In less than three months, we will pay off our mortgage. Twenty years early.
This has been the moment I’ve been dreaming of for as long as I’ve been a blogger Or at least for as long as I’ve been a blogger who realized her mortgage was actually debt. Oof.
Why, then, am I not constantly radiating excitement at the thought? I ask myself that question constantly. Without a doubt, mortgage freedom is still our immediate financial goal. We are in agreement as a couple, and we’ve even started trying to get our preschooler in on the excitement. The baby just smiles no matter what. So why the hesitation then?
As far as I can tell there are three separate things that are giving me pause on the early mortgage payoff plan.
The (Second) Biggest Payment Ever
The first reason that is giving me pause is the dollar amount that is going to move from our savings to our mortgage account. Our final payment will likely clock in at around $30,000. The only payment I’ve ever made that was bigger was when I wrote out the check for a down payment on our house for a heart stopping $70,000 (I was only 26!).
Why does $30k bother me? It’s not like we don’t have the money. We do! But it is a little unnerving to think about that cash suddenly not being there anymore.
To push past this worry, I remind myself that we still have an emergency fund. Plus, we both have teaching contracts that will carry us through the school year. In theory anyway. So income isn’t an issue, and neither is savings.
The Most Common Advice
I’ve been in the personal finance world long enough to see the tides change over and over again regarding mortgages (and so many other things). Some years, the loudest voices want to be totally debt free. Other years, people yell at you on Twitter for suggesting you should pay off your mortgage. Guess which year we are currently in?
It’s true that the math suggests investing is a better idea than paying off a low-interest mortgage. But money is never just about math. Mentally and emotionally, I know that paying off our mortgage beats investing. Plus, it’s simply not my investing personality to drop a single lump sum of that size into our brokerage account.
I know I should, but I also know I won’t.
What I will do, though, is take what we aren’t paying toward our mortgage and move it to our 457 and 403b accounts. How can I be so sure? It’s what we did with our car payments and our Roth IRAs.
So I’m comfortable ignoring the loudest voices and the math in this case.
The Possibility of a Pivot
Why the hang up then?
We are having a school year like no other.
And while past me was pretty sure that I would not be typing some of the things that I am about to type and experiencing all of the things that I am experiencing, here we are. Again. We are in the middle of Pandemic School Year Three and all of the chaos that is spiraling out from it is once again forcing me to question whether or not I will have to take a leave.
So it’s one thing to look at your emergency fund and knowing that you can cover job loss down the road in some sort of imagined hypothetical scenario. It’s something totally different feeling like at any turn, you might actually have to have a gap in income not for something you did or didn’t do but because of a situation that is entirely out of your control.
I do think that we have done enough of a job of putting on our own parachutes as two teachers to two small children, but it does make me wonder if we should wait another school year.
Committing to a Mortgage Payoff Anyway
The reality is life doesn’t doesn’t wait. There’s no guarantee that next school year is going to be any different than this school year. There’s hope and optimism, of course, that it will be, but after the week that I just had, I don’t know how much of that there is left either.
So that means that we have to leap. It might feel like we are leaping without testing the strength of our net, but I have to believe that we have actually been strengthening it for years and years. We’ve made extra payments and we’ve built other income streams.
We have been putting together a net that we can rely on where even if this does deplete our cash reserves some, bucks traditional (and loud!) financial advice, and even if we do have to pivot in our careers temporarily or permanently.
We have this net so that means that we can take the leap and figure out what mortgage freedom actually feels like.
So Tell Me…Have you ever second-guessed a financial goal?