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A 23-year-old’s home buying journey

When it comes to buying a home, you first need to understand “this is going to be the largest purchase of your lifetime, so this is nothing to play games about,” Jennifer said in one of her TikTok clips. She advised other prospective buyers to seek out a “top notch” mortgage lender who will “educate you through the entire process.”

Jennifer claims she found a lender who explained to her step by step that “... I needed a 680 credit score. I needed a low debt-to-income ratio. I needed enough money saved in the bank for the down payment and also the closing costs and then I also had to have two years of work history.”

So, the college graduate “got to work” and secured a job as an operations manager at a local gym, earning $16 per hour for 40 hours a week, she shared in another TikTok clip. That netted her around $2,300 after taxes every month — of which she claims she managed to save around $1,600 to $2,000 or sometimes the entire amount for her house fund.

“Now, my young people, how did I save money only making $2,300 a month?” she asked, directly addressing her TikTok followers.

“I was being very disciplined. I was not going out every weekend, partying and spending all my money,” she said — adding that she was living with her mom at the time. “When people would ask me to go on trips or vacations, I would tell them ‘No, I’m saving for a house right now.’”

After nine months of saving every spare dollar she had, Jennifer officially started house hunting and within two more months, she’d snapped up her first home.

She did not share how much she bought the house for, but it appears she purchased the property in 2022, when the average 30-year mortgage rates ranged from 3.22% in January to a high of 7.08% at the end of October, per Freddie Mac records.

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Tips for Americans struggling to achieve goals

Jennifer’s home buying success caught the attention of TV personality Dr. Phil, who invited her on his show in April to talk about her motivations and how they contrast to trends often attributed to younger Americans, such as “quiet quitting,” “lazy girl jobs” and “doing the bare minimum.”

She explained that her “biggest motivation came from [her] parents,” who are in their early 60s and still working “not by choice, but because they have to.”

“I see my parents everyday, getting up, going to work and I told myself: ‘I don’t want to be like that.’ I don’t want to have to work when I’m 60. I want to have a choice whether I want to go to work or not,” she said, which is similar to what other early retirees have said.

That was the moment Jennifer decided to get into real estate, starting with buying her first home. But she admitted socking away everything into savings wasn’t always easy.

“Sacrificing fun for a short period of time is much more rewarding than staying in the same spot in my life for years,” she said. “It’s super hard. It’s much harder to choose discipline than it is to just say: ‘Forget the goals.’ But it’s worth it.”

Jennifer agreed with Dr. Phil that young Americans lack drive — which is why some are ‘doom spending’ and rejecting major life goals like homeownership or saving for retirement. She thinks a lack of education is to blame.

“I think the problem is, a lot of people don’t have any goals. People don’t have goals because there’s a lack of knowledge,” she told Dr. Phil. “People don’t know that they can buy a house. People don’t know that they can be an investor. People don’t know what’s attainable. They just tell themselves: ‘I won’t ever be able to do that.’

“For me, I go get that information. Even if it’ll take you a year or two or three to save that money to do what you want to do, it’ll happen. That’s better than [it] never happening.”

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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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