Would you like to have your mortgage fully paid off in seven years? One couple in the US did just that, however it took real commitment, sacrifice, luck and some pretty unusual choices!
Back in 2008 Jerimiah Honer, now 37, and Andrea Stewart, now 32, bought a house in Sacramento, California for nearly US$300,000 (AUD$404,000) when they were both in their 20s. Their combined income equates to around US$150,000 (AUD $202,000).
Initially they put down a 10% deposit and got a 30-year-mortgage with a 6.75% interest rate. They then refinanced twice to 5.25% and 3.875%. By 2015 the home was fully paid off and they had saved an estimated $130,000 in interest rate fees.
Now granted, the couple aren’t exactly low income earners. However, the majority people in their position would probably struggle to pay a mortgage off as quickly. So how on earth did they do it? Read on.
They paid down extra debts first
When the couple embarked on their journey, they still had some university fee debts. They decided to clear this debt first by paying an extra US$200 ($270) a month towards it, and the debts were soon cleared.
They lived off one income
After Jeremiah crunched the numbers the pair aimed to live purely off one income and save the other income which went towards the mortgage. Jeremiah devised his own payment schedule to determine how much they could afford to pay and save. They also budgeted as if they made less money.
They stayed away from credit
As it was important for them to get out of debt as soon as possible, the pair stayed away from putting anything on credit cards in order to not overspend and accrue interest charges. “One of the things we asked ourselves whenever we made a purchase was, ‘Is this really going to make us happy?’” Jeremiah says.
They gave up their second car
As the couple’s house was near downtown, they decided to sell their second car and do much of their commuting to work and places by bicycle, saving themselves money on petrol and vehicle expenses.
They grew their own food
The pair decided to start a vegetable and herb garden in their backyard, mostly eating their own produce. “It’s actually easier to go into your backyard and pick things than go to the grocery story,” Jeremiah says. “We like the organic element and it’s a huge bill cut.”
They put any extra money towards the mortgage
Aside from their regular incomes, the pair also made some money from side gigs as aspiring writers. Anything extra they received, they whacked straight onto the mortgage.
They gave up spending on stuff
So here’s the part where it hurts. The couple cut out pretty much all travel, extra-curricular shopping and purchase of “stuff”. Jeremiah says changing their mindset to a more frugal mentality has now become a way of life. “We kind of don’t know how to spend money anymore, we kind of forgot!” he says.
They got a personal injury settlement
Now it gets a little weird. They also received personal injury settlements due to one of them being hit by a car whilst riding a bicycle – twice! Whilst it isn’t exactly good fortune to be hit by a car, the settlements amounted to $37,000 which helped cut down their debt.
They sold some eggs
Er, that’s right. Now it gets a little more unusual. Inspired by a friend’s pregnancy through egg donation, Andrea decided to donate her eggs – twice. She received $12,000 in total.
So now that they’re mortgage-free, what’s next for Jeremiah and Andrea? Well, they’re looking to let their hair down just a little by doing a bit more travelling and a spot of shopping here and there. However they’re also exploring investment options and are thinking about retiring early. But they don’t see themselves changing their spending habits, even though they’re in a much more comfortable financial position than the vast majority of people their age. Could you do the same?