Debt Free Anniversary – 4 years

Debt Free

Four years ago our daughter was in kindergarten and I took a part-time bakery job to get a little more income rolling in (my take on Dave Ramsey’s ‘get a job delivering pizzas’).  We were watching our grocery expenses (beans and rice, as Dave says) and throwing everything we had at the mortgage which was ticking down into the $20-30,000 range.

We got to the point where we were looking at our emergency fund and savings and said to ourselves: “What return are we getting on the savings vs. what is the interest costing us on our mortgage?”  When we were below $20,000, we decided to take a chunk of savings and pay our mortgage off (of course we left enough to cover home ownership-type emergency expenses).

Getting it actually paid off was interesting!  We had to call the mortgage company and get a final payoff amount. We had a limited number of hours to get a cashier’s check from the local bank and get the whole thing sent via express service to the mortgage company.  They wanted every last dime of interest, you can be sure!  Our local banking staff were excited for us, and they waived the fees for the cashier’s check.

The next day we went right back to rebuilding our savings, and we haven’t paid interest ever since!  Staying out of debt has had a huge effect on our family’s financial future.  Our accomplishment is something we share readily with our daughter, and we hope it will be an experience she can look back on when she makes her own financial decisions for college and beyond.  We will celebrate as a family today with breakfast out (we are off work and school by chance today), a special dinner, and family time.

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18 thoughts on “Debt Free Anniversary – 4 years

  1. lilimounce

    Good job, Jen!
    It’s worth those small sacrifices just to get out from under someone else’s control of your finances.

  2. Vic

    That’s awesome! I’ve been paying extra on my mortgage each month to try to get my house paid off early. Whenever I tell others of this goal they look at me like I’m crazy! Stories like these are encouraging and motivate me to keep on going. Thanks for sharing.

    How long did it take for you to pay it off?

    1. Jen @ Dolls Between Us Post author

      There were a few things we did before we got motivated to pay off. One, we refinanced to a 15 year. At the time we paid off we were over 10 years into the 15 year term.
      When we started to push to payoff we still fully participated in employer retirement up to matching, but made small payments into Educational Savings Accounts and did not max out Roth IRAs (we contributed, though, and still did some investing).
      So, all told, when we got super motivated we did it within a year… but I don’t want to give you the idea that we miraculously paid off $300K or something like that.
      Making extra payments absolutely helps, as does getting into a 15 year if you aren’t in one already.
      Another huge help is that we stayed in the same home — we never traded up, so we are able to reap the benefits of being debt free rather than plowing the money into bigger and better.
      All of these decisions have allowed me to be mostly at home — I work while DD is in school but am off when she is off, including summers. We still have formica countertops, but in return we get a SAH parent!

      1. Vic

        That’s great! One of my goals is to have my wife be a SAH parent too. We’re working on it by being a frugal and attempting to live on one income. We still have a small gap between our monthly expenses and using one paycheck – so I’m trying to figure out some sort of side job or my wife can even work part time.

        Currently we’re in a 30 year mortgage but I have been aggressively paying extra on the mortgage. Eventually I’d like to get us into a 15 year mortgage, but we want to see how our finances work out since we’re still new parents and might be having a second child in the next few years.

        I love that you stayed in the same home! My house isn’t that big but to me it’s enough. I hate the idea of a “starter home” – I don’t want to get in the habit of lifestyle inflation where we feel like we have to buy a bigger house because we continue to get raises throughout our life.

      2. Jen @ Dolls Between Us Post author

        I often think about how our starter home was once a stylish home built by a dentist with a nice income. He had three kids plus wife & dog in the house that we now have 1 kid and 2 parents in! It boggles my mind where they put their clothes in these closets, but I am sure they had nice things but less of them.
        I started staying at home with DD when she was three… no regrets. In a way I think kids seem to need you more when they get older. Homework, reading to her or listening to her read for school, teacher prep days when there is no school, half days of school, sports or an activity… I am grateful my daughter is home after school to decompress and PLAY!

  3. Flo

    Yay! I hope you had a nice little celebration. I did laugh at your account of getting the check and quickly getting it to the bank, etc. We had a similar thing when we paid ours off, my husband was getting ready to mail it from his office when his boss’s wife intervened (she worked there too) and said “oh no, that’s going Fed Ex, our treat!”

  4. Crazynoiia

    Congrats!!! That is a great and motivating story. We are still working to get debt free, build our emergency fund, and save up a down payment for a house. Again, congrats and thanks for sharing!!

  5. Hayley @ Disease Called Debt

    Wow that’s amazing! We’re debt free now (credit card and loan debt that is) but we’re looking to take on a mortgage in the future when we’ve saved a huge deposit. The thought of mortgage debt does worry me but at the minute we’re renting which is dead money at the end of the day. When we do get a mortgage, we’re going to try to pay it off asap. Must be such a wonderful feeling to own your home and be totally debt free. 🙂

    1. Jen @ Dolls Between Us Post author

      Thank you… It can be done by taking it down bit by bit, especially if you are on a 15 year term. We never even entertained the idea until I stumbled on a Dave Ramsey live show on CNBC that he did for Memorial Day. That show changed our lives and we started the Babysteps right away.

    1. Jen @ HealthfulSaver Post author

      Thank you! It’s been a family affair and a tangible way to educate our daughter about money. It’s also been a comfort to my husband as he is the primary breadwinner.


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