Progress to Date

  • Original Loan Amount: $204,000.00
  • Balance at Beginning of 5-year Goal (1/1/08): $188,983.82 @ 6.00%
  • Balance at Refinance in February 2009: $148,000.00 @ 4.625%
  • Outstanding Balance: $0.00 (PAID IN FULL!!!)
  • Latest Payment Date: April 2011
  • Latest Additional Principal Amount: $17,623.22
  • Amount Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): $121,462
  • Time Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): 7 years 10 months
  • Interest Saved Last Month: $23,972.48
  • Total Interest Saved: $28,435.55 ($1,037.74 on original mortgage; $27,397.81 on current mortgage)
  • Months Remaining in 5-year Goal: 20
  • Average Monthly Principal Needed to Meet Goal: N/A (Goal achieved)
  • Progress List Explained

Monday, March 10, 2008


Lately I've been reading a number of other blogs and websites dedicated to personal finance. While many include paying off the mortgage as an important step in achieving Financial Independence, I haven't discovered more than a handful which list "eliminating the mortgage" as the main goal. After reflecting on this for a while, I realized that this blog isn't really just about paying the mortgage either, despite the name I selected. Death to the Mortgage is the means to an end, not the end itself.

So what is that end? What is it that my wife and I hope to achieve by eliminating our last remaining debt? In my mind, we're looking for more flexibility to live our lives according to our own priorities -- not the priorities of our creditors or our employers. Right now, we're stuck with an obligation to pay a large sum to the bank every month for more than a decade. In order to do this, we have to spend the best part of our days away from the house, away from each other, doing tasks that would not ordinarily hold our interest for such a long duration. We're expected to do this without fail, day after day, week after week, year after year, so that we can meet our obligation to the bank. That obligation is far and away our largest monthly expense. Without the steady income from our jobs, we'd have trouble making the mortgage payment for more than a month or two. So in effect we are stuck working at our jobs so that we can pay the mortgage. Although this is an oversimplification, it illustrates the source of my frustration. We've allowed the terms of our mortgage dictate our need to work, and because we have to work, our employers dictate how we spend our time.

None of this makes us special. Untold numbers of others have the same arrangement. It seems to be the path of least resistance for all the homeowners we've ever known. I'm not saying that the bank duped us into taking on a debt that we didn't understand. We knew what we were getting into when we signed for the loan and moved into the house. Now that we've been playing by the rules for a while, though, we realized that we don't want to live this life anymore. We're taking action to take back our freedom.

Some people truly enjoy waking up every day and going to work. This gives them a sense of purpose, of belonging, of accomplishment. I find those people fascinating. I am not one of those people. I would be perfectly happy to fill every day with projects of my choosing. I don't think I'm unusual, either. If we're lucky, each of us has seven to nine decades to spend on this earth. Why should we have to spend six of them (two in school, and other four working and paying taxes) working for the future, only to come out old and tired in the end? I want more than four weeks of vacation every year. I want to have the freedom to stay home on the first gloriously warm day of spring, and not feel like I'm shirking my responsibility to others. I want to be able to take six months out of my life and hike the Appalachian Trail. I want to be able to choose to work or not work on my own terms, rather than remain trapped behind a desk in order to make ends meet. I want to be able to spend the prime of my life focusing my thoughts and energy and desires into stimulating, meaningful pursuits, whether or not they make me rich or create jobs or contribute to the Gross National Product.

I don't feel lazy or selfish for wanting this for my wife and myself; in fact, I feel enlightened knowing that we have a choice in shaping our future. We're choosing to sacrifice now so that we have more flexibility in the future. Others have the same options, but choose a different path. We've told our friends and family about our plan. Some tell us it's a good idea, but "not for them" because of the choices they've made. In the end it comes down to a choice. We can buy now and pay later, or pay now and play later. I'm looking forward to playing.

I feel like Andy Dufresne, chipping away at the cell wall of debt with our little rock hammer of extra principal payments, scattering interest savings out in the prison yard, and preparing for the ultimate break out of the Shawshank mortgage in the not-too-distant future.

So what, then is our Zihuatanejo? I like to imagine us living modestly, choosing our employment (and unemployment) without concern of layoffs or strikes or unnecessary relocations. Maybe we'll find something we love and try to make it into our own business. Maybe we'll keep working to build up our savings to generate investment income. Maybe we'll move into the woods and live like hermits, rarely seen or heard from. Truthfully, we haven't completely figured out what exactly we'll do at that point, only what we will NOT be doing (living as slaves to The Man). We'll have many more options without debt holding us back. I'm confident we'll make the right choice when that time comes.


kyle h said...

This was one of the best blog entries I've read in a while in relation to working, debt and this American life. I agree with you 100%. I do enjoy my job, but it does not give me purpose. I share your sentiments that I would like to do projects for myself that make me feel fulfilled, not making someone else rich off my time. The older I get, the more I value my time. I would love to talk with you more about this, but couldnt find an email anywhere on your blog, probably intentionally :)

The Executioner said...

Thanks for the positive feedback. To reach me, try the following: