Most people who accelerate their mortgage make one extra payment a year. Maybe two. Or they refinance a thirty-year mortgage at fifteen years. Yahoo! Canada has a story of one couple who paid off their $220,000 mortgage in three years.

How did they do it?

When I finally finished my master’s degree in 2000, we had a total debt of $52,000 from my student loans. This is when we made the decision that changed everything. With my new degree, I quickly found a job that paid well, but we decided that rather than rewarding ourselves for all those years of hard work, we would continue living like impoverished students for a few more years. In exchange, we figured we’d get a head start on the rest of our lives.

They worked hard. He clocked 90-100 hours/week at four jobs. She tutored and taught piano outside her regular job as a teacher. They did not change their lifestyle from that which they’d been living as students. They practiced extreme frugality. As a result, they were soon netting over $80,000/year after taxes.


Now this couple owns two cars and a home and are debt-free. Every cent they earn can be put toward retirement, charity, and other goals.

I am in awe.

The couple admits that this sort of choice probably isn’t appealing to everyone:

Let me make it clear that I wouldn’t recommend the number of hours that I worked for most people. But was it worth it for me? Absolutely. It’s been challenging and tiring, but exciting and rewarding too. Right now, I wouldn’t change anything for the world.

The article offers tips for those who might want to make a similar choice:

  • Start early. Remember that compound returns favor the young, and that it never gets easier than now.
  • Set concrete goals. Know why you’re making sacrifices, and have the courage to work toward them.
  • Live on what you were making five years ago. Or ten years ago. You used to get along just fine on a smaller income, right? If you have the ability to revert to that standard of living, you can save a fortune.
  • Pay off your mortgage faster. Choose one of the many ways to do this and stick to it.

I’m not ready for such extreme personal finance, but it’s inspiring to read about others who have made these sorts of Herculean efforts.

[How we paid off our house in three years]

This article is about Choices, House and Home, Real-Life