Two years ago, we had a crazy goal: to pay off our mortgage (you can read about it here, here, here and here). Countless paychecks, a lot of headaches, and even a few arguments later, it’s official. Blog official. The day we’ve been waiting for: we paid off our house. At 7:00 a.m., today, we submitted our last mortgage payment.
I hope this post doesn’t sound braggy– honestly, I don’t want it to be. Everyone has different goals and dreams for their lives. I just want this post to encourage you to finish your big goals, financial or otherwise. We didn’t start with a grand plan, we actually just lucked into the right house, and then we just went to work.
1. Live off one salary (or half of your salary).
When we bought our house, about 4 years ago, I didn’t have a job. My husband was working at his first job out of college, so we didn’t have much money. I was TERRIFIED about becoming “house poor,” so we bought a tiny house that we knew we could afford. Four years later, we’re still living off one salary. We aren’t disciplined, and we spend whatever is in our checking account, so my check is directly deposited into a separate account. There are no debit cards attached to the separate account, so we can’t get to that money. We automatically used my paychecks to pay off the house, and eventually we were able to use part of my husband’s pay checks as well.
2. Buy a tiny, inexpensive house.
When we bought our house, 3.5 years ago. Our house payment was 20% of our take home salary. First, I got a job (or 4!), last winter we cut our payment in half by refinancing, also we got some raises, and in addition we started tithing. After all was said and done, our house payment ended up being 4% of our take home salary. Less than most people’s car payments! By buying something we could really afford, and then working toward increasing our income and cutting our payments, we were able to pay off our mortgage.
3. Live somewhere “lame.”
There are awesome neighborhoods around us. There are really trendy places nearby. There are places where you can walk to restaurants, parks, and shops.
We don’t live there. We live in a little town outside a big city. In our little town there are more retired people than hipsters. There are a couple restaurants, but most of them are chains. And, you can’t walk your dog to any stores. Even thought our little town is “lame” in some ways, we’ve really grown to like it. It’s safe. The people are nice. Our friends are close. And there is one trail, and my dogs know every inch.
Our “lame” town allowed us to buy a cheap house, which is the ONLY way we were able to pay off our mortgage in such a short time. Through this whole process, I’ve actually started liking my town. I think that it’s pretty cool. I just need to start wearing hats and wearing roller skates. Isn’t that what hipsters do? Should I open a food truck, maybe?
4. Cut your monthly expenses.
When we really got serious about paying off our mortgage 2 years ago, I started looking at all of our expenses. We cut cable. I drive a “free” car. We cut everything that wasn’t necessary. I increased our insurance deductibles. I slashed our grocery bill. I don’t have a smart phone (but that’s another story… and it’s only been going on for two months). No monthly bill was safe! I was a serial debt killer.
5. Have a support system.
Whatever big goal you want to persue, you’ve got to have people around you who will encourage you. My biggest support was definitely my husband. Actually, he’s not my “support.” He is much more than that. He is the one who accomplished this. He worked two jobs. He killed it at work to make bonuses. He got on board with my insane plan. I can never repay him for all he has done to make this goal happen.
Also, we had some amazing support from our families. Moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and our friends. No one ever made fun of us or made us feel crazy. For that, we are forever grateful. Thank you more than words can say.
Want to succeed? Get yourself some support staff. Even if it’s just one person who you can talk to about your crazy goal, you’ll need someone to encourage and
drag pick you up along the way.
6. Figure out your “why”.
You may not want to pay off your mortgage. I’m the first to admit it’s not for everyone. One of the reasons we wanted to kill this debt is because we want to buy rental houses in the future, specifically foreclosures. After we failed at this a couple times, we realized we needed to get our finances in order first. We have several other “whys,” but I’m not ready to blog about them yet, or maybe ever. Please, just know being mortgage free runs deep in my heart for reasons I haven’t been able to tell you about.
If you have a big goal, I know you can do it. The best way is to focus on your “whys.” Family, future goals, kids, friends, past failures, etc. are great “whys” to keep you motivated. Trust me, you’ll need something to focus on to keep you motivated, when all you want to do is buy shoes!
7. Block out the noise.
Could we have made more on our money if we should have invested it? Yes. Would we have worked as hard to invest in a retirement account? No.
You know in your gut what is right for you and your situation. Lots of people will give you advice. There are tons of people who think what we did was stupid. Heck, sometimes I thought what we were doing was stupid. But, I always heard a voice in my heart that told me to keep going. Sometimes you just have to trust that voice.
8. Figure out what’s next.
We haven’t done this step yet. Really, I have no idea what is next. I want to buy some rental properties soon, but I don’t know when that will be. We’re just ready to take a break, and figure out what is next. Most of all, it’s time to celebrate!
Full disclosure: we aren’t quite debt free yet. We still have a couple little debts take care of–it’s a loooooonnng story about why we paid our mortgage off first. Maybe something for another day! We should be done with everything next month, I’ll keep you updated.
What do you think? Would you ever pay off your mortgage?