When the findings of the latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) survey were released earlier this year, it showed that many younger Australians were worried about their ability to save for loans.

Australia’s most comprehensive household survey has tracked the social and economic circumstances of more than 17,000 young people since 2001.

The results of the latest survey revealed that home-ownership for under-40s had taken a significant drop since 2002 – and also that, for those with mortgages, those home loans were not being paid off at the same rate they used to be handled.

One key factor is that wages have remained quite stagnant, with very little growth in recent years.

For many young people, it’s another challenge to face when saving for your home but it is not impossible to overcome.

To help you save money for your first home deposit, try these practical tips to help you secure a mortgage faster.

Set a goal

By having a clear financial goal, it’s a smart way to get your finances in better shape.

Once you work out the deposit amount you need – and talking to a mortgage broker or using an online mortgage calculator can give you a more detailed understanding of how much you are eligible to borrow – you can work towards saving that amount.

By knowing where you need to be, you can make smarter decisions about some of the sacrifices you might need to make on the journey. Yes, that new outfit or holiday might seem like fun, but if you want a first home even more, you’ll soon make realistic decisions about the long-term impact your spending decisions can have.

Open a savings account

By directing savings into a separate bank account consistently, you’ll have the pleasure of watching your savings build. If you choose an account with a good interest rate and consider the money in this special account as off-limits, you can watch the money accumulate and feel good about it – knowing that each additional deposit is bringing you closer to your home-ownership dream.

Budget for long-term success

Budgets shouldn’t be overwhelming. Create a list of your typical expenses each month, then allow for some miscellaneous expenses that invariably occur. Next, make a list of your expected income for the month ahead and calculate the difference between the two amounts. Using spreadsheet software, such as Excel, can help but pen and paper can work just as well if you prefer doing things that way.

If your expenses add up to more than your income, it might be a good motivation to talk to a financial counsellor, or be strict with yourself and think of ways to trim your outgoings. You might also be able to increase your incomings. If it’s time to ask for a raise, or look for a better job with a higher salary, think about it. If that is not possible and you are committed to the idea of your savings, taking a second part-time job could be another way to improve your savings. Be realistic and budget for the unexpected, such as car problems, the way sickness may impact your ability to earn, or other unforseen circumstances that might impact your earnings/expenses.

Negotiate a better deal with your utility companies, try walking more in your local neighbourhood, instead of jumping in the car every time you need something from the shop. You’ll spend less on petrol and you’ll be less likely to impulse buy when you don’t have your car to load your shopping into. Consider shopping for groceries in bulk to save money – choosing bulk rolls of toilet paper, for example, can save you money in the long-term.

Avoid using credit

Credit cards are designed to make it easy for you to spend money.

And when you don’t pay your bill on time? The interest costs you even more.

If you’re saving for a long-term goal, such as a house, now is not the best time to spend on other unnecessary items, such as new appliances or a new car. Be realistic about your savings goals and don’t fall into the trap of using credit to get what you don’t really need. In the long-term, you’ll be grateful you stayed focus on your bigger goal of owning a home.

With the spring selling season well underway, it’s the ideal time to get your house looking its best to help it make the best possible impact on the property market.

Whether you’re downsizing or upscaling, selling your current home and getting the highest possible price is a great way to help your financial situation, so for more chances of a stress-free and successful sale, try these tips.

8 tips for a great spring property sale

  1. Declutter and clean

Before you make your next move, plan the packing process now.

If you’ve got items that you don’t use regularly stored away, clear the clutter today.

If you haven’t used it in the last 12 months, ask yourself if it has genuine sentimental value – and consider donating it. Get rid of items you don’t really like and when it comes to things that are broken or damaged – simply throw them away.

Unwanted paperwork can be shredded and put in the recycling bin and clothes that no longer fit (or are out of style) can be either sold at a garage sale or via online selling sites, or donated for someone else to love.

If you have large items of furniture taking up space in your place, consider storing them temporarily in a friend’s garage, or professional storage hire facility, to give your place some space that will be more attractive to potential buyers.

When it comes to cleaning, paying attention to small details can make a big difference.

  1. Eliminate odours

Simply masking smells with air fresheners is not enough to rid your home of unwelcome odours.

Pleasant scents, such as freshly-cut flowers, the smell of cinnamon, the smell of fresh apples in a bowl on the dining table or of freshly-baked bread, are all positive touches.

  1. Keep it neutral

While that mint green feature wall might have seemed on-trend a few years ago, your new buyer might not love it now. Many buyers like the idea of having a blank canvas to let them add their own touches. By painting your walls in neutral tones, you’ll create a better sense of space and a broader appeal.

If you are painting, don’t forget to repair any holes in the walls first, and look at the ceilings and the trims – not just the walls.

  1. Finish those repairs

If your home improvement projects have been on hold, it’s time to get them finished.

Buyers don’t like seeing unfinished projects in a home or garden, so by taking the time to repair the little things you’ve been ignoring for so long, you’ll boost your chances of attracting more buyers.

  1. Freshen up your fixtures

Replacing light fixtures, bathroom mirrors, rusty old taps, dripping shower heads and tatty looking cupboard hardware can all be replaced for very little money – and it can make a big difference in the visual appeal of your property.

  1. Make an entrance

The first thing potential buyers will see when they inspect your property? Your front door. Make an entrance welcoming for a positive first impression. That might include painting the door if needed, replacing any damaged hardware and minimising clutter, such as too many pot plants.

  1. Staging matters

If you haven’t got the budget for professional staging, you can still make a difference with a careful eye and some planning.

Placing furniture to optimise the feelings of space and light can help your home look more spacious and inviting. And if your furniture items aren’t attractive? Consider hiding them away in storage and renting some artwork and nicer furniture during the sales campaign period.

  1. Understand your real price

By looking at recent sales results for properties that are similar to yours, you’ll understand the potential your own property has.

Exploring comparable sales and being aware of market influences that may have an impact gives you the knowledge you need to make a realistic assessment of your sales potential – and that information can be vital to help you understand how much to spend on some pre-sales repairs and refurbishments.

Remember, you do have some control. By giving your property the best possible chance to look its best, you can improve your chances to get a better sale price.