Category Archive: Motivation

5 Years In Our New House – Mortgage Update!

I was reminded by my son: As of today, we have lived in our new house for 5 years. So, it’s time for a mortgage update – with handy-dandy chart!

When my wife and I financed the purchase of our new home five years ago, our goal was to pay it off in less than ten years. We have a fixed, conventional, fifteen-year mortgage.

I use a simple pie-chart to track our progress. Having a visualization keeps us motivated and excited about the progress we are making.

We purchased our home in February of 2010. Hopefully, we’ll pay it off in less than 10 years – which is our stretch goal – but as of right now, we have shaved 7 months off of the length of the loan. Our progress was slowed, just a bit, when I changed jobs, but we are back – on-track – making principal-only payments on a regular basis.

Here’s a chart with details for our current progress –

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The percentages above represent the amount of our mortgage we have paid – 28.28% – and the amount we still owe – 71.72%.

Click here to check out our method for reducing our debt and paying off our mortgage.

Each month, we make our scheduled mortgage payment, plus an additional principal-only payment. (Some months, we make more than one principal-only payment.)

Keep in mind, this chart doesn’t represent our equity – it represents that amount we owe on our mortgage.

Here’s more on how we found the perfect house for our family and decided how much to pay for our new home.

We have reduced the length of our 15-year mortgage by 7 months. Each month, the amount of money going towards principal increases, and the amount for interest decreases. Things should really begin to progress, as we ramp up our efforts in 2015. Blessings.

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I Still Buy Stuff I Do Not Need

I have been writing about personal finance (as in, my own) for nearly a decade.  In that time, I’ve had some financial success – paying off my consumer debt, purchasing a new home – and some blogging success – mentioned in the New York Times, interviewed on television and on radio – but the truth is: I still buy stuff I do not need.

I also use unnecessary dashes and commas when I write, but that’s a topic for another day.

Convenience Items – I am a sucker for anything that makes life easier.  I tend to spend too much on convenience items – because, you know, they’re convenient.

Tools – I love new tools, used tools, old tools, broken tools, cheap tools, and expensive tools.  My woodworking skills are minimal, at best, but I love hanging in the shop and building stuff.  The problem is – I’ll buy tools, just to own them.  While not a complete waste, I do have to pace myself.

Entertainment – Dude, we went to one of those 3D-surround-cinemas the other night – and we were out nearly $100 for the 5 of us!  (The movie, by the way, was awesome.)  My kids are still young, but growing up so fast, that it’s easy to justify the expense.  (They’ll only be young once…)  But, I need to do a better job of finding inexpensive, but still awesome, things to do.

Snacks – Again, we have three kids – and it’s super-simple to pull into the convenience store, pick up a few snacks, and head down the road.  Obviously, this isn’t the healthiest thing in the world (although, I will say, my kids are all in very good shape, and eat less junk food than I did at their ages).  We’re working on packing healthy snacks, prior to trips and vacations, as well as for school lunches.

Entertaining – This one is a little different.  We often have folks over to our home – and I often am in charge of large group outings – and I tend to over-spend when preparing meals and get-togethers.  (On some level, even though I’m a guy, I think I would make a pretty decent grandmother.)  I like for folks to be comfortable when they come over, so I always buy more-than-enough.  I’m not so sure this is a bad thing, so I’m not going to beat myself up over this one.  Sharing a meal with friends or family is one of life’s great blessings.

I’m a relatively frugal person, but I do have areas where I struggle and I still buy stuff I do not need.  How about you?  Do you have any areas where you are not as frugal as you’d like to be?  Leave a comment below or via Twitter @NCN.

Side note – For me, if I know I have an area where I might spend more than I should – I don’t ignore it.  I put it in the budget.  If I’m going to spend more than I “should” – I, at a minimum, want to plan for it.  The last thing I want to do is over-spend, and use credit.  Worst-case, I pay cash and it’s in the budget.

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How To Stay Motivated While Getting Out Of Debt

Let’s be real.  The idea of getting out of debt sounds awesome.  The day-to-day grind of getting out of debt… not so much.

Here’s how to stay motivated while getting out of debt –

Celebrate Your Progress – Check those numbers and get excited about the amount of debt you have already paid off!  For our family, we are working to pay off our mortgage (update this week!) – and while our progress has been a little slower than we had hoped – we are 1/4 of the way there!  It’s super-motivating to see just how far we have come.

Connect With Others – This has been very important for our family.  (So much so, that I started No Credit Needed just to share our story with others.)  Whether it’s a family member, a friend or two, a group at church, or just a shout out on twitter (Shameless plug – Follow me @NCN and let me know how you are doing!) – find someone and share your journey with them.

Remember Why You Started – For me, my debt reduction journey began with the birth of my second child.  I was broke – even though I had been working since I was 15 – and I was scared.  My motivation was to provide a more secure financial future for my kids and our family.  Whenever I get frustrated with my progress, this motivation… well… motivates me!

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Set A Short-term Goal – If getting out of debt is going to take you several years, set a short-term goal.  Focus on making a few extra dollars via eBay, or making an extra micro-payment or two.  I’m always looking for ways to save a dollar or two – and I’ll often set short-term, month-long, goals.  Meeting these goals keeps me moving forward.

Get Some Exercise – This sounds weird, but focusing exclusively on our finances can be exhausting.  Unfortunately, entertainment can be exhausting – and sitting around the house watching television can lead to overeating – and overspending.  So, spend a day at the park, or a day at the lake, or a few hours on the bike.  Do something to change up your routine – and you just might change your attitude.

Do Some Giving – When getting out of debt, it was easy for me to become “me” focused.  So, I made it a point – and still do – to find ways to give-back, to my church, or to a friend, or to the community.  Helping others always motivates me to become a wiser and better financial steward, plus its a blessing to be a blessing.

Talk With Your Spouse – My wife is a constant source of encouragement.  When I’m feeling down – about finances or anything else – she’s always there with words of encouragement, reminding me of how hard we have worked and how far we have come.  Make a date with your spouse and dream-big about the future that you are working hard to secure.

Getting out of debt takes four things – money, a plan, determination…and time.  Let’s all keep moving forward!  You rock!  Be blessed.

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