When embarking on a multi-year long war against something like a high mortgage, it’s essential that you have a driving motivation. Some reason you can remind yourself of while the many years pass.

Now the obvious reason for most is to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Paying off a $300,000 loan @ 8% in 7 years instead of the assumed 30 years equates to around $400,000 in savings so that’s a pretty decent reason in itself (yes, it costs more in interest than the house itself). However because you never “see” this money you’re saving it is irrelevant when it comes to a motivational source (you do end up “seeing” the money but it’s not until further down the track). If you try and focus on the fact that “you’re saving heaps of money” it’s highly likely you’ll just give up as it won’t be meaningful enough to you. So what is your reason for mutilating the mortgage? Is it “just because”? Does it sound nice to have the house paid off before you’re 30? Do you want to have it paid off before you start having children maybe? Or perhaps you just REALLY hate having any sort of debt hanging over your head? Whatever it is, you should honestly sit down one Sunday afternoon and have a good think about it as well as discuss it with your partner (if you have one) as otherwise it’s quite likely you will falter during your great quest.

When you begin the long route of killing that mortgage, it’s likely to be a very timid and shaky time. You won’t be sure if you can really make such high repayments or if the maths is wrong, but after a month or two of making the payments, tracking where your money is going and just seeing what can be done when you pay attention this timidness should pass. After this feeling is gone, your attention will likely turn to getting excited over increasing your repayments more and more as you find ways to cut useless expenses back, optimize your power/water/life or just simply plan things better. This part might even last a few years as you slowly go through each and every expense, researching it, tweaking it and then confirming that it’s as efficient as it can be whilst not affecting your life style.

From here there is actually very little to do surprisingly. Your payments should be all automatic and come out each pay cycle from your account. They will be as high as you can push them without cutting back the things that truly matter to you and it should be quite satisfying seeing that debt reduce each pay cycle… but it won’t really be exciting any more. You’ll have “figured it all out”. The challenge will be gone. Everything will be basically automatic and will take care of itself while you live your life and although times might be all fantastic… the excitement will have gone and you might even find yourself getting annoyed that you can’t make it all just go faster. If only it would just die!

This is one of the main periods that you will need “your reason”. Your goal, your light at the end of the tunnel to guide you and make sure that you never ease up on those payments. If you don’t, be prepared to start seeing yourself slip. Without a damn good reason there will always be more fancy and shiny things that come along and temp you out of your money. Making an extra $1,135 per fortnight payment like in the example above? That’d sure buy you an awesome new phone… or laptop… or holiday to <insert sunny destination here>. It’s all to easy to be lulled into a false sense of “being ahead” in your payments and then convincing yourself that because of that great work, you should be “rewarded”. The media and salesmen know this is a very common self-delusional reason that people use to convince themselves to buy things and thus try and take advantage of it at every turn.

Feel yourself slipping?

Creating Your Reason

We’ve already covered a few possible reasons above and they might match right up to what you want to achieve. A fair few people don’t like being in debt, whilst others have no aversion to it. For some family is the most important and having a seriously reduced mortgage (or none at all) before you start having children gives you stability, more options in emergencies and one less thing to worry or argue about when things are going crazy with kids running a muck. But what if none of these reasons really gel with you? What satisfies a good reason? Well, looking to the task that will lay ahead, the reason needs to be something to spur you on in the face of adversity. It needs to be something you (or both of you) honestly care about, something that means more to you than just a new gazingus pin. It has to be something that when thought of, overrides any other “possible” decision that’s being considered at that time, for example:

Hmmm… should we buy that trip? We’ve been doing really well with our mortgage this year, we’ve cut over $20,000 off the principal, I reckon we can just skip one or two of the payments and go on it yeah? – Wait.. no. I’d rather us get to our goal so that by the time we’re 35 we’re mortgage free.

It has to be an idea that virtually slaps you across the face saying “Hey! What the hell are you doing!?? Don’t you remember WHY you’re doing this?“. For us, it is a combination of a few core things, some common, some not. We both dislike debt and the draining effect it seems to have on us. We also both have the desire to fully own the roof over our heads so that no matter what happens, we at least have somewhere to live giving us a lot more security in case of tough times. And finally there is the tough, long term goals that we have setup to achieve that also spur us on. Like all humans, we do slip up occasionally, but because of these strong reasons, it is only for very, very specific, planned and well thought about purchases. So far we have cut into the mortgage repayments plan once out of just over 3 years of mortgage mutilation. Getting further into the guts of paying off our mortgage though has meant that there have been a number of things that have tried to tempt us into diverting our money elsewhere, but because our motives are stronger than any shiny trinket, there’s no competition and we stay our course.

So to create your specific reason (or reasons) have a good think about why you want to pay off that mortgage so quickly and then write them down if you like. Is it just a quick “fad” you’re going through at the moment or is there a more deep, underlying reason there that you can use to keep you on track? Psychology as well as great planning and tracking make for an amazing combination that can push you to achieve great things. A trend more and more people are coming to realise now is that saying “oh I just need to try harder” isn’t the answer. You must outsmart yourself and craft your life so that you don’t HAVE to “try harder”. With a rock solid reason for mutilating your mortgage it won’t be “hard” or “annoying” having to stop yourself from purchasing that fancy holiday, it will be something you’ll want to stop yourself from doing.

For the newer readers... if you’re interested in learning more about being mortgage free in under 10 years, automatically and without cutting back on the things you love... You’ll probably like How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early, Go From No Idea To Mortgage Free In Under 10 Years.

The benefits include: 1) How to pay off your mortgage faster than 99% of people with one hour a month of work 2) How to get rid of your debt and have the freedom to spend money on the things you love, guilt free 3) Clear outline of how to setup your expenses, mortgage and general finance 4) How offset accounts work and how to get the same result without being gouged by the big banks 5) How to cut through the crap and focus on the things that truly matter when taking down a mortgage 6) How to adjust the strategy so it works for you, even if you have kids, even if you only have one income 7) How to do all of these things and maintain a normal social life (and never be cheap).


Alex Shoolman

How To Pay Off A Mortgage Early - What if you could be mortgage free in under 10 years, automatically and without cutting back on the things you love?
Editor in Chief at Alex Shoolman - Learn how to improve your life with technology, see where it's going in the future and how you can take advantage of it.
Editor in Chief at Mutilate The Mortgage - We help people go from "no idea" to mortgage free in under 10 years.

  • Karena

    Hi, I have a question regarding paying expenses via the credit card. We are very disciplined so no probs there. My theory was that I was thinking of putting all of our income (one wage – 2 adult house & 2 teens), into the Mortgsge each week (get paid weekly) except for food & petrol money.. This way our expenses money and our double mortgage payment money would sit in the mortgage and then when our three or four monthly utility bills (and our quarter & yearly bills) will come out of the credit card. Then I just make once a month credit card payment from the redraw for whatever is owing on the credit card (expenses only, nothing else) . What are your thoughts on this . Have a no fee mortgage redraw with plenty of equity in it.. Not that we are touching it.. For me it’s more of a put it away phsycological thing than anything else. If I have more money sitting in the savings account I wont shop for groceries as frugally as I would if I only had a certain amount in that account and it keeps my partner more accountable too for us to know there is only foid & petrol money available with maybe $50-100 extra a week for unexpected things if needed.

    • I know what you’re describing Karena and I have looked into it for our own finances too. It does indeed check out mathematically in that you will offset a small percentage of your mortgage interest while your pay etc is sitting in the account. However you also have to be aware that we are all cognitive misers. We only have a certain, limited amount of will power and time/attention in each day and it is best to direct this towards the MOST important things. From my investigation I found that doing all the leg work of monitoring the accounts, making sure the bills were paid on time and that we wouldn’t get stung for going past the interest free periods etc it would just take up too much energy and time. I’d rather not have to deal with all that and instead focus on other endeavours that can produce a far greater return (say like getting a raise, learning how to invest properly or maybe spending time with your children).

      As an example, I did the calculations imagining we bought 100% of our expenses on a rewards credit card (instead of just through Direct Debit) and after all the fee’s and effort we would be saving ~$100/year. In regards to what you’re proposing, based on the figures you’ve given me I’d imagine the expenses money (minus food & petrol money) you’re talking about is around the $900/month mark. So if you imagine that you have an extra $900 in your mortgage for the whole year at the current interest rates of about 4.5%, that’s only going to save you $40 ($900 * 0.045) a year in interest. So just like our example of using those rewards cards, I doubt it’d be worth the hassle to be honest.

      In our experience the best results come from first automating a large extra repayment each fortnight, then pushing towards that 70% goal and beyond. Start with the biggest expenses and go down the list one by one. If that expenses isn’t making your life happier then kill it. Then find cheap things/hobbies that bring you happiness to take their place. At the same time, actively pursue increasing that income. Build a side business, invent something, get a part time job etc. The candle burns twice as fast when you light it at both ends ;-)