Oh boy, my mind races with all the caveats I need to acknowledge. We are incredibly privileged. We have had no major health issues. We are college-educated. We were able to obtain a home loan. We did not suffer a gap in employment at any point during the pandemic. We are incredibly grateful.
At the same time, I want to acknowledge some of the pressures we dealt with on the way to achieving this goal. We lost all the equity we'd built up with the economic downturn of 2008. We moved overseas in 2008, and paid our mortgage in New Mexico for a full year (with the help of a few sporadic renters) before accepting an offer that would cover what we owed on that house. A couple of years later, we moved back to the states with $5000. We bought a car on a credit card + put that $5000 down on a house.
Our income totaled $40,000 per year. Since our downpayment was so low, we had to pay $125 for mortgage insurance every month. This payment would terminate when we'd paid off 20% of the mortgage, so we sent every extra penny to the mortgage. When we were no longer paying for mortgage insurance, I kept paying the same amount every month in order to pay down our principle faster.
With time our income soared to $50,000 per year. We are a family of four. We eat a lot of organic food, took our daughters to ballet classes and found ways to take a few vacations. Our older daughter lived at home + worked her way through community college + university. She now has her master's degree...and all with no debt. Our younger daughter is on the same path now.
So many of the concepts that can be found sprinkled throughout the pages here were the same ones that helped us become debt-free. I try to keep our expenses low, while appreciating all the good we have. We found concepts like these so helpful:
- learning to recognize + appreciating "enough"
- replacements only
- maintain a buffer
- budgeting for simple luxuries now + then (things as extravagant as bathroom renovations to things as simple as tea + candles)
- planting some of our own food (prioritizing the most expensive things like tomatoes + strawberries)
- appreciating simple pleasures
- not letting our things define us (a shabby car that runs is better than crippling car payments or no car at all)
- freedom is better than being a slave to debt
- we are rich in proportion to the number of things we can afford to leave alone (H.D. Thoreau)
Ten and a half years after we bought this house, we own it. It was not easy, but it is possible.