I was cleaning my office the other day and came across the letter from our former mortgage provider. The letter read, “Congratulations! Your mortgage has been paid in full and your account is now closed.” We were mortgage free!
That letter was dated November 2017. That means it’s been over 5 years since we paid off our mortgage.
And that got me thinking … Was it worth it? Would I do it again?
In short … YES! Here are 5 reasons why I would absolutely pay off our mortgage again and how our lives have improved in the last 5 years because of it.
Financial Anxiety Has Decreased
Looking back on my life after leaving the financial comfort of my parent's house, I realize that I’ve been worrying about money for almost 20 years!
I became a homeowner at 22 years old because I thought it was the financially responsible thing to do. Quickly after that, I realized homeownership was a pain! I could barely afford my mortgage and the costs and time required to be a homeowner were incredibly draining.
And when the Great Recession rolled around, this home that I bought for $200,000 was now valued at $100,000. I owed more on my home than it was worth. Talk about anxiety!
When I had my next shot at homeownership with my wife, I wanted to reduce the anxiety and amp up the peace and fun. Now that we’re mortgage free, I can honestly say I am calmer and happier, and I truly enjoy living in our home.
Hit Coast FIRE Faster
While I wouldn’t recommend paying off your mortgage before hitting Coast FIRE, it certainly helped us. Since we didn’t have to pay our mortgage anymore, we decided to invest heavily for our retirement.
Today, our retirement account balance is around $550,000. While it’s not guaranteed, time and compound interest could take our balance to well over $2,000,000 by the time we retire in our 60s (and this factors in inflation). That could provide us with $80,000 per year in income.
Since our family spends much less than $80,000 per year and we’ll still be receiving some sort of social security, we feel like we’ve essentially created our own pension.
Given that mortgage rates can be historically lower than stock market returns overall, I’d suggest hitting your Coast FIRE number first before paying off your mortgage. That is unless you have a pension or other income sources like small businesses or rental properties. But to each their own!
Maximized Family Experiences
With no mortgage payment and no real need to continue to invest for our retirement, we found ourselves using a lot more of our money for fun over the past 5 years!
We vacationed more than we ever have before as a family. Mexico, Florida, and California for family vacations. And we enjoyed some couple's trips to New York, Northern Michigan and even hiking out west for the first time!
One of our favorite adventures was to the Riu Palace Mexico. What a week of fun in the sun!
Our 14-year-old car finally was on its last legs so we upgraded and got a “new to us” SUV! We love the updated features and often use the SUV for family road trips.
Updated Our Home
Fewer home payments meant more money could go toward making our home feel more comfortable. With every year that passes by now, I feel like I live in a palace! (It helps when you’re married to a professional organizer and home designer).
- Our mud room got a full makeover with a designated locker for every member of the home. This helps a ton because our kids have piles of school and soccer gear.
- We knocked down a wall in our kitchen to create a bar where our kids can sit and have their breakfast every morning. It was an open floor plan before and now it’s extra open!
- The front and backyard have been updated as well with new trees, bushes, and plants. Again, this was expertly curated by my wife.
We also set aside money in separate savings buckets through Ally to ensure all of our household emergencies could be taken care of. There’s a bucket for appliances, home insurance deductibles, and even a buffer of cash just in case we forget anything. Even though we're mortgage free, we know that homeownership can be expensive!
We Can Afford to Work Part-Time
When we eliminated the largest debt and monthly payment from our lives forever, we had a lot more money available to us. For a while, we amped up our investing and our lifestyle with stuff and experiences, but then we thought … “Since we have so much money left over every month, what if we just worked fewer hours and got more of our time back?”
That’s exactly what we did.
5 years ago, I was working full-time as a Sales Director in corporate event marketing. Today, I work part-time as a family finance coach.
My wife is also working part-time now as an esthetician. She went back to school for the last year, got her certification and now is working in a completely different industry. So far she really loves it!
Right now, we’re both working around 25-30 hours per week and it feels right.
Working fewer hours means we have less money coming in. But without our monthly mortgage payment, we can afford to make this lifestyle change.
It offers us more time with our kids, more time to take care of our health, and more time to dedicate to relaxation and hobbies.
Final Thoughts on Mortgage Free 5 Years Later
So, looking back 5 years later, was it worth it to become mortgage free? Absolutely! I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Knowing the importance of creating an income source in retirement, I probably would have emphasized hitting Coast FIRE first. That being said, since we were both investing for retirement and paying off our mortgage over time, it all worked out in the end.
With those two milestone goals behind us, we’re focused on building generational wealth for our kids. That way, we can help them become mortgage-free millionaires too!
If you're interested in building generational wealth for your kids, check out my new course “Make My Kid a Millionaire“.
What do you think of the idea of becoming mortgage free? What would you do with the extra money if you didn’t have a mortgage payment?
Please let me know in the comments below.