For this month's Mortgage Freedom series, I caught up with Tracey Sherman-Falcon from Aurora, IL. She and her husband Gandi Falcon just paid off their mortgage!
They are so thrilled with the emotional benefit of paying off their mortgage early that they are ready to pay off their rental properties as well.
As a truck driver and a food truck owner, Tracey and her husband Gandi paid off their mortgage early on a household income of less than $100,000 per year.
The interview below has been edited for easier reading.
Andy Hill: Why did decide to pay off your mortgage?
Tracy Sherman-Falcon: We decided to pay off our mortgage early because of the emotional aspect of it. Now that we've done it, the feeling is unbelievable.
We do actually have two other properties, so we have two other mortgages. But still having the home that we live in paid off was amazing. It's just one less thing that can't be taken away from us.
Was your husband on board with paying off the mortgage early?
Yes, actually he has always been on board.
I never wanted to buy a home when we got married because I loved renting. Being able to call the landlord and say, “Oh, my hot water heater's broken,” was great.
When we got married, that was a compromise we made. We bought a home and honestly, he's the one that really takes care of all that. He has the contacts and he is handy.
I've grown up always being debt-free. It's just something I've always instilled in him. “Well, if we're going to do this, this is how it's going to be.”
Did your rental properties provide you with income during the mortgage payoff process?
11 years ago, we moved my husband's mother here from Mexico. She was getting older, we wanted her close to us. She lived with us for a year and we said, we will make sure to get you your own place.
And so what we did at that time is we saved up and we bought a two-flat rental home. And that is really how we get started. She could have her own place, but then we also would have some income from the other apartment. And so that's how we got started.
How do you manage the rental properties?
My husband manages them.
We are very different personalities. I am the money person and he will attest to that. He is the people person. So he deals with all the renters and deals with the maintenance. He's excellent at that.
And I'm good with the books.
How did you pay off your mortgage early?
I learned valuable lessons from my grandma when I stayed with her when I was 12 years old. Spending summers with her, she always told me not to buy anything I don't have the cash for.
My husband and I don't make that much money (less than $100,000 per year). What we have built is because of everything we save. Ever since the beginning of our marriage, we've lived on one income and saved the rest.
I always knew you just put a little extra to the principal every month and then the mortgage pays off early. So we've always done that.
But then when we got more rental income in 2016, all of that went to our mortgage principal.
Why did you pay off your mortgage early instead of investing your money in the stock market?
It is definitely the emotional feeling that comes from not having a mortgage. I do invest in my 401k through my job and so we're definitely doing that as well.
When my husband wanted to buy a house and get some more rental properties, I was scared to deal with all that comes with it. Without a mortgage, it is one of the best things we've taken on.
My 401k is growing, the stock market is doing great. I calculated my net worth like you suggested last year I did that. I know now when I do the numbers, we will be able to live off of our rental income when all our homes are paid off. So to me, that's like my husband's retirement plan.