“I went from being homeless to paying off £10,000 in debt and buying my first home”
Joshua Stephenson never imagined that with almost £10,000 he would have the chance to buy his first home fault.
Included the money he owed credit cardsStore credit and a new car purchase, with Joshua admitting he was beyond his means on a low salary.
His family also had an unstable financial situation, so he was able to help out more bills and rent to have a roof over your head.
Unfortunately, the family was effectively homeless in 2019 after being unable to afford a loan on their home.
But fast-forward to today, and Joshua is now completely debt-free and says his entire family is in a much better position.
Joshua, 28, is moving into his first home in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, with his partner Georgia this weekend after they paid a 5% down payment on a three-bed house.
Speaking to The Mirror, he said his finances spiraled out of control shortly after he landed his first job as an apprentice warehouse worker at the age of 21.
He had to work two months before he received any wages – and the welfare he had previously received was gone as well.
That meant Joshua decided to take out a credit card just to be able to afford gas to get to work.
“I was looking for a job for two years. I finished school, went to college, and after that it was just this hurdle of finding a job,” he said.
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“I wanted to work in computing, but after the first year I was looking for anything and everything and gave up looking for anything in my chosen career.
“I couldn’t rely too much on my parents because they had their own debts to pay. I took a credit card which is probably the worst thing I’ve ever done.
“I used that to get to work and spent the last two weeks of my JSA on the moped. I also got reckless with spending, the occasional junk food, but I tried not to get too bad.
At its worst, Joshua said his mountain of debt had reached £10,000 – but it wasn’t until around four years ago that he was really able to cope with his financial strains.
He started a new job as an EPOS analyst for Nisa and was paid a much higher salary compared to his apprentice salary – versus just £300 a month he previously had.
Before he got his new job, he was only paying off the minimum amounts on his credit cards and still spending money on things he didn’t need, like computer games and takeaways.
Shortly after starting his new job, Joshua decided to download the banking app Monzo after seeing an online advertisement for it.
The idea was that he wanted to set up a new bank to put his wages into, but he found that Monzo also helped categorize his expenses and show where he could save.
“I was sitting there one day thinking all my money comes and goes — and I can’t enjoy it,” Joshua said.
“I’m paying for a loan that won’t go down. I wanted to go on trips and vacations like my friends.
“Monzo helped me see my spending more clearly and where I was being reckless. I bought Playstation and computer games and treated myself to dinner.
“Although it was nice to take my mom to lunch where I couldn’t before, it told me I was spending half my wages on things I didn’t really need.”
Four years ago he also met his now fiancé, Georgia, so his savings goals started to change and the two knew they wanted to eventually buy a house together.
Determined to get out of debt, Joshua took advantage of Monzo’s Pots feature, which allows you to separate funds from your main account.
By splitting his salary each month, Joshua was able to see how much free cash he had to pay off his debt — meaning he could exceed his minimum payments and get out of debt faster.
“At that point I paid back my balance and the rest was spent on rubbish and some bill money to my parents.
“There was no minimum payment on the shop loans so I was paying around £5 a month.
“It got to the point where I paid off a Nintendo Switch and I’m still paying it off three years later.
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“So I decided to stop buying junk and invest more in that debt. Monzo was a great help as I could see more clearly how much free income I have.
“I started paying more on my debt, paid £200 more and still had money left over.
“We didn’t go abroad on vacation either, that saved money. Instead we went camping in the UK.”
Joshua says Georgia became his rock after his family lost their home in 2019, leaving them all homeless.
They were able to get emergency housing, but since the apartment they were assigned was not very large, Joshua ended up moving in with Georgia and her parents.
As his financial situation continued to improve, the two eventually rented a flat together while saving around £340 a month on their security deposit.
“It was a huge wake-up call for all of us, and luckily my parents are doing a lot better financially,” Joshua said.
“I knew it was happening as soon as I saw the letters and started tidying up my little room. Even the day it happened, my mother was incredulous.
“But we’re all in a much better place now.”
Joshua and Georgia will be moving into their first home together this weekend, having started saving in earnest around three years ago.
They’re moving into a three-bed house after saving around £10,000 for their bail and various legal fees.
“But between us, the deposit was £6,800, which was a 5% deposit after we factored in legal fees and other mortgage costs.
“We fell in love with the house and started the process in December. We’re moving in this weekend. It has a driveway and a nice big garden.
“To everyone else in debt, you don’t have to live beyond your means. You can have fun, but watch your finances.
“House prices vary widely, but millennials can afford to buy a house, it can be done. Just live within your means.”
Where can you get free debt help?
If you’re worried about your debt, don’t hide your head in silence.
There are free organizations that will help you pay off your debt if you are really struggling:
Always be wary of companies trying to charge you for debt help as you can get advice without paying a dime.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/i-went-being-homeless-clearing-26388348 "I went from being homeless to paying off £10,000 in debt and buying my first home"