Paying off your mortgage early – Brian’s story


How We Funded Paying Off Our Mortgage Early

Paying off your mortgage early

Photo credit: rclock

Paying off the mortgage early is a hotly contested debate in the personal finance world. So many variables must be taken into consideration before a person decides it’s the right choice. Most likely my reasoning for doing so will be different than yours.

As I’ve written about, my wife and I did decide that we would be paying off our mortgage early for various reasons. However, it wasn’t a decision we entered into lightly. It also didn’t simply happen overnight. It’s not like we woke up one morning and said, “Oh, let’s pay off the mortgage today.

Rather, our decision came about through wise financial planning and discipline applied over time. We could not have paid our mortgage had we not put ourselves in a financial position to do so. There simply came a point in time when we had excess money coming in each month and nothing else to put it towards.

Here’s how we came to that point.



Dealing with the bigger issues first

The mortgage was never the first thing on our mind to pay off. There were much larger matters that required our attention.

First, we had to rid ourselves of all other debts. For us, that included a car payment and school loans.

The next step was to build an emergency fund equivalent to 3-6 months of expenses. After the emergency fund was set up, we began to look at funding retirement and saving for the kid’s college. Both of those issues we accomplished at the same time (and continue to fund to this day.)

So you can see, this was a building process that obviously happened over a period of years. With each task being checked off the list our financial lives began to mold into form. Much like building a pyramid, the foundational layers provide support and structure so the higher levels can be reached.


Increasing household income

About the same time we became serious about our mortgage payoff, my wife had a change of her own. She decided to switch careers. Her desire was to leave teaching high school math and become a Certified Public Accountant. I was 100% on board with this for two reasons.

One, it was fulfilling a dream. She passionately wanted to pursue this. Who was I to stand in her way?

I also knew (and so did she) that this new career had the potential to drastically change our financial picture. Upper level positions in accounting (i.e. partner level in a firm) for those who have achieved a CPA designation can be quite lucrative. With four kids going off to college in the future, we would need all the money we could get.

Only four years into her new career, my wife is making twice what she did as a teacher. A good portion of that extra income we put towards the mortgage.



Create income producing side hustles

As our income grew, we wanted to venture into alternative ways to make money. These are affectionately called “side hustles” – things you do that produce income apart from your main job. Our passion became rental real estate.

We were able to purchase a few houses at rock bottom prices (that were in foreclosure) during the most recent housing downturn. By purchasing at a great price point, we were able to rent these properties at a rate that covered all the expenses we might have.

After we built a rental business emergency fund, we threw any extra rental income at our personal mortgage.


Selling investments

My wife came into our marriage with several mutual funds. That was my first introduction to the world of investing. As I began to read and study, it quickly became apparent that investing in the markets was a great path to produce wealth.

At some point along the way, I began to delve into single stock investing. We were already invested in index funds and other mutual funds, and I thought single stocks might give our portfolio a little boost.

Of course there were ups and downs with that as investing in single stocks is riskier than investing in funds. However, after several years I had built a portfolio of about 15 stocks that was doing rather well. In fact, my single stock portfolio beat the market for several years in a row.

When we became serious about our mortgage, my wife and I discussed liquidating my portfolio of single stocks to fund that payoff. Many would consider that foolish, thinking I could get a better return in the market. I weighed that thought and ultimately decided to sell the riskier asset (all but one of the stocks) and redistribute that money towards paying off our mortgage. Now that money I made in single stocks rests as equity in our house.

There were some other minor strategies to the mortgage payoff along the way, like throwing tax refunds at the debt. The big strategies that ultimately did it for us though were increasing our household income, creating an income producing side hustle and selling investments. We could not have done any of those however, without some discipline to take care of the more basic financial needs first.

What strategies have you used to pay down debt? Do you have a side hustle? Would you ever sell a stock investment to pay off a mortgage? If you could place money in only one of these three, would it be retirement, the kid’s college or the mortgage?


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About the author: Brian Fourman is a private school teacher and personal finance blogger. His hobbies include rental real estate, running, cooking and sports. In his down time, he loves being a dad to his 4 kids and hearing his wife talk about all the cool things CPAs do at work. You can check him out providing encouragement and inspiration on his blog at or by connecting with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.



7 thoughts on “Paying off your mortgage early – Brian’s story

  1. Thanks for letting me share my story Graham! My encouragement for any reading this is to take it one step at a time, build that solid foundation and then attack the mortgage once all the other pieces are in place. It’s a journey that is worth taking.

  2. Very interesting article. I have yet to discover the right strategies so I can be debt-free in maybe 4 to 5 years from now. Quite long, I know but for the meantime, I am doing my best to learn from those who successfully made it to financial freedom that is why I read and enjoy posts from the personal finance blog world.

    • The strategies aren’t to difficult to learn…they are more difficult to implement. It’s great you are engaged in learning though…people who are life long learners generally find success.

  3. Great article and it’s telling that the path was a long term journey and not just a ‘oh let’s do this’ type of thing. I think many people set off with large financial goals but don’t set realistic expectations on how to get there or how long it will take. Good way to emphasize that.

    • It’s easy to set off the long-term goals because they are so daunting. It seems like one could never get there. In reality, reaching the huge goals is really the result of a bunch of smaller steps along the way. I think people often miss that.

  4. Great story! I have been writing a lot of paying off mortgages early lately. I think it goes much deeper than the money. It’s such a great feeling to have a home that is paid for. Plus, when you eliminate that debt, you have a considerable higher amount of disposable income for investing every month. As far as strategies, my wife and I used the “first day payment strategy”, the “split-payment strategy” and we paid our 30 year like a 15 year. We were also able to put random lump sums towards our mortgage as well. My favorite method was the “have someone else pay our mortgage” strategy. lol Turning it into rental property and having someone else pay for our house while earning profit on top to put toward principle.

  5. Great post – I think that paying off the mortgage is such a mindset thing, as it stour own home and the monthly mortgage payment is no more. It offers you greater freedom as your outgoings are less – win!

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