I hate our mortgage. And I probably always will. The fact that we own so little of our home yet foot all the repair bills was maddeningly frustrating last week when our furnace started acting up to the tune of $600. But after clicking through Tim Urban’s “The Tail End”, I realize that maybe I’ve been viewing my mortgage–and homeownership to a degree–all wrong.
Our Mortgage Takes Our Money
Every month, I am greeted with an email ping reminding me that we owe the bank something to tune of $900*. Since we are determined to pursue some form of financial independence and now Mr. P’s car loan is no more, we are trying to double those payments. Because we made a 30-year commitment to our bank, we are trying to be more aggressive with paying it off by adding my side hustle money to the debt-payoff pot as well.
It isn’t always possible to be so aggressive with our payments, but we are going to keep trying. There’s no denying the crushing feeling that comes with six figures worth of debt. As for those who classify a mortgage as good debt, I say no debt is good debt. I won’t be sorry to see it go.
Our Mortgage Buys Us Time
As much as I dislike our debt, it affords us the luxury of time. My commute lasts between 15-20 minutes and Mr. P’s is about five minutes longer. I can make it to and from work in the span of a single podcast. That’s pretty hard to beat. Sure, having no commute would be even nicer, but I’m not about to make that weird childhood misconception that teachers actually live in their classrooms a real thing. These short commutes allow us to maximize our time at home and our time with each other.
More than that, though, our mortgage buys us time with our families. My family is ten minutes away and Mr. P’s is just a stone’s throw farther. Tim Urban’s analysis of his time left with his parents was crippling to me. He writes, “When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life.” His reality affords him about ten days per year with his parents. Tears rolled down my face when I looked at his chart that was almost completely filled with red Xs.
Once I pushed past that momentary existential crisis, I realized my chart would look dramatically different. Yes, my parents are in their 60s as well. No, I’m not kidding myself into thinking that they’re going to be the first couple to live to 120 together. Unlike Urban’s setup, however, our mortgage allows me to spend at least one or two days each week with my parents. Whether it’s me stopping over for tea and to go through the hoards of things they are still so generously storing in their basement or it’s us meeting up for dinner and running errands together, I can see my parents whenever I want. The same holds true for Mr. P and his family.
As easy as it is to get caught up in numbers, spreadsheets, payments, and account balances, I have to remember that life is so much more than a mortgage. In the moments that matter most, I’ve not given our mortgage a single thought. Money is not the most precious thing in the world. If leveraged correctly, money is nothing more than a tool that allows us access to the truly precious things in life: the people we love.
The next time my in-laws are over for a barbecue or my parents are crowded around the kitchen table, I like to think I’ll hate our mortgage a little less. In reality, I know that, as we pass plates, clink glasses, and laugh loudly, our mortgage won’t even cross my mind.
*It’s worth mentioning that apartments and rentals in our area are commensurate in cost, if not more expensive, than our mortgage. Just the other day, I learned of one friend who is paying $1700 for a two-bedroom apartment. I about peed myself.
So Tell Me…How are you leveraging your money to do the things you love or to spend time with the people who matter most?
Emily @ JohnJaneDoe
We turned our almost (and about to be) paid off townhouse into rental property and moved into a house 3 times more expensive when our daughter was born for so many reasons, most of them not financial. We wanted one story (no climbing up steep stairs with a baby in arms), we wanted a yard, we wanted good school assignments, and we wanted to be closer to Jon’s parents so they could spend more time with their one and only grandchild.
We live 10 minutes from Jon’s parents (who are 80 and 76), and spend at least 2 evenings a week with them. We felt doubly glad that Little Bit gets to spend so much time with them when we lost my mom 3 years ago. Unlike us, she probably won’t have the pleasure of getting to know her grandparents as an adult, but hopefully she will have great memories of the time she spends with them.
Hi Penny, I think you’re doing fine with a monthly payment you can handle. You also have job skills and age working for you. A mortgage gives you breathing room to enjoy your life and you’re accelerating payments when you can. Perfect!
We were fortunate last year to leverage our savings cushion to attend a wedding involving unplanned travel. Mr. G’s niece moved up the date and changed the location to FL. Suddenly we had flights, hotel rooms (and a gift we needed to cover earlier). It was such a special occasion and we would have hated to miss it.
Alyssa @ Generation YRA
This is a wonderful perspective on your mortgage! My fiancé and I are also fortunate to live 10 minutes away from his family (who we see weekly), and only an hour and a half drive up north on the interstate to get to my family. That’s the biggest thing – I don’t care how many tanks of gas, mileage, or wear and tear my car experiences to see my family. It’s the people in my life that matter the most, and family is everything!
100% yes, Alyssa. As an only child, there are days when it’s almost crushing to think about a time when it’ll really be just me. I try to soak up as much time with my folks as possible. Thankfully, I’m blessed with about a bazillion cousins, so there’s no shortage of loved ones in our area.
Maggie @ Northern Expenditure
Hmmm. Our mortgage doesn’t provide any of that as we have no family in Alaska – but it does provide a peace of mind that we’ll have a place to live even if all things go south – we’re locked into the same payment for 30 years (though obviously, we’re aggressively paying it off) no matter what the rental or housing market does. That’s worth something, right?
Another thing I didn’t consider! As much as I don’t want to be making payments for 30 years, I don’t hate our payment amount, especially given the high cost of renting in our area. Thanks, Maggie!
Matt @ The Resume Gap
I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot recently, especially after reading that Tim Urban article and with some recent deaths of celebrities close to my parents’ age (David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Glenn Frey, most recently). Spending more time with my parents is one of my priorities for the next few years, especially now that they are recently retired but still healthy enough to travel. My dad was hospitalized for a week last summer with a still-unexplained freak episode of pancreatitis, and that only made me more determined to create more free time to spend with them. We’re planning to spend several weeks next month visiting Daniel’s and my parents and to meet up with mine at some national parks on our upcoming road trip. For me, that’s one of the most important and valuable things financial freedom will buy.
I love this. Soak up as many experiences, memories, and stories as you can. Sounds like an incredible benefit to financial freedom! I hope you’ll blog about your family adventures!
Yeahh…. we live in a place where it’s entirely possible that the rent on an equivalent place is the same more or than what we pay for our mortgage. So for the stability of a fixed rate mortgage, I am grateful, it allows us to do what we need with a solid roof over our heads. (But I’m still going to do my darnedest to pay it off sooner rather than later! Debt still makes me squirrely.)
Right there with you on the “debt still makes me squirrely” bit 🙂 I truly never thought about the rising cost of rents versus the stability of a mortgage payment until you and Maggie pointed it out!
Mrs. Mad Money Monster
That is one powerful post. To me, money is just a tool that allows us to indulge in other things, including our family. I think I’ll leave work midday tomorrow to have lunch with my mom. Conveniently, she lives about one mile from my work. Thanks for inspiring me!
Mrs. Mad Money Monster
Our Next Life
YES! What is money for, if not to enable us to spend quality time with those we love?! Last week, when we posted about loaning money to a family member, we were a bit surprised at how many people scolded us. Of course we understand their financial logic. But goodness — we’re helping someone we love! Even if we never get the money back, it will be worth it, because we can’t think of a better use of that money tool than to enable relationships.
I love your statement that money is nothing more than a tool that allows us access to the precious things in life: the people we love. I couldn’t agree more. Loved the article!
Part of the reason we took a year off from work was to be able to spend time with our family. We head out on a 6 week road trip to see them in 5 days! We can always earn more money if we want to, but time with our extended family is very limited. If we put it off for too long, we might miss our chance.
I love this, Ms. Montana. Family first, even when it comes for FIRE. Maybe even especially when it comes to FIRE 🙂