paying off the house


Have you noticed the “you deserve it” phenomenon in advertising lately? It is everywhere. You deserve a good night’s sleep. You deserve a beautiful smile. You deserve to go on vacation. You deserve a

Apparently it’s not a new strategy for advertisers, judging by the above MacDonald’s advertisement. It’s been around for years, but why has it suddenly become so prevalent? It drives me bonkers for several reasons. The first reason is that whether or not I deserve something doesn’t factor into my mental processing when deciding to buy something. I’m going to use the advertisement below as an example.OrthodonticSpecialists-ad

If I were thinking about getting braces my thought process would work like this: “Ugg I have unattractive teeth. Are they so bad people notice them or am I just being self-conscious? Am I so uncomfortable with my teeth that it is worth it to spend $3,000 to get them fixed?” This is the question I always ask myself, is this product worth the price? Am I perturbed or uncomfortable enough with whatever problem this product will fix to throw that specific amount of money at it? It is a question of value, and value is very personal. If I believe a beautiful smile will provide a $3000 or more return in my confidence, self worth and how I show myself to the world then it has enough value for me to buy it. I use a cost/value analysis strategy to make purchases and whether or not I deserve something doesn’t factor into the decision. I think along these lines even when buying something small. I have never thought, “I deserve that candy bar”, instead I think “Do I want that candy bar more than I want the $1 it’ll cost” (the answer is usually that I want the candy bar more than the money). Deserve has too much emotional connotation to be included in a discussion about how to spend our money. We work hard for our money and I don’t want to spend it based on emotion. I want to make sound, logical choices with our money.

Secondly, I get so frustrated when I see advertisements trying to make me believe I deserve something. Lots of people deserve a lot of things. Starving people don’t deserve to starve; people dying of curable disease don’t deserve to die; children don’t deserve to be born into families who won’t love them; returning soldiers deserve a hero’s welcome home. Those are things I associate with the word deserve not straight teeth, expensive mattresses and hamburgers. People deserve basic human rights, not vacations and teeth whitening. A vacation is a want and it is perfectly fine and normal to want things but let’s not agree to disguise wants as something all humans need to make us feel valued. Deserve is such a loaded word and I have such a strong gut reaction it, especially when it is used to make a want into a need.

Thirdly, the word “deserve” usually serves as justification for doing something you want to do, not a reason behind doing it. I wish people would use facts to justify things they want. Like “I value the time with my family that comes from a vacation and it is worth the cost for me” instead of “I have been working really hard so I deserve a vacation”. If a person believes in the value of whatever they are buying they don’t need to justify it by deserving it.

Deserve is a tricky, tricky word. It is an emotionally loaded word. When advertisers tell you “You deserve it” they are triggering an emotional response that stems from pride and the need to be valued. The emotional response to the word “deserve” completely bypasses any logical analysis of whether we can afford or even want the advertised product. All humans have intrinsic value. But don’t let advertisers force you to believe that buying things will prove you are valuable. The word “deserve” makes it ok to spend more than you have.  By using “deserve” to justify things we can’t really afford we are ruining our ability to make future decisions independently of the past. We deserve to not be held hostage in the future because we made decisions based on one emotionally loaded word.

Do you have any internal response to advertisers declaring “you deserve it”?


programing note

I’m changing the posting schedule from a Tuesday  and Thursday format to a Monday and Wednesday schedule.

Now back to our regularly scheduled content : )


eye rolling

I thought it would be fun to play a game where we pretend I told some people about our plan to pay off our mortgage as fast as we possibly can and then share their maybe real, maybe fictitious responses and then how I responded to these suggestions in my head.

Suggestion from my Doctor:  (rolling her eyes) “Why don’t you just split the difference and pay it down really fast for 2 years and then pay it at regular speed for whatever is left?”

Response: We don’t want work really hard for 2 years and then drag the remainder of our debt around for another 16 years – that’s how long this plan would last.

Suggestion from an employer:  “You could just pay it like a 15 year mortgage and it would be done in 15 years. Then it wouldn’t be so hard”

Response: Yeah but then it would last for 15 years instead of less than 4. Why would we extend the very thing we are trying to get out from under? If we have to choose between living on a tight budget for less than 4 years or living on a medium-tight budget for 15 years I will always choose tighter, more uncomfortable for a shorter amount of time.

Suggestion from a family member:  “I don’t think that’s a good idea. You wouldn’t be able to write off the interest on your home loan if you paid it off”.

Response: We pay almost $10,000 a year in house payments if we pay the regular amount. We are not saving $10,000 a year in taxes by deducting the interest from our home loan. I don’t care who gets my money, either the bank gets tons of it or the IRS gets some of it. I want to keep more of it. Also paying our mortgage off early will save us over $72,000 in interest over the life of the loan. We’ll be ok without the tax write off.

Suggestion from another family member:  (laughing and scoffing) “Then what? Are you going to quit your job and go on government assistance after you pay off your mortgage?”

Response: What!?! That response says more about you than it does us. We don’t only have jobs because of our house payment. We work because it brings value to our lives, allows us to contribute to society, reach other goals and enjoy life. If the only meaning work had was paying our mortgage I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have bought a house, that’s too much pressure on a job. This response was hurtful to both of us until we were able to accept that it actually had very little to do with us.

Fun right? Those were all real responses to our plan; none of them were made up. And these are only some of the verbal responses; I get a lot of eye-rolling. But I don’t care. It’s not anyone else’s plan – it’s our plan. We came up with it, and we will own it. Nobody else has to do it, so I just try to ignore the comments. But the closer the commenter is to us the harder it is to ignore them. Sometimes I have to remind myself that with most people the comment isn’t usually about me but more about the person saying it.

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. *

january recap

month recap

Hello February! Goodbye January!  January was an experimental month for us in many ways. But it is also the first month of the year – so full of possibilities. This was also the first month we used a cash budget system to curb spending. I’ll delve into the cash budgeting in another post. I’d like to recap the Month of January as it was the first official month in our journey to pay off the house!

It was also the first month we put a significant chunk of change towards our mortgage. We are both thoroughly blessed in that we received year-end bonuses from work and with those bonuses we were able to pay $5,285 towards our mortgage. So we paid an additional $4,470 that goes directly to principle! Awesome! This big lump moved us ahead to where we would be in September 2015 if we just paid the regular $815 month. It was a bit difficult to not fall into the “I worked hard all year and I should do something fun with this bonus money. It is a BONUS after all.” I just kept reminding myself that nothing I bought would be a bigger reward than not having a mortgage 3.6 years from now.

We also had the joyful opportunity to make use of our Emergency Fund in January. All our savings in 2012 paid off! Our fridge has been making loud noises for a while now, we assumed it was just usual fridge noises. Then it began to warm up and by Saturday it was a mild 50 degrees in the old ice box. My husband tried to fix it and we thought it was fixed until Sunday night when it again refused to cool below 48 degrees. Food should be stored between 32 and 40 degrees for safety, for a fun reference point. But we like to live dangerously! No, just kidding. We were keeping our food in a cooler on the porch. Then Sunday afternoon I went to do a load of laundry only to discover that sewer water had backed up in the basement! So we spent part of Saturday, Sunday and Monday acting like we were camping in our own home. No showers, no running water, no laundry, no peeing indoors (thankfully our house is semi-remote), going outside to get our food out of a cooler. So Monday we bought a new fridge and waited for Roto-Rooter. In the end all the problems were fixed by Monday night to the tune of $860. We have a new fridge and that tree root trying to pry it’s way into our sewer line is fixed – for the time being. (As a side note, here is a good way to get a deal on a fridge at Lowes. Say to the department manager, “My Husband keeps looking at this fridge at Home Depot, but I really want to buy it here. Can your work with me?” It also helps that my husband really was looking at a fridge at Home Depot). We also had the electrician come and start on updating the electrical the same week. For a while it felt like we were hemorrhaging money and that can be a scary feeling when you are trying to make every dollar go as far as it can.

Even though there were things that were challenging or annoying in January I am so incredibly thankful for so many things that made this first month in our journey to pay off our house possible. My husband’s great plan to live on one income, my employer, my husband’s employer, and our ability to earn income.

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diggin’ deep for motivation

timeclock  1.29.14If we are going to stick with a plan to pay off our house for 3+ years we have to dig deep to find enough motivation to carry it out. The way we got ourselves psyched up to do this was to dream about what life would look like after we accomplished our goal. Basically for both of us it came down to freedom. Freedom to make choices not based on paying the bank, freedom from working regular 40+ hours a week, freedom to explore what we really want out of a career besides a paycheck, freedom to do what we want with our money, freedom to give more money to the charities and people we value, freedom to take time off work and travel. Freedom. My husband and I both like our jobs, but they aren’t jobs we dreamed of as children. Astronaut and Ballerina curriculum wasn’t offered at our in State University and we both made more practical/feasible choices.

Without a house payment we could comfortably live off one regular, full time income, or two part-time incomes which would give us more time to enjoy the real parts of life that work just pays for. These are our big dreams; slowing down, having more time to be together, being more relaxed, have more time to enjoy our real life and less time at work. A break from a regular job would give each of us the opportunity to figure out what we actually want to be doing. It would also afford us the opportunity to take on more volunteer work or more meaningful work that doesn’t pay as well as our current positions. Basically our options would be wide open.

The idea of actually owning our home, not owning it with the bank lurking right over our shoulder as partial owners is very appealing also. I find the idea of nobody having any rights to our home except us comforting.

These are the big dreams that are driving us to make smaller sacrifices in order to achieve our BIG goal. Why would you want to pay off your house? What are some of your big dreams?

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