5 Steps a Couple Took to Pay Off Their Mortgage Years Early

  • Andy and Nicole Hill paid off their $195,000 Greater Michigan mortgage in just four years.
  • They threw every extra cent at the principal, including bonuses and cash from selling stuff online.
  • They also cut their spending, had monthly “budget parties,” and celebrated their win.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

For many, having a 15-year mortgage might already seem like an aggressive payoff plan. But what if you cut that timeline by two-thirds and accelerated your payment plan to pay off your house in just under four years? 

That’s what Andy Hill and his wife, Nicole Hill, managed to do. They crushed their 15-year mortgage and paid off $195,000 in under four years. Here are the five steps they took to make it happen. 

1. They threw all their extra money at their mortgage

While their monthly payments were about $1,900, on average, the couple typically made additional principal payments of about $3,000 a month. While some months they made no extra payments, other months they contributed an extra $10,000. As part of their house budget, they also set money aside to pay for monthly lawn maintenance and to make improvements to their home.

When new money came into their lives by way of tax refunds, work bonuses, commissions, or selling stuff online, the Hills would throw nearly all of it at the principal on their mortgage. And since they were paid biweekly, which meant they were paid 26 times per year, they budgeted their monthly expenses based on only 24 paychecks, and those additional two checks went straight toward their mortgage.

2. They kept their expenses low

At the time, the couple’s combined total household income was about $170,000 a year, which breaks down to about $14,000 a month before taxes.

To save on groceries, the couple became devotees of Aldi. They found that shopping at the discount grocery chain saved them $300 per month over their previous grocer, which added up to $3,600 a year. 

And, instead of going out to eat for lunch, they would pack their lunches, which shaved $100 off their monthly food bill. Those two changes alone saved the Hills $8,400 per year on food.

The Hills also hopped on a high-deductible health plan, which helped them save around $300 a month. While their deductibles were higher, their monthly premiums were lower. 

3. They found ways to earn more

To free up money to put toward those additional mortgage payments, the Hills boosted their income by way of workplace bonuses and commissions.

The couple also made extra money by selling stuff via online marketplaces such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. They made roughly $2,500 by selling stuff around the house they no longer needed, such as bikes, purses, baby gear, and toys.

4. They threw monthly budget parties

To stick to their ambitious goal, the Hills threw what they called “budget parties.” Once a month, they carved out a bit of time on their calendar to talk about their finances. They talked about where their money went the month prior, how they wanted to spend their money the next month, and how they’re doing with their overall financial goals. These budget parties helped them stay on top of paying off their mortgage as soon as possible. 

“Our ‘budget party’ helped our family stay on track to become mortgage-free,” says Andy, who lives in Greater Michigan and is the founder of MarriageKidsandMoney.com. “This monthly get-together gave us the time to discuss our family goals. As busy young parents, this time was crucial for me and my wife to connect and get on the same page.” 

5. They celebrated with their family

While the Hills kept their monthly expenses to a minimum, they didn’t feel deprived. They made sure their budget included room for fun, like going out to the movies, eating out, and camp and field trips for the kids. 

“If we kept consistent with our goal, we made sure to still have fun and kept dreaming of a brighter future for our family, and we knew we’d pay off our 15-year mortgage early,” says Andy.

When they made their last payment on their house, Nicole made a special “mortgage pinata” out of their mortgage documents. The entire family partook in “destroying the mortgage” and enjoyed candy and toys. They also celebrated paying off their mortgage by burning documents in a bonfire, and building a “mortgage wall” made of mortgage documents and having their two kids run through it.

The year after, they indulged in travel, and vacationed to Cabo San Lucas, Northern Michigan, California, and Disney World. 

For those who would like to pay off their mortgage early, Andy suggests setting a realistic goal that works for you and your family. “Once that goal is set, create automatic extra principal payments so you’re attacking your mortgage principal consistently each month,” he says. “Set it, forget it, and get back to enjoying life.”