I have been renting for a few years now and fearful of staying in the rental rut forever and not being able to buy my own place. How can I get ahead?
Ange, Double Bay
It may be cheaper than a mortgage repayment but rent money is dead money.
Whereas you can have a house paid for in full after 30 years, rent still needs to be paid week in, week out and you have nothing to show for it. And you can be kicked out onto the street by the landlord at any time!
It is not easy to get into the housing market these days so you need to make drastic changes to your current lifestyle and budget in order to get out of the rental rut. If you can't get any extra income via a second or higher paying job, then you need to slash your costs.
The best way to save for a house is to go back to live with mum and dad. But sometimes that isn't possible so the next best thing is to live with a few people. Enjoy the benefits of economies of scale of sharing costs of running a household. Make sure that you screen who you live with for security purposes but also so they are not the type of person to leave with outstanding bills.
I don't know how much you are currently paying, but going by your postal address you are probably paying a higher rent than you would for similar accommodation in less affluent suburbs. Sometimes we need to make sacrifices in order to get ahead and I suggest that you consider picking a cheaper suburb to live in.
Living in a cheaper suburb may also reduce the temptation to go out to cafes, restaurants and shops as a result. Nicer suburbs create a tendency for wanting to go out more often, especially mid-week, and experience the social lifestyle which is quite damaging to your savings plans. Be disciplined and save as much as possible.
We all wish we could buy a mansion by the water but it is unrealistic having such high expectations. Rome wasn't built in a day, and you may need to slowly get into the housing market rather than go straight to the top with your first purchase.