Saving for a deposit on a house? These unusual ways of raising cash are absolute genius!

It's all about the side hustles!

Saving for a deposit for a house seems to be so increasingly difficult, you wonder if it's even worth bothering sometimes. According to insurance and investments specialist LV= Liverpool Victoria, the average house deposit for first-time buyers outside of London hit £26,224 in 2017. That's 108 per cent more than it was 10 years ago. Yet salaries for first-time buyers have only increased by 17 per cent in the same time frame.

Without wanting to sound like a five-year-old who can't have sweets before dinner – it's just not fair!

Related: 'Generation rent' may have to wait up to 30 years to buy their first home

However, though the odds may be raised it's definitely not impossible to raise the funds for a mortgage. We've heard amazing stories of ingenious ways that young people have banked the extra pounds necessary. And we've come up with a few of our own ideas on how to top up that first home fund.

1. Save on rent by house sitting

brown brick house with dog and women

(Image credit: Liverpool Victoria)

We've been truly inspired by the story of Alex Ryder, 34, and her boyfriend Dave Parry. Like many people their age, they were ready to get on the property ladder but didn't have the savings for a deposit. So they decided to house-sit their way to home ownership.

In 2016, the couple served notice on their rental property, and put all their belongings in storage – bar two suitcases of essentials. This freed them up to move from place to place easily. They then used Trusted Housesitters to find free accommodation in the Bristol and Bath area.

Over a two-year period, they house sat 22 times, looking after people's homes and pets while they were away on holiday or business. Stints ranged between two nights and three months, and covered 85 per cent of the time – the rest was spent on friends' sofas and the odd AirBnB.

To date, the couple has looked after 17 dogs, 6 cats, 5 ducks, 2 tortoises and 3 degus... and saved an impressive £12,000 towards their deposit. 

2. Downsize or find a house share

small dining table with flower vase glasses and spoons food bowl

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Attenborough)

Do you really need to be renting a three-bedroom loft when it's just the two of you? Could you cope with a larger house share where bills are split more ways and the rent is cheaper? The short-term pain may well be worth the long-term gain.

3. Clear that credit card debt

Anyone who has applaud for a mortgage will know that credit card debt will directly affect the amount you can borrow. And it's easy to let that debt spiral out of control, so it's best to get on top of it as soon as possible. Sofie, 26, had a relatively modest debt of £1,000, but she didn't want it to escalate. So she managed to pay it off in just six weeks using various side hustles.

Getting a second job on a market stall, taking part in market research and selling unwanted possessions on eBay helped her raise £750 in 29 days.

4. Be smart with your student loan

cleaning material with wooden table and modern mop and bucket

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Calling all freshers! If you're tempted to blow your student loan on nights out, new clothes, festival tickets and holidays to Croatia, read this first! Now 31, digital content specialist Becca was a very savvy student. Through paper rounds and weekend jobs, she managed to save £4,000 before she got to uni. Then she took out the biggest student loan she could and put the lot into a high-interest ISA.

On top of this, Becca worked FIVE jobs at university – comprising mainly bar work and cleaning. She graduated with over £20,000 in savings, which she put ito a high-yield bond, and by the age of 25 she had the £27,000 deposit needed to buy her first home. At 31, she has two homes and travels the world!

5. Ditch the gym membership

Working out may be good for you – but it can also be expensive. We're not saying you should let yourself go, but cancelling your gym membership and finding free ways to work out could earn you an extra £720 a year, if you were paying £60 a month.

There are plenty of apps that will provide you with ways to train – like Couch to 5K. And once you're there, you can get your jog on in company at the free weekly 5km timed runs in parks around the country, organised by Park Run. Find details of your nearest free public tennis court at charity-run Tennis for free. Or for something more hardcore, enlist – sorry, enrol – for a free class with the Bear Grylls-approved Be Military Fit.

By getting her her side hustle on and got a second job at a market stall, working at the weekend. This, including money she earned from taking part in market research and the items she sold on ebay, meant she saved £750 in just 29 days.

6. Make big savings on meals

Start with the obvious –  like making your own packed lunch, rather than splurging on Pret sandwiches, and batch cooking dinners. Then download a few apps, such as Olio, which is a way of sharing, giving and collecting food for free, saving you money off your weekly food shop.

Often people go on holiday, or over-cater for an event, and end up with a surplus of food, which they list on Olio. By taking it off their hands, you're not only saving money, but you're also reducing food waste – something we should all be aspiring to do for the sake of the planet.

7. Rent out your clothes

chair with floral cushions

(Image credit: David Giles)

Years of splashing your cash on designer outfits, rather than saving, has left you lagging behind in the deposit stakes. Or so you think. Because that fabulous wardrobe could be about to pay its way. Although currently available in the US, app Rent My Wardrobe lets you make money from your clothes – it's particularly suited to party frocks you only wear once in a blue moon. Go to it's website and let's start a campaign to launch here in the UK!

Alternatively, you could curb your spending on designer clothes by renting them instead. Girl Meets Dress hires out its huge collection of frocks for a fraction of the price on the tag.

8. Move back to the family home

You've probably already considered this, but if the idea of moving back in with Mum and Dad doesn't totally appeal, you could try a sibling or favourite aunt instead?

Or find the positives in the situation... 14 things you learn when you move back home with your parents

Do you have any super saving tips for wannabe home owners? Let us know!

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.