How We Paid Off Our House In 3.5 Years

This February we paid off our house.

pay off mortgage

(excuse me for one second..OHMYGOODNESS, WE PAID OFF OUR HOUSE!!!!! WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEE!!!)

And I’m back.
Now to be totally and completely honest, I wasn’t even sure I should write this post. I don’t want to come off as braggy or in your face about it. I know that there are a lot of people out there struggling just to make their mortgage payments and it’s not my intent to make them feel crappy. If you are in that situation I want to encourage you. You CAN change your situation, it will just take a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice. It won’t be easy, but it will certainly be worth it.

Oh, and since I know this was probably one of the first things that popped into your mind…No, we didn’t win the lottery. We didn’t get any inheritances or anything like that. Our parents, grandparents, nor any family or friends ever gave us any money toward our house. And no, we don’t make a lot of money - below the national average. We just worked really hard, saved like crazy, and threw every extra penny at the mortgage.

I’m not going to go super in depth about how we did it because that would make for a disgustingly long post.  I do very much enjoy budgeting and stretching a dollar, I could probably start another whole  blog about it. What I am going to share with you are the top five things that I believe helped us most in paying off our house so quickly. This whole post can pretty much be summed up with something my Dad used to always tell me “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how many bills you have.”  So true.

  Before I start let me give you a quick synopsis of our whole money situation. These are all real numbers. I know to some this may seem a little personal to share, but it’s just money. It doesn’t define us or make us better or worse than anyone else. Plus real numbers just make this post so much jucier, am I right? We bought our house in August of 2008 for $133,500 and put $10K down. We got a 30 year mortgage at 5.25% and our payments were just over $900 a month  (including taxes and insurance). The maturity date on the loan was supposed to be September of 2038 at which time we would have paid a total of $245,510.50 ($122,010.50 in interest!) for our home. Instead we paid it off  26.5 years early and only paid about $12,00 in interest (I’m guessing, I didn’t keep the best records on this). Holy savings, I know. Have you ever sat down a figured out exactly how much interest you’ll pay on your house? It’s insane.

So without further adieu, here are the top five ways to pay off your house early…

1. Buy well below your means – When we got approved for our home they said we could buy something for around 200K (I don’t remember the exact number). I don’t know what banks were thinking approving people for things that stretched them to their max. If you haven’t yet bought a house then DO NOT get excited if the bank gives you permission to spend a ton of money. Sit down, do a budget, and figure out how much of a payment you would feel totally comfortable with. And then spend less than that. No big fancy house it worth stressing over.

2. Pay for everything with cash - When Adam and I got married we agreed that we would never borrow money (well, except for a house of course). We pay cash for cars, furniture, vacations, remodeling projects, everything. This way you actually get to enjoy your things without worrying about how your going to pay for them, plus you never get buyers remorse because you don’t buy things on a whim.

3. Make a budget and stick to it –  Keep track of what you spend for a month. Count EVERY penny…you will be astounded at how much money leaves your wallet without you even realizing it. Then sit down every month and make a budget. It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy, I do mine with pen and paper. Give your budget a few months to start working, it takes that long to figure out exactly how much you spend/should be spending in each category. To learn more than you ever wanted to know about budgeting (and money in general) go to daveramsey.com.

4. Cut out the fluff – Adam and I have very few bills, mostly just the stuff you can’t get around like water, electric, insurance, gas etc. The only ‘extra’ bills we have are cell phones, netflix, internet…and even those bills are minimal (my phone doesn’t have internet or texting, cheapest netflix plan…). We don’t have cable, or gym memberships or whatever else people pay for. I’m very careful about how much I spend at the grocery store. We split meals when we go out to eat. It’s very very rare that I get my hair or nails done. I’m not saying you can’t have fluff, just have it be purposeful and within your budget.

 5. Learn to be content – All of the above are important but I feel that this one – a matter of the heart – is the most important of all. If you are reading this right now, then you are very blessed. It means you have internet access and enough free time to do things you enjoy. You probably don’t have to worry about where your next meal is going to come from. Even if things are hard right now you will come out of it and be a better person for having gone through it. The Lord loves you and takes care of you… what more could you want than that? You may be thinking that you will be content once you have a newer car or a bigger house or whatever it is you think you need. Those things would certainly be nice, but being content isn’t circumstantial – if you can’t be content with a little then you will never be content with a lot.

Being debt free is an amazing feeling. There is so much freedom in it…we don’t have to stay in jobs we hate because we have crushing bills to pay or work long hours just to make ends meet. I’m not saying we have done everything correctly and that paying off your mortgage early is the best thing for everyone. There are down sides…like the fact that we don’t have much in the way of investments or any retirement savings. But we’re only 27, and I don’t think that is too late to start.

Anyway, I wanted to share because I am really excited about not having a mortgage. And after all, this is a blog about my home – and what is more relevant than owning it scot-free? As usual, if you have any questions (or want to tell me why paying it off was a dumb idea… I’m prepared for that too) feel free to e-mail me and I’ll answer you as best I can!

Ashley

 



Comments

  1. Love this post! We are knocking out my student loans as the last step in our debt snowball and then we will begin saving for a home. So encouraged by this post! Thanks and WAY TO GO!!!!

    • Thanks Jenny! From the term “debt snowball” I’m guessing your on the Dave Ramsey plan…I freakin love Dave Ramsey. Those student loans will be gone in no time and It’s going to feel awesome. Glad my post was encouraging, that was my hope!

      • Hi Jenny great post. I am still wondering how you actually paid of the 100K loan in 3 years? If your loan was 900.00 per month did you pay 3 times the amount say 1800.00 monthly, for This would seem to be the only way?
        Thanks
        Mike

        • We didn’t pay an exact number each month, we just paid everything we could. Some months we would pay as little as 1200, some months we would throw 4 or 5k at it. But yes I would say our payments averaged 1800 or higher. Good luck!

          • That is amazing! So where did the 4 or 5 K come from? Was that from your normal income flow, working extra jobs, blog, etc.? Congrats!

          • wow thats amazing you paid 4 or 5K on your house payment a month! What kind of job do you do? Drug smuggler? My payment are within my reach and I have a smaller than normal balance than friends who b ought at the same time but honestly I have no idea how the heck you did it and that is buying below your budget!!

        • Chanta Bullock says:

          I have the some question as (Jenny on November 17 2012) what did you do to pay off your martgage is 3 years .Did you make 2 payments a mouth because thats the only way i can see it been done. let me know.

          • We only made one payment a month, but it was a monster. We just paid as much as we could each month and it was always different, but it was usually 2 – 3 times more than the minimum.

        • Cynthia Burkett says:

          Hey Ashley,my name is Cindy.My husband passed away 3 yrs ago.I have been paying my house payment by myself.It is $750 a month plus have to pay house insurance and property taxes.I only make $23,000 before taxes and health insurance.My house will be paid off in September 2017. What can I do to pay house off sooner? Money is tight .Also having to pay utilities and food .Do not have any credit cards. What do you suggest for this situation….. Thanks…Cindy

          • Hi Cynthia, this is a late response but I’d recommend renting a room in your house via craigslist or airbnb. I have a friend who rents her apartment when she goes on vacation and the money she earns from the rental is enough to cover her whole mortgage payment! I know this route isn’t for everyone but part time room rental are a good way to make some extra cash. Good luck.

      • Ashley, congratulation on your debt free life. I am happy for you because you have a supportive husband who have the same mind set about debt. You are blessed! keep up the good work and thank you for sharing.
        Kofi

        • Yes! Having a husband / partner who is on the same page is most DEFINITELY half the battle! Unfortunately for me, mine is not. Also, if we threw our entire incomes at the mortgage, we could still not put 4 or 5K toward the mortgage, EVER, but I am truly happy you could!
          Debra

  2. Wow, congratulations Ashley! That is so amazing and very inspring.

  3. Krystal Levens says:

    Ashley! That’s so amazing! Congrats!
    We are huge Dave Ramsey fans too. We became debt free (all except our house) February of last year and it feels great! Now, we’re cracking down on our mortgage and possibly refinancing to a 15-year as well. I tell ya, the last big purchase we made was buying a family car right before Logan was born and it felt so great to pay $9K in cash for that car! Such an amazing feeling to pay for things in cash. And to learn that the “All Mighty Credit Score” is crap! Yes, people, it’s shocking but true. :)
    And, you’re right, it’s just money. It’s so funny how really learning about money and figuring out how to control it makes you not feel weird to talk about it. It’s the same for us too and, I think, many Ramsey followers. We want to spread the word about our success just as much as you do!
    Anyway, congrats again… You are truly an inspiration! :)

    • Krystal, Unless you can significantly lower your interest rate by refinancing to a 15 year, I would suggest just sending the “new 15 year” loan amount and keep your 30 yr mortgage. You can send extra to the mortgage and have it paid off in 15 years, but avoid the refinancing costs. Good luck to you :)

    • Thanks so much Krystal and congrats on your debt freeness! It really is such a great feeling!

  4. Whhoooooo Hooooo !!!!! I love this. Congrats.

    We are debt free other than mortgage, but aren’t very far into that part. This is so encouraging. Please, pretty pretty please, post a link on my Making Space Mondays linky party!!! I really want others to find this.

  5. Thank you!!! I can’t wait until we can announce the same thing…but that might be awhile. That’s such good news. I’m glad you shared it!

    • Your welcome Tabitha! I promise I’ll link back…I couldn’t get my post to edit that night but I won’t forget. Thanks for letting me know about your linky and good luck with your mortgage :)

  6. You guys are amazing. Anyone who says otherwise is just jealous.

  7. Wow! You and Adam did a great job together.
    Truly an inspiration for me.

  8. What an amazing feat – you should be very proud – and your comments on contentment are so true – so often people get caught up in the “If only I had…” way of thinking, which almost never leads to where they really wanted to be.

  9. Wonderful ! Yes – yall did great by paying off your mortgage and by not creating debt and paying for things with cash and BTW, anyone that says different is full of poo !
    Love your blog,
    Karen in Texas

    • Thanks Karen! Sometimes when we tell people what we were doing with the mortgage they would say how we could do better if we took that money and invested it somewhere else. They’re right, but our goal wasn’t to make the most money, it was to be debt free. It was worth it, even if we could have made more money elsewhere.

      • Exactly! By paying off the mortgage first, you now have an extra $900+whatever else you were putting towards it, to invest! And you saved tons of money on interest. You would never get that interest in investing right now.
        Jenny recently posted..Links I LikeMy Profile

  10. Kim in Michigan says:

    Awesome News! Congrats! We have also just paid off our house, after 15 years of a 30 year mortgage. My husband is the saver. I wish i was more like him. Even through a one year layoff at a steel mill, we were able to stay afloat. Only because of him! I really need to get my act together regarding money.

    • That’s awesome Kim! Being able to make it even in hard times is the beauty of not having any bills. And hey, there’s a spender and a saver in every relationship…you can’t be that bad considering all you’ve accomplished!

  11. Yes, you did it. We are also on a plan to pay our house off in three more years. After getting use to our budget, I didn’t miss the silly extras that ate up our money. Congrats! All your hard work paid off. Your lucky to have a husband that is on the same page as you. When two people work together, it’s amazing what can get done.

    • It’s true, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. (Okay, that’s a lie…I would really like to go on a vacation without kids). I am very blessed with my husband, he is a hard worker and and excellent provider. I do all the finances and budgeting, but he is great at saving. To people that know us in real life he is known as the cheapest man alive, lol. He’s really not that cheap, just very wise about the money that he chooses to spend. But yes, we are very blessed to be on the same page, it made this process a fun goal rather than a battle.

  12. This was a great post! Congratulations to you for achieving this, and at the age of 27!
    I want to share one tip my husband (a financial planner) likes. We pay for everything with a credit card but PAY IT OFF IN FULL every month. If you shop around for the best card (one with no annual fees and the perks you like, you can get cash back, air miles, or points to buy things you would not otherwise have. It is also good for your credit rating. The key is to pay it off in full every month. If a card would tempt you to buy things you can’t afford or shouldn’t be buying, this tip won’t work. Again, congratulations!

    • Actually, a few months ago we decided to get a credit card. We know we will spend on it like it was cash and pay it in full every month, so we decided to take advantage of all the rewards dollars that they offer. We have the AMEX blue cash and have made about $250 this year so far for spending money on things we would anyway (gas, groceries, and home depot goodies). We have a good sized emergency fund, so using it in an emergency won’t ever happen…I know that’s how people get into trouble.

      • Don’t say you won’t ever have an emergency you can’t handle. There are many people with emergency funds whom are now homeless, unemployed, etc. it is a great blessing you are in the position that you are and I’m sure it is very motivating to many myself included. I just share this comment because I lost my job a few years ago and I got sick. I was unemployed and out of work for roughly a year and a half during which time I accumulated an incredible amount or debt and feelings or sorrow and depression. I am finally out of that rut but without that experience I to at one time thought I was prepared.

        Update my credit score has returned to the high 700s low 800s, I have a job that pays very well over $30hr, and I now have a few dollars saved. I went through heck and it made me a stronger, wiser, better person. I thank you for sharing your story. God bless, best wishes!

        • I’m sorry you went through that and am glad you are on the other side, thank you for sharing. I admit that I do feel much more secure being debt free, but your right, anything can happen at anytime and throw you for a massive loop no matter how prepared you think you are.

    • I pay my credit card off every month but end up with about $1,000 a year in cash back! It is so much fun to have that “fun fund” in addition to putting every penny I make (after tithing) towards my student loans. According to Mint.com (a wonderful FREE financial planning tool), the loans will be done in April 2013. And then we can start our family without the burden of almost-two mortgages!

      Learning how to fly was expensive…but so worth it because I have my dream job. We have a very strict budget, but we made allowances to Date Night each week, and even a party fund to have people we love over each month. Entertaining is something that we love to do and think it provides a lot for everyone involved, so we couldn’t resist. But we plan for it and have the money for it! I love knowing where every penny we spend is going. And we both love seeing my student loans disappearing from six figures!
      Captain Micah recently posted..Bring-Your-Hubby-to-Work DayMy Profile

  13. Congratulations!! That is something to be SO proud of! And I couldn’t agree with you more, a mix of hard work and learning what’s important is a great way to live life!

  14. Be Proud, be very proud for your attitude is rare and so very refreshing. Too many people think they NEED bigger, more and better of everything with no means of paying for it. Your attitude is truly refreshing and I admire you. Your philosophy “If you can’t be happy with a little, you’ll never be happy with a lot”, should be turned into a bumper sticker.

    For many years after my divorce I supported my children earning $15000. per year and going to school. Long story short, I ended up working for Microsoft and did very well there. Friends would ask me why I didn’t purchase new furniture, or buy a car or home. I was very happy with what I had and even when I had only $5. in my bank account, I was happy. I have two wonderful children who look back at those difficult years and are amazed that they didn’t feel poor.

    So, it’s all about attitude and you have the right one!

    CONGRATULATIONS on happiness,

    JoJo

    • That is amazing. I have nothing but respect for single mothers, now that I have kids I know that that would be the hardest job on earth. When my husband was in the military we got about $1200 a month housing allowance up in New York. We still rented and apartment for $350 and drove our $1000 car and were perfectly happy. It weirded people out, they didn’t understand it. But we were happy!

      Thanks for sharing your story, it goes to show that money doesn’t buy happiness!

  15. That is awesome! Congrats!

  16. Congratulations and thanks for sharing! My husband and I got married when we were still in college and I remember listening to someone speak at church. She was talking about being a poor college student and she said “if you can’t be happy now you never will be” meaning like you said you can ‘t wait for something in the future to make you happy you have to be happy now. Those are words I have lived by and they have made all the difference. So you are right about being content with what you have. Again, congratulations and enjoy your freedom!

  17. Hello stopping by from the blog hop, congratulations that is awesome that you paid off your house. I must be an awesome feeling. My husband an I are currently following the Dave Ramsey method and really hope to be debt free in a couple of years. Thanks for sharing your awesome accomplishment.

  18. Congratulations! Owning your own home is fantastic and now if you ever want to sell, that entire $133k (or its worth at the time,,probably more than that) is YOURS.

    I don’t think everyone, even with hard work, can accomplish this, but I am so glad you were able to! Congrats again and I hope you call in to the Dave Ramsey show to do the Debt Free yell. :)

  19. That is so cool! Congrats! Wow, how would that feel to be debt free?! Amazing!

  20. Congrats! Thank you for deciding to share your story! My husband and I are in the midst of buying a house and the whole 30yr mortgage really scares me (esp considering, as you mentioned, the amount of interest you actually pay). I am really encouraged by this! :)

    You should call Dave and do the debt free scream!

    • run numbers on a 15yr or 20 yr loan…you would be surprised they may only be marginally more. No one tells you that you don’t have to do a 30 yr loan! At least no one told us when we bought our home.

      • We looked into 10, 15 and 20 year loans as well, but in the end saw that an adjustable rate mortgage had by far the best rate… so we got one with a five year lock. I certainly DO NOT recommened that people get adjustable rate mortgage, it’s really a terrible idea in most circumstances… but we did our math carefully and knew we could have it paid off before oout lock expired.

        …and maybe I will call Dave and do the scream :)

        • Leslie Anne says:

          NEVER get an adjustable rate mortgage….NEVER.

          You said you did your math carefully…well, what if there was a car accident or illness and you and the hubby were then forced to live on like $1000 a month disability pay? You couldn’t pay off the house before the 5 year lock ran out…and wouldn’t be qualified for a refinance at that time either.

          Anything can happen to stop you from paying off a loan before the time runs out or the rates shoot up. Many people counted on refinancing and then financial circumstances change and they don’t qualify for a re-fi.

          Last year I took out a 10 year mortgage on a $29,900 fixer-upper house–and due to hefty apply to principal payments, it will be paid off in 2 more years. Knowing my plan, the finance guy tried to talk me into a 5 year adjustable—NO WAY was I taking that chance.

  21. Congrats! We are in such a mess with our house… We had our house paid off and got stupid. We decided to get a Equity Loan to fix it up and sell. We “bought” a house in Florida before we sold our house. So we used the loan to make interest payments on the new house. How stupid was that? Anyway, the sell of our house fell through and we had to short sell the Florida home and now left with a hugh Equity loan. We are on a fixed income, turning 70 and now our life is in a mess. It is so great you are young and debt free. Please pray for us. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh Shirley, I’m so sorry all that happened. I will certainly send up a prayer for you guys. Thank you for sharing…hopefully someone will see this and be able to learn from your mistake. Just know that its not your life that is in shambles, it’s just your finances. I know they may feel like one in the same, but they’re not.

  22. That’s awesome! Such great tips too! What an inspiration in this really hard economic time when so many people are so far in over the heads and walking away from their homes. Good for you!

  23. Thanks so much for sharing…now I feel a little more confident about paying off our debts. I am definitely going to check out the site you recommended and get started…And…CONGRATS!!!!!!

  24. Kimberly says:

    Great job! We don’t pay cash for everything, but we have very few bills and our house has been paid of for years. It is a good thing too. A few years ago, when I was a 5 month pregnant stay at home mom with two other children, my husband was laid off. Since we had so little debt and our bills were minimal, my husband was able to go back to school after the baby was born (three days after), and I was able to pay the bills with 2 part time jobs. Living within your means feels great doesn’t it? I am so happy for you!

    • Such an awesome success story. Without debt our options really open up and things that could have been a disaster are just a speed bump. It’s a beautiful thing!

  25. I am so very proud of you both–you inspire me as well .. Love you !

  26. Jennifer B. says:

    Congratulations!!! That is really something to be proud about!!
    We screwed up on the first item on your list. We bought a house that we could afford with *both* of our salaries, but when I stopped working when our son was born we are basically hand to mouth now. Had we thought ahead when we were looking at houses and taken a moment to calculate things out we would have adjusted our budget accordingly and not be in the situation we are now. Lesson learned. We’re stuck here now because selling the house would mean a *huge* loss and we can’t accept that right now.
    Congrats again!

    • Been there, it will get better. Coming up with ways to add income and cut costs helps. We had garage sales, I worked part-time nights and weekends to bring in some extra, we sold things we weren’t using on ebay and craigslist. http://www.daveramsey.com
      Enjoy being home with your family- the it is worth the sacrafices and before you know it they will be in school – get through the hard few years and I promise the $ stuff works itself out.

  27. That is fabulous! So many people live beyond their means and constantly struggle. It’s amazing what we can all do when we live realistically. Thank you for sharing.

  28. First of all congratulations! This is so incredible. I love reading real life tips like this. I get a little irritated when I read posts like “grow all you own food,” “make all your own clothes,” “never have anything fun…” (You know the ones I mean.) This is just such a down to earth, honest post – thank you!

    Allyson
    http://cupcakescandycanes.blogspot.com

    • Why would things like that irritate you? Because you don’t want to do them?

      Depending on how much you make, practicing extreme frugality may be the only way to pay off a house. We had no fun (except free fun, which, in my book, still counts as fun), grew lots of food, got cheap garage sale clothes, rented out the mother-in-law apartment in our home, and paid the house off in about five years, while earning less than $25,000/year (back in the late ’90s / early 2000s). Not everyone has to practice extreme frugality, but it is a very, very useful tool for many who would otherwise spin their wheels for years. Now we’re in great financial shape, even though we still earn a pittance, and I do not regret the sacrifice. With a good attitude, it doesn’t even need to feel like a sacrifice, more like a worthy goal.

    • Thank you Allyson. I wanted to write something that everyone could, and would, actully give a chance to work. While being extremely frugal certainly has it’s place and is someting to be proud of, I don’t think the majority of the population would give it a shot. Heck, the majority of the population can’t even spend less than they make!

      Laura, that is awesome and you should be very proud of all you’ve accomplished on such a small income. I’ve certainly done my fair share of wearing garage sale finds and consider saving money as a part time job. A penny saved is a penny earned, right?

  29. Congratulations Ashley & Hubby for your financial attitude and your debt free life.
    I am “an older woman, 59+” that enjoys blogs. I pray that both my kids, one married
    and one still single, will follow in your footsteps!

  30. Big huge congrats! We are hoping to have our primary residence paid off in 5 years, then our rental property. We HAD to move and couldn’t sell. Thankfully, we bought below our means in both instances :) Real numbers? As of today, we owe $69K on our primary residence and $58K on our rental property. And we’re doing all of this on a teacher salary, AND we have six kids! It’s pretty crazy.

  31. Congratulations !. It’s so nice to see a young couple set their priorities in place, and learn to live within their means…… knowing the difference between needs and wants. You both can be so proud of your accomplishement. May your wisdom be incentive for others.

  32. I would shout it from the rooftops, too! I’m with Julie, though. We pay for everything with a credit card, also. Pay it off online as we go as if it were a debit card a nd we earn on average $1200.00 per year. We also pay more than the minimum on our mortgage each month.

  33. I love the way you wrote this post…we just paid off our house in June of 2009, and then decided to purchase a fixer upper cabin in Dec. 2009…which I just paid off 2 months ago (feb 2012). I used to talk about paying off my house quite a bit, and then I felt kind of bratty and tried not to share as much when I was working at paying off the cabin, until people told me that I inspired them and they started paying extra too. My thoughts are you spend what you make…unless you are SUPER disciplined.

    • Thanks Shelly! And congrats to you…TWO paid off houses is quite a feat!

      Did you read my “slipcover fail” post? I totally modeled mine after those two toned grey and white ones you did…the ones where you made like eight. I loved those little ruffles on the bottom! Anyway, they were hard a poo to make and then I quit. So I just want to tell you that slipcovers are hard and you are awesome :)
      Ashley recently posted..Who Wants Free Stuff? {Ramsign Giveaway}My Profile

  34. Ashley,
    Congratulations, girl! That is amazing! My husband and I have been doing the Ramsey ‘thang’ for a little over 2 years and were lucky that we started before we started house shopping. We were able to buy a house well below our means and now I scrimp and save and pay for everything in cash. We’ve been debt free for awhile and hope to be done with the mortgage in about 4 years. It’s so exciting, and I am so happy for you that you are already there! I am 28, and I have such peace of mind knowing that we will be able to retire early and enjoy financial freedom thanks to our early decisions and money management. Kudos to all your hard work and dedication! (P.S. You can see how I also crazy max out our budget on my blog at http://www.livelovediy.com. I think I’ve been able to do some pretty AWESOME room makeovers for SO little moolah!) Ok, congrats again!! ~ Virginia

    • Kudos to you as well :) SO I went to visit your site and I recognize EVERYTHING for around the blogosphere….I just saw your entryway on Better After ad that dresser featured all over the place . Your house is looking beautiful! Anyway, now I’m following via GFC!
      Ashley recently posted..Who Wants Free Stuff? {Ramsign Giveaway}My Profile

      • I clicked on one of my traffic links and it took me here today. Just reread this post again and then saw your sweet reply again. Still love this post. A LOT. What a perfect way for us to first meet, too! :) Just wanted to let you know again how awesome this is! ~ V

  35. Great story!! I can’t agree with using credit cards for everything and then paying them off every month. All it takes is ONE time…either a job loss (no job is secure), an emergency…something to stop you from making that big payment. At least if you don’t have any debts there won’t be any interest to get behind with and no one will be hounding you for money! If you pay by cash you know where your finances stand. No credit cards in this family!!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Holy Freakin Moly Girl! That is seriously awesome. WOW! I am so happy for you guys and I love that you posted about it. Knowing how tight you guys are with stretching a dollar makes me proud that this is where it lead for you. It shows that it is completely accomplishable because I do know that you guys aren’t rollin in the dough and still managed to do this. We make more and are no where near paying off our home. Seriously Ash I REALLY am proud of you, I mean it!

  37. Our three step plan for paying off our house:

    1.If we didn’t HAVE to spend money, we didn’t, and we put all savings toward the house. I treated saving money as my part-time job. Because we’re “poor” (if you go by government income guidelines), we were very extreme. All fun had to be free fun. A good attitude helps!

    2. Buy a relatively cheap estate property or other really good deal.

    3. Find a house where you can rent out part of it. We found one with a mother-in-law apartment in the upstairs. This practically covered the mortgage, so all extra could go toward principal.

    If you’re blessed with good health and no other debt, it can go really fast, even if you earn a pittance.

  38. Congrats!! What a great post, you dont run into very many people that want to make the sacrifice to be debt free. We have been debt free for 5 years and sometimes it’s hard when you see friends with so much more but they are also in so much debt. you do have to learn contentment…..
    Congrats again!

  39. That is SO SO AWESOME! Good for you guys!!! I would LOVE to have our house paid off! :) Granted we’re just now in it a year… But these are great tips that could help for sure! Congrats girl!

  40. You should be proud! We did it too several years ago! We are Dave Ramsey fans too!
    You go girl!!!! What a blessing!

  41. Wow, that is awesome!! I’m so happy for you! I’m checking out the Dave Ramsey site you recommended as we’ve been working on improving our finances for ages – maybe that can help.
    Thanks, and congratulations!!

  42. That’s wonderful. Great job – now take that mortgage payment every month and get into a retirement plan — 27 is not too late at all and with no mortgage you’ll be able to get ahead of most people your age in retirement savings and even retire early!!

  43. That’s so exciting, Ashley! You guys are so smart.

    My husband and I refinanced earlier this year to a 15-year loan at, I think, 3.375%. Our loan is bigger than I would have liked, but we don’t have any car payments/cable/fancy phones, and we’ve been able to live on my husband’s salary and save all of mine. Now that I’m not working (had to get out of a bad situation), I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to save anything (and I’m sure my husband secretly worried that I’d spend more time shopping), but our discretionary spending actually went down by half since I finally have the time to DO projects instead of just buying supplies for things I don’t ever get to.

    One last thing — since you mentioned gym memberships: if you use them regularly, I don’t think they’re frivolous at all. My husband an I are very active, and while our gym is one of the more expensive in town (we each pay about $54/month), the value we get from the classes and facilities (including a lake that I swim in at least once a week) makes this investment in our health and fitness a no-brainer for us.
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    • That’s great that you are able to live off the one income and I’m sure it’s a big relief to know that. (And 3.375% is a GREAT rate!)
      I wasn’t saying there is anything wrong with gym memberships, as long as you use them. I would love to have a gym membership myself, if there were any relatively close! I do miss using the giant on on post for free when my husband was in the Army.
      Ashley recently posted..Who Wants Free Stuff? {Ramsign Giveaway}My Profile

  44. That’s awesome! Congratulations.
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  45. I think it’s great that you’re only 27 and have paid off your house already. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. The sacrifice was worth it and I’m sure you would whole-heartedly agree. But as someone on the other end of the age spectrum as you, don’t put off that retirement savings any longer. Those years just fly past and before you know it retirement is looming on the horizon. As someone who put off retirement savings to stay home with kids, homeschool, etc those retirement years are coming up way too fast. Not that I regret staying home and homeschooling.
    I love point number 5. That will make the sacrifices so much easier and I think Paul would totally agree with that.
    Now that I sound like your parent and not a blog browser I’ll go. Congratulations on paying off your mortgage so early!!

    • Thanks Amanda. Don’t worry about sounding like my parent…I’ll take all the free advice I can get! We’re setting up an appointment with a financial advisor in the next few weeks to get started with investing and retirement savings. I’m excited…we’re good at saving but don’t know a thing about investments.
      Ashley recently posted..Who Wants Free Stuff? {Ramsign Giveaway}My Profile

  46. Congratulations! That is an amazing accomplishment. We are about 1 year from paying off our mortgage. We did recently pay cash for 3 acres with a house and barn next to our property. Don’t know what we’ll do with it, but we know there won’t be a Walgreens or CVS going in there which is what we were afraid of when the for sale sign went up. I told my husband he can have the barn and I’ll take the house and make it my craft house.

  47. So very awesome!!

  48. Hi Ashley, I’m visiting from the truly lovely link party. I LOVE this post! Congratulations first off, you must be over the moon with excitement! My hubs & I are on the Dave Ramsey plan & are so close to paying off our last credit cards, then we’re working on paying the cars & saving for a house. You’re an inspiration! Truly, what an incredible accomplishment to have made at such a young age, you both should be so proud. Blessings to you & yours!

  49. Congratulations! We are debt free except for the house. I know you must be super excited. It’s such a great feeling when you know you aren’t slave to the lender.

  50. Wow! Congratulations, that is truly an amazing feat! My husband and I actually just closed on a home yesterday and we are already planning on paying to the principle as much as possible to pay it off early but it will be no where near as quickly as you did! Thanks for sharing your story, very inspiring!
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  51. Congratulations on such an amazing achievement! That’s got to feel incredible. I pay extra on my mortgage every month, in order to shave about seven years off my term — but you’ve challenged me to go back and see what else I can do. Thanks for the inspiration. :D
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  52. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for sharing! I thought Dave Ramsey might be in there somewhere:) I really appreciate how open and honest you are in this post, because I think for most people, money does define us. Or scare us. Or intimidate us. Or make us feel less worthy. Or, alternatively, it makes us happy. My husband and I try really, really, hard to not let money define us. When we have enough to play for extras, great, but the money isn’t making us happy. When we have less and have to cut back, we try to focus on the kids and our health, and realize that it’s just money, it’s not our family, or our values or morals.

    I’m giving you a standing ovation! Or as close as I can come while typing with one hand and nursing a baby:)

    Jessica
    stayathomeista.com
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  53. Congratulations! You did an amazing job!!!!!!
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  54. WOW! Congrats! I am so impressed! You are a huge motivator:) Thanks for sharing!!

  55. Found you after hopping around on some blogs…WAY TO GO!!!!!
    We are also Ramsey graduates…paid off over $20,000 in car loans and home equity loans in about 15 months and are now working on our mortgage. We just refi down today to a 20 year from a 30 year, went from 4.5% to 3.87% but we plan to keep paying what we were paying before so we will get to make some extra principle payments each month. But now having read your post, I’m inspired to go find some stuff in my house to sell so I have even more to slap down on that principle. I would love to be paid off in 10 years…but to do it in 3…so inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing and being candid with the numbers and how you did it. Blessings to your family for this accomplishment!!!

  56. Before I even read the rest of the post, I have to say:
    CONGRATULATIONS!
    I am so happy for you. We are debt free, except the house and that feels so good. I can only imagine how exciting it is for you all to be completely debt free!
    Ok, I’ll go read the rest of the post now :)
    Jenny recently posted..Links I LikeMy Profile

  57. This is absolutely incredible! A friend of ours recently gave us a book by Dave Ramsey and we are excited to get started on our debt-free journey! We have a link party each weekend on our blog and we would LOVE to have you come share this!
    Have a great weekend!
    Camille
    SixSistersStuff.com
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  58. These are great tips! We followed Dave Ramsey to pay off our debt a few years ago. Right now, we are just working on getting savings built up. I can’t wait until we can start putting more into the house!
    Jenny recently posted..Links I LikeMy Profile

  59. Way to go! I’m thrilled for you! It’ll be awhile before get there, but we have learned to live below our means and say no to credit purchases! Love your attitude, and thanks for the gentle reminder of all I have to be thankful for.

  60. Wow, fabulous post! I’m a newlywed, and I would love to be able to follow your example! Gave it a Google “Thumbs up” and following your blog through Linky. I found you on a Blog Hop
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  61. This is my 1st visit to your blog & I had to come tell you Congratulations! This is very exciting & you’ll be able to do so much more for your family now.

    I will get a little more personal since you were willing to share #’s. You can answer or not. :o) I am curious how much your income was, did you both work, ect? I can’t tell by this post if you have children or not either.

    We also paid off our mortgage early! We bought in 1989. Our loan was $50,100 at 9.5%, that was good for then. We refinanced about halfway through for 7%. We were able to pay it off in just under 10yrs. We were earning less than $30,000 a yr when we took out the loan & $30,000 when we paid it off in 1999. We also had a baby, bought one used car, did a lot of travelling (my father-in-law fought cancer during those yrs so we travelled a lot to see him & help with his care), moved my mom & helped with her with her care & a few other unexpected things. Our #’s are very small compared to many but we live in a cute small house on a lake with almost 5 acres of land.(no roughing it – we have more luxuries than most now without our debt) We’ve been here 22 yrs & it’s been so freeing to live most of that time with no debt! We were able to do things with & for our son through his teen yrs that we never would have been able to do had we bought a house beyond our means.

    I love hearing more and more people setting this as a goal and meeting it so quickly, especially at younger ages. It makes for healthier families for sure.

    • I’ll answer :) I’d say that our average income for those 3.5 years was about 40k. I don’t work (well, I don’t get paid) and we have two sons ages two and six months. I know that if you do the math it comes out to us living on basically nothing, but we sold a piece of land that we had invested in earlier in our marriage (we lost a bit of money on it when home/land prices dumped) and we were able to throw the 4oK from that at the mortgage.
      Ashley recently posted..Who Wants Free Stuff? {Ramsign Giveaway}My Profile

  62. Congratulations!! How exciting. Brag all you want, you deffinately deserve to. I LOVE Dave Ramsey, and am currently in the process of getting back on track. And your right, it is hard to get back to budgeting when your not used to one.
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  63. I am also interested in your family income and budget. I would love to see your budget and where your money goes each month, and to compare it with ours. Would you please share that? If that’s too personal, sorry for asking! I’m just wondering how that is feasible because my husband and I sound like we have the same bills and do not have any of the “fluff” that you were mentioning. We do not have cable, we don’t go out to eat, we spend very little on groceries, and neither of us buy anything unless we absolutely need it. We also do not have kids, and paying off a home in 3.5 years would still not be possible even if every extra penny went to our mortgage. Maybe we are missing some crucial part of this process that you can share with us! :)

    • Don’t be sorry for asking! I’ll send you an e-mail when I get a chance.

    • Emily, your e-mail isn’t attached to your comment….can you send me an e-mail so I can send you specifics?
      Ashley recently posted..End Table? Dog House? Both!My Profile

      • After reading this again, I was wondering the same thing (about your budget)…we currently make about what you both made at the time and we really only have necessary bills, but sometimes by the end of the bills, food, tithe, and mortgage payment there’s just hardly any left to throw at the principal, plus saving for babies, getting that emergency fund up, etc. Did you put a cap on your emergency fund while you were paying off the house, or something like that? I know you said you got a huge chunk to throw at it from the land you sold but earlier in the comments you’d also replied that some months you doubled the payments or even threw $4-5K on it? Wow!! I’d love to do that if we could but we just don’t have that kind of money. We’re on an adjustable-rate mortgage too because we were planning to sell before it came due but I’d LOVE to pay off our house before we sell it…we only have $40K left! Anyway, sorry to ramble but if you don’t mind, could you send me your budget too please? :^) My email should be in the appropriate box. Thank you Ashley!

        • Karen, just wanted to let you know that I got your comment and will get you an answer just as soon as I get a chance. I’m going to respond on the blog so that other people can have the information as well, I just need to see if I can find an old budget first! I’ll be back :)

  64. Wow. Inspiring story. I bought my house (by my self after a divorce, yay!) in 2010 for 118k. I was also approved for 200k+, which I thought was wayyyyy out of my means. I do have a serious weakness with budgeting. Yours is a good reminder that I need to start that.
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  65. I too enjoy having a paid for home. It is such a good feeling. We did not pay our home off in a short amount of time like you, but we did pay it off 20 years early.
    It makes me feel soooooo gooooood to have it paid in full.

  66. Totally Perfect!!! I’d love to have you share at my party…it JUST opened!!!

    http://www.itsoverflowing.com/2012/04/overflowing-with-creativity-19.html

    XO, Aimee
    Aimee – ItsOverflowing recently posted..Overflowing with Creativity #19My Profile

  67. Wos, that is fantastic! Congratulations on paying off your mortgage so quickly. I love your last point, to be content. I think that’s something a lot of people struggle with and the main reason a lot of people get into trouble with money.

    Thanks for sharing at Simply Klassic!

  68. Wow, that is awesome! Congratulations! You are truly an inspiration to everyone that reads this. Don’t fret about the ones that may have negative comments-jealousy can bring out the ugly in anyone. Keep up the good work! ;)

  69. THAT is an amazing accomplishment and something to be very proud of, since it’s something that many people struggle with. There are many people out there that feel the need to always want the best and newest of everything. I think the bad economy has started forced many to re-evaluate their spending habits, and if they do it long enough, it can become a natural habit.

    We only have a small credit card balance ( no interest ) that we will pay off in less than a year and a mortgage that we shaved from 30 years to 15 in 9 years and saved 7% in interest in refinancing and re-amortizing. We are much further ahead than most of our friends.
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  70. Absolutely awesome. What smart people you are. Good good job. :))

  71. This is such an inspirational post, massive congratulations! Me and my husband have not bought a home yet, but it’s our intention to try and pay it back as quickly as possible. House prices in the UK (especially my neck of the woods South East) are extornia

  72. CONGRATULATIONS! You have done a wonderful thing and should be proud of yourselves. My husband and I paid off our first house in 4 years and our second (dream) house in 9 years doing exactly the same sorts of things that you mentioned.

    I was always surprised about hearing how Americans get 30 year mortgages and wondered if 15 year ones were not available (I’m Canadian). I guess that the banks just don’t want people to know about them and how mortgage’s work. The more a bank can keep you in the dark the more money they will make from you.

    I hope that this post goes viral because it is SO important for people to start to understand that they are not slaves to their mortgage and with careful planning they can lead amazing debt free lives!
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    • That’s great about paying off both your houses! We don’t plan on being here forever…a few more years at the most. I hoping our next house will be our dream house and our last house, and we’re planning to pay it off quickly as well.

      15 year mortgages are available, but the banks keep pretty quiet about them. We would have gotten a 15 year except that we decided to get an adjustable rate mortgage with a five year lock (to get the lowest interest rate possible) and they only come in a 30.

      …and I seriously doubt this post will go viral, but that would be pretty cool :)
      Ashley recently posted..Who Wants Free Stuff? {Ramsign Giveaway}My Profile

  73. This is absolutely amazing ! We bought our house in September and can only dream of paying it off in less than 5 years ! We are doing the bi-weekly payment though (resulting in 1 full no-interest principal only payment each year) … And will probably use a portion of our tax returns to make an extra payment each year… So that’ll help, right ? Anyway, great job !!!!
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  74. Oh, Ashley I’m so happy for you. I paid off my house at the end of December, 2010 and it ws such a relief. Your tips on how to go about it are great but you must know that to many people it sounds lke foolishness. I applaud you and a look forward to watching your progress in all areas of life. You’re quite a success story. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music
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  75. Congrats! That is such an amazing accomplishment…great job! Thanks for the great tips, hoping to do better in those areas.

  76. Such an inspiring post! We are almost through baby Step 3 and think step 3 is the hardest! We had MAJOR ups and downs. You should be so proud of yourselves! What a feat!

  77. Kim Heller says:

    Congrats for owning your home outright- no better feeling in the world. Living below your means encourages creativity. My husband and I want to landscape our backyard. We would love to hire it done but don’t want to spend that kind of money. Instead we will do it ourselves and I bet it will look wonderful and be more personal than if done by a professional and it will mean so much more to us because it costs us our time and sweat! Nothing like sweat equity to make you appreciate what you have.

  78. congrats!!! we love Dave Ramsey and are working hard to pay off our home as well – - we have a goal of 5 years – can’t wait!!

  79. SO awesome! What an amazing feeling to be debt free! We love Dave Ramsey and are working on our debt but we had a minor setback a couple years ago, some day we’ll be there though!!! Congrats!

    Anna
    http://www.askannamoseley.com

  80. You and your husband are an inspiration!! TFS!! We bought our property a few years ago and will be building on it within the next year, year and a half. Thanks for the tips. I am a follower on FB and now on Linky Followers too.

    Alisha
    Alisha recently posted..Another Coat for HollyMy Profile

  81. Congratulations! What a rare freedom that you are enjoying! Wanted to share with you that we also use a credit card (only 1) and we pay it off each month. We pay for almost everything with it and spend within our budget. We have been so happy with the rewards systems – we usually choose a large gift card or a weekend trip. We are cashing in on some points in May for an anniversary weekend!

  82. Hi I am not sure how to figure the numbers out but I have been recently following Dave Ramsey and your blog and do you know where I can find a mortgage calcualtor that is accurate. My total mortgage beginning in Feb. 2012 was $70,000 and I pay $100 more per month, how much more do I have to pay to be paid off within 5 years? You are such a great motivation for many people out there, thank you for your blog!

  83. Congrats! You’re amazing! Thank you for sharing, I’m so glad you did. You certainly don’t come off as “braggy”, you give the rest of us hope that it’s possible!

  84. That’s awesome to be debt free!
    I am very grateful that we didn’t have to enter marriage with debt, like so many young couples do. You are right about being content also. We had a sweeper salesman show up at the door and he did his best to sell one to me. Want to know what made him finally give up? I pointed out the three things in our house that we bought brand new! (everything else was used)
    We do use a credit card but we pay it off every month and it earns us about $30 back monthly as well.
    Kendra recently posted..Cash Back With Ebates!My Profile

  85. Teaching financial principal is part of our ministry and we love hearing stories like this! So proud of you and know you will be a great inspiration to other young couples you know.

  86. Congratulations on being debt free at such a young age! You are very inspiring… Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful post!

  87. Congratulations! Such an inspiring story, thanks for sharing!

  88. Great post! Thanks for sharing :)
    Greetings from Australia♥
    ~Pernilla
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  89. … and congrats too :)
    SwedishCornerDownUnder…Pernilla recently posted..Det bakre köket – Heart of the homeMy Profile

  90. Ashley, you are one smart young girl! I love Dave Ramsey and live by his principals myself. People will tell you you should be investing instead of paying off your mortgage, but that’s because they don’t know how good it feels. Keep up the great work.

  91. Congratulations!!

  92. SO happy for you guys!! And jealous at the same time! Our house cost about the same, and we’ve been paying on it for 12 years now. I feel like the payments are going nowhere sometimes. I completely agree with you about the debts, though. Besides our home, we have zero debts. Not credit cards, not car loans, not student loans, not consumer debt, NOTHING. It’s the BEST feeling!! And, feel free to start a blog about budgeting! Let me know when you do, because I would follow that one!

  93. I like the way you think! It is the way I think :)
    My husband and I are doing the same! we got our home well below our means, and remodeling ourselves. WE are a 1 income family (5), and I stretch our budget to the max! I am glad there are people like you, without the fluff!
    http://frugalaintcheap.blogspot.com/

  94. That’s amazing!! What an incredible feeling that must be~congratulations~so happy for you! Angie
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  95. What a great feeling. Unfortunately I am 58 and next year finally can take out my 401 K and pay off my house. We should have done it much sooner. You should be proud of yourself for doing it at such a young age. Keep upthe good work and soon you will have a great retirement!

  96. Congratulations! You should be insanely proud of yourselves. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have our house paid off, but crazy happy does come to mind!

    Take care,

    Trish
    Trish @ Uncommon recently posted..Uncommonly Yours…{ Link Party 26 }My Profile

  97. Let me applaud you! Through hard work, determination and sacrifice you achieved the American Dream, – OWNING your own home! Great post and tips. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration at Sunday’s Best!

  98. You are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story. You’ve made me want to get all that debt paid off once and for all!
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  99. Congratulations! You should be proud of your ccomplishment! As an older woman, I would encourage you now to learn to live on one income. As a young married couple, we chose to live on my husband’s income and put all of my income in savings. Several years later when we had children, the decision to stay at home with the kids was not even an issue because we knew that we could live on one income. We also had a very nice savings account that we used for major purchases.

  100. WOW! This is amazing and inspiring. I do surely wish I did not live where I live sometimes (coastal California)…the price of real estate here make this seems like a stretch, but inspiring and something to shoot for! Never say never. Congrats to you!
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  101. Congrats!! That is so wonderful! We bought our first home in ’08 for 160k…after a couple of relocation’s we are in our 3rd home…..but no where near paid off…..great post! Very inspiring….we do hope to paid off early too
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  102. WOW! That is amazing! Congrats congrats congrats! What great tips too.

    Thank you for linking up to Financial Friday.. you were one of the most viewed links last week! Check it out tomorrow :)

    WOW and congrats again! :)
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  103. This is fantastic advice. My boyfriend and I live in a very similar fashion and think carefully about what we spend our money on. I really think people need to learn to take responsibility for their financial situations. Luckily my boyfriend and I both have better than average jobs and NO student debt, but this doesn’t mean we’re careless with our spending. I waited until I was 25 to buy my first car and until recently he was driving a ’92 Mazda that he bought from his parents when he was 17. He recently upgraded because his aunt very generously gave him her ‘old’ car, a 2002 Nissan maxima! We’ve had some lucky breaks, but have also been responsible with how to proceed. Thanks for sharing your story. I really hope you inspire a lot of other people!!

  104. Lynne D MacKinzie says:

    Thank you Ashley for re-enforcing what my husband and I are doing. We have downsized 2x and owe very little on this house. (little compared to most) My goal is to have the house paid off in 2-3 yrs. I know we can do it. Suggestion #5 is a good reminder to my plan. Can’t wait for the day that we don’t have a mortgage payment….party. :)

  105. Kuddos to you!! Being a Real Estate professional and my husband being a financial advisor I can’t stress to you what a big accomplishment that is, especially at your age and yes, you still have time for investing in your future. Great job!!!

    xo….mONICa

  106. Great post. We are huge Dave Ramsey fans, we began over a year ago with budgets through his guidance and it has changed a huge chunk of my spending habits. I may be contacting you soon, I think I’d like to feature this story to encourage others again about the importance of a cash only budget! :)

  107. We love Dave Ramsey too! We are debt free except for our house and we are working on paying it off early.
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  108. We are Dave Ramsey fans too. We just paid our house off the end of March following most of his steps. It is a great feeling. Congrats!
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  109. Megan Camp says:

    LOVE stories like this! I wish stories like this were the norm. How awesome for you and your family. Great job! Way to be an inspiration to so many and thanks for sharing!

  110. Congratulations! That’s awesome! We’re following a very similar plan and watching that balance come down feels so good!
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  111. Wow! This is amazing. I am inspired by you!
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  112. This is amazing, great job! We don’t own a house yet, but definitely agree and do our best to follow the ‘no debt’ idea as well. Good for you guys, what a great example in a world of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’!
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  113. Yea! How awesome for you, and thanks for sharing these great tips! This is the best kind of inspiration! Thanks for linking up.
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  114. Congrats! Very impressive. My husband and I set up our home on a fifteen year loan. We refinanced it a few years later at a lower rate but shortened up the time to a ten year loan so we wouldn’t be pushing back our timeline to have our home paid off by a certain age. We will also have ours paid off this year. I can’t wait. It is really something to be proud of and I understand the not wanting to brag but it is kind of like staying married to the same person. Rare and worthy of a pat on the back. Good for you and thanks for sharing your helpful ideas on BeColorful
    pam
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  115. Jeanne says:

    Ashley, I am so happy and proud of you both for your success. I did not feel any bragging or trying to make anyone feel “put down” by your post at all. Your just very happy and proud that you have done it and you have made small but significant sacrifices to obtain this goal. But I also loved the way you reached out with your words and posting for others to try to follow your suggestions to get to the same place as you…debt free. As a “young” 58 year women, I am appalled at my 27 yr old son’s (and all of his friends) spending habits. They have no conception of what life will be like down the road. So sad really.
    Now that your house is free & clear, keep making those same payments for a little while longer, into your own savings account. You will have your retirement money in no time at all!! Good job, well done, atta girl, your awesome, kudos to you kid, you go girl, hugs & warm wishes to you both. OH and TOOT…TOOT! I just tooted your horn for you!!! LOL

    • Thanks for the sweet comment Jeanne! I agree about peoples spending habits…we’ve known our fair share of people that we know make a LOT more money than we do, yet they’re always complaining about how broke they are. All I could think is that if we had their income, we would be millionaires! People spend their money on some crazy stuff.

      …and LOL, thanks for the horn toot!

  116. Whitney Breck says:

    I found this article from Addicted2Decorating, and I am so glad I did! You are an inspiration to all young couples that you CAN get your finances in order from the get-go. My husband and I are y’alls age and we have been proud of being financially savvy enough to be on our third house and pay off both of our vehicles. We knew we would love to shrink the pay-off time of our mortgage but never imagined you could do it so quickly! I showed this article to my husband and he immediately began crunching numbers and now we are on our way to having our house paid off in 4-6 years.
    Thank you for this wonderful post to show people that with hard work and some belt-tightening, it can be done! Also, love your blog, it’s great following fellow Texans!

    • Thinking of your husband reading my post and then busting out the calculator makes me smile…that’s the kinda response I was hoping for! You can totally do it in 4-6 years, especially if you and your husband are on the same page. (That really should have been one of my bullet points…make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.) Thanks for following and good luck!

  117. Wow… that’s impressive and so inspiring!! My hubby and I just bought our first home in August 2011. We’re still in the credit card debt payoff stage of our financial plan but the house is NEXT! It gets hard sometimes to NOT spend the money we make on fun stuff but the rewards of being frugal and saving are so worth it when another debt is paid off and a little more freedom is given. Thanks for the awesome blog!

  118. Andrea S. says:

    My husband and I got our mortgage based on his salary only. We used my money to pay the extra bills. I don’t work now because I stay home with the kids so we really don’t feel any burden and our mortgage is fully paid off. One word of note, you should have some sort of lien against you home, whether it is a line of credit or something, because mortgage fraud is a very big problem and some people don’t find out until they sell the house years later. You never have to use the line of credit but at least the lien is there.

  119. WOW! Congratulations are definitely in order! :) So excited for you. Great tips, too, for people like us who just barely bought a home! Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!
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  120. Britt kuhn says:

    Way to go! Big Dave Ramsey fan right here!!!!
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  121. Congratulations!!! What a major accomplishment. My husband and I are debt free too (mortgage only debt). We do Dave’s plan too. We have discussed doing something like this several times but it’s the #5 that is so hard for us (harder for my husband). He knows it is his biggest weakness (not being content) and he is working on it but he has a long way to go before I would trust that he could be fully on board. The one question I was wondering if did you have your full 6 month emergency fund when you paid it off?

    • Yes, we make sure and always keep a large emergency fund…probably closer to a years worth than 6 months. We’re not big risk takers :)

  122. Jennifer says:

    Congratulations to you :)

  123. KatMoss says:

    Congrats to you!! We, too, are on the debt-free train – we paid off the last of our consumer debt in December 2010 (a total of $122,000 in 47 months), drove to Nashville to meet Dave Ramsey and do our debt-free scream and have totally loved what it’s brought to our marriage, our family and our faith in God. We teach Dave’s Financial Peace University at our church and love being able to help others get to the same place – budget, save, give. Our house is on track to pay off in about 7 years, sooner if things keep on the track we’re currently on. Thanks for sharing your story and sharing real HOPE!!

  124. I was so encouraged to read this!! We just paid off all our debt as well. We rent our home (to save on those crazy interest rates!) but plan on buying in the future and this was just what I needed to read! Here is a blogpost I did on cash envelopes! http://www.adoptioncreatesfamilies.com/2012/01/money-management.html

  125. Congratulations!!! We just paid off our debt too (we have chosen not to own our home for financial reasons). Here is a link to a blogpost I did on cash envelopes! http://www.adoptioncreatesfamilies.com/2012/01/money-management.html

  126. Amanda M. says:

    Ashley, Thank you for sharing. I needed this today. We aren’t in a position to pay off our home right away, but what you said about contentment and knowing God provides…I needed that.

  127. Congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment! It’s amazing you were able to pay off your household in such a short time and at a young age. You should be so proud!
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  128. Congratulations! That is an awesome thing! We just bought our first home and are trying to learn so we can do the same thing! We pay as much extra as we can, but I don’t think we’ll be done in 3 years!
    the Zoo Keeper recently posted..Summer Skills ClinicsMy Profile

  129. Wow! I came to your site via Pinterest to see your paisley table makeover, and found this… how amazing! :) I am now your newest fan and follower. :)

    Hub’s and I had royally screwed up our finances, with the ‘if I only had’ mentality. Then we found Dave Ramsey’s FPU program and began working our debt snowball, with a plan to get about 50k in debt (NOT counting the house – scary, huh?) paid off in about 3 years. We actually sold the house and moved into an apartment, then found a (bigger-than-we-needed) rural house that we could buy without PMI through an FDA loan, and pay just a few hundred a month more than we were paying in the apartment and still work our debt snowball, so we jumped on it.

    Literally days before we closed on the house, my husband was in a near-fatal car wreck. God was in the car with him and followed him through a miraculous recovery, but we were in a state of shock and weren’t thinking very clearly. Doctors told us he would be able to return to work (and if not, he had long term disability through work), and our lease was ending on the apartment, so we went ahead and closed on the way-too-big-house while hubs was still in the hospital (NOT a smart move!)

    Fast-forward almost two years later, and we’ve since lost everything. Hubby wasn’t able to return to work and the disability ended after just a few months due to a loophole pertaining to his particular type of injury. Oh, and utilities for that way-too-big-house? They were through the roof. We hit rock bottom, and filed (ugh, I hate this word!) bankruptcy. As hard as it was (and still is to admit), it’s also the most freeing thing that we’ve ever done, and in our position there literally was no other option.

    We’ve eaten so much humble pie and learned so many lessons (the hard way!), but now God has us in a place of freedom and redemption. We’re back in an apartment, hubby is back to work (just this month, praise God!) and we are now debt-free with a clean slate.

    We’re paying cash for everything, and we intend to either save up enough to buy the next house with cash, or follow your plan (buy WAY under our means with the full intention of being paid off in just a few years). Until then, it is apartment-living for us!

    Oh, how I wish they had taught FPU in high school and college, back when we were young and stupid. But I praise God for His redeeming glory, and though we’ve been through Hell and back (and I am sure we have more struggles that lie ahead of us), I honestly don’t think I would trade any of it for the world!

    Thanks for sharing; I look forward to following you in the future! God Bless! ~Jess
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  130. It’s me again, Jess from The Colorful Ones… just wanted to thank you again for your post… after I left my comment this morning, you inspired me to write a post on my own blog… I linked back to you and noted that you were the impetus for my own post (I linked to it below if you want to check it out). Thanks so much, and God Bless!
    Jess @ The Colorful Ones recently posted..Hallelujah, We’re Gagging on Humble PieMy Profile

  131. How do you pay extra on your mortgage without being penalized for it? I don’t get it.
    I could pay my mortgage off 100% tomorrow if I wanted, but then I’d pay x dollars interest & fees that makes it not worth my effort. So I leave my cash in a high interest savings account where it earns me more money that doesn’t seem to be impacting my taxes. And I’ll leave my mortgage til my refinance date.
    So how did you avoid the fees?

    • The bank we financed through didn’t have any fees for early or extra payment. That was my number one thing I made sure of before we signed the paperwork.

    • Where do you find a ‘high interest’ savings account today. I would really like to know. We have our home paid off. But each month I put money into an account for taxes. I would like to earn more on that money than the sad % I am making now. Even CD rates are low.

      • (my high interest bank account is at 1.5%, which is a lot higher than the 0.0000001% of a regular savings account. Can’t get anything higher than that these days)

  132. Chica! I am just staying up way too late (you know how it goes..deployed spouse thing) and reading your blog. I LOVE this post. It comes in at such a perfect time. Andrew is getting out by August 2013. Moving to MN. I’ve been looking at houses. They are SO expensive and I just don’t want that. I just don’t want to be in debt for life. I just want a small house and a big yard. I am praying God provides the perfect place. I loved this post. Has really encouraged me to really stop buying all that stuff I don’t need.
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    • Hi Elisa! I also love this blog post! I am an agent in MN… there is still affordable housing… what area are you looking in? I can help you or at least point you in the right direction if you need any help! feel free to email me @ mandykruse@kw.com… Sorry if this was inappropriate to contact you but I thought maybe I could be of assistance!

  133. I’d love to be debt free and am jealous! Congrats!!!! I hope that some day we will be debt free but we bought a little outside of our comfort zone even though we were approved. We were young and kind of stupid, plus I really wanted our house. We do pay extra each month but we have to be careful because we also have to keep the toddler in diapers, food and daycare expenses! If it weren’t for those, I’d be rich! $400 a month for daycare?! That’s half my mortgage! But she’s worth it. :) Great projects ont he blog…I came over after I saw the penny bar and LOVE it!

  134. love this post….if you don’t mind I’d like to share it on my facebook page as well add you to my ‘favorite blogs’ on pinterest!! Congratulations on such a huge endeavor!!
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  135. I agree with the other lady about making similiar income and having no cable,no cell phones,etc. The only bills we have are the mandatory ones. We had about 5k in credit cards-I know not good and some savings and then my husband lost his job and was out of work for 2 1/2 years. We survived on unemployment and an occassional side job like washing windows and some (very little) outside help when the unemployement ran out and our income was zero. It’s a true miracle that we still have our home. Also sadly enough we got by when the income was zero by putting our mortgage and gas on a credit card so we are in huge debt right now and we live in a very modest house(really don’t think we can buy for less right now)and our income matches our budget and that includes mandatory bill and $200 for groceries and $300 for gas(we have one vehicle that was in an accident and can’t afford another)and $25 for eating out and $50 for misc. which includes any clothes my son needs(yes we shop at rummage sales/resale shops) toiletries(I coupon) and light bulbs,filters,fabric,etc. Oh and we owe my SIL $4000 for bailing us out so they wouldn’t foreclose on us. So anything else comes up like ins. we don’t have the money for it. I do surveys online and with that money we do activities for my son on occassion who Loves to go to museums and such. I am a stay at home Mom because the Lord put on my heart this is what I needed to do no matter what and we can’t sell stuff online because our camera broke and we can’t afford another. I don’t know what to do? Oh and I homeschool my son as well. We are happy and content,it’s just this horrible feeling of drowning and everytime you go under you are not sure if you are going to make it up again. I don’t need stuff- a camera and new(used) vehicle would be awesome though-I just need to be able to pay my bills every month. Thanks for your inspiration it is appreciated and most of the time I do feel hope. I feel we can’t put any money toward debt because if we did we wouldn’t eat or we’d lose our home and we’d pay the same for rent so then we wouldn’t be able to do that so then we’d be homeless and then yes our life would be in shambles not just our finances! Please any advice at all I’d love to hear it. Feel free to email me-thanks!

  136. I am so absolutely thrilled for you guys! I just came to your blog today and have enjoyed reading about so many of your projects, but this one is the best. We will be debt free when we pay off our mortgage too and the freedom we have experienced already is amazing. I hope we never have another car payment or any other debt for the rest of our lives. Congratulations!
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  137. Ashley, thank you so much for sharing. When you were speaking about making it through the hard times and how blessed I am amid all the chaos. We do not own a home, and my husband’s car was repossessed last year after being unable to afford to pay back a title loan we took out on it. For the first time since we have been together (5 years) we are both working. I just started my new job last week, so I still haven’t received my first check, but things are looking up. I’m hoping once we get on an even keel, we can pay cash for a used car for my husband so we don’t have to share anymore. (He works contract construction work and there are days he gets out early and has to wait hours for me to pick him up). Once he has a car we would like to make payments on his student loans — the biggest mountain in our lives. Our version of a mortgage, our HUGE debt. I’m encouraged by your story that we could pay the loans off in no time (figuratively speaking, of course). Again, thank you for all of the amazing words you shared. YOU are a blessing, Ms. Ashley!!

  138. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! We are currently house hunting and I’m asked all the time why we are looking at buying a home that is half of what we are preapproved for. But We don’t want to live beyond our means and be house poor. Well, after reading this post, I’m somewhat tempted to look in the bracket below the one were already looking in, just so we can pay even more on the mortgage…which brings me to my question….for you to have paid off the 130K ish in 3 years, how much over the $900 did you pay? And also exactly how did you figure out how much was going to be interest? And finally, why didn’t you go for a 15 yr loan if you anted to pay it off faster? We were planning on a 15 yr in order to do so, but from what I’ve read in this post and on the comment it seems as if you would be better off with lower payments over 30 yrs and just paying extra. correct me if I’m wrong. Thanks again for a great post!

    • I really didn’t have a set formula for how much we paid and it varied a ton each month. We really just paid everything we could. Also, when we got a big chunk f change, like from a tax return or selling something we would put every penny toward the mortgage. The only reason we got a 30 year loan is because we got an adjustable rate with a five year lock because it offered by far the lowest interest rate. I would not recommend getting an adjustable rate though, it’s fairly risky, plus interest rates are so crazy low right now it doesn’t really matter. Does that help at all?
      Good luck with your house hunting and paying it off fast. We actually had a lot of fun doing it, it was really exciting to see that number plummet each month!

  139. <3 Love this post! Great job. My husband and are trying to get on this track. We like to buy cash. We are working on saving every penny. He is already a do it yourself guy, very handy around the house. Now I am looking into coupons . Thanks for the reminder :)

  140. Lu Ann P says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! That is so fantastic and I am so happy that you shared your information. Thank you. We just paid off my student loans and my husband is considering going back for a Grad degree… which wil mean more loans… significant loans. We’ve lived frugally for pay off my loans (similar but no quite as fierce) but I love the attitude of learning to be content. It feels so good to have the loan paid off that I hesitate to take on more. But being content makes it all happen more easily.
    YAY go you!

  141. two of your posts just made my day. Love the stenciled table (the dying plants really brought that one home for me) and congrats on paying off your house!! -Alissa

  142. Just have to say congrats!!! We live very similarly and your right about being content. I know so many families that feel they “must” have the newest, biggest, best and it tend to become a competition between friends. What a horrible mistake to get mixed up in “keeping up with the jones’”. For someone who lives frugally it is tough to be around these people, their conversations constantly turn to $ and what they have or “want” and how they “justify” it in their minds. I even heard one of them tell a child, “oh wow I love your jacket,insert expensive name brand here, who ever gave that to you must really love you.” REALLY!!! What a horrible thing to teach children, things=love!! Ok, hopping off my soap box now. Again, CONGRATS!

  143. Ever since I read this a while ago, my hubby and I have been checking out Dave Ramsey books and have learned so much! We are purchasing our new home within the next month. We’re buying it from a family member so we’re getting an awesome deal =)

    I’m nominating you for The One Lovely Blog Award and The Very Inspiring Blogger Award! You have inspired us to really look at how we’re spending our funds and you actually got my husband READING a BOOK, not a TRUCK magazine, lol! Not to mention, I’ve been in love with your paisley table and penny project!

    http://littlecorbinhill.blogspot.com/2012/07/nomination-love.html
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    • Thanks Kristin! I’m so glad y’all are reading those books! Especially before you even buy your house…your going to be way ahead of the game. I’m glad your husband is enjoying them too…Dave has a way of making the most boring stuff entertaining.

  144. Tiffany says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! My husband and I are purchasing a home and I forgot all that we learned in our Dave Ramsey class when we started looking. The bank said we could handle a certain amount and I wanted the biggest house we could get! Well luckily for me my husband didn’t forget and we are purchasing well below what I was going for and this will allow us not be “house poor”. This post reminded me of what’s really important. Thank You and CONGRATUALATIONS!!!!!

  145. That’s such an amazing accomplishment, ESPECIALLY at your age! My husband’s and my car got hit while it was parked by another vehicle. (our car was a piece of junk) Luckily, their insurance paid for it. It ended up being totaled, and we got $7,500. Instead of buying a brand new car, my husband bought a wrecked 2011 Prius on auction for only $8,000! (front end was damaged in an accident) Crazy thing is, buying one new would be over $20,000, and this car only has 16,000 miles on it! He put a lot of time into fixing it, and buying the right parts; and now it’s as good as new and we don’t have to worry about making car payments! Not quite as huge at your mortgage story, but I feel some of what you’re feeling :) Being out of debt is a wonderful feeling, hopefully we can get a further head start on our mortgage!
    Lauren @ rivercitysammon recently posted..Office Cabinet RenovationMy Profile

    • Love it! We’ve had plenty of cars that I have wished would get totaled in the parking lot, lol. It’s amazing the kind of money you can save if you are just willing to put some work into things. Enjoy your sweet new paid off Prius!

  146. Love this! My house & student loans are my only debt. And I’ve been “debt free” for about three years now. Paying Cash is AWESOME! I read your blog today and it inspired me to knock out my house debt quicker. So here I go on my journey, and hope to be house-debt free in no time…then I’ll worry about the student loans. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!

  147. Congrats! We’re debt free except for our house and we’re working on it. :)

  148. Please post how you did it!

  149. I am so happy for you. We are doing Ramsey as well and have paid all our debt but our house. We wish we would have stayed in our smaller house or bought more wisely. That is good advice. I love love ur blog! So excited for you to build your wealth now!

  150. That is awesome! I just bought my first home 3 years ago and I’m already ready to have it paid off. I would love to know more details on how you got it done. Thanks!

  151. Love, love, love this post :-) Enjoying your site so I’m nominating you for my Illuminating Blogger Award for informative, illuminating blog content. I know not everyone participates in blog awards but I hope you’ll at least check it out because it’s a great way to discover new blogs and meet new web friends. If you’re interested in participating, you can check out the details at my site … foodstoriesblog dot com & then click on “Illuminating Blogger Award Site” in the upper right-hand corner … Either way, hope you’re having a great weekend!

  152. Jonathan Vasquez says:

    I loved your post. Thank you very much for sharing. I also want to pay off and live debt free. I have made some mistakes in the past and have learned from them. Some I am still bouncing back from, others I have left in the past. I financed a car (which I believe was the worst decision ever), and I recently purchased a used car and the engine gave up on me a couple of weeks later. I have a long way to go, but I am encouraged by your post. Thank you once again.

  153. champas says:

    Congratulations for paying your house off so quickly! I can only imagine what a wonderful feeling of relief that would be!

    I like to think I’m pretty savvy with money so I was intrigued with the steps involved. I think you had a few points in your favour to begin with though – a low house price , low interest rates and a job ( what a gift that is to have at the moment! ).

    Not sure if this is common knowledge, but in Australia, house prices are over the top, and have been for many years. You literally cannot get a house for less than $350,000 in Melbourne that’s 30 minutes away from the city. Also, after the financial crisis, our interest rates didn’t drop as significantly as other countries did, they were still at the 8 % mark for a few years and have only now dropped to 6% .

    My husband and I bought an apartment in the city in 2007. Due to my husbands job loss and the current difficult job market it has been impossible to add any extra repayments to the mortgage.

    As much as this situation is awful and something I would not wish on anyone, it does help you reflect on what is important in your life and what makes you content. If it were not for this situation, we wouldn’t have decided to sell up and move to a cheaper and larger home ( an actual house no less instead of a one bedroom apartment! ) in a regional city. I look forward to putting your ideas into practise when the situation eventuates :)

  154. Brenda Trace says:

    Congratulations a hundred times over! I just wanted to add a note ( ok well more than a note) that I don’t think anyone else mentioned. When you are paying on any debt that has interest you can save an amazing amount by paying on it more frequently because interest is accumulated daily. So every amount of principle you pay reduces the principal, interest is calculated on. Even small amounts paid more frequently can make a much bigger difference than you might think. Which is why bi monthly pay off more quickly but if you can add a third payment in that mix of equal amount you will get there that much quicker.

    Also, as Ashley mentioned be sure to get a loan that does not have early payoff penalties! And one last thing, when you make your early payments there is usually a box to check on your payment slip that asks if you are making future payments or principle payments. Be sure you check which it is. Most folks probably know that but thought I would mention it just in case.

    Years ago, before Dave Ramsey (actually probably about the time he was paying off his own debt!) I added up the months I wanted to pay off our credit card debt. First of all of course we stopped using them, and then I wrote down the monthly interest ( and yes I knew it would change but I just left it at the highest amount throughout the time ) then I divided the amount owed by the months I wanted to pay them off. Then every month I paid the interest, plus the payment Needed to reach my goal. NOT what the card company told me. I was working part time then and though my husband’s income was low, I made the commitment to put everything I earned after tithe to debt reduction. It was amazing how fast things went.

    Maybe there is so much more information now then a twenty something in the eighties had (actually I did read some of crown’s stuff) but I generally had to learn the hard way that debt is a business and credit companies make money by you making minimum payments and never paying them off. Silly me! I thought their payment requirement would eventually get the card paid. NOT. Banks also make money by you not paying anything but the interest. Get wise and stop the madness. You can do it.

    Ashley, thanks for sharing this post! And congrats again. Job well done on your house and your blog which I adore.

  155. Mrs. Frugalista says:

    I stumbled upon your website through a google search. I’m so happy and inspired with your post. I decided when we refinanced the house in January of 2011 that I really wanted to be debt free. When I say “I” it really means my hubby and I, but since I’m the Chief Financial Officer at our home and he so very much trusts my judgetment, I tend to make the financial decisions. On January of 2011, we made our first payment of our refinance. Since then, I’d been gazelle intense with paying down our mortgage. I’m proud to say that as of today, we owe $142K on an original note of $243,500.00. We have done this while also funding our son’s college tuition; he will graduate college debt free. We are so blessed to have a great income, but we live in a high cost of living are in the northeast. We have not have a real vacation since 2008 and we live well below our means. Everything in life is about sacrafices and all it takes is determination and GOD on one’s side.

  156. Anonymous says:

    i’m so proud of you and your husband! thanks so much for sharing!

  157. Hi, wow. I have done the same thing and I’ve almost paid off my 200K+ loan in 3 years. It can be done. Soon we can look at doing some renovations without worrying about paying interest on top.

    :)

  158. I really love your website and this post is so inspiring! Way to go!

  159. Aries Parker says:

    Ashley, KUDOS to you and your family! As I look around at my “STUFF” over the last few weeks I have been thinking of ways to be content, how to save and LIVE happy. My bills are already low but does that mean you act frivolous with spending???? Great read from a REAL family!! Hey I only came to look at the penny counter. Didn’t know I would find an even better article. Keep up the good work! God Bless!

  160. Wow, let me say congrats! You’ve inspired me! We’ve been living off $22-26 grand per year since we got married, but have always kept our debt to a minimum. Our largest debt has always been (up until last year) my student loans, which were astronomical. Then last August we bought a house. We were extremely smart about how we did it, and incredibly lucky with finding an amazing little house for the perfect amount- we made sure our entire mortgage payment (including taxes and insurance) was no more than we were currently paying in rent (it’s a little over, but not enough to cause a burden). We keep our expenses to a minimum (we could stand to go out to eat a little less), but I tend to worry because my income isn’t always fully dependable and we don’t have much in savings.

    However, like I said, you have inspired me! There’s not much we can do to pay off our house more quickly right now, but I did take a stronger look at my student loans and realized my payments were backward- I was paying my smallest payment on my highest interest loan! No wonder I never felt like I was getting ahead on it, even though I was paying more than the minimum! After a bit of research I found I could apply for a different repayment plan on my smallest-interest/biggest payment loan, which if approved will allow me to put a ton more money toward my highest interest loan. Crunching numbers, I can pay nearly half of it off in just a year! Yay! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    Btw, Dave Ramsey is awesome. He saved my sister and my parents from their debt holes, and while I haven’t been able to get my hubby on the same page (if I did I’m sure we’d actually get ahead for once but oh well-a little is better than none), I’ve been using some of his tips for several years. Thanks for the reminder to be content- I can be super thankful because for most of my daughter’s life, she’s been able to have a parent home with her and not ever had to go to daycare full-time. I own my own biz, so can set my own hours- which is such a blessing!
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    • Carrie, that is awesome about your student loans! I’m so glad you discovered a way to pay them off faster (and pay way less in interest). Feels so good to be efficient, lol. It’s IS tough to get ahead with such a small income, but just keep at it and you’ll be debt free before you know it!

  161. Hi Ashley! Firstly, let me say how much I LOVE your blog – I stumbled across it when I googled “stenciled toy box” lol! (yours, by the way, is fabulous & I’ve already passed it on to a few friends!)

    Secondly, WOW! I’m from Brisbane, Australia & paying your mortgage off in 3 years is basically unheard of. Paying it off in 15 years is basically unheard of! My husband & I are currently saving to buy our first family home, but with our third baby on the way & me only part time, it’s a long way off. Because we need to buy close to the city (that’s where my husband works), we’re looking at a house for about $500,000 that would be tiny & need a lot of renovating! In order to purchase said future house, our banks require a minimum of 10% deposit, plus stamp duty taxes – so we basically need to save $70,000 before we can even buy! Reading this blog entry made my jaw drop, & simultaneously curse Brisbane house prices haha :-)

    Mostly I wanted to tell you how much I loved tip number 5 – I constantly struggle with the fact we are renting & paying off someone else’s mortgage. I hate the fact that I can’t paint walls, or plant flowers because it’s not “my” house. But at the end of the day, we have food on the table, clothes on our backs (and quite nice ones at that!), & can pay our bills every week. For that I am thankful, and I’m going to write out number 5 & stick it on my fridge to remind me everyday to focus on what I do have rather than what I don’t have. So a huge thank you from all the way at the bottom of the world! :-)

    • Thanks for the sweet comment Kylie! I’ve been where you’re at…renting and hating it. We rented for the first six years of our marriage (mostly due to the Army) and I just wanted something to call my own and make beautiful. But we had everything we needed and more. So your welcome for the reminder…I know I need to be reminded all the time :) Secondly…holy cow, Brisbane is expensive! I’ve never heard of a stamp duty tax (and neither has Adam, I just asked) but adding 20K to your down payment is just crappy. I know it’s not possible for most people to pay off their house as quickly as we did…we are very fortunate to live in place where real estate is very reasonable. You know, if you get tired of saving for a house and just want to buy one, Texas would be glad to have you :)

  162. Hiya Ashley,

    I really appreciate this blog post! My husband and I are also debt-free and it is the best feeling. We are always fine-tuning our budget and looking for ways to stretch the dollar and make it squeal! Although, I feel like sometimes the whole ‘live below your means’ is frowned upon in today’s society. My husband actually had a co-worker tell him the other day that he was a bad father because we don’t allow our kids soda pop when we eat out! Seriously! We all get water and we are bad parents? People just don’t get it. Money is hard to earn and letting it just fall through your fingers instead of putting it to work to change your situation is silly.

    Anyway, I loved this post and will continue to read your blog! You are an inspiration!

    Karen

    • Bad parents for not letting your kids get soda? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I’m sure your not surprised, but we always get water when we go out…and we’re awesome parents, lol. In fact, I would be pretty happy if my kids never drank a soda in their life. So far so good :) Anyway, thank you for the sweet comment…it’s always nice to “meet” someone who lives the same way you do!

  163. WOW! congrats! that is an amazing, hard feat y’all just accomplished. and you are so correct about buying below what your bank/mortgage lender tells you. i wish i had listened to my heart when we were looking at houses to buy and gone much less expensive, because you nailed it when you said “no fancy house is worth stressing about”. i told my neice and her hubby when they were looking to buy, the mortgage lender is there to make themselves and their company money. not do whats best for you.
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  164. Wow! Congratulations. I love hearing good news stories. Your story is inspiring and makes me want to save more to put down on our mortgage. I also love your thoughts about being content with what you have – it is so very true. As long as we have our families we have the world. :)

  165. This blog posts gives me such encouragement. I just became engaged and we have a combined over 10k in student loans and credit cards. We feel we can’t move forward until our debt is paid off. We just sat down and made out a plan and a budget and we have high hopes and determination to be debt free in the next year. Then we hope to buy a house after a cash only small wedding. Thanks for the inspiration and proof that it can be done!

  166. Oh my goodness! I just found your blog via Pinterest and I haven’t left the computer chair in an hour…two…three…oh geez, I have lost track of time. Good thing I cleaned my house first! I love, love, love all your projects! I also think it is awesome and amazing that you paid your house off that fast! Congrats! I think Dave Ramsey and his ideas are wonderful! My husband and I have a small issue with “being on the same wave length” and we have more debt than just the house but we are slowly chipping away at it. One day, I will be just as ecstatic as you and yell, “I’m debt free!!!” Thanks for an awesome blog! You have a new fan!

  167. Wow! That is awesome! I bought a house 2 years ago at almost the same price you paid and almost the same house payments. I’ve been paying extra and should have my house paid off in 15 instead of 30 years but to do it as quickly as you have?? That would be awesome! I’m going to rethink my budget and try to make even larger payments now!!

    Tania
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  168. Thanks so much for sharing this! It’s so encouraging to know that it’s possible. I completely agree with all of your points. We live debt free (except our mortgage). But paying that off seems to be such an uphill battle. But you’re proof that it’s possible!
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  169. I am so sure that my seeing this TODAY was a DIVINE MESSAGE. I am a single woman in her 20s (x2) ..LOL. I keep think ing to myself- you can do this, you can pay off your home.
    I have been thru the ramsey program but never really and truly put it into practice, just over the past week I started paying in cash and it has made a TREMENDOUS difference in how I handle things.
    Thank You for the inspiration!!

  170. What a lovely, encouraging post! We are also trying to live this way, but NZ (like Australia) has a very average high house-price to income ratio, so it will take us a little longer. We bought our house 10 months ago for $310000 (with a big savings deposit), and have got our total debt down from $175000 to $148000 (15% gone already!) by buying below our means (the greedy banks were prepared to lend us $500000 – crazy) and being very frugal. I find the comments that talk about eating out as if it were normal fascinating – maybe that is cheaper in the US, but in NZ, eating out often is only for rich people. Once or twice a year, for us! We are 30 (me) and 35 (hubby), and really want to get the mortgage paid off significantly before babies arrive and I have to quit my job, which gives us 70% of our income. I can’t wait to share your feeling :)

    • Oh, and I wanted to add that we have a revolving mortgage (do you have those in America?). It’s also called a line-of-credit mortgage. So by its very nature we throw everything we have at our mortgage, because it IS our cheque account. We team that up with paying for most everything on the credit card, which automatically gets paid each month from the mortgage. That means that all our spending is effectively delayed by 30-55 days, which reduces our everyday debt balance, and thus our interest payments (only 6.5% at the moment, but it could go up). I think that is a fantastic way for people if they are frugal-natured (so won’t borrow back all that they have paid off) and who have lumpy incomes (like my tradesman husband). It’s a very bad idea if you’re inclined to splurge, though, but it’s working so well for us. Sometimes I get an urge to spend some money, but then I look at my graphs I have plotted of what we have managed to pay back already, and that gives me a thrill just like buying something does, so it cancels out :)
      Who is this Ramsey everyone speaks of?

      • I’ve never heard of a line of credit mortgage. Your right, it sounds like I would be a disaster for the average person … you could just spend your house away if your not careful. Sounds like a great idea for y’all though! Adam and I got a risky mortgage as well (the adjustable rate) which no one recommends. Where there is great risk there is great reward, right? Ramsey is Dave Ramsey and you guys would love him. He is a financial guy and has a radio show, books, seminars…and he’s not boring. Bonus! He’s big on personal responsibility and hard work, which I love. You’d really just have to check him out for yourselves, here is a link to his website … http://www.daveramsey.com/home/

    • Sounds like y’all are going to have that mortgage paid off in no time! As for eating out, it must be cheaper here. If Adam and I go out and eat somewhere nice (granted we’re cheap and nice to us may not be nice to others) our bill is usually around $20-$25. If we just go out as a family after church we can feed everyone for about $15. I’d love to hear about eating out in NZ, sounds like it’s very different!

  171. Love what you guys did!!! Congratulations – job very well done.
    We just got out last kid thru college (debt-free) and only have our mortgage left. We’ve always paid extra on it, but starting in January we are throwing every extra cent we can find onto the mortgage and should have it paid off in 3 years. Sure hope those 3 years go by fast – ’cause after that it’s travel time and saving for retirement – yay!

    • Hi Jim,
      I as well just put our kids through college and still owe 240K on the home. Other than this debt free. We are putting an extra $450 monthly; however, at this rate it will still take 13 years according to the calculator and I just refinanced at 4.5% for 24 years.. We are now in our 50′s and so I want this thing done prior to 60 :-) I’ll keep pushing
      All the best

  172. wow! a lot of comments on this one- but congrats! I think that is awesome! We paid off our house two years ago (I was 31) and we applied the same 5 things you shared (and still do). Living simply and frugally is a fun challenge on a modest income (even with 5 kids now!). I just found your blog tonight and loved some of the projects you shared- helping me decide on a few I have in progress. All the best Ashley- thanks for sharing so openly about your finances!

    • Congrats to you too Becky! I think living frugally is a fun challenge as well, but I think we are weird. lol. Good luck with your projects and thanks for the comment!

  173. I NEEDED to see this post today. I kid you not, Monday we decided to really get looking for a home/get our realtor. Tuesday my husbands car stopped working, Wednesday my car dies and Friday I find out that on Sunday along with about 100 other employees I will no longer have a job. I really needed this, it gave me hope. Thank you, God Bless You.
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    • Oh Jen, I’m sorry. That is a bad week for sure and a really hard financial blow. I might not feel like it now but you will come out of it all right :) I’m so glad (and humbled) that in the midst of all that my post brought you hope.

  174. I ran accross your blog looking for something else. Congrats that is pretty impressive on the home.
    I am curious though; if your monthly payment was around $900.00 you had to have put almost 3 times the amount monthly???? Sorry for getting too personal ……… I was just curoius. Thanks for the post and that was a great feit :-)

  175. That is so great! I only wish my husband and I were that smart! Instead we have tons of debt. I hate it and would love to employ Dave Ramsey’s ideas, just no clue how to start- especially when hubs loves to eat out (fast food) and lost his job 5 days after our son’s birth. We’re working on it slowly though! Congratulations to you! What an inspiration you are!

    • Thanks Cheri :) There is nothing wrong with starting slowly, as long as you are starting! I’m sorry about your husbands job, I know that makes things so so difficult. You CAN still get out of debt though, really…it’s just going to take a lot of hard work. If you haven’t already I would seriously recommend buying Dave’s book (The Total Money Makeover), it will be the best 10ish dollars you ever spent.

  176. You do sound “braggy”. Your suggestions are unrealistic.

    • You are mistaken. She is not ‘braggy’ she is PROUD. Huge difference.
      Also, it is not unrealistic. It is doable. My husband and I paid our house off in less than 8 years. We had 2 kids and not other debt. We worked darn hard to do it and we also did without a lot of ‘things’ to make that payoff possible.
      So, do not assume she is braggy or telling you to do something that is impossible. It is a matter of wanting to be debt free and learning to live with a comfort of debt.

      • Thank you for your defense Roxie, I really appreciate it. I read both you and Julies comments at the same and yours really helped to cushion the blow of hers. And great job paying off your house…that is really something to be proud of :)

    • I apologize if it came off as braggy, please know that was not my intent. Roxie is right though, I am proud of what we accomplished. Adam and I set a really big goal for ourselves, worked really hard, and were able to accomplish it… I think anyone would be proud of that. I realize that paying off you house 3.5 years is unrealistic for many people, but I refuse to believe that buying a within your means, budgeting, paying cash for things or living without cable is unrealistic by any stretch if the imagination. If doing those things is something that is really hard for you then it is probably something that really needs to be done.

  177. Great job! This must be a huge relief!

  178. This is inspiring and really solid advice. Good for you guys! You should absolutely be proud!!
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  179. My name is Helen jean, I am a happy woman today? and I told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, I will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave happiness to me and my family, I was in need of a loan of $100,000 to start my life all over as I am a single mother with 3 kids I met the God fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of $100,000,he is a God fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan contact him tell him that is Helen Jean that refer you to him. Contact Mr. Adams bond via email; excellcommunitybankloan@gmail.com May God bless Mr. Adams bond for bringing happiness to my life and my family life.

  180. WOOHOO!!! I am totally celebrating with you, even though this post is a buncha months old and you’re probably all nonchalant about it now, having completely forgotten what a mortgage even is. We’re HUGE Dave Ramsey fans too, and thanks to all the goodness we learned from him, we’re on track to have ours paid off in about four years. Which sounds so lame and slackerish compared to your amazing achievement, but whatchagonnado. Thanks for this post! Loved it!
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  181. Congratulation this is awesome.

  182. This is awesome. We paid our first house off in 3-1/2 years (when I was 23). We lived in it approximately another 9 years. Our second house we paid off in about 7 years. Our first house was only around $29K and our second $119K. It is a wonderful feeling to be debt free and a great blessing from God.

    • Also, our second house was paid off in time for our 20th wedding anniversary so I wrote my husband a “fake check” for $140K because that is about how much we saved on interest. He didn’t know exactly when it was paid off even though he knew we were close (I do the finances), so that was kind of a fun twist on things. :)

    • 23 is really young to pay off a house, that’s awesome! We are hoping to do something similar, stay in this house for a few more years and then take the cash from this house and saving and pay cash (or close to it) for our “forever home”.

  183. We also paid off our mortgage early. We only had an 11 year mortgage but paid it off in about 4 years. That feeling is so, so liberating. We didn’t have any particular plan, just asked each time we were about to spend money if we actually needed to, and most often didn’t spend the money. However, also like you, we didn’t have any other debts either (or holidays for that matter!) What was difficult though was that where we live in France, we weren’t able to make overpayments, so just had to save all the money up in our savings accounts. This meant that we had a pot of money that we could have spent elsewhere at any time. It required quite a bit of self-discipline not to dip into it. However we kept in mind all the time that if hubbie lost his corporate job, we still had a lovely house to live in and that kept us going. There is no feeling like owning your own house. We hope never to have a mortgage again.

    • Well congrats to you too Kate! Its crazy that your bank didn’t let you just overpay on your mortgage, I give you extra props for being able to save it all up in your own back account. That took a ton of discipline. We are hoping to move into our “forever house” in a few years and pay cash, and if we do end up with a small mortgage were not going to let it last very long…being debt free is just too great :)

  184. Okay so with this being a new year I’m setting my mind and heart to getting out of debt as soon as possible and saving as much as I can. I’ve cracked down my budget to the bare min. and with my husband that was very hard. I’m planning on being out of debt (other than house and student loans) by April 2014 and earlier if possible. But for sure by then. This debt I would be getting out of would include. Truck payment, Computer payment (my father-in-laws), our alarm system, and my van. I will also be putting new windows in my home. We do not plan on staying in our home for many years as we have out grown it. So would you advise throwing the extra money from snowballing which would be 664.00 a month towards student loans or the house. Since we will be selling it at most 3 years. I mean at most I’d be throwing into the mortgage a month would be 583 (normal payment) + 664 (the snowball) =1247 and honestly we are stretched to the limit. so it would be more like 1000 total which is a big chunk but I want it to be put to the best use. and the way I’ve looked at my mortgage statements. I’m not sure it will be by putting it into that. since out of our normal payment only about 90.00 is going toward the principle and that only seems to go up a dollar every 2 or 3 months. I’m getting eaten up by interest. So what do you suggest.
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    • stephanie,
      lose the window upgrades and your fil’s computer – really? wth are you paying that for – if it’s ’cause you can and he can’t (& i’d consider that very carefully) maybe keep that one. lose the van, the truck and the frickin alarm system! seriously, you are draining your income – BAD – get rid of those leaks. replace your truck and van with “new” used cars, that alarm system is total crap. get yourself a good dog (i personally recommend golden retrievers – they’re so loyal and everyone thinks they’re so gentle, which they are but when one of “their own” is endangered – goldens are better that german shepherds). you are drowning with your current budget and it aint gonna get any better unless & until you get much more calculating. p.s. cut up those credit cards and start living on a budget! best of luck – been there, done that, know better now.

    • Hmmm. First off, I am in no way a financial adviser so take everything I say with a grain of salt (or two!). So you have $664 a month left over to put towards whatever needs it most. Well, he first thing I would do is make sure you have an emergency fund in place, so that if something does come up you can pay for it in cash…you want to avoid borrowing money or using credit cards because that what got you in trouble in the first place. After you have AT LEAST $1,000 in your savings account (you might already have this, I don’t know) then I would start applying your extra money to the smallest debt. Instead of putting it towards either your house or your student loans I would put it towards those other things you mentioned (van, computer, etc) and eliminate those as quick as possible. Your student loans and house probably have the lowest interest rates anyway. And if you are really truly getting eaten by interest and are heart attack serious about getting out of debt than I would look back over the things you are paying on. Are they completely necessary? Does you house really need new windows (it might, I don’t know). Could you sell the truck and pay cash for an older one/car? Since your planning on moving soon I actually wouldn’t worry about trying to pay off your mortgage early. I mean, if you get everything else payed off and have built up good savings and are using cash to buy everything by April 2014, then by all means throw all your extra money at it, but until then I would’t worry about it.

      • Okay so I do have to purchase new windows mine have been in the home since it was built in 1992 and they are drafty causing my electric to go up. My FIL’s computer is actually on our credit cause of a dumb move we made so it has to come off he has since became disable and has no income. Also the truck is an older one my husband uses for his business. we literately owe 21oo.00 on it after just purchasing it in Nov of 2012 so it really is a small bill. The alarm system I still have 32 months on contract I purchased it when our youngest was having medical not for security purposes but more emergency. I have guns for security. Then I will be applying that money from those 3 bills towards my van which is also an older one but it is a Honda so it does hold value and it was purchased used i only have 11,000 left on it and it will be paid off come April of 2014 then that is when I will have the 664 dollars left to apply to either house or student loans. I will have my emergency fund with a good chunk in it by April of this year. As of now it has 2031. The way I have it set up then by the time i have the extra to apply to home or student loan I will also have 12,000 in savings with is a 6month emergency fund for our family. Which I do understand your not a financial adviser (Ashley) but I just can’t seem to be able to pay our house off in less than 16 years. and honestly I don’t wish to live here that long. As for our budget really the only extra non life needing bill we have is internet and cable. but we are a one income family. I’ve been off work due to raising kids and then when I did get my degree my youngest had medical so I couldn’t go to work then cause no one wanted to be responsible for him in case he just stopped breathing on them. Then I can down with some medical after getting him better and well since I don’t have medical insurance then I’m unable to get the treatments I need so that I can go to work. There for the time being I’m a stay at home mom saving every penny I can. I have applied for my disability but that is a long process and I’m not sure I’ll get it without an attorney. So I’m still stuck between a rock and hard place on increasing income. My husband does a lot he has a full-time job and a business that he runs full-time as well. thank you again :)

        • Oh okay, I totally misunderstood about the $664 a month. Honestly it sounds like you are doing great and are on the right track. So as far as which one you should pay off first (the student loans or the mortgage), I have no idea. I’ve never had student loans so I’m not quite sure how they work, but I guess I would just pay off the one with the higher interest rate. No, I lied…I would do the student loans. They are smaller and you could finish and get them out if the way. Plus I believe Dave Ramsey says that your mortgage is the last thing you should pay off. And as far as making more income, is their anything you could do from home? Maybe babysitting, or an etsy shop, or you could try and make money off of blogging. It’s doable, I promise!

          • Well I do believe I’ve come to the same conclusion I believe the student loans will be next. Mainly because I’m not sure how long we will be staying at our current home. It will depend on if we can add on to the attic or not. If we can we can afford to stay 5- to 10 years longer but if not then we can’t really stay more than 3 years from now. So even the student loans are but about 10,000 less than the home the interest is 2% higher I believe on part of the student loans. I do keep a couple kids from time to time. which does help a little I thought it was going to be more help until Saturday when I found out that I would be making a 45min drive 2 to 3 times a week to help my elderly grandmother. Now I believe that the money I make from babysitting will be going back into gas. That and honestly when my children are sick or the ones I normally keep I just can’t take a chance and keep them. Which is kind of odd for me cause I’ve never minded keep sick kids cause unlike daycare’s I know parents still have to work. But with my youngest I just can’t be like that. it is bad enough that when my family gets sick I sit and cross my fingers that he doesn’t get it. Cause I do believe we have seen enough of hospitals. So that kind of makes it hard to babysit too many kids. And as for the blog I’m in the process of trying to figure out how to make money from that. If you have any advise on how I would start making money on blogs I’d be grateful if you steered me in the right direction. Thank you again. :) It’s always better to get more than ‘I don’t know which ever you think is best’ which is all I get from my husband. lol

  185. Congratulations – that is super impressive and before you’re 30! You should be so so proud. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m 3 years ago from paying mine off and I cannot wait to have that feeling.

  186. We are a very long way from having our house paid off.
    A light google search tells me the average cost homes in Texas is $176K, where we live, in Alberta Canada, the average cost of homes is $363K!!
    We are a family of 6, we have 4 sons, 8,6,3 and 2. I stay home and my husband works, very hard. My job is to stretch each and every dollar he makes. The best thing we do for our mortgage is to pay weekly. We aren’t able to make large extra payments but we are able to pay into our rrsp’s and resp’s for the kids.
    Even given the astronomically high real estate, I am sooo thankful that when each of our boys was born all we paid to the hospital was $64 for a semi private room, and it’s highly unlikely that we’ll lose everything due to illness.
    Because of the accelerated payments we’re on track to pay off early, not that early though!

    Really, it’s all about balance. Sometimes it’s hard to do, other times not so much. We have friends who take lavish vacations, My husband and I went on one vacation since our wedding 10 years ago. We go to our friends cabin as our main summer holiday, 4 adults 9 kids under 10 and only one of them is a girl. It’s way more fun than disney, or crusing, or Cuba which some other friends do. We balance our needs for food and shelter with our boys needs to learning and entertainment. Our big lavish spend is family seasons passes to the local science center!

  187. How totally awesome! And how wonderful that you shared your story with the world and encourage others to live debt free – and be content with what they have.

  188. Marcela Pena says:

    FELICITACIONES!!!! Gracias por compartir esta inspiradora historia.
    Bendiciones.

  189. Love this. When we were buying our last house, we were approved for something crazy like $250,000. So, we went more like $150,000, and paid it off in four years! It felt so good!

    Now we’ve moved, and have a mortgage again. We bought a much bigger house, not that we needed or wanted one this big, but it is a five minute bike ride from the university where my husband works, it’s only a couple of blocks from the elementary school, and in a great neighborhood. (And it was a good price.) It is a quirky house, so I have all kinds of things I’d love to do to it, but maybe I should focus on paying it off first! (We are paying down extra principle each month, as we did a 5-1 arm.) I love that you and Adam are such savers, and that you are willing to share your story. Awesome! Frugal people of the world, UNITE!

  190. I totally agree with paying off a mortgage, or any debt, as early as possible simply because of the interest savings. I think most people get caught in the “honeymoon” phase of a payback plan where the mortgage interest surpasses the standard deduction amount on a tax return, but don’t realize that not all the interest is “written off”. The financial industry wouldn’t be worth multi-trillion dollars if all interest costs can reduce our taxable incomes. Also, homeowners know fully well that missing a few mortgage payments will quickly reveal the true owners of the property, so why be indebted to them for 30 years? We’re planning to have our home paid off in 3 years which at that time we’ll live debt-free until we need to move into a larger home for our daughter. At least we can feel proud that we had been able to fully own our house in our mid-40′s.

  191. I stumbled across this post and just loved it. We will have our house paid off by the end of this year. I admire you for being only 27 and taking charge of your finances and not letting them control you like so many people do. While it’s great to have extra money to do fun things, it does not define who we are or create happiness. You are a role model for other 20-30somethings. Keep up the great work.
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  192. Congratulations!! It has to be an amazing feeling. We should be in your shoes in the next 4 yrs. It is completely doable. Like you said, you have to choose well below your means. And you can start from nothing. It may take a little longer but is possible. Cut away as many bills as possible and don’t add any new ones. We lost our home and rental property to foreclosure in 2009 and declared bankruptcy. It was such a huge hit to our pride but we knew that it would be the only way to get out from under everything. We moved from a very affluent neighborhood to a low class to cut our rent down to $700/month with that we were able to save every extra penny. We gave up a fancy car and kept my paid off car and purchased a car cash for my husband. I stopped shopping. Kept the clothes that I had and only bought the necessities online. There is much less temptation that way. I found out I was expecting our first child in 2010 and that put us into an even higher gear. Then my husband got laid off!! Ugh! Imagine the stress. Thankfully I made enough to cover our bills on my own. And it more than confirmed our decision to never get into debt again and live well below our means on one income. We pay cash for everything, cook at home, buy used when possible, cut out all unnecessary bills, gave up our fancy cell service and got prepaid cells, no luxuries, and no letting ourselves get tempted into spending money from friends/family to keep up with the “joneses”. We were able to purchase a house well below our means and I used a 401k loan plus the cash we had saved up, plus a loan from my parents to buy it cash. Now we only have to pay back my parents interest free for the next 4 yrs. And we will be 100% debt free. We will then concentrate on putting that extra income towards our retirement. We will be able to travel which has always been our dream and have the means to put our daughter in private school if we choose. Our dream is so close I can taste it! You guys can do it! Start small, but start somewhere and keep your goal in mind and don’t give up. A small effort balloons into a large amount before you know it.

    • That is quite a story! It sounds crazy stressful, but it turned into a good thing and is a great way to encourage others. Great job and thank you for sharing!

  193. that was a very thoughtful post..and i agree with u that the most imp point is POINT NO 5 ….i was some how real depressed and yours this post has made me feel a little good ..thanks…and congratulations…by the way i just stared following u a week before i found u through pinterest and let me say ilove your family and your works and your all posts and u inspired me a lot…we are soon shifting to a new house and your blog will be of great help in decorating my ne home ..IN SHA ALLAH… May ALLAH bless u ameen..
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  194. congratulations! I am curious (if you dont mind me asking) what % of your take home pay did you typically pay extra each month? Being a DR follower and on BS 6, we are currently putting 15% of our gross pay into 401K/Roth IRA’s. I am just curious if DR would recommend someone like myself (30) to cut back on BS 4 if that means I could pay off the mortgage sooner and then hit investing HARD. Any thoughts?

    • I actually don’t know what % of take home pay we put toward the mortgage each month was, because it was different each month. Also, I never did the math, haha. But I believe that Dave would tell you to keep doing exactly what you are doing right now. We completely went against his advice on this, paid the mortgage first and invested ZERO until it was done. We are now hitting investing hard. This might not have been the right decision moneywise, but being completely debt free is very important to us … so we decided to be rebels and do things backwards.

  195. Mrs. Frugalista says:

    Hi! A few months ago I came across this post and I thought I’d share our story. I am the Chief Financial Officer in our home and my husband trusts me to manage the paychecks as I see fit. Our first payment on our 15 year/3.75%/$243K mortgage began on January 2011. When we decided to refinance, I promised myself that we would not hold this mortgage for too long. The plan was for a payoff by 2018 or nine years ahead of schedule. On April 11th, 2013, we paid off our mortgage and car loans and we are completely debt free. In two years, we paid $164K using the surplus after every bill was paid and a huge chunk of our savings. The remaining was paid when we sold a rental property we owned outright. Yes, some people argue that not everyone is in the same financial position to do this. We have been blessed with good income but we also live in a state with a high cost of living. We lived way, way below our means and we definitely made sacrifices along the way. My point is that applying even a few dollars towards the mortgage will get you to pay off faster. I once made a $6.36 extra payment towards the mortgage principal. Any way, Congrats on your payoff and for those of you trying to do the same, keep it up and don’t lose your focus.

  196. I wasn’t going to comment because of so many comments already, but just wanted to say that you have inspired me to be a little more focused on our “debt-free” journey. We have lived above our means for a long time, but last year decided to make a major move (from CO to GA) and bought a house that was $100K less than our previous one. The blessing is that we love this house and area so much more than our old one. We are doing pretty well on our snowball – applying money from one paid off debt to another – but I always keep extra money as a cushion because I know we will use up our cash. Still working on that part, but we are doing much better than before!

    Best of luck to you and congrats on being debt free! I can only imagine how that must feel.

    • Thats great Julie! Thank you for commenting…I know there are quite a few already, but a lot of people read the comments on this post and gain encouragement from each and every personal story and journey.

  197. Scott - says:

    Paying off your mortgage as soon as possible is probably the best thing that you could have done towards your future retirement – Congrats!

  198. Awesome result Ashley! Your diligence paid off.
    It goes to show that regardless of income levels it is still possible to pay off a mortgage in a relatively short period of time, eliminating huge amounts of interest payable on the loan.
    Unfortunately, many do not have this amount of discipline, or for whatever reason are in a position where they have to sell their homes. And in a down market some are not getting the selling price they need in order to payout the existing mortgage.
    http://housedeal.com.au/sell-your-house-in-brisbane is helping such people buy arranging rent to own buyers who are willing to pay at or even above market value to get into home ownership. This service is relieving home owners of debt related stress and providing an opportunity for home buyers who otherwise would not be able to get finance to purchase their own home.
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  199. Way to go. We did the same thing as you when we bought our home but didn’t get it paid off quite as fast. With a 30 year loan and living well below our means we got it paid off in 7 years and it gives us great peace of mind to be debt free. We still live well below our means even without debt. We drive older cars than our friends and our house is nothing fancy but we don’t worry about how we are going to pay our bills.

  200. I am so glad to hear of your accomplishment (and the respondents who told of their accomplishments also.
    My story goes back 56 years ago when I married. No debt, no money. Our first home was owned by my in-laws and was not ready to live in when we married because my husband had two fingers taken off in a corn picker accident Anyway instead of renting we lived with his parents for 9 months. I got pregnant right away. 5 years (and 3 kids) later we bought and moved to the home-place . Then we had 1 more child.
    We lived very inexpensively as we had meat and milk from the farm, plus we had a huge veggie garden.
    When our youngest child went to First grade, I started college. After four years I(I was 34 then) I started teaching.
    We then started buying real estate. At one time we were paying on 4 places at once. Rent income covered most of the payments, but I ALWAYS added to the payment on each of them. By the time I retired (at 61) we almost debt free (lacking about 4 months).
    My husband had a stoke a year after my retirement and it was a 24/7 caretakers job for 10 years.
    My beloved died 2 years ago this coming Sept.
    After his stroke we bought a house in town that we paid for in about 3 years. We rented it out for a year before moving. I paid extra every month sometimes only30 or40 dollars, which was the change I had saved up, sometimes it was a farm rent payment to us.
    Since his death, I have bought and flipped a HUD home. I have an accepted offer on the house now after only 2 weeks on the market
    We have sold some real estate ( a lake cottage, and 2 rentals), but still have 3 homes, plus the one we just sold.
    As I look back on my life, I am able to see GOD’S guidance in making choices. Instead of remolding my kitchen or buying new furniture, we put money into real estate and helping others.
    We had a comfortable farm house to live in and our church, our family, and friends provided most of our entertainment. We had children who were in the usual activities including music
    lessons.
    Making wise choices and being content and taking care of what you have is one of the greatest blessings one is able to have To God be the glory, great things He has done!

  201. We’re a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with useful info to work on. You’ve done an
    impressive process and our whole community will be
    grateful to you.
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  202. I am so very, very excited for you! I too, am debt free now. it is truly an amazing feeling. Thanks for sharing
    Pamela

  203. I am so very happy for you and your family. Paying off a mortgage is a big deal whether it is 3 years or 15 years. You are very blessed.

  204. THANK YOU…I could so do this! BUT….and this is a big BUT! My husband was not raised as poor as I was and went right into a business after college (engineering) that paid way more than I did (what was I think – non -profit ;o). I am going to send him this link!!! He thinks using the money for something to else- even in the bank making more in interest than what the interest rates on the loans is better (which right now it is not ?). I hate owing money…maybe because I am always afraid it (the money) will go away! I have been bugging him to pay off the car, which we so can do right now…but he refuses! He will do it sooner than the loan offered…but we could just get rid of the payments now and will not have to worry about it! He complains about how much money we spend and I tell him lets go on a budget…but that is as far as it goes. Part of me thinks it will be fun…I love the challenge of living on as little as possible (okay…we won’t go that far but far less than we live on now). Geez, that is how I have been able to travel around the world so much before I met him! GOOD FOR YOU GUYS! Even though my husband makes a good salary, we live on so much less than a lot of our friends. We have one car, we buy old things (okay we love old things…but love even more getting them for a steal), I make things to sell and decorate with, when we do travel we stay at cheap places, and get the lowest airfares! THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR LIFE AND GIVING PEOPLE HOPE THAT THEY CAN DO REALLY OWN THEIR OWN HOME!
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  205. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over
    again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!
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  206. Jackie Musick says:

    This is such a great post!! I thought I was the only one that thought like this! My husband and I just closed on our house less than two weeks ago and we bought waaaay below our means! Everyone kept telling us to buy a brand new house because we could afford it but we said no thanks! Instead we bought a beautiful $62,000 forclosured house valued at $85,000 and hope to pay it off in 15 months! It took about 6 months and 40 open houses to find one that fit our budget and needs but we finally did! Great job and congratulations!!

  207. What an encouraging and motivational blog. we are about to start building our home with my wife around december or Jan next year whom i married this year payed lobola for, we are in africa and she is at university. your steps and calculations of savings were just awesome from cutting hair do’s, cell internet, its just money and splitting meals. Buying and building a house does have greater chance of breaking a marriage when you are earning low but your dedication and maybe team work with you husband was just awesome

  208. Just saw your blog for the first time. Love what you are doing. Keep it up!

  209. Did you guys call into Dave Ramsey and do a debt-free scream? You all have a great story that I am sure a lot of listeners would be happy to hear.

  210. That is a great story. However in some locations, this is just not possible. I live in seacoast New Hampshire and it is literally impossible to buy a house in a decent location for $100k. Yet people don’t make more money here than most other places. One good thing though is that we weren’t hit very hard by the housing bust and people can still make money selling their houses.

    • I realize I have it good here in Texas as far as cost of living goes. I kinda figured that areas with more expensive homes would generally have have better salaries, but I guess that isn’t the case. That does make it harder, though I still think you can pay off your home early if you put your mind to it.
      Also, seacoast New Hampshire sounds really beautiful. I’m getting a little wary of the heat down here and that sounds really crisp and refreshing!

      • If you spend $250,000 on the house in the first place, which where I live is hard to come by (Portsmouth) and with our property taxes (there is no state income tax and property taxes of $10,000 a year is normal), the 30 year mortgage payment is already at $1600 or more. I imagine paying off the mortgage early is possible but only with two incomes or one really high income and probably no kids. Higher home prices definitely does not mean people earn more money. My friends on Long Island, in Connecticut and Maine have the same situation. The Seacoast is beautiful but it’s not cheap :) you are lucky to live in a place with affordable houses!

  211. Nice blog! And congrats on paying off the house. I’ve got a 30 year on 244K. Shooting for a 7 year pay-off!

  212. I LOVE LOVE this! We are hoping to buy a house in the next two years as well as start our family. I think it is great that you paid yours off early and I’m astounded by how quickly you paid it off. You paid off 35,000 a year roughly or around $3,000 a month. In your blog post you did say ya’ll make below average and that depends on your area. As a military spouse we get $2,600 a month for everything. I’m planning on having no more than a 15 year mortgage though, although I don’t see us being able to pay ours off as quickly as you I’m excited to work to pay it off as soon as possible! I’m really happy for you though, and now you can throw more money into retirement and not have to worry about rent or mortgage payments when you are retired!
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    • You’re almost right, but we cheated a little. We had bought a tract of land when we were first married and sold it to finish paying off our house, which meant we were able to put an extra 40K down. It would have taken us a few more years if we hadn’t of done that. So it was more like 26K a year, which was still over 50% o our income.

      I think it’s great you’re planning ahead so well for your home and the payments, you will own a home scot-free before you know it. Enjoy the journey!

  213. I was wondering how you budgeted? I know the envelop method works best for me.. I’m just wondering if you would do a blog on financial advice. I’m a finance major in college but you can always learn things from real people.
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    • I don’t think I’ll wrote a blog on financial advice, because I really don’t know what I would say. I’m not a financial guru or know any trade secrets, my husband I area are just good at saving money and telling ourselves “no.” I think that’s really the foundation to financial freedom, everything else builds off that one basic principal.

  214. Christina says:

    Thanks for posting this! My husband and I are first time homebuyers, and though we did buy under our means, it’s an older house that needs some work done. Most of our money right now goes to bills, paying off student loans, and working on whatever is broken or not up to code in the house. It’s nice to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel =)

  215. Great work! I found your whole blog with one of your projects being shared on Facebook. That Dave Ramsey site looks interesting, but odd that to use the products costs so much! I thought I would share another great person helping to help others get debt free as well, but for free. Her name is Gail Vaz Oxlade, and she hosts a TV show called “Till Debt Do Us Part” up here in Canada (I believe it recently came down to the States), and the concepts are the same. There’s no fancy application, but she has all the steps laid out, and it doesn’t cost a dime. She does it to help people. Google it!

    http://www.gailvazoxlade.com

    • Thanks so much for sharing that link!

      • Aloha Ashley. Wow!! 3.5 years, you diffidently killed it. Congrats, being and staying debt free feels great! Thank you so much for sharing your success and for “not” being part of the norm. I also love the old look your paper bag floor. I think I will try it. Have you ever thought about becoming your own banker? With your sound money principles, you would be a great fit. Talk about the ability to control, empower, and get multiple uses from every dollar. I was a cash always buyer. Until I learned of a way to stay in control of that money forever, before I made the purchase. By running the money through my bank first (a very simple system). I know that sounds confusing. Because it was for me too, at first. But I’m sure glad I took the time to learn. When we become the bank everything changes, even the rules.

  216. I wish people would stop posting advertisements on this article!

  217. Congratulations this is great! I must say that your post had great practical tips, shouldbu b able to get yr partner on the same page, I did have a sad feeling in my heart though because here in the sf bay area in ca, where I grew up and should stay in order to care for the elder yrs of my parents, the median home price is over half a million. And if you want to live in a safe area witout mold problems etc we are talking around 650 k. So if you multiply your paym err nt times 5 then working mybest it should tale me 17 years, and if . I want kids, longer. I am so incredibly frustrated that I am being priced out of the community I grew up in and that it is putting pressure on me so that I dont know if I can afford a nest egg house and children without dumping my bf who I love who makes 55 k n finding someone making twice as much. I am so frustrated, I went through 20 yrs of school, got a masters in a science field, spend very frugally and still the basics of home ownership as a security for old age and having money for kids is out of my reach n im 33 yrs old, I am so frustrated and sad I do realize im blessed compared to others but it feels very sad n frustrating and hopeless still, thanks for listening :(I

    • I’m not going to lie…that totally sucks. The home prices in some areas are completely insane and I would be frustrated too. You are doing a great thing taking care of your parents…any chance you could take them with you to a more affordable area? Have you looked at going to public auction? Here they have an auction once a month (on the front steps of the courthouse, each county has their own) and they auction off homes and land that the owners haven’t paid any taxes on in a really long time. There are some great deals to be had. A lot of them need work, but some of them don’t and are in great areas. I found a link to one in your area… http://www.sftreasurer.org/index.aspx?page=129. And heres a more general one about the whole process… http://www.realtor.com/home-finance/homebuyer-information/buy-tax-sale-properties.aspx

  218. What a really amazing post. There is something everyone here could use, no matter how much money you make or do not make. As we head into 2014, paying bills is always on my mind, as in, will this be the year we become debt free. No, it won’t, we have a giant mortgage and a kid going to college, with two more coming up. However, it is a great reminder to be much more aware of where my money is going. I have been thinking about paying cash for everything, as in actual cash, especially with the Target CC scare. My card got caught up in that. I have figured out how fast we can pay off our mortgage, and we are trying to do it much earlier than the loan timeline. I know we leak money left and right on little things. This is such a great reminder for me to be aware of where it is going, so maybe at the end of 2014, I can be a whole lot closer to paying off MY mortgage. Have a wonderful New Year!
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  219. JUDY IN TEXAS says:

    Ashley, you have a great wit and are an exceptionally talented designer. I love your savings, living, buying philosophy and am going to reread your blog about paying off your mortgage early. My thoughts about living within my means and about life, in general, are similar to your beliefs. Thanks for putting it into words. Many of my firends don’t understand — impressing others with their ability to do this or that is more important than living within their means. I take advantage of the HEB weekly specials — people laugh at me when I buy ten tubes of toothpaste at 65 cents each saying that saving 20 cents a tube is no big deal — the savings for ten tubes is $1.00. A smart man, from my past, told me something that has stayed with me all of these years — “it takes pennies to make bucks.” How true it is! You have inspired me and continue to inspire me.

    • Love this point on toothpaste. I can see that if I save 10 cents on a one dollar tube of toothpaste that is like making 10% on an investment. It is a great way of looking at it to make the effort to save that money. Thanks!

  220. Amazing! Congratulations! I’d be telling the world.

  221. Congratulations!! I am a young newlywed and my husband and I will be able to pay off our mortgage by the end of next year, before either of us turn 30, and we have very similar strategies as you. We find it a little hard to say no to outtings with friends that are needlessly expensive – we have been called cheap on a few occasions – and hard not to say how well we are doing on our mortgage, but it is just so nice to be able to sleep at night and not have to worry about money :) Thanks for posting, it’s so refreshing to know there are other people like us out there!!

    • That’s awesome, and really fast! Way to get after it :) Adam and I have been called cheap so many times it is ridiculous…and true. I wear it as a badge of honor, lol.

  222. Antoinette says:

    Well done on your achievement, but I still can’t work out how you can pay off so much when you say your earnings were below national average, which according to Wikipedia is 50,000. If that is correct, monthly household income would be in the region of 4100, after bills and food you can’t possibly be able to put 4000 into the mortgage. Perhaps I’m missing something?

    • Paying 4 or 5 thousand toward the mortgage in a month was certainly the exception, not the rule. I think I mentioned that in an earlier comment and it is throwing people off. We only did that few times I can remember, when we got big random checks that weren’t counted in our income. Our tax return was was a big payment a couple times, once we got a big check for moving ourselves instead of having the military move us, once I sold an expensive house (I was a Realtor for a short time) and that was a big payment. Near the end of our mortgage journey we sold a piece of land we bought when we were first married (and paid off the same way we did the mortgage) and threw the entire $40K at the house. It would have taken us a couple more years if it wasn’t for that. Anyway, I dug out an old budget, here is the breakdown for clarification…

      Total Income – 3450

      Utilities (electric, phone, internet, trash, water, netfilx) – 320
      Food – 350
      Gas – 275
      Home Improvement – 150
      Fun money – 200 (100 each)
      Other (life insurance, giving) – 155
      Mortgage – 2000

      Bigger bills like car and home insurance we paid for in big chunks instead of monthly (its cheaper that way) so I took that money out of one months budget instead of spreading them out. We also kept a 6-9 month emergency fund in the bank so that when something happened (usually car stuff) we used that and never had to scramble for money. Then I would slowly build it back up over the course of time. Hope that answers some of your (and other readers) questions!

  223. Excellent. I am doing the total money makeover thing to. This program works. This is very encouraging. :)
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  224. Andy & Bonnie Worrick says:

    Ashley,
    I just stumbled across your blog today via “An Inviting Home”, which I also stumbled across today. I am in the military (USAF, coming up on 13 years), and Bonnie and I have been married for a little over 9 years. We have two beautiful children; Ian (7), and Madilyn (nearly 2). Do I assume correctly your husband also military (the Iraq thing was a bit of a giveaway)? Long story short, we racked up quite the pile of debt before we got together and several years after. It was at our last assignment in Alaska that we heard of Dave Ramsey and FPU, and started putting the Debt Snowball to work. In 18 months we paid off $20K in credit card debt and Bonnie was able to quit her job to be a stay-at-home-Mom. Blessings! Now we are stationed in south Georgia, just paid off one of our 2 cars, and have about $7.5K total left on our last CC and car note. As long as we stick to the budget, we will be 100% debt free by year’s end and into the “6-months living expenses” savings phase. As we look forward to that day when we can plunk down the cash for our first non-rental home, I have to say that you’re an inspiration. We are in our early 30s, and wishing we’d been wiser with our finances earlier on. It’s great to see a young family excercising such discipline and reaping the rewards of stewardship and contentedness. We look forward to reading more into your projects and seeing what we can put to good use in our own household.
    God Bless,
    Andy & Bonnie Worrick

    • Andy, you and Bonnie are doing great! Even if you do wish you had started earlier (dang hindsight) you are still way ahead of most people and well on your way. It is going to feel SO amazing when you pay off that last payment, there nothing quite like it.

      My husband was military, he joined the Army shortly after we were married (because we were broke, of all reasons) and stayed in for 6 years. We were stationed at Ft. Drum, NY the entire time…except that he spent two years in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about another year away at training. He always said that if we had joined the Air Force he might have gone the full 20, but him being away 50% of the time wasn’t something we wanted to do while raising our kids.

      Thank you for sharing your story, it’s always exciting to meet like minded people. And thank you for your service, I know what a sacrifice it can be.

  225. You are a woman after my own heart. Life is so much better when you live within your means!
    Great blog.
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