I'm 38 & paying off my mortgage – here’s why

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Holly JohnsonContributing WriterHolly Johnson is a former contributing writer at Policygenius, where she covered insurance and personal finance. Her writing has also appeared in Business Insider, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Bankrate, and The Balance.

Published|4 min read

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My husband and I have always been good about saving and investing. And about seven years ago, when we paid off our major debts — a car loan and student loans — it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from our shoulders.

Since then, we’ve lived without major debts – except for one: our mortgage. We decided to step up our mortgage prepayment efforts, using extra savings to make several double, triple and even quadruple mortgage payments last year. And now, 10 years before our 15-year loan ends, we have three mortgage payments left to pay it off.

Why did we decide to focus on paying off our mortgage at such a young age (38)? These are the five reasons — and why I would do this again in a heartbeat.

1. I want this to be our forever home

When we took out a mortgage on our $187,500, two-story home in 2013, we bought less house than we could afford. In hindsight, part of me wishes we bought a slightly bigger place. Real estate is cheap in Central Indiana, so it’s easy for your dollars to stretch a long way.

The thing is, the house we have is big enough. It has enough bedrooms for us to have a guest room and separate office for my husband. We have a large living area with a dining nook, an open kitchen and 2.5 bathrooms for four people. (Still looking for your dream home? Learn how to deal with sky-high prices.)

In my mind, this is the perfect house for us, even if there will always be part of me that wishes for something bigger and better. With that in mind, I know I will never move if this house is paid off. By doing this, I’m protecting myself from a future me who might feel inclined to unnecessarily upgrade.

2. We hate owing money

I barely like paying bills, let alone having six figures in debt hanging over my head. The more debt we have paid off and avoided over the years, the happier and freer I have felt. After the final payment is made on our mortgage, I know I am less likely to borrow a large sum of money again unless it is for a business or money-making opportunity.

3. We plan to retire early

My husband and I have been thinking about the future for a long time, and that includes our plans to retire early. We’re 38 years old and still working full time now, but we hope to scale back our work in around 10 years and retire fully by the time we’re 50.

Part of our early retirement plan involves investing heavily for the future. The rest requires us to keep our expenses as low as they can go now. It will be a lot easier for us to retire without a mortgage, especially if we spend the next decade or so saving the money we would've spent on a monthly mortgage.

4. We're making the most of other investments already

Speaking of investing, I don’t think it would make sense to prepay our 3.75% APR mortgage if we weren’t investing heavily for the future. Because we’re self-employed, we have Solo 401(k) plans that let us save $18,500 in 2018, plus 20% of our profits for a total of $55,000 each in 2018.

We also have a few rental properties and plans to buy at least two more once we save up more cash after our house is paid off. Either way, I see having our mortgage paid off as a supplement to our investing strategy, not a strategy in itself.

5. We want a life with less stress & more freedom

We want a simpler way of living. Without a mortgage payment, our main monthly financial obligation suddenly becomes a thing of the past. From then on, we’ll only be responsible for taxes, homeowners insurance and upkeep, along with bills like groceries, health care and dental.

With few bills to worry about, we won't have as much stress about making sure we're making enough to cover bills. Instead of worrying over money, we can relish our time with our kids, take more vacations and spend our time doing whatever we want.

In my mind, being debt-free is the ultimate luxury; a freedom I always yearned for but wasn’t sure I could achieve. But now that our goals are within reach, we can stop focusing on the journey and finally enjoy the debt-free lifestyle we’ve built.

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