The number one question people ask me when they hear that my husband and I paid off our $93,000 mortgage, on one income, in under 2 years is what it felt like to walk through the front door of a completely paid for house. The honest answer? Not much different at all.
BECAUSE, that wasn’t when the change actually registered. It actually hit us when we sat down to do our first budget night. We sat down at the computer, opened our spreadsheet and deleted the “Mortgage” line item from our budget. All the formula’s updated, we filled in all our expected monthly expenses and there- sitting in the “left to spend” cell was a chunk of money. That’s when we asked for the first time, “What do we want to do with this?” That’s the day we REALLY started dreaming.
If you are debt free except for your mortgage and you are wondering if paying off that debt is worth it, it honestly depends on your own personal life goals. There are people who will passionately fight for both sides telling you it’s ridiculous to pay off a mortgage while others would say it’s the best choice you can possibly make. In this post I’d like to help you decide if paying off your home mortgage is a life goal that YOU want to tackle. If like us, it’s what you want out of life- then yes, it’s worth it!
Question 1: Do you plan to be in the home for 2 or more years?
If you are have decided that where you are isn’t necessarily where you want to be for a bit, taking on the task of paying off a mortgage may not be best since it’s kind of a marathon goal for most people. So I would evaluate how long you plan to live there and if it’s over 2 or 3 years then the answer might be yes. If you think it’s worthwhile goal, for the time you plan to spend in your house move on to Question 2.
Question 2: Do you have money left over in your budget each month that you could throw at your PRINCIPLE?
Meaning, once you cover your basic living expenses and stuff you NEED, is there money you could play with?
If your first thought is, I don’t have a budget, then you should consider creating one. I was able to conquer my spending and help contribute to our payoff story using The Cash Fueled Life system. Read more this cash-based budget here. You’ll need to know what you bring in versus what you spend to have an accurate understanding of what you are capable of.
If your first thought is, “Sure, we just kind of put it over in savings for wherever we want it.” Then you my friend are in a really great spot to start slicing and dicing your mortgage to smithereens. If you’ve got extra income beyond your basic needs, then you don’t have much holding you back. The question now is simply how much, how often and how soon. To figure that out, you’ll want to work with the old Amortization table to figure it out!
Question 3: Have you ever plugged your numbers into an Amortization table?
If not, this is one of my most favorite online tools. During our debt payoff we got literally obsessed with checking this every single month of our journey. An amortization table a super handy mortgage payoff calculator! I honestly recommend the Mortgage Calculator on Dave Ramsey’s website. It’s designed to help you see how much of your payments go to interest versus principle. The principle is the money you actually owe to buy the house and interest is the EXTRA money you are paying the lender to borrow the money to buy your house.
To use this tool, you just enter your mortgage balance and your interest rate.
When we were paying off our mortgage we plugged in what additional principle payment that we could make each month and it calculated how long it would take for us to pay off our loan based on paying that amount each month.
Let’s say you had a 30-year term and the original mortgage amount was $200,000 with a 4.5% interest rate. Let’s say you had an extra $500 a month you could add to your principle payment each month (whatever you do, don’t put these mortgage payoff payments on interest). You would shorten your mortgage repayment by 14 years and 9 months. So let’s be a little more aggressive. Let’s say you had an extra $1,000 per month you could throw at it. You’d have shortened your Mortgage repayment by 19 years and 7 months. Meaning, you could pay it off in 10 years if you put your mind to it.
For us, we decided to pay whatever extra we had to spare and then some when we got it. We threw bonuses, tax returns, gifts and money from selling stuff we didn’t need any more right on that principle. Our original Amortization calculation said 4 years for us. Once we decide to give it all we had, it actually took just under 2 years.
Question 4: What are willing to trade for total freedom from debt?
Life was super simple during our debt payoff. We didn’t do big vacations. We didn’t buy new cars. We just worked hard, lived contently and saved where we could. We put additional monthly principal payments on autopilot. I switched to using a cash based envelope system and put any extra left over at the end of them month on our mortgage!
Once we paid off our mortgage, my husband was able to cash roll flight lessons and got his VFR Private Pilot’s license which was a bucket list thing for him.
I started my own business from home and within 4 years of starting my current blog business, my husband was able to quit his stressful commute, and engineering job to become a stay at home dad and entrepreneur. If we had a mortgage, that just wouldn’t be possible. But at this point the only person that could take our house away is Uncle Sam if we don’t pay our taxes. So here we are in our mid 30’s living a pretty darn stress free life. All because we decided to do something a little out of the norm.
So as you read this, I’d like you to consider your own life and your own situation. If you want to rid your life of owing anybody money, go for it. You might just surprise yourself at how fast your own journey goes when you put your mind to getting rid of it! But you’ve got to know where you are, how much you need and how long it will take so you have a game plan.
If you have found this story compelling or helpful, you should order my book Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want With the Money You Have. I go pretty deep in this book about breaking the cycle of live, spend, worry, repeat and help encourage you to go after the life you long for but aren’t sure exactly how to pursue, using the finances you have to work with.
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!