The book The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means suggests how people can live mortgage free (after some time, of course) by taking the following seven steps:
1. Buy less house than you can afford.
2. Stay put in the house as long as you can.
3. Make additional payments toward principal whenever possible.
4. Whenever you get a pay raise, allocate most or all of your increase to paying off your mortgage early.
5. Consider setting up a "mortgage acceleration plan" with your lender.
6. If you refinance to take advantage of lower interest rates, do the math carefully and shorten -- never lengthen -- the remaining term on the loan.
7. Keep your eye on the prize.
Sound familiar? Pretty similar to my formula for buying a house. ;-)
We've been mortgage free for over a decade now. If you want to read about how we did it, check out How I Paid Off My Mortgage.
As for their tips above, here are my thoughts on each one:
1. This is a key step in the process. If you buy what you can afford or (worst of all) more than you can afford, you'll probably never pay off your home early. To see what we've done, check out How to Become Wealthy and my comment #6.
2. Moving frequently is expensive (unless you have a company paying for it -- I've never moved without my employer covering all of the expenses) and the less you do of it the more you'll save. FYI -- we've lived in our current home for 11 years now (we did look at moving a couple years ago, but decided against it for various reasons) and plan to live there for at least several more years (probably at least until our kids are in college.)
3. Of course. This is another key step in the process.
4. Same as #3 in my book.
5. Not needed -- you can do it yourself if you have discipline.
6. Again, of course. You want to refinance to make yourself BETTER off financially, not worse off.
7. You must be disciplined over a long period of time (several years) to make this work. If you are not, you will not pay off your mortgage early.
Basically, it all comes down to three steps:
- Buy less than you can afford.
- Make extra payments.
- Stick with it.
Pretty simple, huh? ;-)