How Paying Off a Mortgage in 2 Years Changed My Life Forever

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Paying off a mortgage early is a goal for many homeowners, but few people can predict how it will change their life years down the road.

When I was in my mid-20s, I set a goal to pay off the $86,000 mortgage for a small condo in Atlanta that I bought in 2010. I originally planned to eliminate the mortgage by my 30th birthday, but I was able to do it in two years by following a six-step strategy.

I paid off my mortgage in December 2012, so I’ve had a few years to reflect on my decision and how it has shaped my life.

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Early mortgage payoff: How it changed my life in ways that I never expected  

When people ask me why I went down the early mortgage payoff path and if I would do it again, my answer is yes. Being 100% debt-free is an absolutely wonderful feeling — it provided me with a sense of freedom.

But my decision to pay off my mortgage early also helped me survive some turbulent times over the past few years.

If you’ve been following for a while, you know that I sold my Atlanta condo in 2014 to relocate to my hometown of D.C., but I moved back to Atlanta in 2016. Given the rise in home values since 2014, I now realize that selling the Atlanta condo was a costly mistake.

I don’t regret paying off my mortgage early because I was able to use the money from the sale of that condo for a down payment on a new home, which does have a mortgage. I’m still working on that!

In addition, I invested a lot of money during my two years back in D.C., even maxing out 401(k) and Roth IRA contributions.

I wish that I would have held on to my Atlanta condo for the two years that I lived in D.C., but I didn’t move to the nation’s capital thinking that I would be turning around to move back to Atlanta. Life happens…

The bottom line is that the chunk of change that I got from selling my paid-off condo has made it easier to say “It’s going to be OK” with every financial hit I’ve taken.

Despite the ups and downs, I got some encouraging news when I checked Personal Capital’s retirement planner recently. According to the projections, I’ll have enough money for retirement even if I stop contributing to my 401(k) and Roth IRA at age 33. That’s likely because I graduated from college at 19 and started working (and saving) right away. During my mortgage payoff, I always contributed money to my 401(k) at least up to the company match.

You can sign up for a free Personal Capital account to run different retirement scenarios for your situation.

Personal Capital screen
Personal Capital screen

Paying off my current condo’s mortgage early isn’t my #1 priority, but that may change over time. I’m focused more on my investments so that I may be in the position to “retire” early one day.

Have you paid off a mortgage early? Let me know in the comments how it’s changed your life! 

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