First Person: Trimming Our 15-year Mortgage by 7 Years

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In another 8 years, I plan to have my home completely paid off. By paying $500 extra on our 15-year mortgage, we intend to trim 7 years off the mortgage so we can live debt free. Although I've been paying extra on my mortgage since we first took out our original 30-year fixed rate loan 8 years ago, it's important for us to keep the momentum going. I can easily rationalize why it would be better for us to put our money into the stock market instead of paying down our mortgage. Trimming 7 years off our mortgage takes a lot of commitment.

Staying in one place

Our commitment to pay off our home early will be tested by the changing dynamics in our neighborhood. As housing values rise, we may see some of our longtime neighbors selling and newcomers moving in. We may be tempted to make a profit as our home appreciates in value. However, my family is committed to staying put in the next 7 years as we work toward becoming debt free.

Staying out of debt

It's pointless for us to pay off our mortgage if we are going to only replace our mortgage debt with other consumer debt such as credit card debt. We currently have a mortgage with an interest rate of 2.75 percent. I pay off all my credit cards every month before paying extra on my mortgage since the interest rates on my credit cards are higher. Having a low mortgage interest rate has changed the way I view my credit cards. I am also reluctant to take out a car loan in the next 7 years unless I can obtain an interest rate below 2.75 percent.

Living below our means

I don't mind making small sacrifices in the next 7 years in order to own my home free and clear. I am always looking for small ways to cut back on our spending so we can easily afford the extra $500 payment toward our mortgage. Instead of buying new flowers from the plant nursery, I collect seeds from my flowers every year. I've learned how to propagate plants and make small repairs around the home so I don't have to hire a landscaper or handyman. After our home is paid off, I may enjoy the luxury of hired help.

Putting off my renocation plans

I recently read an article in Fortune that some employees raid their retirement plans to pay for kitchen remodels such as installing granite. My husband and I are putting up with old furniture and appliances until our home is paid off. Once we pay off our home, we will have the extra money for new kitchen cabinets, flooring, a screen enclosure and driveway resurfacing. Although I'm waiting to renovate, I don't mind spending some money on redecorating. I can usually redecorate a room for less than $50, including paint.

We started our mortgage payment acceleration plan this month after refinancing a month ago. When we refinanced, our goal was to pay off our home more quickly as opposed to turning the hourglass over again. It will take a lot of focus, but I know we will be glad we don't have any mortgage debt in our 50s.

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More from this contributor:

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