929 days, or 2 years 6 months and 16 days, or simplified even further 2½ years from the day that we took on a mortgage to the day that we killed it.
2½ years ago we bought our house with a 15 year mortgage. By living a frugal lifestyle we were able to make quadruple payments on our mortgage and be debt free in only 2½ years!
Being debt free is a huge step towards financial independence, the ability to dictate where, when, what, and with whom you work. For many people, financial independence is commonly realized as retirement. A time when you can pursue your own interests and not have to depend on a paycheck.
For us, our monthly mortgage payment was the single largest monthly budget item. Now it is a thing of the past and let me tell you, it feels liberating!
I often think of mortgages in two ways. The first way is that a mortgage, just like any other type of debt is a pay cut that you negotiate for your future self. If you make $50,000/year and you take on a $500/mo payment, you have effectively given yourself a pay cut of $6,000. Earning less is no fun, but that is essentially what debt does.
The other way that I think of mortgages is to visualize the rooms of your house. We have about 12 distinct areas of our house (foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen, basement 1, basement 2, bedroom 1,2,&3, master bath, attic). Our mortgage was 33% of the value of the house, so the bank ‘owned’ four of the twelve rooms of our house. For people that only put down 1-2% on a house and take a loan for the other 98-99% they only have a few square feet to ‘live’ in because the rest belongs to the bank!
Of course, any discussion about paying off a mortgage has to include the age old argument, “is mortgage debt good debt?” This is an argument that is entirely personal in nature. Camp good debt argues that with the historically low interest rates that homeowners can secure 3-4% it makes more financial sense to make minimum payments on mortgages and invest the rest into the stock market in the hope of earning 7-10% there. The 3-6% profit makes mortgages an easy source of leverage. The other camp argues that paying off a mortgage is a guaranteed 3-4% and it is too risky to leverage your home for stock purchases.
I would argue that any debt over inflation (about 2%) is bad debt and any debt below inflation (less than 2%) would be good debt. I say that with the major caveat of this being personal debt. Businesses is a whole different ballgame.
So what was our grand super duper secret for paying off our mortgage so quickly? In three words,
below our means
The house that we bought was a foreclosure put up on auction. We could have bought a house twice as expensive with the mortgages offered by big banks. Instead we bought a fixer upper.
This house had sat empty for three years. While that made the price drop down into bargain territory, it also made for some hefty elbow grease.
Thankfully, we had family that pitched in to help us move and install a number of appliances.
It has been quite the journey. Being frugal and saving money is a means to an end. For us that includes being debt free!
Now we will redirect that mortgage payment money so we can max out our tax protected retirement accounts. Once those are maxed out, any surplus money will be spent on whimsical fun things! Hurray delayed gratification. ?????