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How One Man Paid Off His $255K Mortgage in 3 Years

Christine DiGangi

Most people aspire to buy a house by age 30, let alone pay off the mortgage. But a Canadian man named Sean Cooper managed to do both of those things in only three years.

In 2012, Cooper, who is 30, purchased a home for CA$425,000 or about $313,000 in Toronto. He took out a mortgage for CA$255,000 or $188,000, CBC reports, with a plan to get out of that debt as soon as possible.

He knew the burden that debt could put on a family because when he was younger, his single mom lost her job and nearly lost her family's home. "I didn't want to be in that situation," Cooper told CBC, because "I saw how tough it was on her."

To become debt-free, Cooper began working 100-hour weeks. He holds a full-time job as a pension analyst and also makes money on the side as a freelance writer. Plus, he worked part time earning CA$13 an hour (that's $9.60 in U.S. dollars) in the meat department of a grocery store despite being vegetarian.

Cooper found other ways to curtail his debt as well. He leveraged his three-bedroom home by living in the basement while renting out the rest of the space and made great strides to cut down his costs. He biked to work, never ate out and, like most Americans, rarely took any vacations. "Sadly, my most exciting trip to date was a 24-hour bus ride to rural Wisconsin," Cooper told CBC. All told, Cooper was earning about CA$100,000 a year ($74,000 U.S. if you're counting).

Now that he's paid off the mortgage, Cooper has cut back his workweek and plans to get out more. He even held a ceremonial "mortgage burning" party to celebrate paying off the loan. He hasn't totally bucked his frugal lifestyle, though: Cooper still works two jobs, lives in the basement and rents out the space upstairs.

Following Cooper's lead takes serious discipline and can be difficult with a family involved. But you can still make progress by drafting a plan and sticking to your budget. Along the way, you'll want to keep tabs on your credit score. You can get two free credit scores every month on Credit.com to help you track your progress.

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