I have been waiting to write today's "My Two Cents" for six years, two months and 24 days. That is how long ago my wife and I started our Total Money Makeover--$19,612 in debt. In that time, we have both lost a job (mine by choice), undergone some major medical expenses and we have even bought a house with a sizeable down payment. But today, we pay off our mortgage--making us--at the ages of 40 and 41-- COMPLETELY DEBT FREE!
Unfortunately, this day is bittersweet for us. While we complete the most difficult hurdle in the Dave Ramsey Plan--Babystep Six, the money comes from the inheritance my wife is getting following the death of her Mom about two months ago. Believe me, we would much rather continue our five-year payoff plan for the mortgage and still have her here. But in her passing, she has given us the greatest gift we have ever received: (Yes, better than the basketball hoop I got for Christmas when I was 8 or the glove, the bat and the Brewers tickets I got for my 10th birthday) Financial Freedom.
The single largest expense in our budget is suddenly gone. The monthly expenditures are now just food, gas, utilities and the other miscellaneous stuff of life--along with a whole lot more going into savings. Gone is the fear of how to make that payment if we were to lose a job again. So too the dread associated with a potential sickness or injury wiping us out--because we can now put money away to deal with such possibilities. And the interest that we were paying someone else, now goes to work for us--making us more money.
Baby Step Seven--Build Wealth Like Crazy is our next goal. Followed by Baby Step Eight: Live Like No One Else. The next great milestone will be our "Pinnacle Point"--where our investments and savings start making more for us than our jobs. At that point, early retirement becomes a very real possibility. We also can't wait to increase our charitable giving, sharing with others the amazing gift that we have received.
Having a paid for house makes my wife and I members of the 30% Club. But I'd be willing to bet that we are on the very young end of the age scale--with most clear titleholders being in their 50's and 60's. What's more, 48% of homeowners our age are actually "under water"--meaning they still owe more than the house is worth. But I want us to be 1%ers--despite all of the attempts to make the fiscally responsible into some kind of monsters hellbent on destroying our neighbors.
So thank you, Dawn for the incredible gift that you have given your daughter and me. We will do our best to show our appreciation every day by using what you left us responsibly and pass along to the next generation of our family the values that you taught us. We love you and we miss you.