For most financially averaged people like me and my husband, a house remains the most valued physical asset one can have. For the most part, paying a mortgage can be like a cross-country race. It feels like forever. However, it doesn’t have to. As long as you are prepared to do a little trade-off in your lifestyle and set your goals and your priorities, it can be done. I don’t say it’s a walk in the park but again, it can be done.
The final settlement of our mortgage took place when the house we built in 2016 was completed. The loan repayment was set to 25 years. At that time, we felt that there was a long road ahead of us. But the determination to get to the other end of that road was so intensed, to the point of fanatical, that we decided to take measures to end the mortgage on our principle place of residence in the shortest possible time.
Unfaltering with such decision, we have done the following…
- We made repayments aggressively and regularly. That means we put in every extra dollar we could possibly put in towards repayment at fortnightly basis. Concurrently, we also saved as much as we can and paid lump sums on the expiry dates of our fixed term loans. This is regardless of the interest rate increasing or decreasing at some point over that stretch of five years. By paying more of the principal, we were paying lesser interest rates.
- I took some side hustles to earn extra. I said “I” here because my husband was travelling overseas a lot for business trips pre-pandemic (okay, business trips may sound fancy but honestly, the pay is far from it). For more than two years, I put up our extra rooms for Airbnb or short term rentals. When my husband was away for weeks on end, I even rented out our own bedroom for Airbnb. Summer times were quite profitable because there was always an influx of tourists to NZ. So I hosted visitors from all over the world letting them stay in our humble abode while I slept in our car parked just outside our house. Yes, it was quite inconvenient. My friends said I was crazy. My husband complained one time when he got home from China and found out that he can’t sleep in our bedroom. He was kind to forgive me in a jiffy though, for the slight discomfort that he went through. Anyway, all the bucks that we made from Airbnb was put towards mortgage repayment.
- I bought and sold plants. This took place along with using Airbnb as a platform to rent out my rooms while I was working full time. I was quite full on but I found it amusing.
- We hardly went out to dine, let alone grab take aways.
- We did not shop for clothes unless they are practically needed. This means that in the last 5 years, I might have just bought about 3 pieces of clothings.
- Everything was strictly budgeted especially our groceries.
- I negotiated for my salary couple of times and my husband looked for a better paying job. With the little increase in our remuneration, we continued to live below our means.
- We maintained only one old car and we are planning to keep it until it gives up on us 😁
- We packed our lunch to work and we still do.
- Extra money like commissions that my husband got from his work and my redundancy pay (from my workplace that shut down in 2019) went straight to repaying our mortgage.
- We opted for a relatively small house so the loan was not through the roof. We strictly adhered to our budget we set before we built our modest dwelling until it was completed.
- We stuck to a reasonably and moderately minimalist lifestyle…and we still do.
I can keep shooting the breeze with many other pennypinching strategies we so rigorously maintained to finally take this big load off our shoulders. I guess we are blessed to have a roof over our head especially that in NZ, house price is utterly ridiculous.
Take note though that this is not for everyone!
Many financial experts caution people against finishing the mortgage off in a short time for so many reasons and one of them is missing out on other investment opportunities. But hey, I guess this depends on individual priorities. We are just happy that we can focus our attention to some other important things now.
For those who want to go down the same road, it may be rife of humps and bumps but you can get there in time that you set. Just implement your plan and stick to it.
I’d like to reiterate, it can be done!