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No. of Recommendations: 10
As you may remember, I struggled through paying off a bunch of debt while dealing with life’s usual complexities and crises (divorce, wedding, college, people and animal illnesses, floods, derechos, even a couple of funerals). Once I’d paid it down by $108k and got rid of all my non-mortgage debt, I replaced it all via major home remodel. I live in an area where the remodel is not a completely sunk cost. Zillow says that the value of my house has increased more than $100k since I did the remodel.

Even so, I had a $354k mortgage (2013) that is now a $330k mortgage (2015). (Details: 3.5% interest 30 year fixed loan maturing in 2043 when I am 75 years old.)

It's been weighing on me. A lot. We are only 12 years away from DH's retirement date, and 19 years away from mine.

There wasn't much I could do to significantly accelerate payments until DH and I were living under one roof. We became permanently household-sharers on May 31, and I've posted here about struggling through the new regular budget scenarios. Paying off the mortgage on his house eliminated his last debt ($80k or so). The only thing left is the mortgage on my house.

The other big thing I wanted to accomplish was for him to finally max out his retirement savings. We have steadily increased it from 5% of his pay when we met to 11% at the beginning of the year. He is 55, though, and could not only be maxing out his contributions but also making catch-up contributions.

Last weekend we traveled, and had a 3-hour car ride for part of the trip. We do some of our best budgeting when we're trapped in the car -- there are no distractions, and we can really go through things in detail. We talked for a very long time about those two items and how to accomplish them, as well as how to wrap up a few more things from his life in Ohio.

We figured out that he has increased his cash flow (both with income increasing and expenses decreasing) enough that he is able to increase his contributions enough to max out his TSP this year. Continuing that level next year will allow almost $3,000 in catch-up contributions.

WOOHOO!! That makes me very happy.

We also talked for a long time about the mortgage payment. We didn’t have any spreadsheets in the car, so could only work with very rough numbers.

Now that I’m back to my computer, I did some spreadsheeting to figure out exactly what I’m looking at. And if I can put an extra $24,000 a year toward the mortgage, we can pay it off in 9 years (from now, not from when it started). I like the 9 year figure – it gives me a 3 year cushion AND something to try to beat.

Better than that, it appears to be doable. I have at least $1,000 a month in extra income now that DH is paying half the household expenses, all of which can go to the mortgage. I also have regular dividends that have been building up as I waited to decide how to approach this particular debt, and money that had previously been going into general savings. I’ve built the E-fund back to 6+ months of expenses, so can ease off there if I want to.

AJ previously suggested putting cash aside and paying the mortgage in a lump sum. I think that’s generally a good idea. I also know myself well enough to know that I rarely work like that. Instead, I’ll toss money at it and my other goals in a somewhat random fashion depending on what has popped up to the top of my head, but always within the general plan of what needs to get done.

I do track my net worth and the value of the house (but prefer not to post those here). I know I’m unlikely to ever reach my goal of a few years ago of having $50million in net worth. But according to all the calculators I’ve worked through, we will have a comfortable retirement and be able to do fun things once we finish the college funding (two kids through college and in grad school, two to go; DD should graduate from college in ten years if she doesn’t take any breaks) and paying off the mortgage. Hence the constant niggling at the mortgage; college funding is already pretty well taken care of.

So. I’m very happy to see that we can do it in 9 years. Nine years from now I will be 56, so that will leave a nice long pre-retirement stretch when I will be debt-free and can really build net worth. It was a good car ride.

ThyPeace, likes having a plan again.
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