A single mum’s “dream” of becoming a homeowner has become more like a nightmare as she struggles to survive amid the rising cost of living.
Jodi Cameron, 40, from Melbourne, currently has nothing in her bank account after building her house cost more than expected. She can’t even afford to complete the house, with her driveway unfinished because she ran out of cash.
On Tuesday afternoon, she was hit with more bad news; the Reserve Bank of Australia had increased interest rates again, for the fourth month in a row.
It means the single mum, with two daughters aged four and eight, must now fork out an extra $140 every month to pay back her mortgage.
In total, since the central bank started increasing interest rates in May, the family is now paying back an extra $360 a month — money it desperately needs.
“It’s just horrible,” Ms Cameron told news.com.au.
“I do find myself in a situation where paying rent and a mortgage and daycare fees, there’s nothing left.”
Currently, her savings account stands at $0, she said.
The mum worked throughout the Covid pandemic as a disability support worker and blames her current predicament on one thing — missing out on a government grant.
She had factored in receiving a $15,000 grant to help her build her own home but missed out, leaving her financially wrecked.
“I just wanted to own my own home,” Ms Cameron explained.
“It’s just disgusting, it’s so frustrating, I work my guts out, all I wanted was the great Australian dream.”
Her variable interest rate has gone up from 2.79 per cent to 4.5 per cent in the past three months, and is set to go up even further after the rate hike on Tuesday.
“I’m not on a fixed mortgage, I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” Ms Cameron said.
“I’m probably going to have to pull my [youngest] daughter out of daycare because I can’t afford daycare. That also means, how am I meant to work from home with a child?”
As a single mum with no family to fall back on, Ms Cameron had resigned herself to renting but in 2020, she was given hope that she might be able to break into the property market.
The federal government announced the HomeBuilder grant scheme in a bid to increase the disruption to the economy and the building sector during Covids, where eligible homeowners received $15,000 to form part of the payment for a building project for their primary residence.
Ms Cameron met all the criteria for the grant so bought a $263,000 block of land in Lang Lang, a regional town southeast of Melbourne, in August 2020 in the hopes of setting herself up financially for the future.
“I got on the low deposit scheme, I didn’t need a massive deposit,” she explained.
Then in March the following year, she signed a build contract which cost $300,000 for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
She only needed a 5 per cent down payment for the land and the build contracts and was expecting the extra $15,000 from the grant to provide a helpful buffer to afford the progress payments.
But then she logged back onto the HomeBuilder online portal and was devastated to discover she had missed a key due date — which her broker and bank had never mentioned to her.
“I missed a portal cut off date that was never shown or advertised anywhere,” Ms Cameron lamented.
As a result, she was not able to be part of the scheme.
Near the end of her build, the mum ran out of funds and couldn’t afford to pay for a driveway.
“I’ve got no driveway, it’s just mud, I can’t afford it, it’s not nice to have that money you relied on ripped away from you,” she added.
“I owe the real estate the last month’s rent which I can’t pay.
“I assumed I would have this $15,000 to help me out, I don’t have it. This grant meant a lot.”
The mum is now waiting with bated breath as the Reserve Bank is expected to keep hiking interest rates till the end of the year.