Last week my wife and I paid off our mortgage… woo! We are incredibly blessed, especially since I am a very late bloomer, yet here we are with a one year old and our first house is paid for in four and a half years of owning it. Of course, we have what many people call a starter home, so we will continue saving and either do an addition or move to a bigger house in the next five to ten years when we can pay cash for it. Yes, cash because I am done with being in debt… God willing. Being under forty and having my practice reach full swing in the last three years (it should’ve taken longer, but I’ve been blessed there too), it’s pretty incredible how we have achieved this point, especially when as a couple we have together averaged over five years the annual salary of a single teacher, fire fighter, or a police officer who doesn’t do overtime. Yes, our two incomes averaged one over five years. And yes, this is my way of adding my opinion that government paid workers shouldn’t be paid as much as they are based on the national average since I was told only 25% of adults in Canada make over 50k a year and these government professions double that; that’s a lot of taxpayer’s money… but I digress.
For my wife and I to have paid off our house, it’s like someone winning an Oscar insofar that many factors had to fall into the right place for it to happen. It definitely wasn’t just us, but we played a major part. Arguably the biggest factor was the market being way better than it is now. If we bought our house today, we wouldn’t even be half done our mortgage. That being said, there are many practical factors that were at play for my wife and I to be in our current position, which connects to the lesson I’ve mentioned in a few recent posts: Do your part, and God will do His. My house is actually a major reason I discovered this lesson, and what “doing our part” looks like is described in the following list:
- Have people encouraging you to pay off our mortgage: Both my brother and work out partner paid off their houses by the time they were forty, which got me wanting to do the same. Plus, our families, in general, have been very encouraging about it. Oddly enough, my financial adviser told me not to pay off the house, but I’m glad I chose to follow the example of my brother and friend because being debt free is as amazing as they made it sound.
- Buy your house under one person’s salary: This was our goal because we wanted the security of knowing if something happened to one of us we’d financially okay. This ended up allowing one person to pay the mortgage and the other to add payments to the principle.
- Be generous to a point: Both my wife and I believe in tithing, which means we give 10% of our income to charity. On top of this, my wife is very generous with making people meals and such (she’s nicer than me). We both believe we need to be generous to a point if we want God to be generous with us, and He was very good to us.
- Have the right friends: A major factor we are in this position is because of having some incredible friends. These are the kinds of friends who show you how to fix something yourself or give you a hand when you can’t do it yourself. One friend was particularly amazing at this and saved us thousands of dollars. This list of friends also includes having a contractor who saved us thousands of dollars because he was my old boss and he was trying to help me out by giving me breaks where he could and encourage me to do certain jobs myself in order to save money.
- Live a No Frills grocery store style of life: A No Frills lifestyle considers: What is good enough? For me, this includes still using an IPhone. We also limit monthly payments plans. For instance, my wife and I don’t have cable or Netflix and instead we borrow movies from the library. Good enough also means limiting entertainment. My wife and I love going on trips as much as anyone, but we’ve limited vacations to weekends away in cheaper hotels and shared rooms with friends. We also rarely go out for dinner and if we go to a comedy show at my favourite club in Buffalo or a theater show, it’s for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Of course, now that the house is paid, we are going on a trip in the summer to celebrate. With the house paid, we can go and not question whether we should’ve put the money on the house instead, which is liberating. Overall my wife has learned to be cheap like me. We’re both obsessed with flyer shopping for groceries and house supplies and my wife will buy some things second hand and/or hold off on buying certain things that she wants until we can better afford it. On top of this we only have one cat when we would rather two cats or a dog, but right now that’s not an expense we want. Pets are expensive. Similarly,
- Pay cash for your cars and phones: Following the No Frills idea, both our cars and phones were paid for in cash. They’re not the nicest, but they’re good enough. I bought my Civic for $6500 and my wife’s Rav4 for $12000. Not having car payments or interest on a loan saves us a ton of money
- Be Willing to Sacrifice: Both partners need to be on board. Sacrificing isn’t pleasant in the moment, but it’s worth it in the end. For instance, both my wife and I would love to redo our driveway, but we’d rather wait until a year or two when we can pay cash for it.
- Embrace Contentment & Anticipation: When we were renovating our house, it was hard not to just pay extra to get it done. Our society promotes instant gratification, but there’s power in being content with where you are and looking forward to what can come. We fortunately were patient and didn’t go into debt paying an overpriced contractor to finish things quicker.
- Have generous parents: Our mom’s have been incredible between helping at the house and buying us a dishwasher and air conditioner. In addition, my wife and I go out for dinner three times a week because our moms make dinners as a reason for us to visit.
- Be ready to do work on your house: Life would’ve been easier if we bought the house all done for us, but we bought a total gut job and still have some landscaping going on. My dad taught me the value of doing work yourself because it saves you a lot of money and gives a great sense of accomplishment and pride in your house.
Bonus: I have saved a ton of money because I don’t drink alcohol or coffee and my wife always brings a to-go mug of tea wherever she goes in order to not spend unnecessary money.
This week may you consider ways you can use your money as wisely as possible.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people