All images by Tina Tiller
All images by Tina Tiller

SocietyJanuary 20, 2022

Save for a house deposit with these foolproof tips

All images by Tina Tiller
All images by Tina Tiller

You’ve heard all the money-saving advice. Here, finally, are the concrete stats.

Everyone wants a home to call their own. It’s human nature to want to settle down and nest. But with the cost of living at its highest in more than a decade and house prices continuing to soar out of reach, many New Zealanders are struggling to get by, let alone save for a hefty deposit. 

Economist Tony Alexander asked his subscribers to share suggestions for living through tough financial times and more than 450 responded. “Check if there are any ongoing subscriptions that you could live without,” said one. “Sell things you no longer need or use regularly,” said another. “Reduce or cut out those coffees,” said a third, adding, “maybe by buying a Nespresso or similar, which work out to less than a dollar per coffee.” Struggling to make ends meet week to week? Buy a Nespresso machine. 

Selling possessions on TradeMe is a good tip for those needing enough cash for a house deposit too. Sell enough of your possessions and you’ll have heaps of room for all your cold hard cash. By owning nothing, you could potentially buy a house to put all your no things in. 

Alexander’s readers gave helpful tips, but vague sentiments won’t secure a home loan. I wanted practical steps with definite outcomes. I asked The Spinoff’s new head of data Harkanwal Singh to crunch the numbers. Clear expectations make for SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) goals for those looking to purchase a home in Aotearoa. 

The average house price in this country is more than $1 million. As many people who already own a home like to say, that doesn’t sound right. So to keep a sense of hope alive, we have based our calculations on a home price of $800,000, requiring a 20% deposit of $160,000. 

In Auckland, that will purchase you a one-bedroom unit. With the national average weekly income at $770, it takes a lot of creative financial planning to save a $160,000 deposit. 

Here are five bonus tips with clear timelines for your saving purposes.

Don’t buy a takeaway coffee every day for 123 years

People love to tell young people to just stop buying takeaway coffee. Did you know you would have more money if you didn’t spend $5 a day on a flat white? It’s true and in 123 years, your coffee purchases can really add up.

Don’t buy 10 takeaway coffees every day for only 12.3 years

Why stop at one less coffee? Not buying one coffee won’t get you a house deposit any time soon. But not buying 10 coffees every weekday for 12.3 years will save you $160,000. Save smarter, not harder.

Cancel your Netflix subscription for 721.1 years 

Netflix is an everyday cost for most people, but that $20 a month could be going towards a beautiful studio apartment. Every bit counts, and by not watching Gilmore Girls for 721 years, you could then not watch it in a structure that you own. 

Cancel 50 Netflix subscriptions for 14.4 years

By cancelling not one but 50 of your streaming subscriptions, you’ll save enough money in 14 years to buy a house*.

Cut out takeaways ($30 a week) for 102.5 years 

These are all simple tips and this one will see you stepping over the threshold of your new home in 2124. You will be but a husk, having not eaten since January 2022. The home will remain empty except for a Nespresso machine due to you selling all of your possessions. But it will be yours and you will have a story written about you in the Herald. Congratulations.

*Based on 2022 prices. The Spinoff is not liable for changes in house prices or lending terms between 2022 and 2036.


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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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