Couple who saved over £20,000 in a YEAR reveal their simple tricks

Savvy couple who saved up a £20,000 mortgage deposit in just a YEAR reveal the tricks that helped them reach their goal – including a simple penny savings challenge and putting away the change from every purchase

  • Callie O’Grady, 23, and partner Karl, 28, saved over £20,000 in just 12 months
  • Couple who live in Staffordshire, had set a goal to buy their first home in 2021
  • Revealed they reduced expenses by forgoing takeaways and branded products 

A savvy couple has revealed the easy money-saving tricks they used to save a £20,000 mortgage deposit in just a year.

Marketing manager Callie O’Grady, 23, and her partner Karl, 28, an engineer, set themselves a goal to purchase their first home in 2021, but as first-time buyers during a global pandemic, they knew it wouldn’t be an easy task.

The couple who live in Staffordshire challenged each other to save more than £10,000 each in 2020, to put towards a deposit on their future home.

By forgoing takeaway coffees, swapping branded foods for own-brand products and setting strict budgets, they achieved their goal and put away £20,000 in just 12 months in an effort to secure a mortgage.  

And Callie also took part in a penny savings challenge through a banking app where you put away 1p on 1st January, 2p on the 2nd and so on until you put away £3.65 on the final day of the year. 

Callie O’Grady, 23, and her partner Karl, 28, (pictured) who live in Staffordshire, saved over £20,000 towards a deposit on their first home 

Marketing manager Callie said she was fortunate to continue working throughout the pandemic and has been able to save £600 a month. Pictured: Callie food shopping

‘I’m fortunate to have continued working throughout the pandemic, so I have been able to put over £600 in savings each month,’ Callie said.

‘I would budget at the start of every month how much I could save from my salary and then put this into a locked savings account each month, so I could not touch it, unless absolutely necessary.

‘Thanks to my money-saving swaps, I’ve saved £10,000 in just 12 months, and so has my partner.’

Fancy saving up some money this year? Here, the couple share their top tips on how to do it.

Callie said cooking from home instead of splurging on takeaways and meals out helped to save £1,000 in a year. Pictured: Callie with a home brewed coffee

Tricks Callie used to boost her savings

  • Ditching takeaways: Saved £1,000
  • Weekly food bill reduced from £70 to £55: Saved £780
  • Making own coffees: Saved over £550 
  • Swapping gym for home workouts: Saved £400 
  • Working from home: Saved £1,000 on fuel
  • Investing in stocks: Increased income by £400
  • 1p savings challenge on app: £650
  • Rounding up purchases on app: £150 
  • TOTAL SAVINGS: £4,930 


Callie revealed she and her partner are both social eaters and in the past would often splash their cash on fancy meals or takeaways.

However, due to the pandemic, they’ve started cooking more at home, helping them save £1,000 in a year.

She said: ‘We’ve enjoyed cooking our own meals and with carefully planned out meals, we are able to utilise leftovers instead of throwing them away.


Twelve months ago, the duo’s food bill was around £70 per week but is now just £55 after they switched from branded items to own-brand products.

She said: ‘The own-brand products taste just as good as the branded ones.

‘I also always take a shopping list with me when I go food shopping and pre-plan my meals beforehand so I know exactly what to get.

‘This allows me to buy only what I need and save any food waste on impulse buys.’

Callie (pictured) saved £400 by searching for free workout videos on YouTube, after gyms were closed for most of the year 


As a coffee-lover, Callie would go to her local shop around three times per week to get her caffeine fix, but has now traded this is in for coffee at home.

She said: ‘I bought my favourite coffee syrup from Amazon and began making my iced lattes from home.

‘This saved me £10.50 per week, totalling £550 over 12 months.’


Home workouts have soared during lockdown, as gyms were closed for the majority of 2020 – and Callie jumped on the trend, which helped her save £400 over 12 months.

Instead of paying for an expensive workout plan, app or gym membership, she searched YouTube for free workout videos.

She said: ‘My favourite – both mentally and physically – has been 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene Mishler.

‘It’s helped me cope with the changes throughout each lockdown and keep powering through.’

Callie (pictured) who would buy coffee from her local shop three times per week, saved over £550 in 12 months by making the beverage at home 

Callie used spreadsheets to track her income and outgoings each month, and ditched takeaways and eating out. Pictured: Callie’s homemade mushroom risotto

Callie saved an additional £1,000 by cutting of the cost of fuel while working from home. Pictured: budgeting tool Monzo 


As a self-confessed ‘spreadsheet freak’, Callie made sure to track her income and outgoings every month.

She said: ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

‘I calculated my outgoings per month, including food and fuel, and added these budgets to my Monzo bank account so I can keep on top of how much I’m spending throughout the month.’


Callie also put away £1,000 saved on fuel thanks to working from home and made an extra £400 from investing in shares.

She said: ‘I use IFTTT’s 1p Savings Challenge which has saved me over £650 over the past 12 months.

Callie (pictured) said the IFTTT’s app has helped her to save over £650 in the past 12 months 

‘The app, which stands for ‘If This, Then That’, automates moving money on conditional triggers.’

The savings challenge works by putting away 1p on the first day of the year, 2p on the second and so on all year until it puts aside £3.65 on the final day. 

Another feature users can opt into is saving the change on every debit card purchase.  

‘For example, when I purchase something using my bank card, IFTTT’s app rounds up the amount to the nearest £1 and puts this money into another pot,’ Callie explained. 

‘Over 12 months, my roundups have totalled over £150, and I hadn’t even noticed the extra pennies moving out of the account – every little helps.

‘Never wait until the end of the month to put your money in savings.

‘By knowing how much I’d need per month, I knew how much I could put into my savings account at the start of every month, so I would do this as soon as I was paid.

‘I knew that if I didn’t do this, I’d be more inclined to spend it on things I didn’t need throughout the month and save less.’

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