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The smartest decision that my wife and I ever made was when we paid off our mortgage. It greatly improved our quality of life and granted my wife the ability to stay at home.
A One-Track Mind
When I bought my house back in 2004, I was not thinking about marriage. Fresh out of college, I had a decent job and a laser focus on making and saving money. I had many roommates throughout the years, and my house morphed into the ultimate bachelor pad. It wasn’t until my roommates started moving out and getting married that I started to really think about marriage.
Laying the Groundwork
When I met my wife in 2009, I knew that she was the one instantly. We had a bit of a whirlwind courtship, as it began January 2012 and ended in marriage in September 2012. However, many years prior to marriage, I had laid down the groundwork that enabled us to pay off our mortgage with greater ease. Whenever possible, I paid extra into my monthly mortgage payments. With the stock market tanking, I gratefully received a guaranteed return on my money from the mortgage versus the free-falling market.
A Team Effort
The mortgage balance, which once seemed insurmountable, became smaller and smaller. Once we were married, we could see the end in sight together. Paying off our mortgage became our obsession. We focused on this goal everyday, looking for any way to squeeze our pennies even further.
So while many of our friends were using their monetary wedding gifts on fun things, my wife and I utilized all our wedding cash and any other excess money to pour into our outstanding mortgage balance. To us, this was the greatest gift we could give ourselves because we knew financial freedom would change everything.
Finally at the end of 2012, my wife and I made the final mortgage payment. It’s a good thing that we did because less than a year prior, tragedy struck when her mother passed away from cancer. At that point, it became evident that my wife would need to take on many of roles that were once her mother’s. While she tried to continue working outside of the home, my wife soon realized that she was unable to meet her autistic sister’s needs while juggling work and other responsibilities.
Many people urged my wife to hire someone to do it. But she couldn’t find anyone good enough to care for her sister. She interviewed many people, but ultimately, she felt a peace about becoming her full-time caregiver. Realistically though, I don’t know how we would have managed if we had still had our mortgage. Without the roommate income that I had been receiving, we would have needed a regular monetary contribution from my wife to continue to stay on top of the mortgage.
Adding Another Person to the Mix
Another positive was that once we had our first child, the transition was fairly seamless. My wife already had the flexibility to be at home with her sister. We also didn’t experience a disruption at all in regards to our wallet. She wasn’t dependent on maternity leave compensation or benefits. There wasn’t pressure on her to leave our son and go back into the workforce. Additionally, we didn’t have to take on the financial strain of daycare costs.
So hands down, my smartest financial decision was paying off my mortgage. Doing so has afforded our family opportunities that we wouldn’t have been able to imagine with a mortgage. The wise decisions and persistence to crush that mortgage have allowed us to live our current lifestyle, which isn’t too shabby.