How We Paid Off Our House in 2 Years

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.

mortgage burn

Watch that mortgage burn!

 

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!

mortgage celebration

Pink and Rick didn’t like champagne. That’s only the second food they’ve ever rejected… they don’t have the best taste in wine.

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?

How to Land a Side Gig: Baseball Style

I went to my first St. Louis Cardinals game a few weekends ago.  It was amazing!  I can’t believe I grew up in Missouri, and it took me 28 years to get there.

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We went for my brother-in-law’s birthday.  Here’s our game selfie!

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Photo credit: my brother-in-law.

We went to tons of places around the city.  My favorite stop was the Budweiser Plant-Tour-Thing.  Maybe it was because of the free samples, or maybe it was because I found this giant cake outside.   I secretly hoped a tiny Clydesdale horse would jump out in a bikini.  Unfortunately, it didn’t.  Fortunately, I just made you think of a horse in a bikini.

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Photo credit: my brother-in-law

The Cardinals must have known it was my first visit, because they won!  I’ve been winning a little too– I just finished up my crazy June side hustle.

This year for MyYearlyBucketList, I’m trying to make $1,000 of side income a month.  After very little success thus far, (I haven’t  even made $100 yet!) I finally landed a side gig that lasts the month of June– and drum roll, please— I reached my goal.  A cold $1,000 will come sliding into my bank account later this month.

Like the Cardinals, I won at my goal.  So, in the red bird’s honor, here is the process of how to land a side gig– baseball themed of course:

First base:  Have a lot of failures.

I’ve applied for COUNTLESS writing gigs.  And Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  It’s pretty pitiful.  Also, I started a profile on fiverr.com (check it out here) and I’ve made a grand total of $12.  It’s been pretty bleak.  I could start saying something about how failures teach you something.  But, I’m not sure what my failures are trying to teach me.  Maybe, I’m supposed to perfect my fast email pitch?!

Second base:  Find a way to be optimistic.

I was/am kind of bummed about my progress.  But, I’m oddly still optimistic.  I haven’t started shaking the side gig bushes again.  But, I will soon.

Third Base:  Pivot.

In May, in the midst of Rejectionville, I started scrambling.  My initial intention was to make money writing online, but after all the rejections, I decided to try other ways to hustle.  I knew a local University was working on a pretty big project.  So, I emailed a lady I worked with previously to offer my services.  My email sounded like this: “Dear ____ I really enjoyed working with you earlier this year.  I heard you’re working on _____ project, and I have some free time this summer.  If you need any extra help, I’d love to help you out.  If you don’t have a need now, please consider me for the future.  I’m passionate about the project, and I’d love to work with and learn more from your amazing staff.  Thanks for your time, KELSIE-BEST-TWERKER-WORKER-EVER.”  Okay, I think it sounded better than that, but you get the point.  Basically, it’s a compliment sandwich– with a pitch in the middle.

Anyway, my email was forwarded to her supervisor.  And…Badda Bing!  I got a side gig!

Even thought this post is called, “how to land a side gig,” I’ll be honest: I have no idea how to do it.  I think you just keep trying.  Which leads me to…

Home Base:  Persistence, get ready for the next pitch.

Just keep swinging– eventually you will hit something– even if it’s just your own face.  One thing I’ve discovered through my search for a side gig is that people need GOOD part-time help.  Employers don’t want to have to pay for someone’s benefits.  But, they still need projects done.  So, if you just send enough emails to enough people you know, odds are, you’ll get something– even if it just lasts for a month.

I really enjoyed my side gig last month, and I learned a few things.  But, honestly, I’m exhausted.  So, I’m going to take a few days off from searching for the next gig.  Even baseball players have those people who run their bases for them.  I want to be one of those guys.  Scratch that– I just want to be the mascot.

P.S.  We have BIG NEWS to announce next Tuesday!  We’ve been working on it for YEARS!  I can’t wait to announce it!  The post will probably be in all CAPS!!!  Anyway, come back, will ya?  I promise not to mention horses in bikinis.