Wealth Check: A £19,000 salary and a dream of owning a home in the capital

The patient

Rita Dores, 29, struggles to make ends meet in London, where the cost of living is far greater than in her home country of Portugal. "I moved here 10 years ago because I was young and wanted to try a different way of living, and ended up staying," she explains. "However, it is very expensive and I don't earn much."

Rita works as a public relations adviser, on a salary of 19,000 a year. On this, she has managed to squeeze out a little spare cash to build up a small sum in savings. She has 3,000 in an individual savings account (ISA) with National Savings & Investments, paying interest at 6.05 per cent.

When she arrived in England, she had no borrowings. But in the three years following the move, she accumulated 4,000 on a credit card. She has since managed to wipe out this debt.

At present, she is renting a room in a flat in Maida Vale, paying 390 a month. But she is keen to achieve more security by buying her own flat.

Long term, Rita says she wants to prepare for a comfortable retirement. She has no pension but hopes to start soon.

The cure

Rita has taken important steps in establishing her financial future in this country by wiping out her debt and starting to build a savings buffer. But given her small salary, our panel of independent financial advisers (IFAs) warn she has some way to go before she can buy her own home.


If Rita is serious about saving, she should draw up a budget and stick to it, says Ian Hudson from IFA Hudson Green & Associates. In saving towards a deposit for a home, Rita has chosen sensibly with a tax-efficient, easy-access cash ISA.

However, she could benefit by shopping around for a different provider. Last week National Savings & Investments reduced the rate on its cash ISA by 0.25 per cent, in line with the Bank of England base rate. This means it is no longer among the most competitive on the market. For example, National Counties building society is paying 6.26 per cent on its cash ISA.

If Rita has any spare funds left, she could put some into a stocks and shares ISA. This entails more risk, but if she invests long term using regular payments to smooth out any market downturns, the rewards will be greater, says Kevin Anderson from IFA Budge & Co.


With prices in London at an all-time high, Rita's goal of buying her own home could be hard to meet. Her current rent is equivalent to an interest-only mortgage of just 78,000, says Mr Anderson. She should concentrate on increasing her savings, and consider buying with a friend or partner when the time comes.


An important part of a secure future is pension planning. Rita has put no money aside for this but has been accruing a state pension since she started working here, adds Mr Anderson. "This will be payable even if she goes back to Portugal."

She should ask her employer for details of its pension scheme. If it will match any contributions she makes, says Jason Witcombe at IFA Evolve Financial Planning, it is important she takes advantage of this.

If you would like a makeover write to Julian Knight at The Independent on Sunday, Independent House, 191 Marsh wall, London E14 9RS. Or email j.knight@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Helpdesk Analyst

    £23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

    Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

    £27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

    Senior Pensions Administrator

    £23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

    £25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London