and you get the bonus paid at the end of every year, so you can earn interest on that bit too. I got two tax years out of mine.
The LISA also lets you invest, unlike the Help to Buy so I could make some extra money on it.
Alistair was only offered a £50,000 mortgage from the bank who holds his current account[/caption]
Did you have trouble getting a mortgage being a first-time buyer?
At first I talked to my bank who I’d been with for years to see what I could borrow. They offered me just £50,000 which was no way near enough.
I was shocked but my dad, who’s a mortgage broker, said that some lenders aren’t keen on lending to first-time buyers and advised me to look elsewhere.
I was lucky that he didn’t charge me, but I would definitely recommend getting one if you can afford it as it totally took the stress out of it.
How did you decide on location?
I grew up in Ringwood, which is about 25 minutes away and I work in Southampton.
Alistair kept his gym membership and Spotify subscription while he saved[/caption]
I know that I wanted to use the Help to Buy scheme so I’d have to look at new build developments.
I did look at some off-plan in Bournemouth but it was really hard to visualise what it was going to look like so I ended up looking in Southampton where I worked.
How did it feel when you finally moved in?
Completing is very exciting – especially when you’ve spent the previous few months waiting for all of the paperwork to go through.
My First Home
ISA ISA BABY
How I bought £174k first home by using an investment Lifetime Isa
STOP THE SHOP
How I bought £300k house by selling old clothes and not shopping for a year
HOME SWEET HOME
We saved £70k for £420k home by cutting back on takeaways and nights out
ON THE LADDER
I bought £210k two-bed house despite having a CCJ and terrible credit score
We bought £370k house by giving up holidays and takeaways
STUB IT OUT
We quit smoking to help save £8k deposit to buy £125k three-bed first home
It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you own something and that all of the hard work paid off.
I’ve learned so much about the house-buying process – it’s so complicated and not something they teach you about at school.
Now, me and my friends are planning on starting a YouTube channel to help other first-time buyers.