How I bought five houses by the time I was 30: Anna Thomas

How I bought five houses by the time I was 30: Anna Thomas
How I bought five houses by the time I was 30: Anna Thomas

I grew up in a household which held more ‘traditional’ and certainly outdated values. My mother particularly, believed that education was wasted on women and that our purpose was best served by being ‘barefoot and pregnant’ as soon as possible. 

This experience only made me more determined to secure an education and build a solid 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 which I did independently and all without the need to skip avocado on toast! Sorry Bernard! 

There are a few crucial elements to the ‘set and forget’ system I established which enabled me to still maintain a reasonable lifestyle without, as millennials now say, FOMO. The below system is one I’d recommend for first timers thinking about entering the property market but feel overwhelmed by the daunting task of saving the initial deposit. 

Here are my tips to save for your first home while still being able to indulge in your favourite brunch a couple of times per week!  

Set a goal

I’m a naturally task focused person so operate best when I have something to work towards. I set a goal when I was 18 to buy my first place by the time I was 25 which gave me 7 years to save the house deposit. I wrote the goal and the approximate deposit amount on a piece of A4 paper and put it somewhere I’d see it regularly.


I had chosen Armadale as my ‘suburb of choice’ and chose to do a lot of ‘in person research’ which heightened my emotional attachment to the area. My ‘research’ consisted of me driving up and down the streets, attending random auctions and poring over the real estate section of the newspaper every weekend. This also proved useful as I learnt about the area before making a massive financial commitment so I was able to ascertain if the fantasy would live up to the reality. 

Budget Budget Budget!

While budgeting is not fun, it is necessary and being diligent is key. I calculated my ongoing expenses such as rent, utilities, food, university fees and textbooks, petrol, gym and medical costs. I assessed what I absolutely couldn’t live without and what I could. I cancelled my gym membership, started shopping at markets, started taking public transport and increased the number of shifts I was working around my university classes. This also allowed me to gain clarity on whether I could practically afford to buy in this suburb before overcommitting to a mortgage I couldn’t reasonably afford.   

Systemise the banking process

Being a university student, I didn’t always have a clear idea of the incomings or more importantly, outgoings of my bank account. I would often spend frivolously without really considering if it was something I absolutely needed. For this reason, I knew I had to establish a banking system which I could ‘set and forget’ and this ended up being pivotal to my success. 

I set up a system of bank accounts which included a savings account (for my deposit), a spendings account, a rent and bills account and 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 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. Trust me, if you set up an automatic direct deposit into a savings account and don’t touch it, it starts to add up very quickly! 

By 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 some sacrifices and miss out on big ticket items such as holidays, big nights out and new clothes, but for me, the goal of securing my financial independence, was worth it. 

Anna Thomas is the chief operating officer and Stockdale & Leggo.

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