Real Estate and Mortgage

How We Became Mortgage Free In Five Years

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How We Became Mortgage Free In 5 Years


Becoming mortgage-free is not an easy task so I won’t make it out to be something that it’s not, however, it IS possible.

We are proof of that and we did it all before we turned a young 40 years old.

Secrets to Mortgage Freedom

mortgage free article toronto star

Many things have led to us becoming mortgage-free in 5 years which I want to discuss since it’s a topic I’m emailed about frequently.

Since blogging about wanting to pay off our mortgage early I’ve had readers wanting to know if there were any secrets to share.

It was such a hot topic that we were even featured in the Toronto Star to share how we paid our mortgage off so quickly.

I thought I’d wait until we actually became mortgage-free to fill you in just how we did it and that time is now.

No, we didn’t win the lottery or get money from family or friends we earned every last bit of it.

If you read our net worth update for April we were excited to tell everyone that we were finally saying good-bye to the mortgage payment.

I promised I’d let you know what we did and what problems we met along the way as it was no easy feat.

Mortgage Discharge Fees When You Become Mortgage Free

My friend Michael Anthony Lloyd a mortgage expert who has blogged here also discusses mortgage discharge fees.

He also has insight into other tips that you should be aware of when you want to become mortgage free and make that last payment to your bank.

The discharge fee was something that set us back as we didn’t do enough homework to learn what it was all about,

We also weren’t aware of how long it would take to make the last mortgage payment and the steps involved.

It takes time and you can’t just make a lump sum payment from your bank account either, you need a bank draft.

What is a bank draft?

Every bank is different in terms of charges for the draft.

RBC Royal Bank® issues bank drafts in domestic and foreign currencies.

Bank drafts can be used to make a payment to a third party in almost any currency, both in Canada and abroad.

Bank drafts offer a convenient and secure means of payment, and are more easily negotiated than postal money orders and are less vulnerable than cash to loss or theft.

Bank drafts are available for a fee of $8.50 each (any currency). And, depending on your banking package, you may be entitled to a number of commission-free bank drafts per year.

Michael shares more information below that you should consider before breaking out the champagne.

Mortgage Freedom Day

We all dream of the day we can finally get rid of that dreaded mortgage from around our neck.

For many, it is still a long way away…for others, it’s coming up due to hard work and the right decisions a long time ago.

So what happens when we finally get there?

The first thing to remember is that there is more than just your current mortgage holder involved in this.

Though your lender is who you need to talk to, there is always the “property charge” that is registered with your Provincial body that many people forget about.

For example, here in BC, the Land titles office will have a registered charge placed on your property until the lender proceeds with discharging that charge.

Until completed, your property is not “free and clear” even if you paid off the balance of your mortgage with your lender.

In Ontario and most of Canada, this is a discharge fee paid to the Government /Lender to ensure their charge is removed from your property.

Check with your lender for their discharge fees (it’s usually listed on their fee menus)as it’s a necessary step many forget about until years later when they are selling or refinancing their property.

Michael Anthony Llyod- Mortgage Expert Canada

Our Road To Becoming Mortgage Free

mortgage free party

As many of you might know I bought my first house at the young age of 21 which gave me my kick-start into the real estate market.

After selling that house I purchased a bigger home only to sell that before moving to Canada for a nice profit.

This was where a good chunk of my money came from to help put a down-payment on our house in Canada.

My wife also had built a house when she was 30 and went on to sell that for a profit just a few years later so she could return to school, travel and ultimately meet me and get married.

Buying a house right away in Canada was not a step we took advantage of rather we rented for a few years saving every penny we could.

We were a frugal couple from the moment we met and that helped us throughout our relationship as we didn’t have any money fights.

Financially and knew that we wanted to be mortgage-free early so we could do what we wanted in life not having the burden of debt looming over our shoulders.

While some couples may have already started a family we were both in school again for the second time which we paid cash for out of pocket.

Paying Cash For Transportation

OK used cars sign

I purchased my used vehicle with cash and my wife had a brand new vehicle which she bought before she met me.

 At the time of purchase, she paid 0% interest which would last for 5 years along with a $7,000 cash down-payment.

She took good care of her vehicle following the maintenance schedule and it’s still in mint condition today.

In fact, I was quite shocked to see the shape of it with the Canadian winters but she’s always made sure to maintain it.

Vehicles can be a money pit but I’d rather take care of it from the start than having to keep buying a vehicle every few years.

Saving Money To Pay Down Our Mortgage

Grocery shopping has been a battle for us but we have learned so much about living a frugal life in Canada just by reading and learning from experience.

Using Canadian coupons helped us save thousands of dollars and build a stockpile which we are still living from today.

We started the grocery game challenge when we started the blog and I can’t tell you how much tracking our grocery shops have helped us to save money.

Not only that but it taught us more about what foods we were putting into our bodies and how much we were eating.

It’s been many years since the lucrative coupon frenzy and although there is still money to be saved the coupon train has slowed down for us.

It’s OK To Splurge

Using coupons didn’t mean we sacrificed nutrition or enjoying life either as we eat a very balanced, healthy diet.

Yes, we splurge like everyone but we don’t go overboard and try to make and prepare as much as we can at home.

Many people will say they don’t have the time to use coupons and that’s fine.

We weren’t going to turn our backs on free money.

It was like shopping and earning a side income at the same time.

I’m sure many couponers would agree it can be lucrative if you know how to budget and spend your money wisely when couponing.

Buying products you “might” use just because you have a coupon isn’t a savings plan it’s a waste.

New To Me Clothes For The Win

We bought clothes and still do buy some odds and sods including clothes at the second-hand shops and love garage sales, free stuff, online sales etc. to save us from buying new.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve purchased from the second-hand shop items that still had price tags attached.

There is much to be saved if you take the time to look around.

It’s always easy to find someone who wants to donate items that are practically new or with tags as long as you aren’t in a rush for it.

Being selective for our frugal lifestyle has helped us to see what areas we can be creative in and what areas we need to call in the pros for.

Moving Up Career Ladder


Our careers have slowly but surely brought us up the ladder with ways to go but we would both work overtime and never turn down an opportunity to make extra money on the side.

Related: How To Ask Your Employer For A Raise (Free Printable Letter)

Earning Cash Money

Over the first five years of owning our home, we also took advantage of hosting international students for cash money.

It was one of the best experiences we’ve ever had and plan to do it again once I’m finished renovating our upstairs bathroom.

There are always focus groups or studies going on in the Greater Toronto Area which pay good money for a bit of our time and heck who wouldn’t want to chat about insurance for an hour, get free food and paid $100 cash.

I know that’s where our entertainment money came from and sometimes still does.

Budgeting Our Way To Mortgage Freedom

As we were saving over the years we opted to eat in rather than going out leaving dining out for special occasions.

We had no problem turning down invites from friends when the money simply wasn’t in our budget.

We refined our budget over the years as it wasn’t something we used until we began blogging and now offer our budget free to our fans.

We’ve kept the budget pretty simple but most people want simple over complicated because budgeting isn’t something people line up for as it can be pretty boring unless you are a numbers nerd like I am.

Family Planning

We don’t have any children but are aiming at starting a family very soon especially now that we are mortgage-free.

Update 2019: We have an almost 5-year-old son!

Family planning wasn’t something we put on hold either as it was much more complicated than that.

Having to start our life over returning to school, illness and struggling to conceive pushed family planning back.

We opted to wait until we were secure with our careers and finances but that’s not what everyone should do, it’s what we chose to do.

Why We Wanted To Become Mortgage-free

cuddling couple

This post is an explanation about why we were so adamant in paying down the mortgage and stuck to our guns throughout our mortgage-free plan.

Everybody knows about the traditional mortgage that a lot of people enter including my parents.

The traditional mortgage was always based on a 25 year amortization period and had 12 monthly payments per year.

Over the years different mortgage options were presented by various financial institutions.

They cover anything from 30 year amortization periods to rapid weekly payments that cut your total time to approximately 22 years.

Although the Canadian Government eliminated the 30-year mortgage with good reason, there are still a large variety of choices out there.

From the start when we were still looking at houses we already knew we wanted to pay it off quickly so we could be mortgage free and live a debt-free lifestyle.

Spending Less Than We Could Afford On A Mortgage

We purchased a home that was well below what the banks said we could afford but we went with a mortgage that we could pay with one income including the bills.

The reason for this was just in case something was to happen to one of our jobs or if we became ill.

Thankfully we took that route as one of us did get sick and we had to live off of one income to pay our mortgage and bills.

We played it safe but we also got a steal of a deal in a sought-after area in a big city but tucked away from the hectic life.

Price Increase Is Relative

What’s my house worth?

It’s worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it and unless you plan to downsize it’s all relative anyhow.

Our house is now worth over $100,000 more than the purchase price just 5 years ago.

As of 2019, our house could easily be listed on for almost $700,000 once we finish the basement.

Our home had everything we wanted at the time although now we wouldn’t mind the extras like a bigger yard, a pool and walk-out basement.

Those are just wants and NOT needs which you need to consider when making a home purchase.

Once our son is finished elementary school we may pursue purchasing a new home on a bigger property but not necessarily a bigger home.

Mortgage Pay Off Plan


Road to Mortgage free graph

After much searching around for the right mortgage, we entered into a 5-year open mortgage with a 3.99% interest rate on a rapid weekly payment scheme.

We put what we thought was a decent down-payment on the home of $80,000 and paid $265,000 for the house leaving us with a mortgage of $185,000.

That was 5 years ago now and we have happily finished paying off our mortgage.

We initially started with the required weekly payments that would see us mortgage-free in a projected 22 years as our incomes were lower than they are today.

As our finances got better due to increases at work and our spending became more controlled we started to drop in extra mortgage payments every month as and when we could.

Eventually, we took advantage of the 20% mortgage pay down option each year and paid off $32,651 as a lump.W

We continued to pay off extra payments and then paid off another lump sum at the beginning of year 4 to the tune of $37,000.

Now that the lump sum payment option was at its maximum we increased weekly payments to the maximum instead.

Making Our Last Mortgage Payment

The last payment we made was to clear the final amount owing including the discharge fee.

This bank draft came to the grand total of $68,787.19. I had to bring in my remaining funds from the UK as that is what they were destined for.

We lost some money in the exchange rate as the actual exchange rate and what you get are different figures.

That aside, I thought I would furnish you with the numbers showing why we did what we did through the savings.

25 Year Mortgage

A traditional 25-year mortgage with monthly payments at the same interest rate throughout the entire term, not just the 5 years would have cost us $291,657.29 which is made up of the $185,000 principal and then $106,657.29 in interest.

Rapid Weekly Mortgage Payment

The rapid weekly mortgage payment option saved us 3 years of mortgage payments and would have given us the following figures had we stuck to the 22-year plan:

  • $275,844.94 which is made up of the $185,000 principal and then $90,844.94 in interest.

However, our 5 years pay it like crazy option worked out like this:

The total we paid is $210,940.17 which is made up of the same $185,000 principal but only $25,940.17 in interest.

This saved us $64,904.77 in interest over our full 22-year term assuming that the interest rate stayed at 3.99% and a colossal $80,717.12 in interest over a more traditional 25-year mortgage.

Invest or Pay Down Mortgage

To make $64,904.77 in 5 years we would have had to invest a monthly total of $972.12 and make 4.15% return in order to come up with the same amount which would have been easily attainable.

The thing is, we invest roughly that much every month already.

To make $80,717.12 in 5 years we would have had to invest a monthly total of $972.12 and make 12.25% return in order to come up with the same amount.

I haven’t seen a guaranteed 12.25% return yet so paying down our mortgage worked better for us.

Take the payments that we can now re-direct from paying off the mortgage and into investments will lead us to pay in $252,751.20 over the next 20 years.

I shall demonstrate the effect by taking the above basic monthly payment of $972.12 and adding to it every month with an interest-earning rate of 3.99% (same as what the mortgage was). After the 20 years that payment redirection is now worth $357,332.73.

When people ask me why didn’t we invest more and leave the mortgage chugging away on automated payments for years on end, do the maths for yourselves.

I’m not going to tell you to go pay it off now, not everybody can do it and not everyone’s financial numbers can support it.

The point is, I like to see numbers and work out what the difference is going to be.

I like to see where the advantages are.

Not everyone will agree with the path we took to becoming mortgage-free and that’s fine, it’s our life and our finances.

I hope that you make the right choices with your finances but do it because you want to and not because someone told you that you should do it because it’s the right way.

Do What’s Right For You

My Canadian friend Mark at My Own Advisor who is also paying down his mortgage said something that I feel is important to hear when it comes to the debate of paying off the mortgage or investing the money.

I believe there’s no perfect answer to this debate, it depends on the situation, the timing and often some reflection of short and long-term goals

Be in control, do your homework and don’t gamble with investments especially if you don’t know what you are doing.

Risk is inevitable but when you are risking your money without knowledge that could bite you in the butt. I’m sure any savvy investor will tell you that.

We Own Our House

I’m not an investor but I do like to make our money work for me the best way I can and now we can worry less about paying off a mortgage.

Maybe one day I’ll become an elite investor but for now, I’m still learning that side of the financial coin.

By eliminating a drain on our resources such as the mortgage we can now benefit from investing the money instead of the bank benefiting from us.

It’s also been nice to wake up knowing we are debt-free and able to make choices that may have been out of reach for us in the past.

Discussion: Are you planning to pay off your mortgage early or use all of your extra money to invest?

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  1. Great stuff here Mr. CBB! I’m sure it’s an absolute relief to have paid it off so quickly! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us all!

  2. Thats amazing! First of all congratulations on paying off your mortage. This is really an impressive post and one of the best article that i have read. Keep sharing such articles.

  3. Ha ha, I like the first line there is no secret. I bought my first property at the age of 26 and I paid off quite easily then but my wife is looking to buy a vacation property in Ontario and she doesn’t really understand about the changing rates.

  4. What a fantastic blog, even though it’s not for everyone you have proven that when you put your mind to something it can be accomplished. My hat goes out to you.

  5. Congrats on paying it off in 5 years! After buying my latest primary residence this Spring, I’ve decided to go on overdrive and pay off my rental purchased in 2003. It’s about time, and it’s a fun goal to have.

    1. Thanks… it certainly has opened some doors for us. We’d like to get a rental too. With so many students in our area we’d be silly not to. Although rentals come with the pros and cons as you likely know. Cheers mate.

  6. Wow! Congrats Mr CBB! Paying off my mortgage early was never something I had considered doing before I started following your page. I don’t have a specific plan for paying off my mortgage early but my intention is to finish paying off my debt (which I believe is just over a year away) and then increasing my monthly payments on my mortgage. Of course whether or not I have another baby will determine how I follow through with this. If I don’t have another I will be able to take the $900/month I’m spending on daycare right now and put it towards paying off my debt earlier and then in turn be able to start paying down my mortgage faster.

    1. You know I’m proud of how far you’ve come and you did it all on your own. You can only educate yourself as much as you can and make a plan of action based on your life. You did just that. Keep up the hard work and before you know it, you will be where you want to be financially. 🙂

  7. Congratulations Mr. CBB, being mortgage free is quite the accomplishment these days. I plan on being mortgage free in early 2015 and have followed a similar path to what you outline above – making weekly payments, accelerating those payments and maxing out our lump sum payment option whenever we could. I can’t wait to be done those with those payments so I can build up my investment portfolio.

    1. Yes, that’s the plan of action we are taking now. It sure does feel good to not see anymore mortgage payments leaving the bank. I truly believe that if we want something bad enough we will work hard to get there. We may have bumps along the way but we have to pick right back up and keep going. Good luck and I look forward to reading that mortgage free blog post!! Mr.CBB

  8. Congratulations on hitting the big milestone! I am so proud of you. I am also so happy to hear about plans for kids!! yay! I look forward to your posts from this new perspective.

    I am a long time reader (lurker), but first time poster. After reading your post I wanted to share our story as we also took a similar path. After the first year of being a homeowner, we did the math and decided it was best to take the plunge on an aggressive payoff plan. We couldn’t stomach paying so much interest to the bank. It is pretty scary when you really realize how much extra you are paying over a 25 year term (plus our interest rate was over 5%). To us, it was worth skipping expensive vacations, eating out, and expensive clothes. We didn’t feel like we were missing out though. You can find joy and fun in everyday without having to spend lots of money. To keep us feeling excited about the pre-payments, we treated ourselves to a cheap bottle of bubbly each time we took another 10K off the mortgage. A “short” 5 years, six months after buying the house, we were mortgage free in downtown Toronto. It was so worth it. It has now been seven years since we burned the mortgage. We have 2 kids (4 and 7) and feel a deep sense of freedom. And we are now taking some vacations. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Sue for sharing your story. If you are interested in sharing it further and in detail I’d be thrilled to share your journey on the blog. You can email me if you like. I can’t wait to see where our life takes us from here. It does feel good not to worry any more. 🙂 Mr.CBB. Thanks for commenting and lurking… don’t be shy.. I love chatting to my fans.

  9. Wow, great work!

    My wife and I still owe $200k on our house. It should be paid off in another 7.5 years. That’s the plan!

    For us, it’s important to build a portfolio while we are working AND to pay off the mortgage using lump sump payments.

    Hopefully the portfolio value can reach $500k in a couple of years, outside our pensions.

    Great work on the mortgage – very well played 🙂

    1. That’s awesome Mark.. you are both doing so well. We did both along the way as well although we’ll be putting more into investments now (well as soon as some of the major renos I want to get done are finished) and see where it takes us. Cheers mate.

  10. I honestly may just rent forever. I have rental properties, but their mortgages are at so low an interest rate that it’s tough to justify paying them off early amid other debts and while building up the retirement savings

  11. We just paid our mortgage off this past February. What a relief! No more interest payments and no more jumping through the hoops of our lender. The best part is the freedom and the choices that come when there is no more debt.

    1. That’s awesome mate, congratulations!!! It’s a great feeling… hard but worth it. Nothing comes easy in life, that is a fact.

  12. Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! This is truly an inspirational and motivating post! I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now and absolutely LOVE the new layout – much more reader friendly!

  13. That’s really great! My daughter and SIL have just moved to a new house. I think this is their forever home. I worked out a mortgage amortization for them so that if they pay accelerated biweekly plus put an extra $50 each biweekly payment and an extra $3K annually, they will have it paid off in 15 years. I think that is a good target to strive for. Of course, if they can do it sooner like you did, all the better. They just had their first kid and I think (hope) there may be one more, so knowing how much that costs, sticking with the 15 year plan will be great. Hope they can do it!

    1. Just having a plan is important. If they find they have an extra $50 a month and they want to put it on the mortgage it’s only going to help speed up the process. Good for them sounds like they have lots of exciting times ahead. 🙂

  14. Wow, that’s very ambitious, but also incredibly smart of you two! I cannot believe how much you saved in interest alone, or how it must feel to be mortgage free. I appreciate how you point out that this won’t necessarily work for everyone. Too many people don’t crunch the numbers to see what’s right for them and instead just blindly follow someone else’s advice and end up in bad situations.

    1. Thanks Debt and the Girl!!! We always tell fans to do their own homework and talk to the professionals. Everyone has such different circumstances when it come to life that it’s important to customize a plan that’s right for the budget. I think posts like these are motivational than anything because it does prove that making small change and sticking to them can help to achieve goals.

  15. Congrats on paying off the house. I will do the same in the future, im still renting. It takes cutting and effectively managing many areas of life to achieve a milestone like that.

    1. I agree and that’s why I started the post off saying it’s not easy but it is possible. I don’t want people to get the impression we glided through paying it off. We had our bumps along the way and that is what life is all about. Nothing goes as planned but being prepared for emergencies is half the battle. Taking responsibility for our finances and setting goals and not giving up. Thanks El!

    1. Thanks Grayson. I hadn’t realised that a 30 year mortgage in the US was a regular mortgage. I know in Japan that they offer 50 year and even 100 year mortgages, or at least they used to. The mortgage was passed on to the children.

  16. Congratulations on getting that monkey off your back. You did great and hard work. The amount of interest savings is impressive. Better to put that money in your pocket rather than the bank’s. I had not heard of the Canadian government doing away with the 30 year mortgage. Why do you think that is a good thing? Again, congratulations!

    1. Thanks Brad… I think they did away with the 30 year mortgage because people were overextending themselves too much. Spending more because interest rates are low with the mortgage spread out over 30 years.

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