There’s no sense in burying the lede: Our mortgage finally dipped below six figures. Specifically, we now owe $99,884.
And I can’t stop smiling.
Mathematically, very little has changed. Technologically, it was just a few clicks and a single payment.
Mentally? Psychologically? Emotionally? That is another story, friends. We all know that money is never just about math. And I’ve been living and breathing that truth all weekend.
It isn’t as if crossing this threshold is going to help us pay off our mortgage faster. We are moving at the exact same pace that we’ve been moving all year, and only a few paces ahead or behind where we’ve been the entire length of the mortgage.
I still have debt. I still have a lot of debt. But the mountain has been moving so glacially I couldn’t feel it until this moment.
Now it just feels different.
I Can’t Do That
When I first started blogging, I told myself that we were debt free. But then I begrudgingly admitted to myself that just because we *could* pay off our cars at any given moment, didn’t change the fact that both my husband and I had car loans.
So, I acknowledged that we had a little debt.
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Months into our journey, though, I realized something else. A mortgage is debt. Actual, real, owe-lots-of-interest-to-the-bank debt.
It isn’t a crippling amount of interest, but it still adds up to thousands of dollars each year. And I don’t care how many people put the word “good” in front of it. It’s still debt.
I was shell-shocked.
In a matter of months, I went from thinking we were debt free to realizing that I had lots and lots of debt. Over $200,000 worth of debt to be precise.
And I wanted it gone.
RELATED POST: How I Fell into Six Figures of Debt Without Noticing
That’s when I started reading every post and article and interview about debt payoff stories that I could get my hands on. Each story had two things in common:
- The excitement was palpable, and
- the amount that these couples were paying off each year were more than my husband and I made combined as teachers.
In short, the advice didn’t apply to me.
No matter how much I wanted to feel the same excitement and motivation and determination and dedication, the math just wouldn’t shake out. Because when you don’t make six figures in a year, you can’t write about paying off more than six figures.
It’s not possible.
But I Can Do Hard Things
This isn’t where I tell you that the only thing holding you back are your thoughts. This post doesn’t come with a Pinterest-worthy image that urges you to manifest yourself into a millionaire.
I’m an optimist. But I also live in Real World, USA.
Most of us don’t have a mindset problem so much as we have a math problem.
But just because the numbers don’t shake out, doesn’t mean those posts aren’t worth reading. There’s a great deal to be learned from things that don’t apply to you. There’s a reason we look up to people we can never become. And it isn’t just social media sorcery.
I spent years honing my skill as a volleyball player in elementary and middle school. But as my skills grew, I did not. The year I went from team captain to just above the cut I realized that I was never going to be An Actual Volleyball Player.
But to this day, I can’t stop watching the career of Kerri Walsh Jennings. Ditto Misty-May Treanor before she retired. You cannot peel me away from the screen when volleyball is on during the Olympics.
I’ll never be on that court. I’ll never play like anyone on that screen. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t inspire me. That doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from them just because I won’t ever be them.
I can’t do that exact thing. That much is true.
I can do hard things. That is also true. I can overcome challenges. I can make plans and backup plans. I just have to do them in a way that suits me. My life, my career, my personality, my beliefs, my talents, my 5’6″ frame if I really stretch and the nurse at the doctor’s office doesn’t push down my hair too much.
Once I learned how to work inside my own skill set and on my own time frame, I realized that I, too, could pay off mounts of debt ahead of schedule.
In just under seven years, our mortgage has dropped from $214,000 to under $100,000. I am a teacher. My husband is a teacher. We have a toddler, and I took a very pricey unpaid leave to spend the first five months of his life with him.
There’s been help and hard work, privilege and problem solving on this journey, and it’s not over yet. But in seven years, we smashed six figures of debt.
We accomplished something really hard.
Will our story garner the fame or glory that these other posts got? Of course not. I’ll never make it onto the Olympic podium for Beach Volleyball or Debt Payoff.
But I don’t need to collect a medal. I don’t want fame or glory. That was never the goal. The goal is to get out of debt and to do it quickly. And that is exactly what we’re doing.
So Tell Me…What hard things are you working on?
Penny, I love your blend of optimism and realism. Congratulations on hitting a huge milestone!
Thanks so much, friend!
Congrats on smashing that debt well before your deadline! Any time you reduce the amount of time it takes to pay something off is awesome!
I took 6 years to finish a diploma and get my designation (just became official in July yay!!!) which as i took it all through correspondence took much longer than the 2 years to get the diploma if I had gone back to school… again. But I didn’t have to rack up more student loan debts etc to get that diploma and in some cases my work paid for the courses. I now have an extra $170 on my paycheck (this year) with the opportunity to make close to 6 figures once I top out of my current grid. Can’t wait to apply those extra payments to debt/savings and get rid of my mortgage earlier as well.
Keep up the good work!
This is so inspiring! Congratulations!
Would you ever consider sharing your actual budget? I’m single and own a condo, but blessed with a decent income. Even though we don’t live in the same state, I’m always on the hunt for new budget ideas to help me pay off my mortgage faster, if you’re willing to share.
Thanks – and again, huge congrats
Done by Forty
Congratulations on the milestone, friend. The neat thing with where you are in the amortization schedule is that you’ll continue to accelerate your progress all the way through your mortgage payoff as more and more of your regular payment goes to principle. It’s a neat way to blaze through the finish line.
Loved this bit, too:
“I can’t do that exact thing. That much is true.
I can do hard things. That is also true.”
It has been fun to feel the pace pick up, and I am definitely enjoying it.
I’m working on bulking up retirement. I won’t max out my accounts every year like some folks can but I can keep that as an overall goal and get as close as I can (while still living a bit in/enjoying the here and now somewhat).
I’m also trying to lay down the house though my mortgage is smaller than yours. If I just focused on the mortgage I could probably have it paid off in three to four years. Instead it’ll probably take 6-7 but that’s okay because… Well, it has to be.
There’s so much wisdom in this! I think a lot of me figuring out money means looking at our situation and figuring out what will work for us…and what time frame it more or less has to be.
Way to go on crossing such a big threshold! I’m still torn between saving and reducing my “good” debt… Im saving for 401k, while debating 529 investments for kids vs. being mortgage free… how did you choose to prioritize?
I take a huge cop out, and I don’t really prioritize. We do a little of each! 😀
If you get a 401k match (we don’t have that with 403bs), I would do that first. Then, I’d say it’s personal preference. We put $375 in HP’s 529 each month, and then we work on our Roths for the year. Now that we’ve finished that, we put extra toward our mortgage. I’d like to say it’s a real system…but it’s not. It does seem to be working, though!
Congrats on getting that mortgage under $100K and also your honest feelings behind it with your optimism and the reality. I think it’s part of this journey to overcome tough situations.
Right now I’m dealing with just finding a home with now our family of four. With factors like location(Bay Area) and how expensive it is, it is really tough to find that diamond in the rough and have it at a decent price. I get notifications from Zillow on newly listed homes and see it start at $750K for just a 2BR/1BA at just under 1K square foot. That’s that going rate around here. We’re just keep on saving and being patient on hopefully a slight dip in the housing market and we could finally snatch a home that fits our needs.
That has to be so stressful, Kris. Like you said, patience is key in so much of this. But wow is it hard to wait!
Oh my gosh, I can totally relate! My mortgage is down to approx $101,500 and I cannot wait until it drops under the $100,000 mark – it feels like such a big deal. I’m hoping to be all paid off in 6 and a half years and am dreaming of the day when it is all gone.
I am thrilled for you, Jocelyn. I can’t wait until you cross that threshold!
Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
I’m still so excited for you that the mortgage is below that six figures. How good that must feel!
Our mortgage continues to be a mountain, and we’ll chip away at it for however long that takes. Our savings goals also continue to be a mountain and we’ll keep piling up our small offerings at the foot of the mountain until it grows enough. My hard thing: practicing patience.
Why is patience so hard. And so boring. Oof.