...because home doesn't happen overnight.

family 2011-4

FYI – This photo was taken in 2011 shortly after we bought our current home and discovered we were unexpectedly expecting a third child. We had just started a gut renovation and were living in an interim, two-bedroom apartment. It was the beginning of our downsizing journey. The boys look so little!

Our decision to downsize was heavily fueled by our desire to become mortgage-free by age 40. We’ve always been conscientious about money. Steve is the person whom creates and studies spreadsheets whenever making a big financial decision. I’m the person whom must have her checkbook balanced to the penny. When I was working full-time before we had kids, half of my paycheck was allotted to savings and investments. (To this day, we haven’t touched that money. We pretend it doesn’t exist.) We also worked diligently to pay off school and auto loans. Even with scholarships and employment during college, we graduated with >$50,000 of school debt between the two of us. (That probably sounds like a lot to some and not much to others.) We buy and drive used vehicles. To this day, Steve drives the same pickup truck he drove in college. #dangerranger

exterior 2011

Five years ago, we bought the worst house on the street in a modest but respectable neighborhood. Our plan was to use the equity from the sale of our previous home to fund a gut renovation then plug away at the mortgage. It helped that we purposefully bought below our means. The dilapidated house cost way less than what the bank/realtor/society said we could “afford.” We were able to pay for the renovation in cash, and we’ve been hacking away at the principal ever since. Earlier this month, we made our final payment. The act itself felt both momentous and completely run-of-the-mill, but it’s official…

We’re mortgage-free! (For the record, we’re 37. We beat our goal by three years. We celebrated by making a list of things to sell on Craigslist.)

We feel equal parts grateful, proud and free. We’re grateful for good educational opportunities, job stability and our health – all of which were necessary to see our goal come to fruition and none of which we take for granted. We’re proud of ourselves for hatching a long-term plan and seeing it through even when obstacles blocked our path. We’re free. Without a mortgage looming overhead, not only do we feel as if a weight has been lifted, but it’s exciting to think about where we go from here, financially speaking. The possibilities are various: more saving, more donating, more vacationing, more investing, more traveling, more renovating (in a different house), more chilling out, more stuff we’ve never done, etc. Our initial thoughts run the gamut.

workspace 2

Even though we consider ourselves financially stable and responsible, we’re interested in trying out a more efficient way to track and budget our money in order to set and achieve new goals. You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a web-based app that simplifies budgeting by syncing with bank accounts and credit cards to keep you up-to-date on your expenditures. If you’re a visual person like me, it’s helpful to see where the money goes.

YNAB combines easy-to-use software with four essential budgeting rules: 1) Give every dollar a job. Before any money comes in, you already know what it is going to be spent on or saved for. 2) Embrace your true expenses. Paying for stuff – from essential things like groceries, shelter, transportation, utilities, doctor visits and medications to less crucial things like date nights, new windows, killer jeans, gifts or that dreamy leather sofa you’ve had your eye on – is part of being an adult. Being honest with yourself and prioritizing your needs and wants allows you to treat larger, less frequent expenses like monthly expenses. 3) Roll with the punches. You’re human. You make mistakes. You change your mind. Life throws you unexpected curveballs. Your budget should be flexible enough to change with you. 4) Age your money. Your spending should be based on money you’ve already made or saved, not money you’re expecting to make in the future. That’s how you stop the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and get out of debt.

Without really knowing, we’ve been following these rules on our own. Last year, rule #3 was especially important. We had to move money around to cover unforeseen expenses related to Everett’s accident. What was already a traumatic and stressful experience could have been compounded by unpayable bills. Having a flexible budget allowed us to focus on what mattered most – promoting Everett’s full recovery and getting back to “normal.” We’re still working on it. Some days are more difficult than others, but I can’t imagine the added stress of unpaid bills.

If you’re interested in giving YNAB a try to achieve whatever financial goals you may have, you can get three months free by clicking here. YNAB is free to all students!

For fun, here are several ideas we’ve been tossing around now that we’re mortgage-free…

*Finally install those shade sails we first mentioned here.

*Buy a vintage camper, fix it up and road trip with the kids while they still think we’re cool.

portland guest house

portland guest house 3

*Fly out west to see the redwoods and hit up this sweet guest house in Portland while we’re at it. (Those backsplash windows!)

*Buy a fixer upper and flip it. (Spoiler alert: We’ve been looking at distressed properties for months.)

*Buy a forever home in one of our dream neighborhoods and make it ours over time. Or just build one from scratch. (Spoiler alert: I’ve been looking for years.)

*Open an online shop.

new zealand airbnb

new zealand airbnb 2

*Visit New Zealand and live the ultimate indoor-outdoor life.

*Invest in a new garage door.

We would be completely happy bringing one or two of those ideas to fruition within the next year. Although we aren’t opposed to taking on another big project if the right house came along, in all likelihood, we’ll probably sit tight and savor our just right house for now. I think we have some braces to save for anyway. Whatever happens, I’ll continue to share our journey and the things that inspire us. I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens next.

Have you set or reached any financial goals recently? Do you have any tips for budgeting, saving or becoming mortgage-free? Talking about money can be so personal, but it’s important. Steve and I have witnessed our families stress over finances for decades, and we vowed early on in our marriage to minimize that stress in our relationship as much as possible. We aren’t perfect, but we do believe that consistently living within (or even below) our means has set us up for financial (maybe even marital!) success. For us, it’s all about prioritizing what matters most then making a plan and executing it with room for course correction along the way.

*This post sponsored in part by You Need a Budget (YNAB). Don’t forget to sign up for a free three-month trial here. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog and our financial endeavors!

images: 1-3) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 4-7) Airbnb

142 Comments

29.March.2016

First – a huge CONGRATULATIONS! You did it and you should be so so proud of yourselves, I don’t even know you and I’m proud of you. :-) Second, I’m so glad that living mortgage free is becoming “cool”. When I was your age (I’m in my mid 50’s) it wasn’t. We spent as we earned, and I’ve still got 9 years till I pay off my home. It won’t happen faster because I’ve got one in college and one that will be there in two years. I took a home equity line whenever I wanted to change something rather than saving up, and I’m living with the consequences of that now.

By the way, when I was growing up my family had a camper and we saw the US in that thing. It produced memories that are still some of my favorites today, so that has my vote on the “what to do next” list. :-)

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29.March.2016

Congratulations on such a monumental achievement! You’re an inspiration to so many. Thanks for sharing your life, thoughts and home – it’s a joy to read.

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29.March.2016

That is wonderful news! Just earlier this month, the husband and I were discussing how great it would be if we could pay off our mortgage within 15 years instead of 30. I think it’s totally doable for us, but right now, it seems almost like a pipe dream.

We are undergoing a major (for us) renovation. While we both have minor chops in the renovation and rejuvenation department, the entire house needs updated electrical to pass inspection, and just the costs alone from that are enough to make me faint. But we are determined to pay for the renovations in cash (like you!) and then to have the house reassessed, hopefully ridding ourselves of the PMI on the mortgage, and enabling us to pay more straight towards the principle.

Are you still paying on student loans? Next to the bills that keep us sheltered and warm (naturally!), paying down student debt is my top priority, but I feel like no matter how much overtime I work and put towards it, the amount barely budges!

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replied on March 29th, 2016

No mortgage, no student loans over here! It feels amazing!!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations! What a feat!

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Congratulations! That is a huge goal and you crushed it! I’m always impressed by people who set and meet big financial goals because it always seems out of my reach. It’s not like we have crushing debt, but paying off our mortgage is not even in the realm of possibility for the foreseeable future. I have tried various budgeting apps before but because I do my banking with a local bank that offers all of the things you get from a local bank, including tellers who know your name and inquire about what’s going on in your life and the ability to call the president of the bank if there ever is an issue, most of these apps don’t work for me. They are usually set up to only work with the larger banks unless you want to manually enter all your information (I haven’t balanced a checkbook for 15 years because it was too much work, I’m definitely not manually entering info in an app). I’ll check out YNAB though, you never know. I do wish app developers were a little more cognizant that people do bank with companies that aren’t huge, impersonal conglomerates.

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replied on March 29th, 2016

Good point, Erin. Thanks for the feedback. Mind if I pass along your comment to YNAB?

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replied on March 29th, 2016

I think YNAB actually pushes you to manually enter transactions to make you more aware of where your money is going. They do have a sync option, but it’s almost as much work to use it as it is to not. I did their free trial but it didn’t really work for my family.

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Beth
replied on March 30th, 2016

The old YNAB was a manual import. The new one has an automatic sync, I don’t know if they work with smaller banks.

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29.March.2016

Congrats Dana and family! You and Steve are leaving such a legacy for your kids. Way to be intentional (with your lives, money, energy, time, etc.)!

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29.March.2016

Congrats, Y’all! It’s exciting to hear about all of the possibilities that have now opened up for your family. You know me, I would say NEW ZEALAND first and foremost, but I am biased! I also love the idea of purchasing a travel camper while the kids are still small enough to fit in it! That is one of my “pipe dreams”, especially since discovering This Must Be The Pace and Birch and Pine on Instagram. So many adventures are waiting…
I signed up for YNAB. Being a homeowner on my own now, budget is extremely important. This looks like it beats my excel spreadsheet! Looking forward to trying it out.

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29.March.2016

Congratulations! What an inspiring achievement!! Must be so refreshing to have so many doors opened to you!

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29.March.2016

I’ve been waiting for this post! Congratulations on your success! We are planning to be mortgage free by the time we are 38. I’ll be 30 in June and 8 days later my hubby will be 31. Right now we are paying $400 or more EXTRA every month on our mortgage trying to get rid of it. After that our plan is to roll the payments right onto our retirement savings. CAN’T WAIT!

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29.March.2016

Wow Congrats!! That’s a huge accomplishment! I unfortunately fall into the category of “wow 50K of student loans seems so small”. We had a bigger than many people’s mortgage worth of student loans before we ever even got a real mortgage. Very scary/should we have a second kid, are we crazy? AHH

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29.March.2016

CONGRATS! This is an inspiring post and I appreciate the chance to check out YNAB. Can’t wait to see how your year unfolds…

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29.March.2016

Wow! Congrats on the pay-off. I had no clue you guys were a YNAB family. How long have you been using it?

I started YNAB in Jan. 2014 and it’s promptly helped me pay off my undergrad debt and save for a rainy day & retirement. I *love* it. I’m 26 and just decided yesterday that saving for a down payment is gonna be my next goal. :)

Love your blog as always, Dana!

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29.March.2016

Wow, you’re an inspiration! So many good lessons and worthy goals for me (a single 30-year-old) to consider. Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

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29.March.2016

CONGRATULATIONS!!! This is such a major accomplishment for your family! My husband and I are focusing more on making our money “work for us” by paying off debt and investing more wisely. Your accomplishment definitely inspires me to stick with it!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations on being able to “burn the mortgage”! Isn’t it a wonderful feeling? Especially when you realize that many many people will never, ever be able to do it or even consider it an option… We paid ours off about 10 years ago and it was so. much. FUN. I hope you enjoy your major accomplishment; it did take an amazing amount of hard work and dedication. Again, congrats to all!

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29.March.2016

So, one of the reasons my husband and I aren’t worried about our mortgage is that the interest is tax deductible. Was this ever a consideration? Everyone’s situation is different, just curious.

Aside: Well done you guys for being so responsible! As long as we don’t go crazy we’ll be debt free (except our mortgage) in 2-3 years. It’s oddly fun to work towards.

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replied on March 29th, 2016

You lose a dollar to the bank for every quarter you get back in the tax refund. It’s way better financially to be mortgage free.

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replied on March 30th, 2016

Beautifully succinct Sarah!

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Kara
replied on March 29th, 2016

You can donate to charity the amount you’d give to the bank in mortgage interest and receive the same tax deduction!

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29.March.2016

WOW! that’s incredible news! i can’t believe you guys paid off your house so quickly! i’ve been trying to throw extra money at my mortgage when i can, but it’s hard to be that disciplined when my list of projects continues to grow. i feel like i’m always saving for my next mini-renovation.

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Wow! Congratulations! That is wonderful for you and I’m sure an amazing feeling! Especially with your kids still so young and knowing you can save for those things like braces, lacrosse, dance or whatever it may be they want to explore or desire, as well as offer opportunity for yourselves.

We also bought our house in 2011 and are also 37 years old, but it was our first house together, (having gotten started and married a bit later in life that you both). We work hard to achieve similar budgeting goals than you and are hopeful we’ll have the house paid off by 55. We have a lot of projects done, but the bathroom addition/renovation we recently completed was by far the most expensive. Hopefully we don’t get any other big curve balls and can reach our goal too!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations!! As someone who just bought their first home 1 year ago, I envy your new-found financial freedom :) My husband and I have started YNAB (for real this time!) so that we can better track our dollars. With a mortgage, major student loans and a kid in daycare, we have a lot on our plate. I am struggling with it more than he is as I’ve always been debt free outside of car payments whereas he’s used to dealing with such large sums of money going out the door. I can’t wait for the day that we finish paying off our loans!

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29.March.2016

Congrats, Dana! I can only imagine how GREAT it must feel be to be mortgage-free, and living in a beautiful home that you and Steve created with 3 healthy, adorable children and your adopted feline. You are living the life. :) Enjoy!

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replied on March 29th, 2016

The life we have built here feels pretty good. Thanks Brenda!

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29.March.2016

So happy for you. We started with this plan and the recession of 2008 just killed it. Not sure we will every recover fully. You give me hope it is possible.

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29.March.2016

You deserve a round of applause-way to have your shit together! Looking forward to reading along with all your new adventures. You should definitely do Portland, it is funky and people are really friendly. Stop by Dicks kitchen, good wholesome burgers, Paleo friendly. That rental is amazing! There are like 2 whole city blocks dedicated to food carts, so there’s that right there. And the redwoods are so beautiful and humbling. We just got back from a Seattle to LA roadtrip and those were 2 of our favorite stops along the way. Cheers to your new beginnings!

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replied on March 29th, 2016

Thanks for all the recs! Portland is officially on our to-see list for 2017.

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29.March.2016

Wow, what an amazing accomplishment! I’m working on paying my home off as well. I bought 8 yrs ago and had a 30 year mortgage. I refinanced to a 15 year two years ago and just this month I was able to start to add extra to the principal. I’m hoping to be mortgage free in 8 years, if not sooner.

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replied on March 29th, 2016

That’s awesome, Renee!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations on the mortgage payoff! That is awesome!

We’ve been using YNAB for years, since it was a spreadsheet. It has been THE reason we’re financially OK through the ups and downs in life. 5 years ago we were doing amazing financially, but life keeps hitting us *hard* ($5,000 in unexpected medical bills in January, anyone? On top of our dead air conditioner that will need to be addressed before the summer hits.), but when you can see exactly how much money you have moving in and out it’s so easy to move things where they need to go. So yeah, go YNAB!

I think you should open an online design business, as I am having a horrible time figuring out what to do with my windows and could use some help. Then again, I’m still fighting though the medical expenses and have that HVAC to get done, so maybe paying for design help isn’t the best decision I could make right now :)

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replied on March 29th, 2016

I’m all for pretty windows but, YES!, only after all other necessary finances are in order!

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Congrats! We are on a similar trajectory and got a 10 year mortgage on our house instead of the traditional 30. It has everything we need and we’ll be free that much sooner!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations! What a milestone! I’m so glad that even though your house is pretty much done and you have paid it off you still plan on blogging. I am excited to see what your next plans are!

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29.March.2016

BRAVO!!! I think it is absolutely amazing at what you’ve accomplished! Your family is blessed that you now have the freedom financially to be able to do what you want to! Congrats!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations!!!! So refreshing to hear a story about financial responsibility!

Our house in Dayton will be sold in a couple weeks but when we were there I frequently house hunted in the “O”!neighborhood :)

We are already big fans of YNAB around here!

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29.March.2016

What a feat you guys! Way to go. I should be so lucky but the Vancouver real estate prices are a gong show, so we will have a mortgage forever!!!!!

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replied on March 29th, 2016

These were each of my thoughts exactly, just substitute [Miami] for [Vancouver]. Congrats to you guys! So inspirational that you’ve got us pondering a relocation to the midwest! :)

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replied on March 29th, 2016

Believe me, there are times I dream of living somewhere trendier, artsier, WARMER, whathaveyou, etc. But living in the midwest does have its perks and it’s been a wonderful place to raise our kids so far. Great schools, minimal traffic, affordable cost of living, lots of parks.

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29.March.2016

This is absolutely amazing, a crazy goal accomplished, and I wish you all the best in the future! WOW! We are currently debt free other than our mortgage (we just built a house) but my dream is to pay as if we have a 15 year mortgage in 2017 and possibly have it paid off in 12 years and then build again! This is a BIG goal and i’m not sure it’s attainable but I’m at least going to try! Have fun saving, spending or whatever you decide to do with your extra income!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment!
We hit that goal recently as well. Ages 34&36. It feels so good. We did add back in vacationing to our budget but otherwise our mortgage payment is now allocated to retirement and college funds. So while it doesn’t effect our monthly living, its the most amazing mental break ever!

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replied on March 29th, 2016

Congrats! We’ve discovered that we really enjoy vacations (which is strange because I grew up not really going anywhere except my grandparents house in Florida) and would like to take more, too. So we’ll be budgeting for those but most likely we’ll be saving more too. After budgeting to pay off the mortgage for a while now, it’s almost a fun challenge to see how much (spending/loans) we can live without!

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replied on April 5th, 2016

I’ve always wondered this when I’d hear about families that like to take vacations, but…

How can you (or in your case, your husband) get away from work enough to do that? Maybe it depends on the field, but my husband is lucky to get two weeks a year, if that, which includes sick days. Though it depends on the job… he’s in IT, and when he was IT support for a university he had a good portion of the summer off, too. But for a corporation, no way.

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replied on April 11th, 2016

Steve has been with the same company since he graduated from college, so he has accrued a few weeks of vacation which he must “use or lose” each year. Additionally, the company is unique in that they shut down for two weeks at the end of each year. He gets that time off and it’s usually spent visiting our families which can be extremely hectic and feels nothing like a vacation. (Last year, he had 14 days off at the end of the year and we only had TWO days free that weren’t planned for us.) This year, we’re taking advantage of that time off and traveling! Also, the company wasn’t in a financial position to offer bonuses this year, so they handed out extra vacation time instead. Cash would have been nice, but more time together sounds good too. Steve works long hours during the week (typically 10-12 hour days) and often works from home on the weekends to get a head start on the coming week. He travels out of state (and sometimes internationally) for work frequently as well. I don’t know that we could ever vacation for more than two weeks at a time, but it sure would be nice.

replied on April 12th, 2016

I guess it just depends on the job, then. Thanks for satiating my curiosity! :)

29.March.2016

Congratulations! What a wonderful goal to accomplish, and example to set for your children! This is why I read your blog. We need more blogs out there that share this message instead of a message of “Buy all the pretty things!!!!”

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replied on March 29th, 2016

I agree! Amen!! Congratulations and thank you for the reminder about responsibility in your posts!

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replied on March 30th, 2016

Agreed! Most home or style blogs – by nature – are extremely materialistic.
This one manages to be interesting AND stylish, without being a sucker for the viscous cycle of trends, and perpetual buying of “stuff”.

Congratulations to this family!
It’s such a great feeling to create and enjoy a life that one is actually happy and completely satisfied with.

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replied on March 30th, 2016

Agreed, more blogs with the less = more approach would be awesome. Congratulations Dana, how thrilling!

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29.March.2016

I am just floored and honestly verklempt over here! I can’t believe you guys did it! (I mean, actually, really, I can totally believe that YOU would be the ones to actually do it, but still…)

I feel so shackled to our house, but I’m grateful that we have no student debt and are down to one car payment. We are terrible budgeters and even though we have gotten better about always having a bit stashed away, we tend to be cash poor.

I can’t WAIT to see what you guys do! I vote camper but I’m sure any/all of the above will be amazing.

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29.March.2016

You did it!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so excited for you guys!!!!!!

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replied on March 29th, 2016

Thanks! :)

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29.March.2016

Congratulations! Paying off your house is the best feeling. We’re in our mid-thirties and paid our house off about 2 years ago and it was seriously the best experience! We took our whole family to the bank with us and made a big deal out of it, hoping it would be impactful for our kids. It CAN be done! We have 7 children, braces, and all kinds of real-life happening, but it CAN be done. And you can still save for your kids college funds! It takes hard work and sacrifice. Thanks for your inspiring example!

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replied on March 29th, 2016

That’s so awesome! Steve was adamant about making an announcement to the kids after we made the last payment. He gathered them together and told them we had worked really hard and made some sacrifices to pay off the house and now we owned our house and not many people do that. They were like, “So, we’re buying another house?” They totally didn’t get it. It felt good, regardless. :)

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29.March.2016

This is the first comment I’ve ever posted on a blog, but I just had to say Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment. My husband and I are also big savers, and I admire your efforts and goals. It is a huge reason why I love your blog. Thank you for continually sharing your story.

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29.March.2016

Oh man, this was a sponsored post! It really snuck up on me this time. I usually don’t mind them. But I would be WAYYYYYYYY more interested in more details about your budgeting since you accomplished an impressive goal without YNAB’s help .It’s a decent app, but it’s not magic or that intuitive. I have never both enjoyed a post or been so disappointed in a post of yours before. Real highs and lows here.

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replied on March 29th, 2016

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover – the baby steps to being debt free! Changed everything about how I manage my money.

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replied on March 29th, 2016

Yes! We honed in on that about 8 years ago (from the suggestion of a close friend) and it really jumped started the whole debt-free living thing for us.

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replied on March 29th, 2016

By far, our biggest step to becoming mortgage-free was downsizing to a house that cost waaayyyyyy less than what we were pre-approved to buy. (We were already free of school loan and auto loan debt by that point.) That freed up a bunch of income for us to pay down the principal. Renovating a smaller house is much cheaper, too, just due to less square footage. I don’t think YNAB is magic, but it might be helpful to someone who has trouble “seeing” where their money is going. After using it for while and making some spending/saving changes, they may decide it’s no longer necessary. Or maybe they use it to focus on one big goal and then once the goal is reached, move on to something else. It’s just an offer, no need to try it if you don’t want to.

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replied on March 30th, 2016

I vote come to New Zealand!!! If you need a place to stay…. ☺

Congratulations on this milestone.

We became mortgage free by 33 by really focusing on a budget and buying the cheapest wee two bedroom we could. When baby #2 (“surprise!!”) came along we needed a bigger, more family friendly, home. Like you, we went for the worst house on the street. This meant we could be mortgage free from day one and diy/save for renovations. It’s pretty slow going, but has it’s benefits – when I stopped work to be a stay at home mum, not having to worry about mortgage repayments was AWESOME.

If you’re after some inspiration and ideas, I recommend MrMoneyMoustache. Hilarious reading.

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29.March.2016

Your story is so inspiring to me! I have been mulling over the idea of living BENEATH our means for years, but it’s never morphed into any action steps. Thanks for sharing about your own goals and what it took to accomplish them.

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29.March.2016

I vote camper!! Just imagine the possibilities of tweaking one (IKEA camper kitchen anyone??) we are saving for a house and paying down student loans but own both our cars and actually have savings and retirement plans which feels good for this girl who decided 20 would be a good time to get $10k of credit card debt (which I’ve since paid off). It does seem like paying things off is so far away but I think we just have to be persistent and more purposeful with our spending. Congrats though you guys! That’s so exciting to be financially free!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations! You’ve obviously worked and planned very hard to hit this milestone and build the life you have. I don’t want to be negative, but I hope you realize that part of your good fortune is…fortune. Luck. There are so many people that work just as hard and might never have the opportunity of an education, home ownership or even a savings account. I love that you mentioned the possibility of donating more of your income to charity. Good for you. It shows a gratitude towards the community and world that helped get you where you are.

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replied on March 29th, 2016

We completely realize that and take nothing for granted.

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replied on March 31st, 2016

I agree! Some of us are very blessed to have health and a sound mind. I totally agree that someone with impaired health or an impaired mind does not have the same footing to have certain successes.

However, I would not like to take this concept too far. Even the single mom with a rough background with four children has been able to financially succeed *with choices she has made.* You can ask Dave Ramsey followers what sacrifices they have chosen to take. The single mom might choose to not subscribe to cable TV! The single mom might choose to learn car repair and plumbing techniques to DIY! The single mom might buy her and her childrens’ clothes second-hand! The single mom might arrange to take college courses to improve her education and employability!

Some choices that I personally make are to clip coupons, use cloth diapers, drive an old car, skip manicures, skip makeup, and plan meals carefully to save money. Those choices allow me to have more money at the end of the month and put the money into a savings account.

I would ask people to consider making similar sacrifices before chalking their situation up to luck. These sacrifices are my choice.

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replied on April 1st, 2016

Boy do I agree with you Sue. Very well said.

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29.March.2016

I’ve been a follower of the Dave Ramsey plan for 10 years! Consumer/student loan debt paid off before I turned 30 and my mortgage paid off in 2010 at 33, plus 100K in the bank to upgrade my house with cash! All while single! You will enjoy the Peace like no other! Give and Live like no one else!

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replied on March 29th, 2016

Live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later ;)

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replied on April 1st, 2016

Yes! So happy to see other folks following this plan. Also, my hubs and I have been using YNAB for several months now and we are hooked! We’ll use it forever if we can. It actually makes bugeting pretty fun. =)

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29.March.2016

yes, yes, yes! Thank you for sharing your financial journey and congratulations on being mortgage free! I really appreciate your honest approach to life and finances. I also vote camper! Seems like that would satisfy a few of the dreams: it’s a small-scale fixer-upper and would allow for very cool travel opportunities on a budget with the whole family. Sigh, you’re living the dream.

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replied on March 29th, 2016

If living the dream is getting lots of texts from your husband, “truck won’t start. come get me.” then we are doing it!! Ha! No, really, that does happen more often than we’d like but, man, car payments are THE WORST. I’d rather come pick him up from time to time. Those trips always turn into the best stories anyway.

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replied on March 30th, 2016

Save and pay cash for the car. I have never had a car payment because I buy it with cash.

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29.March.2016

WOW! WHAT AN AWESOME POST! MY HUSBAND AND I WILL BE LOOKING FOR A HOUSE/CONDO NEXT YEAR OR SO AND THAT WILL BE OUR ONLY DEBT. I’M PAYING OFF MY STUDENT LOAN IN ONE SWOOP! WE WILL BE DONE WITH OUR CARS NEXT YEAR. WE REFUSE TO BUY UNTIL OUR CARS ARE PAID OFF. OTHER THAN THAT, WE WILL BE GOLDEN. IT’S AN AMAZING FEELING SO I BET BEING MORTGAGE FREE WILL BE EVEN MORE AMAZING!! CAN’T WAIT!!! SO HAPPY FOR YOU TWO! YOU SET AN AMAZING EXAMPLE FOR OUR YOUNGER GENERATION.

XOXO
ANGELICA

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29.March.2016

This is absolutely incredible! We toy with the idea of selling our home and moving into something smaller but it is a family house and that makes it harder to do. I still look every day though. We are talking of taking our mortgage and switching it a 15 year. The idea of having it paid off before our kids leave for college is a big dream!

Thank you for writing this post! It is encouraging :)

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29.March.2016

Congrats !!! My husband and I discovered Dave about a year ago and it’s completely changed our mindset about money and the life we want. We also have the goal to be debt/mortgage free by 40 (7 years to go). We started with $150,000 in student debt and car loans and a mortgage. But we’re chipping away each month.

Thank you for sharing your story! And knowing that’s you can make a beautiful home while on a tight budget and with the bigger financial goal in mind is such an inspiration.

Thank you again and so many congrats.

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29.March.2016

***SUPER CONGRATULATIONS*** Knowing that others are living the best quality of life they can uplifts everybody. Thank you for the post!

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29.March.2016

Hi Dana,
Congratulations on this huge milestone. I hope you celebrated and not by going toilet paper shopping. :)
My husband and I live up in Canada and we will have our home paid off Oct 2017. We are 28. We both came out of school with less than 5k in debt. We drive older vehicles and recently bought a rental property. We are kind of in the same boat where we bought a not so sought after home but because of its size. It’s small, but it’s less to clean and we are very close to work and city center. Everyone keeps saying we will need to get something bigger when we have kids but I’m thinking otherwise…we will see. Mostly I wanted to point any interested readers to http://www.mrmoneymustache.com he is a great resource for anyone looking to get out of debt and retire early. Him and his wife retired at 30 and now do whatever they want. I love it and I can’t get enough of his saucy blog posts. Anyway keep up the awesome blogging. I read every single post and I love your home.
Ali

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replied on March 31st, 2016

Good for you!!!!

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29.March.2016

That is incredible!!! So glad for all of you!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations! That is a huge accomplishment. I have been following your blog since you started renovation of Underdog and have appreciated your candid posts. I love talking about money and wish more people did so openly. I practiced bankruptcy law for a decade and saw so many sad stories. You never know what is going to happen in life: loss of a job, serious illness, death of a spouse–events which are hard enough without the accompanying financial ruin. I am so encouraged by all the previous comments from people in their 20s and 30s about budgeting and striving to be debt free. It is not fun or sexy, but it is totally worth it!

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29.March.2016

Congratulations…that is fantastic news!

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