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Making dreams a reality

December 31, 2012

As I enter the last day of 2012, now seems the right time to reflect back on the year where all our plans & hard work paid off. It was around about this time just under 3 years ago that I grew up. In my head that is. I started having thoughts about marriage, a honeymoon & a house. At the time, I was living in a rented flat with my then girlfriend Jade. I was 26 & was paying off very little of the £9,000 odd I owed on a credit card each month. But for a few years, I’d had this nagging feeling. I didn’t want to be in debt & I didn’t want to rent from someone forever. I also wanted to marry Jade. So I started to formulate a plan. It wasn’t a particularly special plan. But it would require a huge amount of dedication, commitment & quite a few sacrifices.

Firstly, I needed to get rid of my credit card debt. Every spare penny I had went to paying it off. I cut down my social spending & pretty much stopped buying clothes. In fact, some would argue my dress sense & wardrobe froze in 2009 & hasn’t yet thawed out – others would probably suggest it froze even further back! This took me about 9 months of hard saving to clear my debt & I was grateful to my parents for clearing a personal loan I owed them from a previous year. It was the incentive I needed & cemented phase 1 of what has turned out to be a very fruitful 3 year period.

Amongst all the saving, I managed to acquire enough money to buy the all important engagement ring. I plucked up the courage to ask Jade’s Father for her hand in marriage & tried to influence his answer by giving him a lift home from the airport the same day. Thankfully the bribery worked & he said yes. Now all I needed was to get his daughter to say the same. The time came & on a pretty ordinary Thursday evening – just as Jade had finished making our dinner – I got down on one knee & asked her to marry me. She said yes. She had to be prodded but she did eventually nod & agree. After a few months of deliberation, we both decided on the 2nd November 2012 as the date for our wedding. Without meaning to sound mechanical, unemotional or clinical, phase 2 was complete.

Phase 3 came in many different parts. Firstly, we had to work out how on earth we were going to save any sort of substantial amount of money to put down for a house deposit, to pay for a wedding & have something leftover for a holiday of some description. We spoke to my parents & enquired about the possibility of living in their spare room for 6 months. Just long enough to save a decent amount of money to get the basics covered. Without anyone realising at the time just how important this next bit was going to be, my parents agreed & put plans in motion to get phase 3 properly up & running. We gave notice on the flat we were living in, I cleared my credit card debt to zero & as of September 2010, we moved ourselves into our new home with the majority of our stuff crammed into my parents’ double garage.

Jade had always been very thrifty with her money & over the years had acquired about £5,000 in savings. I was then given £5,000 of my own from my Gran which went straight into the pot. Between us, we were starting the next leg of our journey with a huge financial boost. We put together a spreadsheet (the famous spreadsheet) & were optimistic & ambitious with our projected savings figures. Eager to keep ahead of the game & be prepared we booked an appointment with an HSBC mortgage advisor & went along for a chat. Though we were told we were in healthy shape & should have no problems getting a mortgage when the time came for the amounts we were looking at, we went away from that meeting determined to put ourselves in the best possible position financially. As a result, we went back to the already ambitious savings figures & upped them. We agreed between us that we would stay a few months more in Mum & Dad’s spare room which would allow us to put down 20% deposit on a house rather than the previously agreed 10%. We were still budgeting a fairly modest £12,000 to pay for both our wedding & honeymoon at this stage but this would change in time, in parallel with the amount of months we stayed at my parents’ house.

To cut a very long & arduous story short (for us but most likely more for my Mum & Dad), we stayed in that spare room for just over 2 years. We probably saved more that we had ever hoped, dreamed or planned & with ridiculously generous contributions from our parents, family & friends, we had amassed around £85,000 in two years.

We spent pretty much every penny. And it felt good to do so. We had a wedding that was beyond our dreams, a honeymoon beyond our dreams & now we live in a house beyond our dreams. We don’t have a single penny on credit cards, we don’t owe any of our friends or family any money & other than the huge mortgage we now pay each month, we don’t owe anything to anyone. Other than a lot of dinners & a huge amount of gratitude!

Two years is a long time in a spare room but please don’t be fooled into thinking this is some kind of sob story. Thanks to a lot of different people, those two years weren’t overly difficult. Our friends Sally & Ben had us over for dinner countless times knowing the return offer wasn’t going to be on the cards for quite a while. Nicola & Iain did the same. Jade’s parents cooked us dinners & paid for restaurants whenever they could (too many times). Both our families chipped in & of course, my parents made everything as easy as possible. They treated us both as adults & never once complained about all their red wine, beer & Baileys we drank.

I know my parents are proud of what I achieved. But I think more importantly, I’m more pleased in the fact that I’m proud of what Jade & I did over the last 3 years. And I don’t say this because I want you to think good things of me. I say this because it feels good to be proud of yourself & personally speaking, I think this is the only real opinion anyone needs. Only you know the real effort you put in. Only you know the sacrifices you made. And only you know what your achievement really means.

I am nothing special. I don’t have any particularly amazing talents to speak of. But with effort, hard work, sacrifice & application, I – along with Jade, my two families & friends – created something very special for ourselves. And if I can do this, so can anyone else.


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One Comment
  1. Lindsey permalink

    We are all really proud of you and Jade for what you have achieved Dan! It makes us all really happy to see you both start on your new journey together! You both deserve the best! Love you both xxx

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