i think we’re normal

our first house

Our 1st house, picture offered as evidence that we aren’t rich.

Pushing “publish” Tuesday’s post triggered a fear for me. I’m afraid that people will be disheartened by our story instead of encouraged. I am afraid that after mentioning we received year-end bonuses people will think we are making over $100,000 a year and that only “rich” people can pay off their mortgage early*. Rest assured we are not banking tycoons receiving bonuses several times our annual salary at the year end. While I’m not entirely comfortable putting exactly what we make out there yet I don’t want people to assume we’re “rich” and no one that isn’t “rich” can do this. What I want for people to understand from our story is that it is entirely possible to get rid of your mortgage early.

We aren’t special, or extraordinary in any way that is different from you. We have been very blessed and lucky in finding good jobs. But we have also stuck with these jobs when times were tough or co-workers were making us hate going to work.

I landed my job 3 days before College graduation and have been working at the same job since. I started at $12/hour and through perseverance and dedication I’ve steadily moved up in pay. My husband has been at his job for 6 years and through drive and determination continues to earn a little more each year. We are securely in the middle class, I think. Definitions of middle class are really complicated. After deductions my take home pay is less than $25,000 a year – see we’re not millionaires by any stretch. But I also think it is easy to always need more money so I try to be mindful of the fact that we are very comfortable compared to most people in the world.

Our house is by no means palatial; let’s say it has a lot of potential! Some people probably wouldn’t want to live in our home. We’ve made “sacrifices” in some areas of our life to make a goal like paying off our house feasible.  I say “sacrifices” because they don’t really seem like sacrifices to us. Our first house was very modest. So modest it didn’t have a working stove and was just under 700 square feet. We worked hard on improving our first home and all the stress and sacrifice paid off when we sold it and bought our second home. Our second home is also  modest but this time it was in a better area and with more land. Our vehicles are 11 and 12 years old. We’ve never lived in a home newer than 55 years old. We buy a significant portions of our clothes from Goodwill and on clearance at retailers or at wholesale prices through my husband’s work. We’ve never had cable, Netflix, or Hulu – not because we didn’t want it, it just isn’t a priority for us. We only have one smart phone between the two of us. I have a burner phone, like drug dealers use – it such an inexpensive phone and plan that you can just drop it in the trash and walk away. Our computer is 8+ years old. All of our furniture is at least 10 years old. We do as much DIY as we can on our house and only hire out stuff that has potential to be dangerous or hazardous to our home’s structure. We make more than the national average for a household income but our income alone would not make it possible to pay off our house in 3.6 years without all the other cost cutting we do.

It is entirely possible for you to pay off your mortgage faster than the bank has asked you to. Whether it is the right decision for your family is entirely up to you and I don’t assume it is the best decision for everyone. But for us it is. And if you want to pay off any kind of debt it is entirely possible, whether it is your mortgage or school loan or consumer debt.

There are so many blogs I’ve found about paying off debt. If you are looking for more inspiration check out: Anna @ And Then We Saved, she paid off over 24K in student loan debt, visit Joanna and Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget, they have great advice about budgeting and tackling debt, if you still need inspiration go visit Eric & Kelsey @ Words of Williams they paid off almost $40K in debt! All of their stories are inspiring and I find myself combing through their archives looking for encouragement all the time! I offer these other blogs as inspiration. There are people from everywhere, in different situations, with different kind of debts, in different phases of life who are making their dreams a reality by living on less and working harder. Our story is just one of many, but I hope you’ll follow along.

*somewhere along the life path $100,000 a year income seems to have lodged itself in my mind as the definition of “rich”. “Rich” is totally subjective as anyone living is America is richer than the majority of the world, and our gratitude and thankfulness can leave us feeling “richer” than anyone making $1,000,000 a year. So yeah it’s all subjective. *


One comment

  1. I don’t think you’re normal…I think you’re awesome. It takes guts to go after what you want: whether that’s paying off the house, giving up a house to travel, starting a business, or doing, well, anything.

    What’s normal is accepting the status quo of “I must have X, Y, and Z” and paying the minimum on your house every month.

    I’m so excited to read about your inspiring adventure in finances. 🙂

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