It seems like only yesterday that I burned my mortgage, literally. I celebrated paying off my mortgage in style, lighting my mortgage papers on fire in front of all my cheering family and friends. It’s a day that I’ll never forget. In September 2015, I managed to pay off my mortgage in a little over three years — less time than it takes to graduate from high school.
Growing up, my parents had always been homeowners and instilled the importance of homeownership in me at a young age. So, in August 2012, at 27 years old, I became a first-time homebuyer in Toronto, Canada’s second-most-expensive real estate market. I bought my house for $425,000, with a $170,000 down payment, leaving me with a mortgage of $255,000. I didn’t want my mortgage to be a life sentence, so I aimed to pay it off in record time.
Click to read more about paying off your mortgage early.
Here are three things I did to pay down my mortgage sooner. You can do it, too.
During the time I was paying down my mortgage, I lived frugally. I saved money on two costly household expenses: food and transportation. While my coworkers went out for lunch every single day, I packed my lunch. Not only did I save money, but I also ate healthier. I also kept dining out to a minimum, only going out on special occasions (birthdays, job promotions, etc.). I cooked all my meals in batches on the weekend, so I wasn’t tempted to order takeout during late nights at the office.
Instead of driving to work, and paying for gas and parking, I cycled and took public transit. I’m able to do this because I bought a home that’s close to public transportation and within commuting distance.
Having a Side Hustle
During my evenings, instead of binge-watching TV shows on Netflix or spending time on the patio, I was busy at work most nights. When my 9-to-5 gig finished, I’d work as a money coach and personal finance journalist.
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Becoming a Landlord
Being a first-time homebuyer wasn’t good enough for me. I also wanted to be a landlord. Instead of using my basement for storage, I lived in it, renting out the upstairs of my house. By doing this, I was able to bring in double the rent. Instead of only $800 per month, I earned $1,600 per month.
With the extra money that I saved and earned, I was able to make additional payments on my mortgage. I managed to pay off my 30-year mortgage in only three years and save myself over $100,000 in mortgage interest. By paying it off early, I’ve been able to enjoy financial freedom without feeling guilty. I’ve traveled to places like Vancouver, San Francisco, Boston and New York City.
If you want to be mortgage-free sooner, figure out what your motivation is, and put a plan into action. Most people aren’t able to pay off their mortgage in three years like I did, but if you’re able to pay it off five or ten years sooner, you can save yourself a lot of interest and enjoy financial freedom sooner, as well.